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Armor plating with built-in transparent ceramic eyes

November 20, 2015 8:06 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Usually, it’s a tradeoff: If you want maximum physical protection, whether from biting predators or exploding artillery shells, that generally compromises your ability to see. But sea-dwelling creatures called chitons have figured out a way around that problem: Tiny eyes are embedded within their tough protective shells, with their transparent lenses made of the same ceramic material as the rest of their shells—and just as tough.


Sequencing algae’s genome may aid biofuel production

November 20, 2015 7:46 am | by James Urton, Univ. of Washington | Comments

There's an ancient group of algae that evolved in the world's oceans before our backboned ancestors crawled onto land. They are so numerous that their gigantic blooms can affect the weather, and they account for 30 to 40% of all photosynthesis in the world's oceans. But until recently, scientists interested in these single-celled creatures knew next to nothing about their genes.


Nanocarriers may carry new hope for brain cancer therapy

November 20, 2015 7:37 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Glioblastoma multiforme, a cancer of the brain also known as “octopus tumors” because of the manner in which the cancer cells extend their tendrils into surrounding tissue, is virtually inoperable, resistant to therapies, and always fatal, usually within 15 months of onset. Each year, glioblastoma multiforme kills approximately 15,000 people in the U.S.


ORNL microscopy captures real-time view of evolving fuel cell catalysts

November 20, 2015 7:26 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

Atomic-level imaging of catalysts by scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory could help manufacturers lower the cost and improve the performance of emission-free fuel cell technologies. Fuel cells rely on costly platinum catalysts to enable the reactions that convert chemical energy into electricity.


Researchers speed up process of making vaccines

November 19, 2015 12:00 pm | by Todd Hollingshead, Brigham Young Univ. | Comments

Researchers at Bringham Young Univ. have devised a system to speed up the process of making life-saving vaccines for new viruses. Their concept is to create the biological machinery for vaccine production en masse, put it in a freeze-dried state and stockpile it around the country. Then, when a new virus hits, labs can simply add water to a “kit” to rapidly produce vaccines.


Ocean temperatures of the past many tell us about future global climate patterns

November 19, 2015 11:00 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | Comments

Scientists are taking the temperature of ancient seas to discover how they’ve shaped global climate. In a study published in Nature Geoscience, a Yale Univ.-led research team explored differences in ocean temperatures over the last 5 million years. The team created a historical record for sea temperature gradients and compared it with state-of-the-art climate model simulations.


3-D printed parts toxic to zebrafish embryos

November 19, 2015 10:00 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

The recent boom in 3-D printing has driven innovations in fields as disparate as haute couture and medical implants. But little is known about the safety of the materials used. In a new study scientists showed that some 3-D printed parts are highly toxic to zebrafish embryos. Their findings could have implications not only for aquatic life but also for hobbyists, manufacturers and patients.


An easy pill to swallow

November 19, 2015 8:17 am | by Sonia Fernandez, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | Comments

An insulin pill being developed by researchers at the Univ. of California, Santa Barbara may in the near future give another blood sugar management option to those who suffer from diabetes. The novel drug delivery technology may also apply to a wide spectrum of other therapies.


Quantum spin could create unstoppable, 1-D electron waves

November 19, 2015 8:02 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Comments

In certain nanomaterials, electrons are able to race through custom-built roadways just one atom wide. To achieve excellent efficiency, these 1-D paths must be paved with absolute perfection—a single errant atom can stop racing electrons in their tracks or even launch it backwards. Unfortunately, such imperfections are inevitable.


Dark matter dominates in nearby dwarf galaxy

November 19, 2015 7:54 am | by Lori Dajose, Caltech | Comments

Dark matter is called "dark" for a good reason. Although they outnumber particles of regular matter by more than a factor of 10, particles of dark matter are elusive. Their existence is inferred by their gravitational influence in galaxies, but no one has ever directly observed signals from dark matter.


How the brain can enhance connections

November 18, 2015 1:00 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

When the brain forms memories or learns a new task, it encodes the new information by tuning connections between neurons. Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientists have discovered a novel mechanism that contributes to the strengthening of these connections, also called synapses.


Ecological extinction explains how turbulence dies

November 18, 2015 12:24 pm | by Siv Schwink, Univ. of Illinois | Comments

As anyone who has experienced turbulence knows, its onset and departure are abrupt, and how long it lasts seems to be unpredictable. Fast flowing fluids are always turbulent, but at slower speeds the flow transitions to smooth and predictable (laminar) with intermittent patches of turbulence. In the human body, transitional turbulence can be deadly.


2015 R&D 100 Award Winners

November 18, 2015 12:15 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Comments

The 2015 R&D 100 Award Winners are listed in this table in alphabetical order by the name of the primary developer company.


Spider webs yield clues to stickier glues

November 18, 2015 10:22 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Spider webs are notoriously sticky. Although they only take a second to swat down, shaking them off your hands can be an exercise in frustration. But that stubborn tackiness could come in handy when designing smart synthetic adhesives that could work even in the most humid conditions. In ACS Nano, scientists report new insight toward that goal.


Physicists uncover mechanism that stabilizes plasma within tokamaks

November 18, 2015 8:06 am | by Raphael Rosen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Communications | Comments

A team of physicists at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory has discovered a mechanism that prevents the electrical current flowing through fusion plasma from repeatedly peaking and crashing. This behavior is known as a "sawtooth cycle" and can cause instabilities within the plasma's core.



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