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Black hole loses its appetite for gassy cloud

November 19, 2014 8:22 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | Comments

In a showdown of black hole versus G2—a cloud of gas and dust—it looks like G2 won. Recent research shows that G2 came within 30 billion km of the super-massive black hole at the center of our galaxy, yet managed to escape from the gravitational pull of the black hole.

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Hormone points to potential treatment for metabolic disorders

November 19, 2014 8:13 am | by Laura Williams, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Michigan have discovered how a previously unknown hormone serves as a messenger from fat cells to the liver and are investigating the potential of developing a new treatment for metabolic disorders. Jiandie Lin of the Life Sciences Institute described how in mice the hormone, NRG4, is secreted by so-called brown fat cells and communicates with the liver to regulate the conversion of sugar into fat.

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Running the color gamut

November 19, 2014 8:01 am | by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office | Comments

If LCD TVs get more colorful in the next few years, it will probably be thanks to QD Vision, a pioneer of quantum-dot television displays. Quantum dots are light-emitting semiconductor nanocrystals that can be tuned to emit all colors across the visible spectrum. By tuning these dots to red and green, and using a blue backlight to energize them, QD Vision has developed an optical component that can boost the color gamut for LCD televisions.

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Fool’s gold as a solar material?

November 19, 2014 7:47 am | by David Tennebaum, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | Comments

As the installation of photovoltaic solar cells continues to accelerate, scientists are looking for inexpensive materials beyond the traditional silicon that can efficiently convert sunlight into electricity. Theoretically, iron pyrite could do the job, but when it works at all, the conversion efficiency remains frustratingly low. Now, a Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison research team explains why that is.

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Study will test survivors' blood to treat Ebola

November 18, 2014 11:00 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | Comments

A coalition of companies and aid groups announced plans Tuesday to test experimental drugs and collect blood plasma from Ebola survivors to treat new victims of the disease in West Africa. Plasma from survivors contains antibodies, substances the immune system makes to fight the virus.

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Warmth, flowing water on early Mars were episodic

November 18, 2014 11:46 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | Comments

Ample evidence of ancient rivers, streams and lakes make it clear that Mars was at some point warm enough for liquid water to flow on its surface. While that may conjure up images of a tropical Martian paradise, new research published in Nature Geoscience throws a bit of cold water on that notion.

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Gravity may have saved the universe after the Big Bang

November 18, 2014 10:34 am | by Laura Gallagher, Imperial College London | Comments

New research by a team of European physicists could explain why the universe did not collapse immediately after the Big Bang. Studies of the Higgs particle have suggested that the production of Higgs particles during the accelerating expansion of the very early universe (inflation) should have led to instability and collapse.

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Scientists reveal weak spots in Ebola’s defenses

November 18, 2014 9:27 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | Comments

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have identified weak spots on the surface of Ebola virus that are targeted by the antibodies in ZMapp, the experimental drug cocktail administered to several patients during the recent Ebola outbreak. The study provides a revealing 3-D picture of how the ZMapp antibodies bind to Ebola virus.

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New acoustic sensor developed for chemical, biological detection

November 18, 2014 9:14 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | Comments

Testing for ovarian cancer or the presence of a particular chemical could be almost as simple as distinguishing an F sharp from a B flat, thanks to a new microscopic acoustic device that has been dramatically improved by scientists at Argonne National Laboratory. The device, known as a surface acoustic wave (SAW) sensor, detects frequency changes in waves that propagate through its crystalline structure.

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As temperatures rise, soil will relinquish less carbon to atmosphere

November 18, 2014 8:26 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Here’s another reason to pay close attention to microbes: Current climate models probably overestimate the amount of carbon that will be released from soil into the atmosphere as global temperatures rise, according to research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The findings are from a new computer model that explores the feedbacks between soil carbon and climate change.

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Two sensors in one

November 18, 2014 8:10 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemists have developed new nanoparticles that can simultaneously perform magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and fluorescent imaging in living animals. Such particles could help scientists to track specific molecules produced in the body, monitor a tumor’s environment, or determine whether drugs have successfully reached their targets.

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Chemical disguise transforms RNAi drug delivery

November 18, 2014 7:57 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | Comments

Small pieces of synthetic RNA trigger a RNA interference (RNAi) response that holds great therapeutic potential to treat a number of diseases, especially cancer and pandemic viruses. The problem is delivery: It’s extremely difficult to get RNAi drugs inside the cells in which they are needed.

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Researchers create, control spin waves

November 18, 2014 7:50 am | by James Devitt, New York Univ. | Comments

A team of New York Univ. and Univ. of Barcelona physicists has developed a method to control the movements occurring within magnetic materials, which are used to store and carry information. The breakthrough could simultaneously bolster information processing while reducing the energy necessary to do so.

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Study: Polar bears disappearing from key region

November 17, 2014 5:01 pm | by Seth Borenstein - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | Comments

A key polar bear population fell nearly by half in the past decade, a new U.S.-Canada study found, with scientists seeing a dramatic increase in young cubs starving and dying. Researchers chiefly blame shrinking sea ice from global warming. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and Environment Canada captured, tagged and released polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea from 2001 to 2010.

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Advance in cryopreservation could change management of world blood supplies

November 17, 2014 3:58 pm | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | Comments

Engineers at Oregon State Univ. have identified a method to rapidly prepare frozen red blood cells for transfusions, which may offer an important new way to manage the world’s blood supply. It’s already possible to cryopreserve human red blood cells in the presence of 40% glycerol, but is rarely done because of the time-consuming process to thaw and remove the glycerol from the blood.

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