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The Lead

Evolutionary biology key to tackling diverse global problems

September 12, 2014 10:14 am | by Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service | News | Comments

Evolutionary biology techniques can and must be used to help solve global challenges in agriculture, medicine and environmental sciences, advises a nine-member global team led by an evolutionary ecologist from Univ. of California, Davis.

Seeing clearly through a liquid

September 8, 2014 8:33 am | News | Comments

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Why the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle rollout may now succeed

August 18, 2014 10:42 am | by Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service | News | Comments

A convergence of factors is propelling a market rollout of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle,...

New research to develop next-generation “race track memory” technology

August 13, 2014 9:02 am | News | Comments

Inspired by the discovery of “race track memory”...

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Scientists forecast economic impacts of the drought on Central Valley agriculture

May 20, 2014 8:19 am | by Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service | News | Comments

California’s drought will deal a severe blow to Central Valley irrigated agriculture and farm communities this year, and could cost the industry $1.7 billion and cause more than 14,500 workers to lose their jobs, according to preliminary results of a new study by the Univ. of California, Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.

Nanowire-bridging transistors open way to next-generation electronics

May 15, 2014 11:54 am | News | Comments

A new approach to integrated circuits, combining atoms of semiconductor materials into nanowires and structures on top of silicon surfaces, shows promise for a new generation of fast, robust electronic and photonic devices. Engineers in California have recently demonstrated 3-D nanowire transistors using this approach that open exciting opportunities for integrating other semiconductors, such as gallium nitride, on silicon substrates.

Scientists solve the riddle of zebras’ stripes

April 1, 2014 4:49 pm | News | Comments

Why zebras have black and white stripes is a question that has intrigued scientists and spectators for centuries. A research team in California has examined this riddle systematically and have found that biting flies, including horseflies and tsetse flies, are the evolutionary driver for zebra stripes.

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Sweet smell of sustainability

March 11, 2014 8:34 am | by Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service | News | Comments

Fresh banana, a waft of flowers, blueberry: the scents in Shota Atsumi's laboratory in the Univ. of California, Davis Dept. of Chemistry are a little sweeter than most. That's because Atsumi and his team are engineering bacteria to make esters, molecules widely used as scents and flavorings, and also as basic feedstock for chemical processes from paints to fuels.

Source of “Moon Curse” revealed by eclipse

February 12, 2014 8:51 am | by Susan Brown, UC Davis | News | Comments

Strange events have long been linked to nights of a full moon, though careful scrutiny dispels any association. So, when signals bounced off the lunar surface returned surprisingly faint echoes on full moon nights, scientists sought an explanation in reason rather than superstition. Still, the most compelling evidence arrived during another event that once evoked irrational fears, on a night when Earth's shadow eclipsed the full moon.

Technique makes “biogasoline” from plant waste

February 4, 2014 9:08 am | News | Comments

Gasoline-like fuels can be made from cellulosic materials such as farm and forestry waste using a new process invented by chemists at the Univ. of California, Davis. The process could open up new markets for plant-based fuels, beyond existing diesel substitutes.

New genes spring from non-coding DNA

January 24, 2014 8:58 am | News | Comments

"Where do new genes come from?" is a long-standing question in genetics and evolutionary biology. A new study from researchers at the Univ. of California, Davis, published in Science Express, shows that new genes are created from non-coding DNA more rapidly than expected.

Blood clots absorb bacterial toxin

December 11, 2013 8:07 am | Videos | Comments

Blood clots play an unexpected role in protecting the body from the deadly effects of bacteria by absorbing bacterial toxins, researchers have found. Even with modern antibiotics, septic shock from bacterial infections afflicts about 300,000 people a year in the U.S., with a mortality rate of 30 to 50%. Septic shock is caused by Gram-negative bacteria, which release a toxin called lipopolysaccharide or endotoxin.

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Unique chemistry in hydrogen catalysts

October 25, 2013 8:23 am | News | Comments

Making hydrogen easily and cheaply is a dream goal for clean, sustainable energy. Bacteria have been doing exactly that for billions of years, and now chemists at the Univ. of California, Davis and Stanford Univ. are revealing how they do it, and perhaps opening ways to imitate them.

Outside influence: Genes outside nucleus have disproportionate effect

October 15, 2013 8:48 am | News | Comments

New research from the Univ. of California, Davis shows that the tiny proportion of a cell's DNA that is located outside the cell nucleus has a disproportionately large effect on a cell's metabolism. The work, with the model plant Arabidopsis, may have implications for future treatments for inherited diseases in humans.

Team "spikes" stem cells to generate myelin

August 28, 2013 2:16 pm | News | Comments

Stem cell technology has long offered the hope of regenerating tissue to repair broken or damaged neural tissue. Findings from a team of Univ. of California, Davis investigators have brought this dream a step closer by developing a method to generate functioning brain cells that produce myelin, the fatty, insulating sheath essential to normal neural conduction.

Biochemists uphold law of physics

July 16, 2013 9:15 am | News | Comments

The ergodic theorem, proposed by mathematician George Birkhoff in 1931, holds that if you follow an individual particle over an infinite amount of time, it will go through all the states that are seen in an infinite population at an instant in time. Experiments by biochemists in California show for the first time that the ergodic theorem can be demonstrated by a collection of individual protein molecules.

