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The Lead

What a “Star Wars” laser bullet really looks like

October 22, 2014 | Comments

Action-packed science-fiction movies often feature colorful laser bolts. But what would a real laser missile look like during flight, if we could only make it out? How would it illuminate its surroundings? The answers lie in a film made by researchers in Poland who have captured the passage of an ultrashort laser pulse through the air.

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NIST offers electronics industry two ways to snoop on self-organizing molecules

October 23, 2014 12:33 pm | Comments

A few short years ago, the idea of a practical manufacturing process based on getting molecules to organize themselves in useful nanoscale shapes seemed far-fetched. Recent work at NIST, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and IBM Almaden Research Center suggest this capability isn’t far off, however, by demonstrating self-assembly of thin films on a polymer template that creates precise rows just 10 nm wide.

NIST’s finalizes cloud computing roadmap

October 23, 2014 9:41 am | Comments

The final version of the U.S. Government Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap, Volumes I and II has been published by NIST. The roadmap focuses on strategic and tactical objectives to support the federal government’s accelerated adoption of cloud computing. This final document reflects the input from more than 200 comments on the initial draft received from around the world.

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An effective, cost-saving way to detect natural gas pipeline leaks

October 23, 2014 9:30 am | Comments

Major leaks from oil and gas pipelines have led to home evacuations, explosions, millions of dollars in lawsuit payouts and valuable natural resources escaping into the air, ground and water. But scientists say they have developed a new software-based method that finds leaks even when they’re small, which could help prevent serious incidents and save money for customers and industry.

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“Silicon Beach” brings tech boom to Los Angeles

October 23, 2014 9:25 am | by Ryan Nakashima and Michael Liedtke, AP Business Writers | Comments

So long Silicon Valley. These days entrepreneurs and engineers are flocking to a place better known for surfing waves than the Web. Amid the palm trees and purple sunsets of the Southern California coastline, techies have built "Silicon Beach."

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Army collaboration produces new test station for missile warning system

October 23, 2014 8:51 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

The AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning System (CMWS) helps protect Army aircraft from attack by shoulder-launched missiles and other threats. To keep this defensive system operating at maximum effectiveness, the Army periodically updates the software on the more than 1,000 AN/AAR-57 units in use around the world.

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New insights on carbonic acid in water

October 23, 2014 8:42 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Though it garners few headlines, carbonic acid, the hydrated form of carbon dioxide, is critical to both the health of the atmosphere and the human body. However, because it exists for only a fraction of a second before changing into a mix of hydrogen and bicarbonate ions, carbonic acid has remained an enigma. A new study has yielded new information about carbonic acid with important implications for geological and biological concerns.

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Strengthening thin-film bonds with ultra-fast data collection

October 23, 2014 8:29 am | by Michael Baum, NIST | Comments

When studying extremely fast reactions in ultra-thin materials, two measurements are better than one. A new research tool invented by researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Johns Hopkins Univ. and NIST captures information about both temperature and crystal structure during extremely fast reactions in thin-film materials.

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Microscopic “walkers” find their way across cell surfaces

October 23, 2014 8:14 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Nature has developed a wide variety of methods for guiding particular cells, enzymes and molecules to specific structures inside the body: White blood cells can find their way to the site of an infection, while scar-forming cells migrate to the site of a wound. But finding ways of guiding artificial materials within the body has proven more difficult.

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Some scientists share better than others

October 22, 2014 2:31 pm | Comments

While astronomers and geneticists embrace the concept, the culture of ecology still has a ways to go. Research by Michigan State Univ., published in the current issue of Bioscience, explores the paradox that although ecologists share findings via scientific journals, they do not share the data on which the studies are built.

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See-through sensors open new window into the brain

October 22, 2014 11:22 am | by Renee Meiller, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | Comments

Developing invisible implantable medical sensor arrays, a team of Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has overcome a major technological hurdle in researchers’ efforts to understand the brain. The team described its technology, which has applications in fields ranging from neuroscience to cardiac care and even contact lenses, in Nature Communications.

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Turning waste from whisky-making into fuel

October 22, 2014 10:09 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

A startup company in Scotland is working to capitalize on the tons of waste produced by one of the country’s most valued industries and turn the dregs of whisky-making into fuel. Celtic Renewables, formed in 2011, has refined its process based on a century-old fermentation technique and is now taking the next step toward a commercial plant.

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NASA Webb’s heart survives deep freeze test

October 22, 2014 9:05 am | by Laura Betz, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | Comments

After 116 days of being subjected to extremely frigid temperatures like that in space, the heart of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Integrated Science Instrument Module and its sensitive instruments, emerged unscathed from the thermal vacuum chamber at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Operating a telescope powerful enough to reveal the first galaxies forming 13.5 billion years ago requires incredibly cold temperatures: about -387 F.

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Could I squeeze by you?

October 22, 2014 8:15 am | by Breehan Gerleman Lucchesi, Communications Specialist, Ames Laboratory | Comments

Scientists at Ames Laboratory have developed deeper understanding of the ideal design for mesoporous nanoparticles used in catalytic reactions, such as hydrocarbon conversion to biofuels. The research will help determine the optimal diameter of channels within the nanoparticles to maximize catalytic output.

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Study: Graphene fragments speed up rate of chemical reactions

October 22, 2014 8:11 am | Comments

Researchers in Australia have discovered that nano-sized fragments of graphene have the ability to speed up the rate of chemical reactions. The finding is significant, say researchers, because it suggested that graphene might have potential applications in catalyzing chemical reactions of industrial importance.

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Garnet ceramics ideal for high-energy lithium batteries

October 22, 2014 8:06 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered exceptional properties in a garnet material that could enable development of higher-energy battery designs. The team used electron microscopy to take an atomic-level look at a cubic garnet material called LLZO. The researchers found the material to be highly stable in a range of aqueous environments, making the compound a promising component in new battery configurations.

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