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Recycling old batteries into solar cells

August 18, 2014 7:38 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

This could be a classic win-win solution: A system proposed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology recycles materials from discarded car batteries—a potential source of lead pollution—into new, long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions-free power. The system is based on a recent development in solar cells that makes use of a compound called perovskite.

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Disabilities in kids rise; not physical problems

August 18, 2014 2:19 am | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | Comments

Disabilities among U.S. children have increased slightly, with a bigger rise in mental and developmental problems in those from wealthier families, a 10-year analysis found. Disadvantaged kids still bear a disproportionate burden. The increases may partly reflect more awareness and recognition that conditions, including autism, require a specific diagnosis to receive special services, the researchers said.

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Another Ebola problem: Finding its natural source

August 17, 2014 9:19 am | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writers - Associated Press | Comments

A scary problem lurks beyond the frenzied efforts to keep people from spreading Ebola: No one knows exactly where the virus comes from or how to stop it from seeding new outbreaks. Ebola has caused two dozen outbreaks in Africa since it first emerged in 1976. It is coming from somewhere—probably bats—but experts agree they need to pinpoint its origins in nature.

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Report: CDC scientist kept quiet about flu blunder

August 15, 2014 12:23 pm | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | Comments

An investigation into a potentially dangerous blunder at a government lab found that a scientist kept silent about the accident and revealed it only after other employees noticed something fishy. Officials on Friday released the results of an internal probe into the accident, which happened in January at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

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Researchers develop defense software "TCP Stealth"

August 15, 2014 11:19 am | Comments

Port scanners are programs that search the Internet for systems that exhibit potential vulnerabilities. According to report published online, Hacienda is one such port scanning program. The report says that this program is being put into service by the "Five Eyes," a federation of Western secret services. Scientists have developed free software that can help prevent this kind of identification and thus the subsequent capture of systems.

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New way to treat solid tumors

August 15, 2014 11:12 am | Comments

An international team of scientists has shown that an antibody against the protein EphA3, found in the micro-environment of solid cancers, has anti-tumor effects. As EphA3 is present in normal organs only during embryonic development but is expressed in blood cancers and in solid tumors, this antibody-based approach may be a suitable candidate treatment for solid tumors.

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Scientists fold RNA origami from a single strand

August 15, 2014 11:07 am | Comments

RNA origami is a new method,  developed by researchers from Denmark and California, for organizing molecules on the nanoscale. Using just a single strand of RNA, many complicated shapes can be fabricated by this technique. Unlike existing methods for folding DNA molecules, RNA origamis are produced by enzymes and they simultaneously fold into pre-designed shapes.

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9/11 dust cloud may have caused widespread pregnancy issues

August 15, 2014 9:00 am | Comments

Previous research into the health impacts of in utero exposure to the 9/11 dust cloud on birth outcomes has shown little evidence of consistent effects. But according to a new paper pregnant women living near the World Trade Center during 9/11 experienced higher-than-normal negative birth outcomes. These mothers were more likely to give birth prematurely and deliver babies with low birth weights.

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New gene editing method may help correct muscular dystrophy

August 15, 2014 8:56 am | Comments

Researchers in Texas have successfully used a new gene editing method to correct a mutation that leads to Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) in a mouse model of the condition. The technique is called CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing, and can precisely remove a mutation in DNA, allowing the body’s DNA repair mechanisms to replace it with a normal copy of the gene.

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Visual control of big data

August 15, 2014 7:55 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Comments

In the age of big data, visualization tools are vital. With a single glance at a graphic display, a human being can recognize patterns that a computer might fail to find even after hours of analysis. But what if there are aberrations in the patterns? Or what if there’s just a suggestion of a visual pattern that’s not distinct enough to justify any strong inferences? Or what if the pattern is clear, but not what was to be expected?

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Space station supply ship exits, now packing trash

August 15, 2014 7:22 am | by Marcia Dunn - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | Comments

A commercial cargo ship has ended its monthlong space station visit. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station released the Cygnus supply ship, now full of trash for disposal early Friday. They parted company 260 miles above Africa's southwest coast. Orbital Sciences Corp. launched the Cygnus from Virginia in mid-July under a NASA contract.

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Scientists racing to test Ebola vaccines in humans

August 14, 2014 6:22 pm | by Matthew Perrone - Associated Press - Associated Press | Comments

Scientists are racing to begin the first human safety tests of two experimental Ebola vaccines, but it won't be easy to prove that the shots and other potential treatments in the pipeline really work. There are no proven drugs or vaccines for Ebola, a disease so rare that it's been hard to attract investments in countermeasures. But the current outbreak in West Africa is fueling new efforts to speed Ebola vaccine and drug development.

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Non-invasive method controls size of molecules passing blood-brain barrier

August 14, 2014 4:38 pm | Comments

A new technique has demonstrated for the first time that the size of molecules penetrating the blood-brain barrier can be controlled using acoustic pressure. The innovative ultrasound approach uses acoustic pressure to let molecules through, and may help treatment for central nervous system diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

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Inside the cell, an ocean of buffeting waves

August 14, 2014 1:22 pm | by Caroline Perry, Harvard Univ. | Comments

Conventional wisdom holds that the cytoplasm of mammalian cells is a viscous fluid, with organelles and proteins suspended within it, jiggling against one another and drifting at random. However, a new biophysical study led by researchers at Harvard Univ. challenges this model and reveals that those drifting objects are subject to a very different type of environment.

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Molecular shuttle speeds up hydrogen production

August 14, 2014 10:25 am | Comments

A research team in Europe has achieved significantly increase in the yield of hydrogen produced by the photocatalytic splitting of water. Their breakthrough in light-driven generation of hydrogen was achieved by using a novel molecular shuttle to enhance charge-carrier transport with semiconductor nanocrystals.

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