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Rock-dwelling microbes remove methane from deep sea

October 14, 2014 1:26 pm | by Ker Than, Caltech | Comments

Methane-breathing microbes that inhabit rocky mounds on the seafloor could be preventing large volumes of the potent greenhouse gas from entering the oceans and reaching the atmosphere, according to a new study. The rock-dwelling microbes represent a previously unrecognized biological sink for methane and as a result could reshape scientists' understanding of where this greenhouse gas is being consumed in subseafloor habitats.

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Discovery of cellular snooze button advances cancer and biofuel research

October 14, 2014 12:53 pm | by Michigan State Univ. Media Communications | Comments

The discovery of a cellular snooze button has allowed a team of Michigan State Univ. scientists to potentially improve biofuel production and offer insight on the early stages of cancer. The discovery finds the protein CHT7 is a likely repressor of cellular quiescence, or resting state. This cellular switch, which influences algae’s growth and oil production, also wields control of cellular growth—and tumor growth—in humans.

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Unique catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells synthesized in ordinary kitchen microwave oven

October 14, 2014 12:09 pm | by Ingrid Söderbergh, Umea Univ. | Comments

Swedish and Chinese researchers have recently shown how a unique nano-alloy composed of palladium nano-islands embedded in tungsten nanoparticles creates a new type of catalysts for highly efficient oxygen reduction, the most important reaction in hydrogen fuel cells. Their results are published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

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With their mark on Earth, humans may name era, too

October 14, 2014 11:57 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | Comments

Though most non-experts don't realize it, science calls the past 12,000 years the Holocene, Greek for "entirely recent." But the way humans and their industries are altering the planet, especially its climate, has caused an increasing number of scientists to use the word Anthropocene to better describe when and where we are.

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Unstoppable magnetoresistance

October 14, 2014 9:20 am | by Tien Nguyen, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Comments

Mazhar Ali, a fifth-year graduate student in the laboratory of Bob Cava, the Russell Wellman Moore Professor of Chemistry at Princeton Univ., has spent his academic career discovering new superconductors, materials coveted for their ability to let electrons flow without resistance. While testing his latest candidate, the semimetal tungsten ditelluride (WTe2), he noticed a peculiar result.

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Revving up fluorescence for superfast LEDs

October 14, 2014 9:17 am | Comments

Duke Univ. researchers have made fluorescent molecules emit photons of light 1,000 times faster than normal, setting a speed record and making an important step toward realizing superfast light emitting diodes (LEDs) and quantum cryptography. This finding could help make LED technology, which earned a Nobel Prize this year, suitable for use as a light source in light-based telecommunications.

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Rediscovering Venus to find faraway Earths

October 14, 2014 9:12 am | Comments

Astronomers Chih-Hao Li and David Phillips of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics want to rediscover Venus. They plan to “find” the second planet again using a powerful new optical device installed on the Italian National Telescope that will measure Venus' precise gravitational pull on the sun. If they succeed, their first-of-its-kind demonstration will be later used for finding Earth-like exoplanets orbiting distant stars.

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Slippery when dry: Graphene proves a long-lasting lubricant

October 14, 2014 9:08 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | Comments

When trying to design a mechanical system to last as long as possible, scientists and engineers have to find ways of overcoming friction. While researchers have found many materials that help to reduce friction, conventional lubricants often have chemical limitations. A recent analysis at Argonne National Laboratory has identified the properties of a newer, wear-resistant substance that works in a broader range of environments.

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ALS progression linked to increased protein instability

October 14, 2014 8:14 am | by Jon Weiner, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

A new study by scientists from The Scripps Research Institute, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and other institutions suggests a cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The team's work supports a common theme whereby loss of protein stability leads to disease.

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Force-sensing microrobots to probe cells

October 14, 2014 7:56 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Inexpensive microrobots capable of probing and manipulating individual cells and tissue for biological research and medical applications are closer to reality with the design of a system that senses the minute forces exerted by a robot's tiny probe. Microrobots small enough to interact with cells already exist. However, there is no easy, inexpensive way to measure the small forces applied to cells by the robots, until now.

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Mars One (and done?)

October 14, 2014 7:43 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

In 2012, the Mars One project, led by a Dutch nonprofit, announced plans to establish the first human colony on the Red Planet by 2025. The mission would initially send four astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars, where they would spend the rest of their lives building the first permanent human settlement.

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Obama reviews foreign, domestic response to Ebola

October 13, 2014 6:38 pm | by Jim Kuhnhenn - Associated Press - Associated Press | Comments

President Barack Obama urged his top national security and public health officials on Monday to incorporate lessons from the most recent Texas Ebola infection into the U.S.'s response plans to the deadly virus. He also called on the international community to deliver assistance more quickly to the countries of West Africa that are struggling against the disease.

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Why drop in oil prices has downside for U.S. economy

October 13, 2014 4:38 pm | by Jonathan Fahey - AP Energy Writer - Associated Press | Comments

Low oil prices sure feel nice. But there are downsides to the recent plunge in oil prices. Low fuel prices can help boost economic growth by reducing fuel bills and leaving consumers and companies with more money to spend on other things. Problem is, two factors behind the oil-price drop—a weaker global economy and a stronger dollar—could hurt the U.S. economy by reducing exports, employment and spending.

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Getting sharp images from dull detectors

October 13, 2014 11:14 am | Comments

In a new experiment, Joint Quantum Institute physicists have performed an experiment using incoherent light, where the light is a jumble of waves, and “stupid” photon detectors that only count to zero. The surprising result from sending this light through a double-slit baffle was a sharp 30-nm-wide interference effect, a new extreme for this type of light detection and a possible new avenue to effective sub-wavelength imaging.

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Tailored flexible illusion coatings hide objects from detection

October 13, 2014 10:53 am | Comments

Developing the cloak of invisibility would be wonderful, but sometimes simply making an object appear to be something else will do the trick, according to Penn State Univ. engineers. To do this, they employ what they call "illusion coatings," which are made of a thin flexible substrate with copper patterns designed to create the desired result. The metamaterial coatings can function normally while appearing as something else.

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