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New assay tool characterizes plant sugar transporters

July 28, 2014 4:54 pm | Comments

A powerful new tool that could help advance the genetic engineering of “fuel” crops bioenergy, has been developed by researchers with the Joint BioEnergy Institute. Their new, unique assay enabled them to analyze nucleotide sugar transporter activities in Arabidopsis, a promising source of plant biomass, and characterize a family of six nucleotide sugar transporters that has never before been described.

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New tools help neuroscientists analyze big data

July 28, 2014 4:45 pm | Comments

Big data can mean big headaches for scientists. A new library of software tools from Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus speeds analysis of data sets so large and complex they would take days or weeks to analyze on a single workstation, even if a single workstation could do it at all. The new tool, Thunder, should help interpret data that holds new insights into how the brain works.

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Physicists unlock nature of high-temperature superconductivity

July 28, 2014 4:14 pm | by Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago | Comments

Physicists have identified the “quantum glue” that underlies a promising type of superconductivity—a crucial step towards the creation of energy superhighways that conduct electricity without current loss. The research, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a collaboration between the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago,  Cornell Univ. and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

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Cagey material acts as alcohol factory

July 28, 2014 2:37 pm | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Some chemical conversions are harder than others. Refining natural gas into an easy-to-transport, easy-to-store liquid alcohol has so far been a logistic and economic challenge. But now, a new material, designed and patented by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is making this process a little easier.

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Scientists create model “bead-spring” chains with tunable properties

July 28, 2014 2:25 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers are using magnetic beads and DNA “springs” to create chains of varying flexibility that can be used as microscale models for polymer macromolecules. The experiment is visual proof that “bead-spring” polymers, introduced as theory in the 1950s, can be made as stiff or as flexible as required and should be of interest to materials scientists who study the basic physics of polymers.

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New protein structure could help treat Alzheimer’s

July 28, 2014 2:16 pm | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | Comments

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, but the research community is one step closer to finding treatment. Univ. of Washington bioengineers have a designed a peptide structure that can stop the harmful changes of the body’s normal proteins into a state that’s linked to widespread diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

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Gadget Watch: PadFone novel as phone-tablet hybrid

July 28, 2014 1:26 pm | by Anick Jesdanun - AP Technology Writer - Associated Press | Comments

Companies often blend old products to give you something new. This summer, AsusTek Computer Inc. claims you don't need both a phone and a tablet—as long as you get its new PadFone X. The PadFone works like any other phone and has a screen that measures 5 in diagonally.

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A transistor-like amplifier for single photons

July 28, 2014 11:19 am | by Olivia Meyer-Streng, Max Planck Institute | Comments

With the help of ultracold quantum gas, physicists have achieved a 20-fold amplification of single-photon signals, a step that could aid all-optical data processing efforts. The breakthrough was made with the invention of a new type of optical transistor build from a cloud of rubidium atoms, held just above absolute zero, that is transparent to certain wavelengths of light.

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Graphene surfaces on photonic racetracks

July 28, 2014 11:12 am | Comments

Scientists in the U.K. recently published work that describes how graphene can be wrapped around a silicon wire, or waveguide, and modify the transmission of light through it.  These waveguide loops, called “racetrack resonators” because of their shape, could help form a device architecture that would make graphene biochemical sensors a reality.

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Measuring the smallest magnets

July 28, 2014 11:05 am | Comments

A wildly bouncing tennis ball that travels a millions times the distance of its own size would be difficult to measure. But attaching the same ball to a measuring device would eliminate the “noise”. Researchers in Israel recently used a similar trick to measure the interaction between the smallest possible magnets (two electrons) after neutralizing magnetic noise that was a million times stronger than the signal they needed to detect.

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UConn makes 3-D copies of antique instrument parts

July 28, 2014 10:57 am | by Pat Eaton-Robb, Associated Press | Comments

The medical practice of Dr. Robert Howe, a reproductive endocrinologist in Massachusetts, introduced him to how computerized tomography could make precise 3-D images of body parts. As a student of music history, he realized the same technology could help him study delicate musical instruments from the past. With the help of engineers, these rare instruments are now being both imaged and printed printed in 3-D.

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Not in my backyard: U.S. sending dirty coal abroad

July 28, 2014 10:48 am | by Dina Cappiello, Associated Press | Comments

As the Obama administration weans the U.S. off dirty fuels blamed for global warming, energy companies have been sending more of America's unwanted energy leftovers to other parts of the world where they could create even more pollution. This fossil fuel trade threatens to undermine the president's strategy for reducing the gases blamed for climate change and also reveals a side effect of countries acting alone on a global problem.

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U.S. plans wide seismic testing of sea floor

July 28, 2014 10:45 am | by Wayne Parry, Associated Press | Comments

The U.S. Geological Survey plans this summer and next to map the outer limits of the continental shelf, and also study underwater landslides that would help predict where and when tsunamis might occur. But environmentalists say it could cause the same type of marine life damage they fought unsuccessfully to prevent this month off the coast of New Jersey.

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Technology translation engine launches “organs-on-chips” company

July 28, 2014 10:07 am | Comments

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. announced that its human “Organs-on-Chips” technology will be commercialized by a newly formed private company to accelerate development of pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic and personalized medicine products.

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Climate change, air pollution will combine to curb food supplies

July 28, 2014 9:18 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Many studies have shown the potential for global climate change to cut food supplies. But these studies have, for the most part, ignored the interactions between increasing temperature and air pollution. A new study shows that these interactions can be quite significant, suggesting that policymakers need to take both warming and air pollution into account in addressing food security.

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