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The Lead

Moth study suggests hidden climate change impacts

April 15, 2014 11:23 am | by Jim Erickson, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

A 32-year study of subarctic forest moths in Finnish Lapland suggests that scientists may be underestimating the impacts of climate change on animals and plants because much of the harm is hidden from view. The study analyzed populations of 80 moth species and found that 90% of them were either stable or increasing throughout the study period, from 1978 to 2009.

The circadian clock: An orchestra with many conductors

March 31, 2014 7:55 am | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

New findings challenge the prevailing wisdom about how our body clocks are organized, and...

Students virtually dissect hologram-like 3-D cadaver

March 26, 2014 7:49 am | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

The 3-D virtual reality cadaver floats in space like a hologram on an invisible gurney. Univ. of...

Magnetic behavior discovery could advance nuclear fusion

March 19, 2014 1:53 pm | News | Comments

Inspired by the space physics behind solar flares...

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Scientists slow development of Alzheimer’s trademark cell-killing plaques

March 18, 2014 10:12 am | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Univ. of Michigan researchers have learned how to fix a cellular structure called the Golgi that mysteriously becomes fragmented in all Alzheimer's patients and appears to be a major cause of the disease. They say that understanding this mechanism helps decode amyloid plaque formation in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, plaques that kills cells and contributes to memory loss and other Alzheimer's symptoms.

Graphene light detector first to span infrared spectrum

March 18, 2014 8:04 am | by Kate McAlpine, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

The first room-temperature light detector that can sense the full infrared spectrum has the potential to put heat vision technology into a contact lens. Unlike comparable mid- and far-infrared detectors currently on the market, the detector developed by Univ. of Michigan engineering researchers doesn't need bulky cooling equipment to work.

Shaky hand, stable spoon: Study shows device helps essential tremor patients

March 3, 2014 12:05 pm | News | Comments

For people whose hands shake uncontrollably due to a medical condition, just eating can be a frustrating and embarrassing ordeal, enough to keep them from sharing a meal with others. But a small new study conducted at the Univ. of Michigan Health System suggests that a new handheld electronic device can help such patients overcome the hand shakes caused by essential tremor, the most common movement disorder.

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Chemical chaperones help proteins do their jobs

February 21, 2014 8:07 am | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

An ancient chemical, present for billions of years, appears to have helped proteins function properly since time immemorial. Proteins are the body's workhorses, and like horses they often work in teams. There exists a modern day team of multiple chaperone proteins that help other proteins fold into the complex 3-D shapes they must achieve to function. This is necessary to avert many serious diseases caused when proteins misbehave.

Study indicates improvements needed in handling methane emissions

February 19, 2014 7:23 am | News | Comments

A new study led by the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis says that the total impact of switching to natural gas depends heavily on leakage of methane during the natural gas life cycle, and suggests that more can be done to reduce methane emissions and to improve measurement tools which help inform policy choices.

Water in cells behaves in complex and intricate ways

December 18, 2013 7:40 am | News | Comments

In a sort of biological "spooky action at a distance," water in a cell slows down in the tightest confines between proteins and develops the ability to affect other proteins much farther away, Univ. of Michigan researchers have discovered. The finding could provide insights into how and why proteins clump together in diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

How a metamaterial might improve a depression treatment

October 30, 2013 7:40 am | News | Comments

A brain stimulation technique that is used to treat tough cases of depression could be considerably improved with a new headpiece designed by Univ. of Michigan engineers. Computer simulations showed that the headpiece—a square array of 64 circular metallic coils—could one day help researchers and doctors hit finer targets in the brain that are twice as deep as they can reach today, and without causing pain.

Traces of DNA exposed by twisted light

October 28, 2013 8:06 am | News | Comments

Structures that put a spin on light reveal tiny amounts of DNA with 50 times better sensitivity than the best current methods, a collaboration between the Univ. of Michigan and Jiangnan Univ. in China has shown. Highly sensitive detection of DNA can help with diagnosing patients, solving crimes and identifying the origins of biological contaminants such as a pathogen in a water supply.

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Automakers on pace to continue meeting fuel economy standards

October 8, 2013 8:37 am | News | Comments

If recent trends continue, auto companies should be able to meet new federal fuel economy standards over the next 12 years, say Univ. of Michigan researchers. A year after the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the final standard governing new-vehicle Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) for model years 2017-2025, CAFE performance has exceeded anticipated levels for 2012 and 2013.

DNA study points to new heart drug targets

October 7, 2013 7:55 am | News | Comments

A global hunt for genes that influence heart disease risk has uncovered 157 changes in human DNA that alter the levels of cholesterol and other blood fats—a discovery that could lead to new medications. Each of the changes points to genes that can modify levels of cholesterol and other blood fats and are potential drug targets.

Liquid biopsy could improve cancer diagnosis, treatment

October 1, 2013 8:27 am | News | Comments

A microfluidic chip developed at the Univ. of Michigan is among the best at capturing elusive circulating tumor cells from blood—and it can support the cells' growth for further analysis. The device, believed to be the first to pair these functions, uses the advanced electronics material graphene oxide. In clinics, such a device could one day help doctors diagnose cancers.

