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New defense mechanism against viruses discovered

September 11, 2014 1:18 pm | Comments

Researchers have discovered that a known quality control mechanism in human, animal and plant cells is active against viruses. They think this new form of a so-called “innate immune defense” might represent one of the oldest defense mechanisms against viruses in evolutionary history.

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Findings suggest how swimming cells form biofilms on surfaces

September 11, 2014 1:07 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Bacteria secrete a mucus-like “extracellular polymeric substance” that forms biofilms, allowing bacterial colonies to thrive on surfaces. Costs associated with biofilms affecting medical devices and industrial equipment amount to billions of dollars annually. New research reveals specifics about interactions that induce bacteria to swim close to surfaces and attach to biofilms. This may point to future approaches for fighting biofilms.

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NASA's newest human spacecraft on the move

September 11, 2014 12:59 pm | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | Comments

Workers at Kennedy Space Center gathered to watch as the Orion capsule, NASA's new spacecraft for humans, emerged from its assembly hangar Thursday morning, less than three months from its first test flight. During its Dec. 4 test flight, the capsule, unmanned, will shoot more than 3,600 miles into space and take two laps around Earth before re-entering the atmosphere at 20,000 mph and parachuting into the Pacific off the San Diego coast.

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Excitonic dark states shed light on TMDC atomic layers

September 11, 2014 9:50 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

A team of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers believes it has uncovered the secret behind the unusual optoelectronic properties of single atomic layers of transition metal dichalcogenide (TMDC) materials, the 2-D semiconductors that hold great promise for nanoelectronic and photonic applications.

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Researchers create world’s largest DNA origami

September 11, 2014 9:35 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ., Duke Univ. and the Univ. of Copenhagen have created the world’s largest DNA origami, which are nanoscale constructions with applications ranging from biomedical research to nanoelectronics. DNA origami are self-assembling biochemical structures that are made up of two types of DNA.

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Study: Many hospitals use too many antibiotics

September 11, 2014 8:39 am | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | Comments

Doctors in many U.S. hospitals are unnecessarily prescribing multiple antibiotics for several days when just one would do the job, a new study suggests. Health officials have sounded alarms that overuse of antibiotics is helping to breed dangerous bacteria that are increasingly resistant to treatment. Much of the attention has been on doctor offices that wrongly prescribe bacteria-targeting antibiotics for illnesses caused by viruses.

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Plastics in motion: Exploring the world of polymers

September 11, 2014 8:21 am | by SLAC Office of Communications | Comments

Plastics are made of polymers, which are a challenge for scientists to study. Their chain-like strands of thousands of atoms are tangled up in a spaghetti-like jumble, their motion can be measured at many time scales and they are essentially invisible to some common x-ray study techniques. A better understanding of polymers at the molecular scale could lead to improved manufacturing techniques and the creation of new materials.

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Advanced Light Source sets microscopy record

September 11, 2014 8:11 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

A record-setting x-ray microscopy experiment may have ushered in a new era for nanoscale imaging. Working at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), a collaboration of researchers used low energy or “soft” x-rays to image structures only 5 nm in size. This resolution, obtained at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source, is the highest ever achieved with x-ray microscopy.

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Seismic gap may be filled by an earthquake near Istanbul

September 11, 2014 7:56 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

When a segment of a major fault line goes quiet, it can mean one of two things: The “seismic gap” may simply be inactive, or the segment may be a source of potential earthquakes, quietly building tension over decades until an inevitable seismic release. Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Turkey have found evidence for both types of behavior on different segments of the North Anatolian Fault.

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Chemists discover way nose perceives common class of odors

September 10, 2014 6:10 pm | Comments

Biologists claim that humans can perceive and distinguish a trillion different odors, but little is known about the underlying chemical processes involved. Biochemists at The City College of New York have found an unexpected chemical strategy employed by the mammalian nose to detect chemicals known as aldehydes.

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Optical circuit uses record low energy to operate

September 10, 2014 6:07 pm | by Nik Papageorgiou, EPFL | Comments

Optical circuits use light instead of electricity, making them faster and more energy-efficient than electrical systems. Scientists in Switzerland have now developed a silicon-based photonic crystal nanocavity to be used as a first building-block for photonic “transistors”. The new device requires record low energy to operate.

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Angling chromium to let oxygen through

September 10, 2014 6:03 pm | by Mary Beckman, PNNL | Comments

Researchers have been trying to increase the efficiency of solid oxide fuel cells by lowering the temperatures at which they run. In a serendipitous finding at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, researchers have created a new form of strontium-chromium oxide that performs as a semiconductor and also allows oxygen to diffuse easily, a requirement for a solid oxide fuel cell.

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Nanotechnology aids in cooling electrons without external sources

September 10, 2014 1:23 pm | Comments

A team of researchers has discovered a way to cool electrons to -228 C without external means and at room temperature, an advancement that could enable electronic devices to function with very little energy. The process involves passing electrons through a quantum well to cool them and keep them from heating.

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“Electronic skin” could improve early breast cancer detection

September 10, 2014 1:09 pm | Comments

For detecting cancer, manual breast exams seem low-tech compared to other methods such as MRI. But scientists are now developing an “electronic skin” that “feels” and images small lumps that fingers can miss. Knowing the size and shape of a lump could allow for earlier identification of breast cancer, which could save lives.

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Novel method for portable detection of drugs

September 10, 2014 10:37 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Despite being outlawed in 2012 in the U.S., the synthetic drugs known as “bath salts”—which really aren’t meant for your daily bath—are still readily available in some retail shops, on the Internet and on the streets. To help law enforcement, scientists are developing a novel method that could be the basis for the first portable, on-site testing device for identifying the drugs.

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