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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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Rare Mineral May Hold Clues to Life’s Origin on Earth

December 16, 2015 4:23 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Around 4.5 billion years ago, a meteorite was hurdling through space headed for a rocky planet now called Earth. The meteorite carried with it an extraterrestrial mineral, the iron-nickel phosphide schreibersite. According to Professor Matthew Pasek, this now-rare mineral may have been responsible for the chemical spark that led to Earth’s biological life.

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Stars’ Dust and Gas Caverns: Signs of Planetary Construction

December 16, 2015 9:39 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, European Southern Observatory (ESO) astronomers have found evidence that planets with masses several times that of Jupiter have formed around the four young stars: HD135344B, SR21, DoAr44, and IRS48.

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Gut-On-a-Chip Holds Clues for Treating Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

December 15, 2015 4:37 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Roughly the size of a computer memory stick and made of clear flexible polymer, the human gut-on-a-chip was created by Harvard Univ.’s Wyss Institute in 2012. Three years later, researchers are utilizing the technology in hopes of creating new therapies for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

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Designing a Real Life BB-8

December 15, 2015 12:05 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

How could BB-8 work as a planetary rover? University of Arizona researcher Wolfgang Fink, an associate professor of electrical, computer and biomedical engineering, spoke to R&D Magazine about why BB-8’s spherical design would be advantageous in real-life scenarios.

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Millet: The Crop of the Past...and the Future?

December 15, 2015 9:38 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

In ancient human history, nomadic tribes ventured from northern China and inner Mongolia into Europe. As they traversed the foothills, the groups hunted and foraged. But, they also practiced an emergent form of agriculture, thanks to the resilient and advantageous crop millet. Now, researchers have traced the crop’s expansion and determined it was integral to organized agriculture in Neolithic Eurasia. 

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‘Hot Jupiters’ Hide Water from NASA’s Telescopes

December 14, 2015 4:42 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Among the nearly 2,000 exoplanets astronomers have discovered, "Hot Jupiters" have an apparent death wish. Orbiting close to their host stars, these gaseous planets make Mercury’s orbit look like long distance. An international team of astronomers has discovered why some "Hot Jupiters" appear to hold less water than expected.

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$7M XPRIZE Competition Dives into the Ocean Depths

December 14, 2015 4:38 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Peter Diamandis, the chairman and CEO of XPRIZE, announced the launch of the $7 million Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE. The three-year competition will challenge participating teams to spur innovation for unmanned ocean exploration. 

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Close Encounters of a Drone Kind

December 14, 2015 2:09 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Today, the FAA announced that all drone units weighing between 0.55 and 50 lbs must be registered with the government by Feb. 19, 2016.     

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The R&D Index Market Pulse, Dec. 14, 2015: Oil Selloff Likely to Drive Down Energy R&D Investments

December 14, 2015 12:04 pm | by Tim Studt, Contributing Editor | Comments

The R&D Index: Market Watch for the week ending December 11, 2015, closed at 1,503.08 for the 25 companies in the R&D Index. The Index was down 3.5% (or more than 50 basis points) over the previous week ending December 4, 2015. This is the third week in a row that the R&D Index has lost value with every one of the R&D Index members dropping from 1.22% (Johnson & Johnson) to 9.3% (Qualcomm).

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Rare Skeleton of Ancient Carnivorous Mammal Found in Wyoming

December 14, 2015 11:59 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Much of what scientists know about the genus Galecyon is based on fossilized teeth specimens. However, a partial skeleton of a Galecyon was recently recovered from Wyoming’s Willwood Formation, giving researchers an unprecedented glimpse into this creature’s ecology and evolution.

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Internet Frustration? Your Mouse May Be Giving You Away

December 14, 2015 9:24 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

A researcher has developed a new technology capable of gauging the emotions of Internet users based on how they move their computer mouse. Eventually, this may give websites the power to not just disseminate information, but sense what you’re feeling, allowing web developers to work out a website’s kinks based on user emotions.

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Stormy Jupiter-like Stars

December 11, 2015 1:33 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

The L-dwarf star W1906+40 was discovered by scientists with the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer in 2011. With a temperature of about 3,500 F, the star is cool compared to other stars in the universe. It’s cool enough that tiny mineral clouds form in its atmosphere. According to NASA, this presents the best evidence for cloudy storms on a star.

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How Do Scientists View Religion?

December 11, 2015 12:06 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

A new global study from Rice Univ. is challenging the presumptions about the science-religion interface. Prof. Elaine Howard Ecklund discusses the study with R&D Magazine.

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Astronaut Scott Kelly Weighs in on Paris Climate Talks

December 10, 2015 11:04 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

As the Paris U.N. Climate Conference winds down, negotiators are still hammering out the details of a global deal to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Speaking with Popular Scienceastronaut Scott Kelly, R&D Magazine’s Scientist of the Year, threw in his two cents regarding what negotiators in Paris should consider when making these decisions.

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Dawn Spacecraft Uncovers Clues About Ceres’ Brightness

December 10, 2015 9:35 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

As scientists set their sights on Ceres, an illuminating phenomenon reared its head. Peppering the surface are more than 130 bright spots. Generally, the planet’s surface is dark, similar to fresh asphalt. However, the bright areas, associated with impact craters, reflect about 50% of the shining sunlight. Now, scientists have identified the bright areas as a type of salt. 

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