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All-electric cars may be worse for environment

December 16, 2014 8:02 am | by Associated Press, Seth Borenstein | Comments

People who own all-electric cars where coal generates the power may think they are helping the environment. But a new study finds their vehicles actually make the air dirtier, worsening global warming. Ethanol isn't so green, either. The study examines environmental costs for cars' entire lifecycle, including where power comes from and the environmental effects of building batteries.

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Proteins drive cancer cells to change states

December 16, 2014 7:50 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology implicates a family of RNA-binding proteins in the regulation of cancer, particularly in a subtype of breast cancer. These proteins, known as Musashi proteins, can force cells into a state associated with increased proliferation.

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Cancer patients employ mice as avatars

December 15, 2014 3:23 pm | by Associated Press, Marilynn Marchione | Comments

Scientists often test drugs in mice. Now some cancer patients are doing the same—with the hope of curing their own disease. They are paying a private lab to breed mice that carry bits of their own tumors so treatments can be tried first on the customized rodents. The idea is to see which drugs might work best on a specific person's cancer.

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Fraud-proof credit cards possible with quantum physics

December 15, 2014 3:11 pm | by Lyndsay Meyer, The Optical Society | Comments

Credit card fraud and identify theft are serious problems for consumers and industries. Though corporations and individuals work to improve safeguards, it has become increasingly difficult to protect financial data and personal information from criminal activity. Fortunately, new insights into quantum physics may soon offer a solution.

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New algorithm a Christmas gift to 3-D printing

December 15, 2014 2:23 pm | by Carol Thorbes, Univ. Communications, Simon Fraser Univ. | Comments

Just in time for Christmas, Simon Fraser Univ. computing science professor Richard Zhang reveals how to print a 3-D Christmas tree efficiently and with zero material waste, using the world’s first algorithm for automatically decomposing a 3-D object into what are called pyramidal parts. A pyramidal part has a flat base with the remainder of the shape forming upwards over the base with no overhangs, much like a pyramid.

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Using liquid drops to make solids stiffer

December 15, 2014 2:13 pm | by Rase McCry, Yale Univ. | Comments

Engineers at Yale Univ. have discovered that the stiffness of liquid drops embedded in solids has something in common with Goldilocks: While large drops of liquids are softer than the solid that surrounds them, extremely tiny drops of liquid can actually be stiffer than certain solids. But when they’re “just right,” the liquid drops have the exact same stiffness as the surrounding solid.

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Local market conditions, policies strongly influence solar PV pricing

December 15, 2014 2:03 pm | by Allan Chen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Differences in local market conditions and policies, and other factors, particularly the size of the system, can lead to wide disparities in what consumers across the U.S. pay to install solar energy systems on their homes or small businesses, according to a recent study published by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. This translates into thousands of dollars difference in the price of comparable solar energy systems around the U.S.

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Past global warming similar to today’s, but in two pulses

December 15, 2014 1:54 pm | by Jim Erickson, University of Michigan | Comments

The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth's climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, researchers at the Univ. of Utah, the Univ. of Michigan and three other universities found.

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New findings could point the way to “valleytronics”

December 15, 2014 1:41 pm | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

New findings could provide a pathway toward a kind of 2-D microchip that would make use of a characteristic of electrons other than their electrical charge, as in conventional electronics. The new approach is dubbed “valleytronics,” because it makes use of properties of an electron that can be depicted as a pair of deep valleys on a graph of their traits.

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Molecular “hats” allow in vivo activation of disguised signaling peptides

December 15, 2014 11:42 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

When someone you know is wearing an unfamiliar hat, you might not recognize them. Georgia Institute of Technology researchers are using just such a disguise to sneak biomaterials containing peptide signaling molecules into living animals. When the disguised peptides are needed to launch biological processes, the researchers shine ultraviolet light onto the molecules through the skin, causing the "hat" structures to come off.

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How climate change could leave cities in the dark

December 15, 2014 11:30 am | by Jill Rosen, Johns Hopkins Univ. | Comments

Cities like Miami are all too familiar with hurricane-related power outages. But a Johns Hopkins Univ. analysis finds climate change will give other major metro areas a lot to worry about in the future. Johns Hopkins engineers created a computer model to predict the increasing vulnerability of power grids in major coastal cities during hurricanes.

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Research confirms controversial nitrite hypothesis

December 15, 2014 10:48 am | by Bonnie Davis, Office of Communications and External Relations, Wake Forest Univ. | Comments

Understanding how nitrite can improve conditions such as hypertension, heart attack and stroke has been the object of worldwide research studies. New research from Wake Forest Univ. has potentially moved the science one step closer to this goal. In a recently published paper, the team shows deoxygenated hemoglobin is indeed responsible for triggering the conversion of nitrite to nitric oxide, a process that affects blood flow and clotting.

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Squid supplies blueprint for printable thermoplastics

December 15, 2014 10:37 am | by Penn State Univ. | Comments

Squid, what is it good for? You can eat it and you can make ink or dye from it, and now a Penn State Univ. team of researchers is using it to make a thermoplastic that can be used in 3-D printing. The team looked at the protein complex that exists in the squid ring teeth (SRT). The naturally made material is a thermoplastic, but obtaining it requires a large amount of effort and many squid.

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Pluto-sized objects kick up dust around adolescent sun-like star

December 15, 2014 10:27 am | by David A. Aguilar, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics | Comments

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) may have detected the dusty hallmarks of an entire family of Pluto-size objects swarming around an adolescent version of our own sun. By making detailed observations of the protoplanetary disk surrounding the star known as HD 107146, the astronomers detected an unexpected increase in the concentration of millimeter-size dust grains in the disk's outer reaches.

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App triggers horrible traffic for locals

December 15, 2014 10:17 am | by Associated Press, John Rogers | Comments

When the people whose houses hug the narrow warren of streets paralleling the busiest urban freeway in America began to see bumper-to-bumper traffic crawling by their homes a year or so ago, they were baffled. When word spread that the explosively popular new smartphone app Waze was sending many of those cars through their neighborhood in a quest to shave five minutes off a daily rush-hour commute, they were angry and ready to fight back.

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