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Cancer-causing agent detected in water after pipeline spill

January 21, 2015 8:19 am | by By Matthew Brown - Associated Press - Associated Press | Comments

Eastern Montana residents rushed to stock up on bottled water Tuesday after authorities detected a cancer-causing component of oil in public water supplies downstream of a Yellowstone River pipeline spill. Elevated levels of benzene were found in water samples from a treatment plant that serves about 6,000 people in the agricultural community of Glendive, near North Dakota.

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Hearing-aid intervention helps individuals gradually adjust to devices

January 21, 2015 8:10 am | by Jesslyn Chew, Univ. of Missouri | Comments

When individuals wear their hearing aids for the first time, they are flooded with sounds they haven’t heard in months or years; yet, previous research has shown not all new sounds are welcomed. Ambient noises can be painful, irritating and difficult to ignore, causing some individuals to stop using their hearing aids right away. Now, a Univ. of Missouri researcher has developed an intervention.

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Self-assembled nanotextures create antireflective surface on silicon solar cells

January 21, 2015 8:05 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Comments

Reducing the amount of sunlight that bounces off the surface of solar cells helps maximize the conversion of the sun's rays to electricity, so manufacturers use coatings to cut down on reflections. Now scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory show that etching a nanoscale texture onto the silicon material itself creates an antireflective surface that works as well as state-of-the-art thin-film multilayer coatings.

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Sequestration on shaky ground

January 21, 2015 7:46 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

Carbon sequestration promises to address greenhouse gas emissions by capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and injecting it deep below the Earth’s surface, where it would permanently solidify into rock. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that current carbon sequestration technologies may eliminate up to 90% of carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.

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Melting glaciers have big carbon impact

January 20, 2015 11:21 am | by Kathleen Haughney, Florida State Univ. | Comments

As the Earth warms and glaciers all over the world begin to melt, researchers and public policy experts have focused largely on how all of that extra water will contribute to sea level rise. But another impact lurking in that inevitable scenario is carbon. More specifically, what happens to all of the organic carbon found in those glaciers when they melt?

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Laser-patterning technique turns metals into supermaterials

January 20, 2015 11:14 am | by American Institute of Physics | Comments

By zapping ordinary metals with femtosecond laser pulses researchers from the Univ. of Rochester have created extraordinary new surfaces that efficiently absorb light, repel water and clean themselves. The multifunctional materials could find use in durable, low maintenance solar collectors and sensors.

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Snails produce weaponized insulin

January 20, 2015 11:06 am | by Joe Rojas-Burke, Univ. of Utah | Comments

As predators go, cone snails are slow moving and lack the typical fighting parts. They’ve made up for it by producing a vast array of fast-acting toxins that target the nervous systems of prey. A new study reveals that some cone snails add a weaponized form of insulin to the venom cocktail they use to disable fish.

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Geophysicists find the crusty culprits behind sudden tectonic plate movements

January 20, 2015 10:40 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | Comments

Yale Univ.-led research may have solved one of the biggest mysteries in geology: namely, why do tectonic plates beneath the Earth’s surface, which normally shift over the course of tens to hundreds of millions of years, sometimes move abruptly? A new study says the answer comes down to two things: thick crustal plugs and weakened mineral grains.

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Ocean floor dust gives new insight into supernovae

January 20, 2015 10:32 am | by Phil Dooley, The Australian National Univ. | Comments

Scientists plumbing the depths of the ocean have made a surprise finding that could change the way we understand supernovae, exploding stars way beyond our solar system. They have analyzed extraterrestrial dust thought to be from supernovae that has settled on ocean floors to determine the amount of heavy elements created by the massive explosions.

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Wearable sensor clears path to long-term EKG, EMG monitoring

January 20, 2015 10:16 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a new, wearable sensor that uses silver nanowires to monitor electrophysiological signals, such as electrocardiography (EKG) or electromyography (EMG). The new sensor is as accurate as the “wet electrode” sensors used in hospitals, but can be used for long-term monitoring and is more accurate than existing sensors when a patient is moving.

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2014 warmest year on record

January 20, 2015 8:37 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | Comments

For the third time in a decade, the globe sizzled to the hottest year on record, federal scientists announced. Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA calculated that in 2014 the world had its hottest year in 135 years of record-keeping. Earlier, the Japanese weather agency and an independent group out of UC Berkeley also measured 2014 as the hottest on record.

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“Microcapsules” have potential to repair damage caused by osteoarthritis

January 20, 2015 8:29 am | by Queen Mary Univ. of London | Comments

A new “microcapsule” treatment delivery method developed by researchers at Queen Mary Univ. of London could reduce inflammation in cartilage affected by osteoarthritis and reverse damage to tissue. A protein molecule called C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), which occurs naturally in the body, is known to reduce inflammation and aid in the repair of damaged tissue.

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Self-destructive effects of magnetically doped ferromagnetic topological insulators

January 20, 2015 8:19 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Comments

The discovery of "topologically protected" electrical conductivity on the surface of some materials whose bulk interior acts as an insulator was among the most sensational advances in the last decade of condensed matter physics, with predictions of numerous unusual electronic states and new potential applications. But many of these predicted phenomena have yet to be observed, until now.

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System encourages creativity, makes robot design fun

January 20, 2015 8:01 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

A new cardboard-robotic toolkit allows children to create custom robots they control wirelessly with hand gestures without formal education in programming or electronics. The system, called HandiMate, uses motorized "joint modules" equipped with wireless communicators and microcontrollers. Children create robots by using Velcro strips to attach the modules to any number of everyday materials and objects.

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New laser could upgrade the images in tomorrow’s technology

January 20, 2015 7:23 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | Comments

A new semiconductor laser developed at Yale Univ. has the potential to significantly improve the imaging quality of the next generation of high-tech microscopes, laser projectors, photo lithography, holography and biomedical imaging. Based on a chaotic cavity laser, the technology combines the brightness of traditional lasers with the lower image corruption of light-emitting diodes.

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