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Fibers made by transforming materials

February 20, 2015 8:26 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Scientists have known how to draw thin fibers from bulk materials for decades. But a new approach to that old method, developed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, could lead to a whole new way of making high-quality fiber-based electronic devices. The idea grew out of a long-term research effort to develop multifunctional fibers that incorporate different materials into a single long functional strand.

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Tool helps boost wireless channel frequencies, capacity

February 20, 2015 8:16 am | by Laura Ost, NIST | Comments

Smartphones and tablets are everywhere, which is great for communications but a growing burden on wireless channels. Forecasted huge increases in mobile data traffic call for exponentially more channel capacity. Boosting bandwidth and capacity could speed downloads, improve service quality and enable new applications like the Internet of Things connecting a multitude of devices.

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New technique developed for making graphene competitor, molybdenum disulphide

February 20, 2015 7:59 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | Comments

Graphene is often touted as a replacement for silicon in electronic devices due to its extremely high conductivity and unbeatable thinness. But graphene isn’t the only 2-D material that could play such a role. Univ. of Pennsylvania researchers have made an advance in manufacturing one such material, molybdenum disulphide.

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Perfect colors, captured with ultra-thin lens

February 20, 2015 7:50 am | by Caroline Perry, Harvard Univ. | Comments

Most lenses are, by definition, curved. After all, they are named for their resemblance to lentils, and a glass lens made flat is just a window with no special powers. But a new type of lens created at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences turns conventional optics on its head.

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Giving shape to black holes’ intense winds

February 20, 2015 7:41 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | Comments

By looking at the speed of ambient gas spewing out from a well-known quasar, astronomers are gaining insight into how black holes and their host galaxies might have evolved at the same time. Using the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), researchers were able to use the x-ray spectra of an extremely luminous black hole (quasar PDS 456) to detect a nearly spherical stream of highly ionized gas streaming out of it.

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Antarctica: Mystery continent holds key to mankind's future

February 20, 2015 1:08 am | by Luis Andres Henao And Seth Borenstein, Associated Press | Comments

Earth's past, present and future come together here on the northern peninsula of Antarctica, the wildest, most desolate and mysterious of its continents. Clues to answering humanity's most basic questions are locked in this continental freezer the size of the U.S. and half of Canada: Where did we come from? Are we alone in the universe? What's the fate of our warming planet?

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FDA eases access to DNA screening for inherited diseases

February 19, 2015 9:08 pm | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer, Associated Press | Comments

Federal health officials are easing access to DNA tests used to screen parents for devastating genetic disorders that can be passed on to their children. The surprise announcement offers a path forward for Google-backed genetic testing firm 23andMe, which previously clashed with regulators over its direct-to-consumer technology.

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Engineers Measure Tsunami's Impact on Columbia River

February 19, 2015 2:00 pm | by Oregon State Univ. | Comments

Engineers have completed one of the most precise evaluations yet about the impact of a major tsunami event on the Columbia River. They found what forces are most important in controlling water flow and what areas might be inundated.

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Air Filter Could Help Beijing Breathe Easily

February 19, 2015 2:00 pm | by Stanford Univ. | Comments

A professor and his students have turned a material commonly used in surgical gloves into a low-cost, highly efficient air filter. It could be used to improve facemasks and window screens, and maybe even scrub the exhaust from power plants.  

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HTTP Gets an Update

February 19, 2015 2:00 pm | by The Conversation, Peter Maynard | Comments

Hypertext Transfer Protocol, HTTP, is a key component of the World Wide Web. It is the communications layer through which web browsers request web pages from web servers and with which web servers respond with the contents of the page. Like much of the internet it’s been around for decades, but a recent announcement reveals that HTTP/2, the first major update in 15 years, is about to arrive.  

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Liability Laws in the Age of Self-driving Cars

February 19, 2015 2:00 pm | by Inside Science News Service, Joel Shurkin | Comments

Ninety percent of automobile accidents involve human error. If scientists succeed in producing computer-driven cars, responsibility may shift to programming errors. In that case, who sues whom? Who is liable?

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Urbanization May Be Pushing Evolution to a Tipping Point

February 19, 2015 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Washington | Comments

Humans and the cities we build affect the ecosystem and even drive some evolutionary change. Spiders in cities are getting bigger and salmon in rivers are getting smaller; birds in urban areas are growing tamer and bolder. These evolutionary changes are happening much more quickly than previously thought, and have potential impacts on ecosystem function on a contemporary scale.

Semiconductor Moves Spintronics Toward Reality

February 19, 2015 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Michigan | Comments

A new semiconductor compound is bringing fresh momentum to the field of spintronics, an emerging breed of computing device that may lead to smaller, faster, less power-hungry electronics. Created from a unique low-symmetry crystal structure, the compound is the first to build spintronic properties into a material that's stable at room temperature and easily tailored to a variety of applications.

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Hydrogels Fight Invasive Ants

February 19, 2015 2:00 pm | by Purdue Univ. | Comments

Pesticide sprays and baits are common tactics for managing pest ants. But sprays can have little long-term impact and carry environmental costs such as chemical contamination of soil and water sources. Water-storing crystals known as hydrogels can effectively deliver pesticide bait to invasive Argentine ants, quickly decimating a colony.

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A123: Apple Poached Engineers

February 19, 2015 2:00 pm | by Associated Press | Comments

Battery maker A123 Systems is suing Apple, claiming it aggressively poached some key staff members in violation of their nondisclosure and non-compete agreements when they left A123.  

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