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The Lead

Flight is Greener than Driving

April 27, 2015 | by Univ. of Michigan | Comments

Flying in a plane is not only safer than driving a car, it's also better for the environment. In follow-up research from last year, a study found that it takes twice as much energy to drive than to fly.

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“Measuring stick” standard for gene sequencing now available

May 22, 2015 10:53 am | by NIST | Comments

The world’s first reference material to help ensure laboratories accurately “map” DNA for genetic testing, medical diagnoses and future customized drug therapies is now available from NIST. The new reference material, NIST RM 8398, is a “measuring stick” for the human genome, the coded blueprints of a person’s genetic traits.

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Slinky lookalike “hyperlens” helps us see tiny objects

May 22, 2015 10:27 am | by Cory Nealon, Univ. at Buffalo | Comments

It looks like a Slinky suspended in motion. Yet this photonics advancement, called a metamaterial hyperlens, doesn’t climb down stairs. Instead, it improves our ability to see tiny objects. The hyperlens may someday help detect some of the most lethal forms of cancer.

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Physicists develop efficient method of signal transmission from nanocomponents

May 22, 2015 9:44 am | by Univ. of Basel | Comments

Physicists have developed an innovative method that could enable the efficient use of nanocomponents in electronic circuits. To achieve this, they have developed a layout in which a nanocomponent is connected to two electrical conductors, which uncouple the electrical signal in a highly efficient manner.

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Cooling the cloud

May 22, 2015 8:34 am | by Binghamton Univ. | Comments

Data centers are one of the largest and fastest-growing consumers of electricity in the U.S. The industry has been shifting from open-air cooling of these facilities to increasingly complex systems that segregate hot air from cold air. When it comes to cost savings, there are definite advantages to the aisle containment systems, which have been estimated to save 30% of cooling energy.

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Bacteria cooperate to repair damaged siblings

May 22, 2015 8:17 am | by Chad Baldwin, Univ. of Wyoming | Comments

A Univ. of Wyoming faculty member led a research team that discovered a certain type of soil bacteria can use their social behavior of outer membrane exchange (OME) to repair damaged cells and improve the fitness of the bacteria population as a whole.

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Watching a protein “quake”

May 22, 2015 8:06 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Comments

Scientists, for the first time, have precisely measured a protein’s natural “knee-jerk” reaction to the breaking of a chemical bond—a quaking motion that propagated through the protein at the speed of sound. The result, from an x-ray laser experiment at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, could provide clues to how more complex processes unfold as chemical bonds form and break.

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Mars Rover’s ChemCam gets sharper vision

May 22, 2015 7:51 am | by Nancy Amrbosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | Comments

NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover’s ChemCam instrument just got a major capability fix, as Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists uploaded a software repair for the auto-focus system on the instrument. The team realized last November that a small laser used to focus the ChemCam telescope on its target fialed. And without this laser rangefinder, the instrument was blind.

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Used MRI magnets get second chance at life

May 22, 2015 7:42 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | Comments

When it comes to magnets, a doctor’s trash is a physicist’s treasure. Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory recently acquired two decommissioned magnets from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners from hospitals in Minnesota and California that will find a new home as proving grounds for instruments used in high-energy and nuclear physics experiments.

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Nicotinoid, fungal disease team to break down termites’ defenses

May 22, 2015 7:31 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Purdue Univ. research shows that a small amount of nicotinoid pesticide substantially weakens termites' ability to fight off fungal diseases, a finding that could lead to more effective methods of pest control. The study also provides clues into termites' robust defense systems and how nicotinoids affect social insects.

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Freshly squeezed vaccines

May 22, 2015 7:23 am | by Kevin Leonardi, Koch Institute | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have shown that they can use a microfluidic cell-squeezing device to introduce specific antigens inside the immune system’s B cells, providing a new approach to developing and implementing antigen-presenting cell vaccines.

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Uncovering the mysteries of cosmic explosions

May 21, 2015 4:06 pm | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | Comments

An automated software system developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory played a key role in the discovery of supernova iPTF 14atg and could provide insight, a virtual Rosetta stone, into future supernovae and their underlying physics.

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Modern alchemy

May 21, 2015 3:58 pm | by The Scripps Research Institute | Comments

Chemists at The Scripps Research Institute have discovered a broad and strikingly inexpensive method for synthesizing “amines,” a class of organic compounds prominent in drugs and other modern products. The new reaction is particularly useful for synthesizing complex amines that would be highly valuable in pharmaceuticals, but are impractical—or impossible—to make with standard methods.

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Hubble observes one-of-a-kind star nicknamed “Nasty”

May 21, 2015 3:52 pm | by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | Comments

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered surprising new clues about a hefty, rapidly aging star whose behavior has never been seen before in our Milky Way galaxy. In fact, the star is so weird that astronomers have nicknamed it "Nasty 1," a play on its catalog name of NaSt1. The star may represent a brief transitory stage in the evolution of extremely massive stars.

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Anti-stroke drug effective treatment for middle-ear infections

May 21, 2015 3:13 pm | by LaTina Emerson, Georgia State Univ. | Comments

An existing anti-stroke drug is an effective treatment for middle-ear infections, showing the ability to suppress mucus overproduction, improve bacterial clearance and reduce hearing loss, according to researchers at Georgia State Univ. and the Univ. of Rochester. The findings could result in a novel, non-antibiotic treatment for otitis media, or middle-ear infection, possibly through topical drug delivery.

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Using seismic signals to track above-ground explosions

May 21, 2015 2:58 pm | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | Comments

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (lLNL) researchers have determined that a tunnel bomb explosion by Syrian rebels was less than 60 tons as claimed by sources. Using seismic stations in Turkey, LLNL scientists created a method to determine source characteristics of near-earth surface explosions.

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