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Widely used index may have overestimated drought

April 8, 2013 6:26 pm | Comments

For decades, scientists have used sophisticated instruments and computer models to predict the nature of droughts. The majority of these models have steadily predicted an increasingly frequent and severe global drought cycle. But a recent study from a team of researchers in the United State and Australia suggests that one of these widely used tools—the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI)—may be incorrect.

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Computer scientists develop video game that teaches java programming

April 8, 2013 6:21 pm | Comments

Java is one of the most common programming languages in use today, which is partly why researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed an immersive, first-person player video game designed to teach students in elementary to high school how to use the language effectively, despite never having been exposed to programming previously.

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Exploring the ethics of resurrecting extinct species

April 8, 2013 6:09 pm | by Thomas Sumner and Bjorn Carey, Stanford University | Comments

At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption. Stanford University law professor Hank Greely has recently identified the ethical landmines of this new concept of de-extinction.

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Byrd came close, but probably didn’t reach North Pole

April 8, 2013 6:02 pm | by Pam Frost Gorder, OSU | Comments

When renowned explorer Richard E. Byrd returned from the first-ever flight to the North Pole in 1926, he sparked a controversy that remains today: Did he actually reach the pole? Studying supercomputer simulations of atmospheric conditions on the day of the flight and double-checking Byrd’s navigation techniques, a researcher at Ohio State University has determined that Byrd neared the Pole, but did not reach it.

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Research shows Gulf of Mexico resilient after spill

April 8, 2013 5:54 pm | Comments

The Gulf of Mexico may have a much greater natural ability to self-clean oil spills than previously believed, according to Terry Hazen, University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor's Chair for Environmental Biotechnology. Hazen’s research team used a powerful new approach for identifying microbes in the environment to discover previously unknown and naturally occurring bacteria that consume and break down crude oil.

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Domain name group plans satellite office in China

April 8, 2013 5:47 pm | Comments

The agency that oversees Internet domain names says it will open a satellite office in China, home of the world's largest Internet population. Monday's announcement comes as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers holds its spring meeting in Beijing this week.

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Experts propose research priorities for making concrete “greener”

April 8, 2013 4:20 am | Comments

The challenge of making concrete greener—reducing its sizable carbon footprint without compromising performance—is just like the world's most ubiquitous manufactured material—hard! But, according to a new report from NIST, the potential engineering performance, energy-efficiency, and environmental benefits make it a challenge worth tackling.

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Study: Microalgae produce more oil faster for energy, food, or products

April 8, 2013 4:09 am | Comments

Scientists this week described technology that accelerates microalgae’s ability to produce many different types of renewable oils for fuels, chemicals, foods and personal-care products within days using standard industrial fermentation. On highlight was Solazyme, which has achieved more than 80% oil  within each individual cell of microalgae at the commercial scale.

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Antibody evolution could guide HIV vaccine development

April 6, 2013 3:25 pm | Comments

Observing the evolution of a particular type of antibody in an infected HIV-1 patient has provided insights that will enable vaccination strategies that mimic the actual antibody development within the body. Spearheaded by Duke University, the multi-institution study included analysis from Los Alamos National Laboratory and used high-energy X-rays from the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.

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A ‘green’ Sahara was far less dusty than today

April 6, 2013 3:07 pm | Comments

As recently as 5,000 years ago, the Sahara was a verdant landscape, with sprawling vegetation and numerous lakes.  The Sahara’s “green” era likely lasted from 11,000 to 5,000 years ago, and is thought to have ended abruptly. Now researchers have found that this abrupt climate change occurred nearly simultaneously across North Africa.

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Accidental discovery may lead to improved polymers

April 6, 2013 2:48 pm | Comments

The accidental discovery by Chemical Engineering Professor Tim Bender and postdoctoral fellow Benoit Lessard of an unexpected side product of polymer synthesis could have implications for the manufacture of commercial polymers used in sealants, adhesives, toys, and even medical implants, the researchers say.

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Electron conflict leads to “bad traffic” on way to superconductivity

April 5, 2013 6:28 pm | Comments

Rice University physicists on the hunt for the origins of high-temperature superconductivity have published new findings about a seemingly contradictory state in which a material simultaneously exhibits the conflicting characteristics of both a metallic conductor and an insulator. In this condition, some electrons remain mobile while their neighbors are locked down.

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Thin, low Arctic clouds an important key to Greenland Ice Sheet melt

April 5, 2013 6:06 pm | Comments

According to a new study by scientists funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), clouds over the central Greenland Ice Sheet last July were "just right" for driving surface temperatures there above the melting point. The 2012 melt illustrates the often-overlooked role that clouds play in climate change. Current models don’t do enough, says researchers, to account for their effects.

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Innovative method to treat Alzheimer's in mice

April 5, 2013 4:57 pm | Comments

Researchers from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute report that they successfully used a virus vector to restore the expression of a brain protein and improve cognitive functions, in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Because it is impossible to deliver genes directly to the brain without surgery, the researchers injected the virus in the left ventricle of the heart, as this provides a direct route to the brain.

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MRI-guided laser treatment for brain tumors is promising

April 5, 2013 4:37 pm | Comments

The NeuroBlate Thermal Therapy System is a new device that uses a minimally invasive, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided laser system to coagulate, or heat and kill, brain tumors. The MRI basically "cooks" brain tumors in a controlled fashion to destroy them. The first-in-human study of the system finds that it appears to provide a new, safe and minimally invasive procedure for treating recurrent glioblastoma, a malignant type of brain tumor.

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