Thanks to its legs, whose design faithfully reproduces feline morphology, a Swiss research institute’s new four-legged “cheetah-cub robot” has the same advantages as its model: It is small, light and fast. Still in its experimental stage, the robot will serve as a platform for research in locomotion and biomechanics.
Chemists at Indiana Univ. Bloomington have created a symmetrical, five-sided macrocycle that is easy to synthesize and has characteristics that may help expand the molecular tool box available to researchers in biology, chemistry and materials sciences.
The noble gases get their collective moniker from their tendency toward snobbishness. The six elements in the family, which includes helium and neon, don’t normally bond with other elements and they don’t dissolve into minerals the way other gases do. But now, geochemists from Brown Univ. have found a mineral structure with which the nobles deign to fraternize.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemical engineers have devised a cheaper way to synthesize a key biofuel component, which could make its industrial production much more cost effective. The compound, known as gamma-valerolactone (GVL), is attractive because of its versatility. It has more energy than ethanol and could be used on its own or as an additive to other fuels.
The Agriculture Dept. says it has no indications that genetically modified wheat found in the western state of Oregon last month has spread beyond the field in which it was found. No genetically engineered wheat has been approved for U.S. farming, and the department is investigating how the engineered wheat got in the field.
Even as a pared-down version of Microsoft's Office software package arrived on the iPhone, the company is holding out on extending that to the iPad and Android devices as it tries to boost sales of tablet computers running its own Windows system.
Scientists at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California have performed the first complete chemical analysis of feathers from Archaeopteryx, a famous fossil linking dinosaurs and birds. The new study, which revises understanding of the evolution of plumage, reveals that the feathers were patterned—light in color, with a dark edge and tip—rather than all black, as previously thought.
Nanoscopic crystals of silicon assembled like skyscrapers on wafer-scale substrates are being intensely studied as a possible breakthrough in highly efficient battery technologies. A researcher at Northeastern University has been using computational to understand the atomic-scale interactions between the growth of nanowires and new development in this area of technology: alloyed metal droplets.
When petroleum companies abandon an oil well, more than half the reservoir’s oil is usually left behind as too difficult to recover. Now, however, much of the residual oil can be recovered with the help of nanoparticles and a simple law of physics. A partnership of Norwegian and Chinese scientists has succeeded in recovering up to 50% of residual in North Sea rock samples.
Most people worry about the quality of the air they breathe outdoors, while giving little thought to the contaminants that may be circulating in their own homes. Yet, with only a few exceptions, such as certain urban environments, "outdoor air is cleaner than indoor air," says Andrea Ferro, an ass. prof. in civil and environmental engineering at Clarkson Univ.
A medical test previously developed to measure a toxin found in tobacco smokers has been adapted to measure the same toxin in people suffering from spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis, offering a potential tool to reduce symptoms. The toxin, called acrolein, is produced in the body after nerve cells are injured, triggering a cascade of biochemical events thought to worsen the injury's severity.
In the near future, a buzz in your belt or a pulse from your jacket may give you instructions on how to navigate your surroundings. Think of it as tactile Morse code: vibrations from a wearable, GPS-linked device that tell you to turn right or left, or stop, depending on the pattern of pulses you feel.
Optics and optoelectronics manufacturer ZEISS on Thursday announced the planned acquisition of the California-based Xradia, Inc. Xradia, an R&D 100 Award-winning company, is known for its innovative 3-D x-ray microscopes for industrial and academic research applications. This marks an expansion for ZEISS from light and electron microscopy to x-ray instrumentation.
Colloidal solutions are made up of large particles, dispersed in a liquid solvent, that achieve stable structural arrangements through various types of self-assembly. But what about self-assembly of two—or more—species of different colloids? Scientists showed that when the interactions between the particles of two different DNA-coated colloids are carefully designed, they result in the formation of new structures.
Melanoma is a tumor that is responsible for approximately 75% of skin cancer deaths. According to new research, odors from human skin cells can be used to identify melanoma. The method, which uses gas chromatography and mass spectrometry techniques, takes advantage of the fact that human skin produces numerous airborne chemical molecules known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, many of which are odorous.