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A six-sided polygonal origami tube can reconfigure into two different shapes by changing the direction of folds — from a mountain to a valley.

Reconfigurable origami tubes could find antenna, microfluidic uses

January 28, 2016 4:26 pm | by Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Origami, the ancient art of paper folding, may soon provide a foundation for antennas that can reconfigure themselves to operate at different frequencies, microfluidic devices whose properties can change in operation — and even heating and air-conditioning ductwork that adjusts to demand. The applications could result from reconfigurable and reprogrammable origami tubes.

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This microscopic closeup shows a small sample of ytterbium dirhodium disilicide, one of the most-studied "heavy fermion" composites. The scale bar in the center of the screen is one millimeter wide. Courtesy of Marc Tippmann/Technical University of Munich

Heavy fermions get nuclear boost on way to superconductivity

January 28, 2016 4:09 pm | by Jade Boyd, Rice University | Comments

In a surprising find, physicists from the United States, Germany and China have discovered that nuclear effects help bring about superconductivity in ytterbium dirhodium disilicide (YRS), one of the most-studied materials in a class of quantum critical compounds known as “heavy fermions.” The discovery marks the first time that superconductivity has been observed in YRS.

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(A) A segment of the near infrared (IR) spectrum of a cool star as observed by the Keck II telescope's near infrared spectrometer (NIRSPEC). Dark bands represent absorption features in the star's atmosphere. (B) A segment of the near IR spectrum from the

New calibration tool will help astronomers look for habitable exoplanets

January 28, 2016 2:11 pm | by Adam Hadhazy, W. M. Keck Observatory | Comments

Promising new calibration tools, called laser frequency combs, could allow astronomers to take a major step in discovering and characterizing earthlike planets around other stars. These devices generate evenly spaced lines of light, much like the teeth on a comb for styling hair or the tick marks on a ruler — hence their nickname of optical rulers. The tick marks serve as stable reference points when making precision measurements.

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STS-51L Crew (l-r): Payload Specialists Christa McAuliffe and Gregory B. Jarvis, Mission Specialist Judith A. Resnik, Commander Francis R. Scobee, Mission Specialist Ronald E. McNair, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialist Ellison S. Onizuka. Courtesy

NASA Remembers the Challenger 30 Years Later

January 28, 2016 12:33 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Today, NASA remembered the seven crewmembers of STS-51L who 30 years ago boarded the Shuttle Challenger and perished following a booster engine failure. On Jan. 28, 1986, the shuttle took to the blue sky. But 73 seconds after launch, the shuttle was swallowed by a fireball and exploded into several separate sections, leaving smoky tendrils in its wake. At the time, the shuttle was traveling at Mach 1.92

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Sensors and pressure pads of the proximity hat provide the user with information on the surroundings. Courtesy of KIT

Feeling spaces with the “proximity hat”

January 28, 2016 12:22 pm | by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | Comments

Ultrasonic sensors, batteries and pressure pads are parts of the novel system that can be put on the head like a hat or headband. Decreasing or increasing pressure provides the person wearing the hat with information on the proximity of walls, passages or objects. The system, called proximity hat, measures the surroundings in real time and might help visually impaired persons orient in rooms and firemen find their way around in smoke. 

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Colorized micrograph of a NIST single-photon detector made of superconducting nanowires patterned on molybdenum silicide. Courtesy of Verma/NIST

Less jitter, more bits: new material for detecting photons captures more quantum information

January 28, 2016 12:11 pm | by NIST | Comments

Detecting individual particles of light just got a bit more precise — by 74 picoseconds to be exact—thanks to advances in materials by NIST researchers and their colleagues in fabricating superconducting nanowires. Although 74 picoseconds may not sound like much — a picosecond is a trillionth of a second — it is a big deal in the quantum world, where light particles, or photons, can carry valuable information.

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Associate Professor Joan Vaccaro, from Griffith's Centre for Quantum Dynamics

Bringing time, space together for universal symmetry

January 28, 2016 11:59 am | by Griffith University | Comments

New research from Griffith University’s Centre for Quantum Dynamics is broadening perspectives on time and space. Associate Professor Joan Vaccaro challenges the long-held presumption that time evolution — the incessant unfolding of the universe over time — is an elemental part of Nature. She suggests there may be a deeper origin due to a difference between the two directions of time: to the future and to the past.

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CU-Boulder/NOAA study shows rapid, affordable energy transmission is possible.

A U.S. interstate for renewable energy could keep costs low

January 28, 2016 11:45 am | by University of Colorado | Comments

The United States could slash greenhouse gas emissions from power production by up to 78 percent below 1990 levels within 15 years while meeting increased demand, according to a new study by NOAA and University of Colorado Boulder researchers. The study used a sophisticated mathematical model to evaluate future cost, demand, generation and transmission scenarios.

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Section of rock coloniszed by cryptoendolithic microorganisms and the Cryomyces fungi in quartz crystals under an electron microscope. Courtesy of S. Onofri et al.

Antarctic Fungi Survives Martian and Space Conditions

January 28, 2016 11:24 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

For 18 months, the organisms were subjected to Mars-like conditions. The atmosphere was 95% carbon dioxide, 1.6% argon, 0.15% oxygen, 2.7% nitrogen, and 370 ppm water, with a pressure of 1,000 pascals. Additionally, they were exposed to ultra-violet radiation similar to that on Mars. And they returned alive.

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Sweeping Stellar Clusters Collect Fuel for New Stars

January 28, 2016 10:11 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

At a first glance, the globular cluster NGC 1783 looks like a high concentration of pockmarks of light bursting their way through a black expanse. Located roughly 160,000 light-years from the Earth, the massive stellar cluster boasts a mass equivalent to 170,000 suns. The cluster is one of the biggest and brightest located in the Large Magellanic Cloud satellite galaxy.

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California wrestles with making self-driving cars public

January 28, 2016 10:01 am | by Justin Pritchard, Associated Press | Comments

Companies that are developing self-driving cars of the future want government regulators to clear the road for public access to the technology, once it emerges from current prototype testing.

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NASA Webb Telescope mirrors installed with robotic arm precision

January 28, 2016 9:57 am | by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | Comments

Inside a massive clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland the James Webb Space Telescope team is steadily installing the largest space telescope mirror ever. Unlike other space telescope mirrors, this one must be pieced together from segments using a high-precision robotic arm.

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For this nanocatalyst reaction, one atom makes a big difference

January 28, 2016 9:46 am | by Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Combining experimental investigations and theoretical simulations, researchers have explained why platinum nanoclusters of a specific size range facilitate the hydrogenation reaction used to produce ethane from ethylene.

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Study finds toxic pollutants in fish across the world's oceans

January 28, 2016 9:39 am | by Univ. of California, San Diego | Comments

A new global analysis of seafood found that fish populations throughout the world's oceans are contaminated with industrial and agricultural pollutants, collectively known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The study from also uncovered some good news - concentrations of these pollutants have been consistently dropping over the last 30 years.

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Electric patch holds promise for treating PTSD

January 28, 2016 9:22 am | by UCLA | Comments

An average of 30 years had passed since the traumatic events that had left them depressed, anxious, irritable, hypervigilant, unable to sleep well and prone to nightmares. But for 12 people who were involved in a UCLA-led study -- survivors of rape, car accidents, domestic abuse and other traumas -- an unobtrusive patch on the forehead provided considerable relief from post-traumatic stress disorder.

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