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Engineering new bone growth

August 19, 2014 7:56 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemical engineers have devised a new implantable tissue scaffold coated with bone growth factors that are released slowly over a few weeks. When applied to bone injuries or defects, this coated scaffold induces the body to rapidly form new bone that looks and behaves just like the original tissue.

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Bionic liquids from lignin

August 19, 2014 7:44 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

While the powerful solvents known as ionic liquids show great promise for liberating fermentable sugars from lignocellulose and improving the economics of advanced biofuels, an even more promising candidate is on the horizon—bionic liquids. Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute have developed “bionic liquids” from lignin and hemicellulose, two by-products of biofuel production from biorefineries.

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No one-size-fits-all approach in a changing climate, land

August 19, 2014 7:31 am | by Kelly April Tyrrell, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | Comments

As climate change alters habitats for birds and bees and everything in between, so too does the way humans decide to use land. Researchers have, for the first time, found a way to determine the potential combined impacts of both climate and land-use change on plants, animals and ecosystems across the country.

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Microchip reveals how tumor cells transition to invasion

August 18, 2014 11:06 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | Comments

Using a microengineered device that acts as an obstacle course for cells, researchers have shed new light on a cellular metamorphosis thought to play a role in tumor cell invasion throughout the body. The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a process in which epithelial cells, which tend to stick together within a tissue, change into mesenchymal cells, which can disperse and migrate individually.

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Artificial cells act like the real thing

August 18, 2014 10:55 am | Comments

Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery, but mimicking the intricate networks and dynamic interactions that are inherent to living cells is difficult to achieve outside the cell. Now, as published in Science, Weizmann Institute scientists have created an artificial, network-like cell system that is capable of reproducing the dynamic behavior of protein synthesis.

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Why the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle rollout may now succeed

August 18, 2014 10:42 am | by Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service | Comments

A convergence of factors is propelling a market rollout of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, according to a new study. A key to hydrogen’s potential success is a new smart solution that clusters hydrogen fuel infrastructure in urban or regional networks, limiting initial costs and enabling an early market for the technology before committing to a full national deployment.

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Promising ferroelectric materials suffer from unexpected electric polarizations

August 18, 2014 9:46 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Comments

Electronic devices with unprecedented efficiency and data storage may someday run on ferroelectrics—remarkable materials that use built-in electric polarizations to read and write digital information, outperforming the magnets inside most popular data-driven technology. But ferroelectrics must first overcome a few key stumbling blocks, including a curious habit of "forgetting" stored data.

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Researchers develop molecular probes for the study of metals in brain

August 18, 2014 8:59 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

The human brain harbors far more copper, iron and zinc than anywhere else in the body. Abnormally high levels of these metals can lead to disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Chris Chang, a faculty chemist with Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Div., has spent the past several years developing new probes and techniques for imaging the molecular activity of these metals in the brain.

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Algorithm gives credit where credit is due

August 18, 2014 8:29 am | by Joe O'Connell, Staff Writer, Northeastern Univ. | Comments

It makes sense that the credit for sci­ence papers with mul­tiple authors should go to the authors who per­form the bulk of the research, yet that’s not always the case. Now a new algo­rithm devel­oped at Northeastern’s Center for Com­plex Net­work Research helps sheds light on how to prop­erly allo­cate credit.

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Bats bolster brain hypothesis, maybe technology, too

August 18, 2014 8:19 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | Comments

Amid a neuroscience debate about how people and animals focus on distinct objects within cluttered scenes, some of the newest and best evidence comes from the way bats “see” with their ears, according to a new paper. In fact, the perception process in question could improve sonar and radar technology. Bats demonstrate remarkable skill in tracking targets such as bugs through the trees in the dark of night.

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Mysteries of space dust revealed

August 18, 2014 8:03 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

The first analysis of space dust collected by a special collector onboard NASA’s Stardust mission and sent back to Earth for study in 2006 suggests the tiny specks, which likely originated from beyond our solar system, are more complex in composition and structure than previously imagined. The analysis opens a door to studying the origins of the solar system and possibly the origin of life itself.

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Moore quantum materials: Recipe for serendipity

August 18, 2014 7:44 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Thanks to a $1.5 million innovation award from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Rice Univ. physicist Emilia Morosan is embarking on a five-year quest to cook up a few unique compounds that have never been synthesized or explored. Morosan is no ordinary cook; her pantry includes metals, oxides and sulfides, and her recipes produce superconductors and exotic magnets.

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Recycling old batteries into solar cells

August 18, 2014 7:38 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

This could be a classic win-win solution: A system proposed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology recycles materials from discarded car batteries—a potential source of lead pollution—into new, long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions-free power. The system is based on a recent development in solar cells that makes use of a compound called perovskite.

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Disabilities in kids rise; not physical problems

August 18, 2014 2:19 am | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | Comments

Disabilities among U.S. children have increased slightly, with a bigger rise in mental and developmental problems in those from wealthier families, a 10-year analysis found. Disadvantaged kids still bear a disproportionate burden. The increases may partly reflect more awareness and recognition that conditions, including autism, require a specific diagnosis to receive special services, the researchers said.

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Another Ebola problem: Finding its natural source

August 17, 2014 9:19 am | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writers - Associated Press | Comments

A scary problem lurks beyond the frenzied efforts to keep people from spreading Ebola: No one knows exactly where the virus comes from or how to stop it from seeding new outbreaks. Ebola has caused two dozen outbreaks in Africa since it first emerged in 1976. It is coming from somewhere—probably bats—but experts agree they need to pinpoint its origins in nature.

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