Researchers find zinc’s crucial pathway to the brain

June 27, 2013 12:41 pm | by Aviva Hope Rutkin, MBL | News | Comments

A new study in California shows that neural cells require zinc uptake through a membrane transporter referred to as ZIP12. If that route is closed, neuronal sprouting and growth are significantly impaired and is fatal for a developing embryo. The study highlights how parts of the brain maintain their delicate balance of zinc, an element required in minute but crucial doses.

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Firefighting robot paints 3-D thermal imaging picture for rescuers

June 6, 2013 8:58 am | News | Comments

Engineers in California have developed new image processing techniques for rapid exploration and characterization of structural fires by small Segway-like robotic vehicles. Thermal data recorded by the robot’s small infrared camera is maps it onto a 3-D scene created by a pair of stereo cameras, producing a virtual reality picture that can be used by first responders as the robot navigates a building.

Climate change raises stakes on U.S. ethanol policy

June 3, 2013 11:20 am | News | Comments

If the climate continues to evolve as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United States stands little to no chance of satisfying its current biofuel goals, according to a new study by Rice Univ. and the Univ. of California, Davis. The recently published study suggests that in 40 years, a hotter planet would cut the yield of corn grown for ethanol in the U.S. by an average of 7%.

100K Pathogen Genome Project maps first genomes

May 24, 2013 12:00 pm | News | Comments

Striking a blow at foodborne diseases, the 100K Pathogen Genome Project at the University of California, Davis today announced that it has sequenced the genomes of its first 10 infectious microorganisms, including strains of Salmonella and Listeria.

Iron-platinum alloys show promise for next-generation hard drives

May 21, 2013 9:56 am | News | Comments

Meeting the demand for more data storage in smaller volumes means using materials made up of ever-smaller magnets, or nanomagnets. One promising material for a potential new generation of recording media is an alloy of iron and platinum with an ordered crystal structure.

Non-wetting fabric drains sweat

May 20, 2013 3:54 pm | News | Comments

Waterproof fabrics that whisk away sweat could be the latest application of microfluidic technology developed by bioengineers at the University of California, Davis. The new fabric works like human skin, forming excess sweat into droplets that drain away by themselves, says inventor Tingrui Pan.

Computer models show how deep carbon could return to Earth's surface

March 21, 2013 9:17 am | News | Comments

Computer simulations of water under extreme pressure are helping geochemists understand how carbon might be recycled from hundreds of miles below the Earth's surface. Carbon compounds are the basis of life, provide most of our fuels and contribute to climate change. The cycling of carbon through the oceans, atmosphere, and shallow crust of the Earth has been intensively studied, but little is known about what happens to carbon deep in the Earth.

Scientists trace particulate air pollution to its source

February 20, 2013 4:08 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at the University of California, Davis have, for the first time, developed a system that can determine which types of air particles that pollute the atmosphere are the most prevalent and most toxic. Previous research has shown that air pollution containing fine and ultrafine particles is associated with asthma, heart disease, and premature death. This new study marks the first time that researchers have conducted source-oriented sampling of these particles in the atmosphere.

Does probability come from quantum physics?

February 5, 2013 4:07 pm | News | Comments

Ever since Austrian scientist Erwin Schrodinger put his unfortunate cat in a box, his fellow physicists have been using something called quantum theory to explain and understand the nature of waves and particles. But a new paper by physics professor Andreas Albrecht and graduate student Dan Phillips at the University of California, Davis makes the case that these quantum fluctuations actually are responsible for the probability of all actions, with far-reaching implications for theories of the universe.

In-brain monitoring shows memory network

January 30, 2013 10:50 am | News | Comments

Working with patients with electrodes implanted in their brains, researchers in California and Texas have shown for the first time that areas of the brain work together at the same time to recall memories. The unique approach promises new insights into how we remember details of time and place.   

Simulating more efficient solar cells

January 28, 2013 1:50 pm | News | Comments

Using an exotic form of silicon could substantially improve the efficiency of solar cells, according to computer simulations by researchers at the University of California, Davis and in Hungary.  Solar cells are based on the photoelectric effect: A photon, or particle of light, hits a silicon crystal and generates a negatively charged electron and a positively charged hole. Collecting those electron-hole pairs generates electric current. Conventional solar cells generate one electron-hole pair per incoming photon, and have a theoretical maximum efficiency of 33%. One exciting new route to improved efficiency is to generate more than one electron-hole pair per photon.

The “rebound” effect of energy-efficient cars overplayed

January 24, 2013 8:18 am | News | Comments

The argument that those who have fuel-efficient cars drive them more and hence use more energy is overplayed and inaccurate, a University of California, Davis economist and his co-authors say in a comment article published in Nature.

Engineered bacteria make fuel from sunlight

January 7, 2013 4:23 pm | News | Comments

Chemists at the University of California, Davis have engineered blue-green algae to grow chemical precursors for fuels and plastics—the first step in replacing fossil fuels as raw materials for the chemical industry.

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