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Trapping light with a twister

December 23, 2014 | Comments

Researchers at MIT who succeeded last year in creating a material that could trap light and stop it in its tracks have now developed a more fundamental understanding of the process.             

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Extreme oxygen loss in oceans accompanied past global climate change

January 29, 2015 11:58 am | by Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service | Comments

Seafloor sediment cores reveal abrupt, extensive loss of oxygen in the ocean when ice sheets melted roughly 10,000 to 17,000 years ago, according to a study. The findings provide insight into similar changes observed in the ocean today. In the study, researchers analyzed marine sediment cores from different world regions to document the extent to which low oxygen zones in the ocean have expanded in the past, due to climate change.

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Neutron beams reveal how two potential pieces of Parkinson’s puzzle fit

January 29, 2015 11:44 am | by Chad Boutin, NIST | Comments

To understand diseases like Parkinson’s, the tiniest of puzzles may hold big answers. That’s why a team including scientists from NIST have determined how two potentially key pieces of the Parkinson’s puzzle fit together, in an effort to reveal how the still poorly understood illness develops and affects its victims.

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X-ray study reveals division of labor in cell health protein

January 29, 2015 11:24 am | by SLAC Office of Communications | Comments

Researchers working in part at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have discovered that a key protein for cell health, which has recently been linked to diabetes, cancer and other diseases, can multitask by having two identical protein parts divide labor. The TH enzyme, short for transhydrogenase, is a crucial protein for most forms of life. In humans and other higher organisms, it works within mitochondria.

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Quantum computer as detector shows space isn’t squeezed

January 29, 2015 10:42 am | by Robert Sanders, Univ. of California, Berkeley Media Relations | Comments

Ever since Einstein proposed his special theory of relativity in 1905, physics and cosmology have been based on the assumption that space looks the same in all directions: that it’s not squeezed in one direction relative to another. A new experiment by Univ. of California, Berkeley physicists used partially entangled atoms to demonstrate more precisely than ever before that this is true, to one part in a billion billion.

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Refineries challenge EPA plan to cut emissions

January 29, 2015 10:26 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

A rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency that aims to curb emissions from oil refineries and petrochemical manufacturers is causing tensions to flare between the agency and industry groups. The agency is reviewing a flood of public comments on the issue and is expected to finalize the rule by April 17, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News.

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Missing link in metal physics explains Earth’s magnetic field

January 29, 2015 9:58 am | by Carnegie Institute | Comments

Earth’s magnetic field is crucial for our existence, as it shields the life on our planet’s surface from deadly cosmic rays. It is generated by turbulent motions of liquid iron in Earth’s core. Iron is a metal, which means it can easily conduct a flow of electrons that makes up an electric current. New findings show a missing piece of the traditional theory explaining why metals become less conductive when they are heated.

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Why upper motor neurons degenerate in ALS

January 29, 2015 8:44 am | by Marla Paul, Northwestern Univ. | Comments

For the first time, scientists have revealed a mechanism underlying the cellular degeneration of upper motor neurons, a small group of neurons in the brain recently shown to play a major role in ALS pathology. ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a fatal neuromuscular disorder marked by the degeneration of motor neurons, which causes muscle weakness and impaired speaking, swallowing and breathing that leads to paralysis and death.

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Detecting chemical weapons with a color-changing film

January 29, 2015 8:39 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

In today’s world, in which the threat of terrorism looms, there is an urgent need for fast, reliable tools to detect the release of deadly chemical warfare agents (CWAs). In ACS Macro Letters, scientists are reporting new progress toward thin-film materials that could rapidly change colors in the presence of CWAs.

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Spiky “hedgehog particles” for safer paints, fewer VOC emissions

January 29, 2015 8:28 am | by Gabe Cherry, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

A new process that can sprout microscopic spikes on nearly any type of particle may lead to more environmentally friendly paints and a variety of other innovations. Made by a team of Univ. of Michigan engineers, the "hedgehog particles" are named for their bushy appearance under the microscope.

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Researchers design tailored tissue adhesives

January 29, 2015 8:17 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

After undergoing surgery to remove diseased sections of the colon, up to 30% of patients experience leakage from their sutures, which can cause life-threatening complications. Many efforts are under way to create new tissue glues that can help seal surgical incisions and prevent such complications; now, a new study reveals that the effectiveness of such glues hinges on the state of the tissue in which they are being used.

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Gully patterns document Martian climate cycles

January 29, 2015 8:06 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | Comments

Geologists from Brown Univ. have found new evidence that glacier-like ice deposits advanced and retreated multiple times in the mid-latitude regions of Mars in the relatively recent past. For the study, the researchers looked at hundreds of gully-like features found on the walls of impact craters throughout the Martian mid-latitudes.

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Using ocean waves to monitor offshore oil and gas fields

January 29, 2015 7:54 am | by Ker Than, Stanford Univ. | Comments

A technology developed by Stanford Univ. scientists for passively probing the seafloor using weak seismic waves generated by the ocean could revolutionize offshore oil and natural gas extraction by providing real-time monitoring of the subsurface while lessening the impact on marine life.

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Some potentially habitable planets began as gaseous, Neptune-like worlds

January 29, 2015 7:45 am | by Peter Kelley, News and Information, Univ. of Washington | Comments

Two phenomena known to inhibit the potential habitability of planets might instead help chances for life on certain planets orbiting low-mass stars, Univ. of Washington astronomers have found. The astronomers say tidal forces and vigorous stellar activity could combine to transform uninhabitable “mini-Neptunes” into closer-in, gas-free, potentially habitable worlds.

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Ancient Israeli skull may document migration from Africa

January 28, 2015 1:17 pm | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | Comments

Long ago, humans left their evolutionary cradle in Africa and passed through the Middle East on their way to Europe. Now scientists have found the first fossil remains that appear to document that journey, a partial skull from an Israeli cave. The skull dates from around 55,000 years ago, fitting into the period when scientists had thought the migrants inhabited the area.

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New mechanism unlocked for evolution of green fluorescent protein

January 28, 2015 10:51 am | by Jenny Green, Arizona State Univ. | Comments

A primary challenge in the biosciences is to understand the way major evolutionary changes in nature are accomplished. Sometimes the route turns out to be very simple. A group of scientists showed, for the first time, that a hinge migration mechanism, driven solely by long-range dynamic motions, can be the key for evolution of a green-to-red photoconvertible phenotype in a green fluorescent protein.

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