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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.

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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.


Martian Moon’s Demise May Create Planetary Ring

November 23, 2015 1:01 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

The death throes of a moon may signal the birth of something else. Remember Phobos? The Martian moon being ripped apart by tidal forces. Well, it turns out that 20 to 40 million years from now, the disintegrating moon may add a new feature to Mars’ aesthetic: a ring system.


Bestowing the World’s Oldest Tattoo Title

November 23, 2015 11:16 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

It was an accidental discovery. In 1991, hikers stumbled upon a mummified corpse in the Ötzal Alps, which straddles the border between Italy and Austria. Naturally preserved by a combination of glacial meltwater and cold weather, Ötzi, the Tyrolean Iceman, boasted 61 tattoo markings across his weathered body.


The R&D Index Market Pulse, November 23, 2015: High Tax Rates Inspire More Inversions

November 23, 2015 9:45 am | by Tim Studt | Comments

The R&D Index: Market Pulse for the week ending November 20, 2015, closed at 1,563.85 for the 25 companies in the R&D Index. The R&D Index was up 3.71% (or more than 55 basis points) over the previous week ending November 6, 2015—almost the identical amount that the R&D Index was down the previous week (November 13 from November 6, so zero net change over the past two weeks).


NASA Taps SpaceX to Send Americans to Space

November 23, 2015 9:36 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

NASA called Elon Musk’s SpaceX to the plate recently by giving the company a mission order to send astronauts to space from U.S. soil. “The authority to proceed with (SpaceX Crew Dragon’s) first operational crew missions is a significant milestone in the Commercial Crew Program and a great source of pride for the entire SpaceX team,” said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer.


Astronaut Scott Kelly Accepts the 2015 Scientist of the Year Award from R&D Magazine

November 23, 2015 9:27 am | by Bea Riemschneider, Editorial Director | Comments

Hundreds of science and technology industry leaders watched with rapt attention as Astronaut Scott Kelly accepted the R&D Magazine Scientist of the Year Award from his perch in the International Space Station (ISS) above the Earth. The video acceptance speech riveted the audience at the R&D 100 Awards Banquet.


U.S. Astronaut Scott Kelly: An Extraplanetary Ansel Adams

November 20, 2015 4:23 pm | by Seth Augenstein, Digital Reporter | Comments

Circling the Earth for his 238th day, Scott Kelly has already set a record as the American spending the longest time in space. But he’s also become something of an extraplanetary Ansel Adams.



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