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The Lead

A Carbon-Neutral Fuel Alternative

October 1, 2015 | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Comments

As early as the 1950s, researchers were looking at algae for methane gas production. The algae was grown on rooftops of Massachusetts Institute Technology (MIT). Drawings and illustrations of open pond raceways on the roof of Harvard Univ. were also recovered from the 1950s. The reason for this research was algae naturally make oil, and this intrigued researchers as a feedstock for biodiesel.


China Cloning Facility to Bolster Meat Production, Humans Next?

December 1, 2015 11:13 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Sinica, a subsidiary of Boyalife Group, has signed a deal to establish a $31 million commercial animal cloning facility in Tianjin, China, with the intent to produce beef cattle, racehorses and other animals. According to Xu Xiaochun, the board chairman of Boyalife Group, the plant will initially produce 100,000 cattle embryos per year, eventually increasing its output to 1,000,000 per year.


Giving Astronomy Students “Unprecedented Access” to the Night

December 1, 2015 10:02 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Prof. Robert Berrington, of Ball State Univ., was in third grade the first time he peered through a telescope. Inspired by the deep-sky objects described in magazines, such as Sky & Telescope, he purchased a refractor telescope, and searched the sky, setting his sights on planets and the moon.


Energy: How to Solve the Greatest Challenge of Our Time

December 1, 2015 9:35 am | by Michelle Taylor, Editor-in-Chief, Laboratory Equipment | Comments

In a Keynote speech at the R&D 100 Awards and Technology Conference in late November, Thom Mason, the Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory said energy “is the most important challenge of our time.” And he expects scientific innovation and technology to solve it. 


Favorable Launch Conditions for ISS Resupply Mission

November 30, 2015 4:52 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Today, NASA announced a 60% chance of favorable launch conditions for the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft aboard the Atlas V rocket, which is slated to carry more than 7,700 lbs of equipment, supplies and experiments to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch is scheduled for Thursday at 5:55 p.m. from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


Supercomputers Help Model Gas Giants’ Storms

November 30, 2015 2:28 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

In 1664, jack-of-all-trades astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini set his telescope’s lens on Jupiter and observed the bands and spots of the planet. Later, in 1675, he discovered a narrow gap separating Saturn’s rings into two parts. The gap was later named the Cassini Division. His discoveries were monumental, but added more mystery to the celestial bodies above.


Jaguar Land Rover Introduces Holographic Head-up Display

November 30, 2015 12:57 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

In 1988, General Motors brought the first head-up display (HUD) to market. Designed with the intent to keep driver attention on the road, these systems display vital information, such as vehicle speed and warning messages, in the driver’s field of vision. Today, this technology is widely available, but the Univ. of Cambridge and Jaguar have teamed up to offer the first HUD to use laser holographic techniques to project information.


Primordial Skull Provides Clues for Limb Loss in Snakes

November 30, 2015 11:23 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

In order to navigate underground labyrinths and detect predators and prey, active burrowing snakes require heightened function of the inner ear. But where did this trait come from? And what can it tell scientists about the snake’s evolutionary story?


Saying No: Teaching Robots to Reject Orders

November 30, 2015 9:32 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

The anthropomorphic robot stands on a table. “Sit down,” a nearby human says. “Okay,” the robot says, before squatting down. The human then tells the robot to stand and walk forward. “Sorry, I cannot do that as there is no support ahead,” the robot responds. “Walk forward,” the human reiterates.


The R&D Index Market Pulse, November 30, 2015: Holiday-Shortened Week Sees Few Overall Changes

November 30, 2015 8:13 am | by Tim Studt | Comments

The R&D Index: Market Pulse for the week ending November 27, 2015, closed at 1,561.64 for the 25 companies in the R&D Index. The R&D Index was down 0.14% (or just over two basis points) over the previous week ending November 20, 2015. For the Thanksgiving Holiday-shortened trading session week ending November 27, 20 of the 25 members lost or gained less than 1% of the market value.


Microscopic Water Bears Incorporate Foreign DNA into Genome

November 24, 2015 4:01 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

From the peaks of the Himalayas and the ocean’s deepest depths to frigid Antarctica and the searing deserts, tardigrades are animals that thrive in extremes. Dry them out, and tardigrades can survive for years, even decades. Add water, and they spring back to life, raring to reproduce, feed and live their normal lives. Radiation? Not a problem, these microscopic animals can survive doses thousands of times more intense than humans can.


Amazon CEO’s Space Company Accomplishes Historic Rocket Landing

November 24, 2015 2:46 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Blue Origin’s spacecraft New Shepard barrels back towards Earth, a faint white cylinder against a sky background. A voice tinged with static chronicles its descent. “12,000 ft…5,000 ft…engines starting.” A fiery stream shoots out the bottom of the craft. “We have thrust,” the voice says. “1,000 ft.”


Living Ant Bridges Have Implications for Robotics

November 24, 2015 11:10 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Imagine this scenario: An earthquake strikes, collapsing the ends of a crowded bridge. People are stranded on the bridge’s interior, the gap to land being too big to jump. Emergency crews dispatch, but discover upon arrival that any sort of human intervention borders on fatal. Instead, the crews send out an array of insect-like robots. The robots coalesce, forming a platform where the gap once was. The trapped people cross safely to land.


Hairy Dark Matter

November 24, 2015 9:41 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

If dark matter were visible, the Earth would be in need of a haircut. A researcher from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) published a new study in the Astrophysical Journal proposing the existence of long filaments of dark matter, or hairs, near planetary bodies.


NOAA Global Warming Study Under Fire

November 23, 2015 4:07 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Following criticism from the chairman of the House of Representative’s Committee on Science, Space, and Technology regarding a global warming study published in Science in June, a spokeswoman from the publication recently said the journal did not rush to publish the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) study.


The Garden Rose: Marrying the Electronic and Organic

November 23, 2015 4:04 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

The garden rose, or Rosa floribunda, has ingrained itself into public consciousness as the symbol for love. But in the science world, the rose is now the first plant to marry the electronic and organic within its body. Researchers from Linköping Univ.’s Laboratory of Organic Electronics used the rose’s vascular system to manufacture analog and digital organic electronic circuits and devices.



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