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Flight is Greener than Driving

April 27, 2015 | by Univ. of Michigan | Comments

Flying in a plane is not only safer than driving a car, it's also better for the environment. In follow-up research from last year, a study found that it takes twice as much energy to drive than to fly.

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Astronomers unveil the farthest galaxy

May 6, 2015 9:01 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | Comments

An international team of astronomers has pushed back the cosmic frontier of galaxy exploration to a time when the universe was only 5% of its present age. The team discovered an exceptionally luminous galaxy more than 13 billion years in the past and determined its exact distance from Earth using the powerful MOSFIRE instrument on the W.M. Keck Observatory’s 10-m telescope, in Hawaii. It is the most distant galaxy currently measured.

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Naked mole-rats’ anti-cancer gene

May 6, 2015 8:37 am | by Will Hoyles, Public Relations Manager, Queen Mary Univ. of London | Comments

Naked mole-rats are unusual in many ways as a result of adaptations to living underground, with extreme longevity and a lack of the normal signs of ageing. Their resistance to cancer has been linked to the production of a substance called high molecular mass hyaluronan (HMM-HA), and mutations in the HAS2 gene that produces it.

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Capturing sunlight for a rainy day

May 6, 2015 8:27 am | by Jes Andersen, Univ. of Copenhagen | Comments

The sun is a huge source of energy. In just one hour, Earth is hit by so much sunshine that humankind could cover its energy needs for an entire year, if only we knew how to harvest and save it. But storing sunshine is not trivial. Now a student at the Dept. of Chemistry at the Univ. of Copenhagen has made a breakthrough that may prove pivotal for technologies to capture the energy of the sun and save it for a rainy day.

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Tuning x-rays with tiny mirrors

May 6, 2015 8:13 am | by Argonne National Laboratory | Comments

The secret of x-ray science, like so much else, is in the timing. Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have created a new way of manipulating high-intensity x-rays, which will allow researchers to select extremely brief but precise x-ray bursts for their experiments.

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A hot start to the origin of life?

May 6, 2015 8:01 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

DNA is synonymous with life, but where did it originate? One way to answer this question is to try to recreate the conditions that formed DNA’s molecular precursors. These precursors are carbon ring structures with embedded nitrogen atoms, key components of nucleobases, which themselves are building blocks of the double helix.

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Observed: The moment your mind changes

May 6, 2015 7:48 am | by Janet Rae-Dupree and Tom Abate, Stanford Univ. | Comments

Researchers studying how the brain makes decisions have, for the first time, recorded the moment-by-moment fluctuations in brain signals that occur when a monkey making free choices has a change of mind. The findings result from experiments led by electrical engineering Prof. Krishna Shenoy, whose Stanford Univ. lab focuses on movement control and neural prostheses controlled by the user's brain.

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Producing jet fuel compounds from fungus

May 6, 2015 7:36 am | by Tina Hilding, Washington State Univ. | Comments

Washington State Univ. researchers have found a way to make jet fuel from a common black fungus found in decaying leaves, soil and rotting fruit. The researchers hope the process leads to economically viable production of aviation biofuels in the next five years. The researchers used Aspergillus carbonarius ITEM 5010 to create hydrocarbons, the chief component of petroleum, similar to those in aviation fuels.

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Improving organic transistors that drive flexible, comfortable electronics

May 5, 2015 12:40 pm | by Janet Lathrop, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst | Comments

A revolution is coming in flexible electronic technologies as cheaper, more flexible, organic transistors come on the scene to replace expensive, rigid, silicone-based semiconductors, but not enough is known about how bending in these new thin-film electronic devices will affect their performance, say materials scientists at the Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst.

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Toward a squishier robot

May 5, 2015 11:37 am | by Univ. of Pittsburgh | Comments

For decades, robots have advanced the efficiency of human activity. Typically, however, robots are formed from bulky, stiff materials and require connections to external power sources; these features limit their dexterity and mobility. But what if a new material would allow for development of a "soft robot" that could reconfigure its own shape and move using its own internally generated power?

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New chip architecture may provide foundation for quantum computer

May 5, 2015 11:25 am | by American Institute of Physics | Comments

Quantum computers are in theory capable of simulating the interactions of molecules at a level of detail far beyond the capabilities of even the largest supercomputers today. Such simulations could revolutionize chemistry, biology and material science, but the development of quantum computers has been limited by the ability to increase the number of quantum bits, or qubits, that encode, store and access large amounts of data.

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A first for field-effect transistors

May 5, 2015 11:14 am | by Bonnie Davis, Office of Communications and External Relations, Wake Forest Univ. | Comments

Researchers from Wake Forest Univ. and the Univ. of Utah are the first to successfully fabricate halide organic-inorganic hybrid perovskite field-effect transistors and measure their electrical characteristics at room temperature. The team designed the structure of these field-effect transistors to achieve electrostatic gating of these materials and determine directly their electrical properties.

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“Microcombing” creates stronger, more conductive carbon nanotube films

May 5, 2015 9:42 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

Researchers have developed an inexpensive technique called “microcombing” to align carbon nanotubes, which can be used to create large, pure CNT films that are stronger than any previous such films. The technique also improves the electrical conductivity that makes these films attractive for use in electronic and aerospace applications.

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New climate projections paint bleak future for tropical coral reefs

May 5, 2015 8:50 am | by Vasyl Kacapyr, Cornell Univ. | Comments

As greater atmospheric carbon dioxide boosts sea temperatures, tropical corals face a bleak future. New climate model projections show that conditions are likely to increase the frequency and severity of coral disease outbreaks, reports a team of researchers led by Cornell Univ. scientists.

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First evidence of changing conditions on a super Earth

May 5, 2015 8:36 am | by Sarah Collins, Univ. of Cambridge | Comments

Astronomers have detected wildly changing temperatures on a super Earth, the first time any atmospheric variability has been observed on a rocky planet outside the solar system, and believe it could be due to huge amounts of volcanic activity, further adding to the mystery of what had been nicknamed the “diamond planet”.

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Computer scientists speed up mine detection

May 5, 2015 8:22 am | by Ioana Patringenaru, Univ. of California, San Diego | Comments

Computer scientists at the Univ. of California, San Diego, have combined sophisticated computer vision algorithms and a brain-computer interface to find mines in sonar images of the ocean floor. The study shows that the new method speeds detection up considerably, when compared to existing methods, which mainly consist of visual inspection by a mine detection expert.

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