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The Lead

Shifts in states of matter: It’s complicated

November 7, 2014 | by Anne M. Stark, LLNL | Comments

The process of phase changes- those transitions between states of matter- is more complex than previously thought. A team researchers has found that we may need to rethink one of science’s building blocks and illustrate how a proper theoretical description of transitions has remained unclear.

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Cell’s skeleton is never still

November 24, 2014 11:23 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

New computer models that show how microtubules age are the first to match experimental results and help explain the dynamic processes behind an essential component of every living cell, according to Rice Univ. scientists. The results could help scientists fine-tune medications that manipulate microtubules to treat cancer and other diseases. 

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Terahertz device could strengthen security

November 24, 2014 11:12 am | by Northwestern Univ. | Comments

We are all familiar with the hassles that accompany air travel. We shuffle through long lines, remove our shoes, and carry liquids in regulation-sized tubes. And even after all the effort, we still wonder if these procedures are making us any safer. Now a new type of security detection that uses terahertz radiation is looking to prove its promise.

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Nanoparticles infiltrate, kill cancer cells from within

November 24, 2014 11:06 am | by Melanie Titanic-Schefft, Univ. of Cincinnati | Comments

Conventional treatment seeks to eradicate cancer cells by drugs and therapy delivered from outside the cell, which may also affect (and potentially harm) nearby normal cells. In contrast to conventional cancer therapy, a Univ. of Cincinnati team has developed several novel designs for iron-oxide based nanoparticles that detect, diagnose and destroy cancer cells using photo-thermal therapy (PTT).

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Scientists do glass a solid

November 24, 2014 10:52 am | by New York Univ. | Comments

How does glass transition from a liquid to its familiar solid state? How does this common material transport heat and sound? And what microscopic changes occur when a glass gains rigidity as it cools? A team of researchers at New York Univ.'s Center for Soft Matter Research offers a theoretical explanation for these processes in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Bee brains offer insights into how human memories form

November 24, 2014 9:46 am | by Univ. of Queensland | Comments

Scientists have discovered that genes switch off as memories are being formed, allowing for new connections between nerve cells. The discovery could eventually lead to a key for treating conditions such as autism and dementia. Researchers studying honeybees during learning activities have shown that memory management in the bee brain is controlled by small genetic elements called microRNAs that help regulate gene expression.

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Life’s extremists may be an untapped source of antibacterial drugs

November 24, 2014 9:29 am | by David Salisbury, Vanderbilt Univ. | Comments

One of the most mysterious forms of life may turn out to be a rich and untapped source of antibacterial drugs. The mysterious life form is Archaea, a family of single-celled organisms that thrive in environments like boiling hydrothermal pools and smoking deep sea vents which are too extreme for most other species to survive.

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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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