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Astronomers: ‘Tilt-a-worlds’ could harbor life

April 15, 2014 3:17 pm | by Peter Kelley, Univ. of Washington | Comments

A fluctuating tilt in a planet’s orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by a team of astronomers. In fact, sometimes it helps because such “tilt-a-worlds,” as astronomers sometimes call them, are less likely than fixed-spin planets to freeze over, as heat from their host star is more evenly distributed.

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Sensitive detection method may help impede illicit nuclear trafficking

April 15, 2014 12:34 pm | Comments

According to a new study, coupling commercially available spectral x-ray detectors with a specialized algorithm can improve the detection of uranium and plutonium in small, layered objects such as baggage. This approach enhances the detection powers of x-ray imaging and may provide a new tool to impede nuclear trafficking.

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Google buys drone maker Titan Aerospace

April 15, 2014 12:26 pm | by Barbara Ortutay, AP Technology Writer | Comments

Titan Aerospace, a maker of solar-powered drones, has been purchased by Google, which says it could help bring Internet access to remote parts of the world. Titan's atmospheric satellites, which are still in development and not yet commercially available, can stay in the air for as long as five years. Titan's website has cited a wide range of uses for the drones.

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Nanocrystalline cellulose modified into an efficient viral inhibitor

April 15, 2014 11:38 am | Comments

Researchers in Finland have succeeded in creating a surface on nano-sized cellulose crystals that imitates a biological structure. The surface adsorbs viruses and disables them, preventing their spread into cells. The results could prove useful in the development of antiviral ointments and surfaces.

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Moth study suggests hidden climate change impacts

April 15, 2014 11:23 am | by Jim Erickson, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

A 32-year study of subarctic forest moths in Finnish Lapland suggests that scientists may be underestimating the impacts of climate change on animals and plants because much of the harm is hidden from view. The study analyzed populations of 80 moth species and found that 90% of them were either stable or increasing throughout the study period, from 1978 to 2009.

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An Arctic ozone hole? Not quite

April 15, 2014 11:06 am | by Audrey Resutek, MIT | Comments

Since the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, scientists, policymakers and the public have wondered whether we might someday see a similarly extreme depletion of ozone over the Arctic. But a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study finds some cause for optimism: Ozone levels in the Arctic haven’t yet sunk to the extreme lows seen in Antarctica, because international efforts to limit ozone-depleting chemicals have been successful.

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Engineers develop new materials for hydrogen storage

April 15, 2014 9:43 am | Comments

Researchers in California have created, for the first time, compounds made from mixtures of calcium hexaboride, strontium and barium hexaboride. They also demonstrated that these ceramic materials could be manufactured using a simple, low-cost manufacturing method known as combustion synthesis.

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Jefferson Lab accelerator achieves 12 GeV commissioning milestone

April 15, 2014 9:31 am | Comments

Following an upgrade of the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, the accelerator delivered the highest-energy electron beams it has ever produced into a target, recording the first data of the 12 GeV era. The machine sent electrons around the racetrack three times, resulting in 6.11 GeV electrons at 2 nanoAmps average current for more than an hour.

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Nano shake-up: Nanocarriers fluctuate in size and shape

April 15, 2014 9:26 am | by Diane Kukich, Univ. of Delaware | Comments

Nanotechnology has unlocked new pathways for targeted drug delivery, including the use of nanocarriers that can transport cargoes of small-molecule therapeutics to specific locations in the body. Researchers have recently demonstrated that processing can have significant influence on the size of nanocarriers for targeted drug delivery. It was previously assumed that once a nanocarrier is created, it maintains its size and shape anywhere.

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Entering the R&D 100? These 10 tips will help you finish with style

April 15, 2014 9:18 am | Comments

The R&D 100 Awards is our most prestigious Awards event of the year, and after 52 years of doing this, R&D’s editors believe it’s one of the best ways to gauge the competitiveness of new, technologically-advanced products. But completing our entry process doesn’t have to be difficult. First-time competitors and veteran product development both can benefit from a few helpful tips the editors have put together.

A few “problem wells” source of greenhouse gas

April 15, 2014 7:48 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | Comments

High levels of the greenhouse gas methane were found above shale gas wells at a production point not thought to be an important emissions source, according to a study jointly led by Purdue and Cornell universities. The findings could have implications for the evaluation of the environmental impacts from natural gas production.

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Targeting cancer with a triple threat

April 15, 2014 7:38 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Delivering chemotherapy drugs in nanoparticle form could help reduce side effects by targeting the drugs directly to the tumors. In recent years, scientists have developed nanoparticles that deliver one or two chemotherapy drugs, but it has been difficult to design particles that can carry any more than that in a precise ratio. Now Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemists have devised a new way to build such nanoparticles.

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Rocket leak delays space station delivery launch

April 14, 2014 4:21 pm | by Marcia Dunn - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | Comments

A space station cargo ship will remain Earthbound for a while longer. With just over an hour remaining, the Space X company called off Monday's planned launch because of a rocket leak. A new launch date was not set; the next opportunity would be Friday. Officials said a helium leak in the first-stage of the unmanned Falcon rocket forced the postponement. The launch already had been delayed a full month for various reasons.

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Scientists open door to better solar cells, superconductors and hard-drives

April 14, 2014 1:05 pm | Comments

Recent research using free-electron laser sources has enhanced the understanding of the interface of two materials, where completely new properties can arise. For instance, two insulators and non-magnetic materials can become metallic and magnetic at their interface. The breakthrough was the discovery of a discrepancy in the number of charge carriers of two promising electronic materials.

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Research finds “tunable” semiconductors will allow better detectors, solar cells

April 14, 2014 12:53 pm | by Ann Claycombe, Georgia State Univ. | Comments

One of the great problems in physics is the detection of electromagnetic radiation—that is, light—which lies outside the small range of wavelengths that the human eye can see. Think x-rays, for example, or radio waves. Now, researchers have discovered a way to use existing semiconductors to detect a far wider range of light than is now possible, well into the infrared range.

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