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Robotics meet x-ray laser in cutting-edge biology studies

November 24, 2014 8:31 am | by SLAC Office of Communications | Comments

Scientists at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory are combining the speed and precision of robots with one of the brightest x-ray lasers on the planet for pioneering studies of proteins important to biology and drug discovery. The new system uses robotics and other automated components to precisely maneuver delicate samples for study with the x-ray laser pulses at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source.

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For important tumor-suppressing protein, context is key

November 24, 2014 8:19 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have learned new details about how an important tumor-suppressing protein, called p53, binds to the human genome. As with many things in life, they found that context makes a big difference. The researchers mapped the places where p53 binds to the genome in a human cancer cell line.

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Measuring NIF’s enormous shocks

November 24, 2014 8:10 am | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | Comments

NIF experiments generate enormous pressures in a short time. When a pressure source of this type is applied to any material, the pressure wave in the material will quickly evolve into a shock front. One of NIF’s most versatile and frequently used diagnostics, the Velocity Interferometer System for Any Reflector (VISAR), is used to measure these shocks, providing vital information for future experiment design and calibration.

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Model evaluates where bioenergy crops grow best

November 24, 2014 7:59 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | Comments

Farmers interested in bioenergy crops now have a resource to help them determine which kind of bioenergy crop would grow best in their regions and what kind of harvest to expect. Researchers at the Univ. of Illinois have published a study identifying yield zones for three major bioenergy crops.

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Overcoming limitations of magnetic storage

November 24, 2014 7:49 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Researchers at Nano-Meta Technologies Inc. have shown how to overcome key limitations of a material that could enable the magnetic storage industry to achieve data-recording densities far beyond today's computers. The new technology could make it possible to record data on an unprecedented small scale using tiny "nanoantennas" and to increase the amount of data that can be stored on a standard magnetic disk by 10 to 100 times.

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Building on-ramp to cloud computing

November 24, 2014 7:43 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Rice Univ. is preparing to offer its researchers who deal in “big data” the opportunity to compute in the cloud with fewer barriers. Rice is installing the Big Research Data Cloud (BiRD Cloud), which will allow for cloud bursting. That means data-intensive tasks can spill over into outside cloud-computing systems when necessary, essentially providing unlimited computing capacity.

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U.S. looking past Ebola to prepare for next outbreak

November 23, 2014 8:59 am | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | Comments

The next Ebola or the next SARS. Maybe even the next HIV. Even before the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is brought under control, public health officials are girding for the next health disaster. Ebola sprang from one of those blind spots, in an area that lacks the health systems needed to detect an outbreak before it becomes a crisis.

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Advancements in battery technology shaping the future of electronic vehicles

November 21, 2014 9:57 am | by Canadian Light Source | Comments

Scientists at the Canadian Light Source are on the forefront of battery technology using cheaper materials with higher energy and better recharging rates that make them ideal for electric vehicles (EVs). The switch from conventional internal combustion engines to EVs is well underway. However, limited mileage of current EVs due to the confined energy storage capability of available battery systems is why these vehicles aren't more common.

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How mutant gene causes deafness

November 21, 2014 9:47 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | Comments

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered how one gene is essential to hearing, uncovering a cause of deafness and suggesting new avenues for therapies. The new study, published in Neuron, shows how mutations in a gene called Tmie can cause deafness from birth. Underlining the critical nature of their findings, researchers were able to reintroduce the gene in mice and restore the process underpinning hearing.

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Salinity matters when it comes to sea level changes

November 21, 2014 9:33 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | Comments

Using ocean observations and a large suite of climate models, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists have found that long-term salinity changes have a stronger influence on regional sea level changes than previously thought.

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What agricultural ecosystems on steroids are doing to the air

November 21, 2014 9:21 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

In a study that identifies a new, "direct fingerprint" of human activity on Earth, scientists have found that agricultural crops play a big role in seasonal swings of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The new findings from Boston Univ., the Univ. of Michigan and other institutions reveal a nuance in the carbon cycle that could help scientists understand and predict how Earth's vegetation will react as the globe warms.

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2-D quantum materials for nanoelectronics

November 21, 2014 9:10 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have carried out a theoretical analysis showing that a family of 2-D materials exhibits exotic quantum properties that may enable a new type of nanoscale electronics. These materials are predicted to show a phenomenon called the quantum spin Hall (QSH) effect, and belong to a class of materials known as transition metal dichalcogenides, with layers a few atoms thick.

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Technique allows ultrasound to penetrate bone, metal

November 21, 2014 8:53 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a technique that allows ultrasound to penetrate bone or metal, using customized structures that offset the distortion usually caused by these so-called “aberrating layers.” The researchers addressed this problem by designing customized metamaterial structures that take into account the acoustic properties of the aberrating layer and offsetting them.

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Quantum mechanical calculations reveal the hidden states of enzyme active sites

November 21, 2014 8:37 am | by Princeton Univ. | Comments

Enzymes carry out fundamental biological processes such as photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation and respiration, with the help of clusters of metal atoms as "active" sites. But scientists lack basic information about their function because the states thought to be critical to their chemical abilities cannot be experimentally observed.

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Biomarker could provide early warning of kidney disease in cats

November 21, 2014 8:27 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | Comments

Researchers from Oregon State Univ. and other institutions have developed a new biomarker called “SDMA” that can provide earlier identification of chronic kidney disease in cats, which is one of the leading causes of their death. A new test based on this biomarker, when commercialized, should help pet owners and their veterinarians watch for this problem through periodic checkups, and treat it with diet or other therapies.

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