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Yellowstone super-eruption would send ash across North America

August 27, 2014 12:22 pm | Comments

According to a new study, in the unlikely event of a volcanic super-eruption at Yellowstone National Park, the northern Rocky Mountains would be blanketed in meters of ash, and millimeters would be deposited as far away as New York City, Los Angeles and Miami. An improved computer model finds that the hypothetical, large eruption would create a distinctive kind of ash cloud known as an umbrella, which expands evenly in all directions.

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Pebble-sized particles may jump-start planet formation

August 27, 2014 12:10 pm | Comments

Astronomers using the Green Bank Telescope have discovered that filaments of star-forming gas near the Orion Nebula may be brimming with pebble-size particles: planetary building blocks 100 to 1,000 times larger than the dust grains typically found around protostars. If confirmed, these dense ribbons of rocky material may well represent a new, mid-size class of interstellar particles that could help jump-start planet formation.

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Controlling a NASA robot on the Web

August 27, 2014 12:10 pm | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | Comments

A group of computer scientists from Brown Univ. were at the Johnson Space Center in Houston for a marathon of intensive coding to build new software for the Robonaut 2. Chad Jenkins’ laboratory builds user interfaces that can control robots of all kinds with an off-the-shelf Web browser. The system can be adapted for even the most complex robots, and NASA wants the team to adapt the interface for the humanoid robot, Robonaut 2—“R2.”

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DARPA project aims to make nanoscale benefits life-sized

August 27, 2014 11:55 am | Comments

Many common materials exhibit different and potentially useful characteristics when fabricated at extremely small scales. But lack of knowledge of how to retain nanoscale properties in materials at larger scales and lack of assembly capabilities for items have prevented us from taking advantage of these nanoscale characteristics. DARPA has created the Atoms to Product (A2P) program to help overcome these challenges.

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Smartphone app can detect newborn jaundice in minutes

August 27, 2014 11:40 am | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | Comments

Newborn jaundice: It’s one of the last things a parent wants to deal with, but it’s unfortunately a common condition in babies less than a week old. Skin that turns yellow can be a sure sign that a newborn is jaundiced and isn’t adequately eliminating the chemical bilirubin. But that discoloration is sometimes hard to see. Researchers have developed a smartphone application that checks for jaundice in newborns.

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Optical microscope technique confirmed as valid nano measurement tool

August 27, 2014 11:22 am | by Chad Boutin, NIST | Comments

Recent experiments have confirmed that a technique developed several years ago at NIST can enable optical microscopes to measure the 3-D shape of objects at nanometer-scale resolution—far below the normal resolution limit for optical microscopy (about 250 nm for green light). The results could make the technique a useful quality control tool in the manufacture of nanoscale devices such as next-generation microchips.

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Measurement at Big Bang conditions confirms lithium problem

August 27, 2014 11:21 am | Comments

The field of astrophysics has a stubborn problem and it’s called lithium. The quantities of lithium predicted to have resulted from the Big Bang are not actually present in stars. But the calculations are correct, a fact which has now been confirmed for the first time in experiments conducted at the underground laboratory in the Gran Sasso mountain in Italy.

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Researchers discover why Listeria bacterium is so hard to fight

August 27, 2014 11:11 am | Comments

The harmful and potentially deadly bacterium Listeria is extremely good at adapting to changes. Research from Denmark uncovers exactly how cunning Listeria is and why it is so hard to fight. The discovery could help develop more efficient ways to combat the bacteria.

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Researchers film protein quake for the first time

August 27, 2014 9:53 am | by Anne Hansen, Technical Univ. of Denmark | Comments

One of nature’s mysteries is how plants survive impact by the huge amounts of energy contained in the sun’s rays, while using this energy for photosynthesis. The hypothesis is that the light-absorbing proteins in the plant’s blades quickly dissipate the energy throughout the entire protein molecule through so-called protein “quakes”. Researchers have now managed to successfully “film” this process.

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Yale journal explores advances in sustainable manufacturing

August 27, 2014 8:33 am | Comments

Life cycle engineering connects the engineers who grapple with the efficiencies of production processes, machine design, and process chains with the industrial ecologists who develop more over-arching methods of environmental assessment. In a recent issue of the Journal of Industrial Ecology, experts explore the latest research on sustainable manufacturing and how life cycle engineering is being used to reduce environmental impact.

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Composition of Earth’s mantle revisited

August 27, 2014 8:31 am | by Louise Lerner, Argonne National Laboratory | Comments

Research published last week in Science suggested that the makeup of the Earth's lower mantle, which makes up the largest part of the Earth by volume, is significantly different than previously thought. According to scientists, the work performed at Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source will have a significant impact on our understanding of the lower mantle.

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Study: Earth can sustain more terrestrial plant growth than previously thought

August 27, 2014 8:00 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | Comments

A new analysis suggests the planet can produce much more land-plant biomass than previously thought. The study, reported in Environmental Science and Technology, recalculates the theoretical limit of terrestrial plant productivity, and finds that it is much higher than many current estimates allow.

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Pacific plate shrinking as it cools

August 27, 2014 7:47 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

The tectonic plate that dominates the Pacific “Ring of Fire” is not as rigid as many scientists assume, according to researchers at Rice Univ. and the Univ. of Nevada. The researchers have determined that cooling of the lithosphere makes some sections of the Pacific plate contract horizontally at faster rates than others and cause the plate to deform.

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Japan lab unable to replicate stem cell results

August 27, 2014 6:26 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | Comments

The Japanese laboratory that retracted a paper reporting a potentially major breakthrough in stem cell research said Wednesday its researchers have not managed to replicate the results. Scientists at the government-affiliated RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology said they are still trying to match results reported in two papers published by Nature in January and then retracted in July.

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Study: Existing power plants will spew 300 billion tons of carbon dioxide during use

August 26, 2014 4:33 pm | Comments

According to Univ. of California Irvine and Princeton Univ. scientists, existing power plants around the world will pump out more than 300 billion tons of carbon dioxide over their expected lifetimes, significantly adding to atmospheric levels of the climate-warming gas. The findings are the first to quantify how quickly these "committed" emissions are growing.

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