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Laser-patterning technique turns metals into supermaterials

January 20, 2015 11:14 am | by American Institute of Physics | Comments

By zapping ordinary metals with femtosecond laser pulses researchers from the Univ. of Rochester have created extraordinary new surfaces that efficiently absorb light, repel water and clean themselves. The multifunctional materials could find use in durable, low maintenance solar collectors and sensors.

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Snails produce weaponized insulin

January 20, 2015 11:06 am | by Joe Rojas-Burke, Univ. of Utah | Comments

As predators go, cone snails are slow moving and lack the typical fighting parts. They’ve made up for it by producing a vast array of fast-acting toxins that target the nervous systems of prey. A new study reveals that some cone snails add a weaponized form of insulin to the venom cocktail they use to disable fish.

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Geophysicists find the crusty culprits behind sudden tectonic plate movements

January 20, 2015 10:40 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | Comments

Yale Univ.-led research may have solved one of the biggest mysteries in geology: namely, why do tectonic plates beneath the Earth’s surface, which normally shift over the course of tens to hundreds of millions of years, sometimes move abruptly? A new study says the answer comes down to two things: thick crustal plugs and weakened mineral grains.

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Ocean floor dust gives new insight into supernovae

January 20, 2015 10:32 am | by Phil Dooley, The Australian National Univ. | Comments

Scientists plumbing the depths of the ocean have made a surprise finding that could change the way we understand supernovae, exploding stars way beyond our solar system. They have analyzed extraterrestrial dust thought to be from supernovae that has settled on ocean floors to determine the amount of heavy elements created by the massive explosions.

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Wearable sensor clears path to long-term EKG, EMG monitoring

January 20, 2015 10:16 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a new, wearable sensor that uses silver nanowires to monitor electrophysiological signals, such as electrocardiography (EKG) or electromyography (EMG). The new sensor is as accurate as the “wet electrode” sensors used in hospitals, but can be used for long-term monitoring and is more accurate than existing sensors when a patient is moving.

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2014 warmest year on record

January 20, 2015 8:37 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | Comments

For the third time in a decade, the globe sizzled to the hottest year on record, federal scientists announced. Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA calculated that in 2014 the world had its hottest year in 135 years of record-keeping. Earlier, the Japanese weather agency and an independent group out of UC Berkeley also measured 2014 as the hottest on record.

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“Microcapsules” have potential to repair damage caused by osteoarthritis

January 20, 2015 8:29 am | by Queen Mary Univ. of London | Comments

A new “microcapsule” treatment delivery method developed by researchers at Queen Mary Univ. of London could reduce inflammation in cartilage affected by osteoarthritis and reverse damage to tissue. A protein molecule called C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), which occurs naturally in the body, is known to reduce inflammation and aid in the repair of damaged tissue.

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Self-destructive effects of magnetically doped ferromagnetic topological insulators

January 20, 2015 8:19 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Comments

The discovery of "topologically protected" electrical conductivity on the surface of some materials whose bulk interior acts as an insulator was among the most sensational advances in the last decade of condensed matter physics, with predictions of numerous unusual electronic states and new potential applications. But many of these predicted phenomena have yet to be observed, until now.

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System encourages creativity, makes robot design fun

January 20, 2015 8:01 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

A new cardboard-robotic toolkit allows children to create custom robots they control wirelessly with hand gestures without formal education in programming or electronics. The system, called HandiMate, uses motorized "joint modules" equipped with wireless communicators and microcontrollers. Children create robots by using Velcro strips to attach the modules to any number of everyday materials and objects.

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New laser could upgrade the images in tomorrow’s technology

January 20, 2015 7:23 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | Comments

A new semiconductor laser developed at Yale Univ. has the potential to significantly improve the imaging quality of the next generation of high-tech microscopes, laser projectors, photo lithography, holography and biomedical imaging. Based on a chaotic cavity laser, the technology combines the brightness of traditional lasers with the lower image corruption of light-emitting diodes.

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Flu vaccine 23% effective

January 16, 2015 2:04 pm | by Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | Comments

As predicted, this year's flu vaccine is doing a pretty crummy job. It's only 23% effective, primarily because it doesn't include the bug that is making most people sick, according to a government study released today. That's one of the worst performances in the last decade, since U.S. health officials started routinely tracking how well vaccines work. In the best flu seasons, the vaccines were 50 to 60% effective.

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First critical-care transport helicopter simulator for flight nurse training

January 16, 2015 1:51 pm | by Case Western Reserve Univ. | Comments

Acute care nurse practitioner students, specializing in flight nursing at Case Western Reserve Univ., will soon be training in the nation’s first state-of-the-art simulator built in an actual helicopter. The simulator creates the sense of treating critically injured patients from takeoff to landing. The helicopter simulator was installed at the university’s Cedar Avenue Service Center.

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New genetic clues found in fragile X syndrome

January 16, 2015 1:40 pm | by Julia Evangelou Strait, Senior Medical Sciences Writer, Washington Univ., St. Louis | Comments

Scientists have gained new insight into fragile X syndrome by studying the case of a person without the disorder, but with two of its classic symptoms. In patients with fragile X, a key gene is completely disabled, eliminating a protein that regulates electrical signals in the brain and causing a host of behavioral, neurological and physical symptoms.

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Scientists discover better metal contact that improved 2-D transistor performance

January 16, 2015 1:23 pm | by Curt Richter, NIST | Comments

2-D materials, such as molybdenum-disulfide, are attracting much attention for future electronic and photonic applications ranging from high-performance computing to flexible and pervasive sensors and optoelectronics. But in order for their promise to be realized, scientists need to understand how the performance of devices made with 2-D materials is affected by different kinds of metal electrical contacts.

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Wrangling over pesticide ingredients comes to a head in 2015

January 16, 2015 1:06 pm | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Consumer advocates are fighting a new rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency that aims to address concerns over “inert” ingredients, including fragrances and dyes, in pesticides for non-food use. They say the proposal, which could become final this year, doesn’t go far enough to protect human health and the environment from the ingredients’ potential impacts.

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