How soot forced the end of the Little Ice Age

September 4, 2013 8:49 am | News | Comments

Coal soot shrank the Alpine glaciers in mid-19th-century Europe, according to new findings that show how black carbon alone, even without warmer temperatures, can affect ice and snow cover. The research provides insights into when the so-called Little Ice Age ended and why European glaciers began to retreat decades before global temperatures rose.

Long-held assumption about emergence of new species questioned

September 3, 2013 8:51 am | News | Comments

Darwin referred to the origin of species as "that mystery of mysteries," and even today, more than 150 years later, evolutionary biologists cannot fully explain how new animals and plants arise. For decades, nearly all research in the field has been based on the assumption that the main cause of the emergence of new species, a process called speciation, is the formation of barriers to reproduction between populations. Until now.

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Time for tech transfer law to change?

August 29, 2013 2:56 pm | News | Comments

The law that has helped medical discoveries make the leap from university labs to the marketplace for more than 30 years needs revising, according to Univ. of Michigan doctor has taken another look at the history of Bayh-Dole. He says that the Supreme Court ruling on gene patenting, and modern risks raised by industry/academic interaction, signal a need for change.

Actuation for MEMS, Improved

August 29, 2013 10:11 am | Award Winners

High Performance Electrostatic Comb-drive Micro-Actuators developed by the Univ. of Michigan make use of fundamentally new flexure mechanisms for actuator guidance, which mitigates sideways instability in electrostatic comb-drive actuators.

Microbial team turns corn stalks, leaves into better biofuel

August 20, 2013 7:46 am | News | Comments

A fungus and E. coli bacteria have joined forces to turn tough, waste plant material into isobutanol, a biofuel that matches gasoline's properties better than ethanol. Univ. of Michigan research team members said the principle also could be used to produce other valuable chemicals such as plastics.

Reducing computer viruses in health networks

August 19, 2013 8:04 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, University of Michigan | News | Comments

The hospital IT networks and medical devices that doctors rely on to treat patients are susceptible to their own maladies: computer viruses and other malware. Whether a bug accidentally finds its way into a system, or an attacker intentionally injects one, researchers believe such breaches are happening more often with the growth of technology such as cloud computing. A national team is at work to improve the cybersecurity of these systems.

AC demand in developing countries could put chill on energy supply

August 12, 2013 10:35 am | News | Comments

The U.S. uses more energy for air conditioning (AC) than all other countries combined; but its status as the world's largest AC energy hog may soon be in jeopardy, said a Univ. of Michigan researcher. A study shows that if the rest of the world adopts the same AC usage patterns found in the U.S., and more and more countries certainly are, eight nations have the potential to surpass the American yardstick of high air-conditioning use.

Faster, more powerful mobile devices

August 12, 2013 8:12 am | News | Comments

The next generation of smartphones could be capable of storing 250 hours of high-definition video and carrying a charge for a week, thanks to an advanced data storage technology from a Univ. of Michigan startup that could upend the memory market. Crossbar Inc., which licensed the technology from U-M in 2010, recently announced it has developed a working resistive random access memory prototype in a commercial fabrication facility.

Robotic helicopter team sets sights on impossible mission

August 1, 2013 10:12 am | News | Comments

If the mission sounds impossible, that's because it is—at least with today's technology: Build a three-pound flying machine that can, under its own control, take off, fly through a window into a model building, avoid security lasers, navigate the halls, recognize signs, enter the correct room, find a flash drive in a box on a desk, pick it up, leave a decoy, exit and land in under 10 min.

Researchers receive grant to “cooperate with nature” for energy solutions

August 1, 2013 8:20 am | News | Comments

A team of Univ. of Michigan researchers has been awarded a $2 million federal grant to identify and test naturally diverse groups of green algae that can be grown together to create a high-yield, environmentally sustainable and cost-effective system to produce next-generation biofuels.

Researchers set the stage for “programmable matter” using nanocrystals

July 29, 2013 9:56 am | News | Comments

Nanoscientists who recently created beautiful, tiled patterns with flat nanocrystals faced a mystery: Why did crystals arrange themselves in an alternating, herringbone style, even though it wasn’t the simplest pattern? Help from computer simulations have given them a new tool for controlling how objects one-millionth the size of a grain of sand arrange themselves into useful materials.

New iceberg theory points to areas at risk of rapid disintegration

July 23, 2013 7:53 am | News | Comments

In events that could exacerbate sea level rise over the coming decades, stretches of ice on the coasts of Antarctica and Greenland are at risk of rapidly cracking apart and falling into the ocean, according to new iceberg calving simulations from the Univ. of Michigan.

Elastic electronics: Stretchable gold conductor grows its own wires

July 18, 2013 4:57 pm | News | Comments

Flexible electronics have a wide variety of possibilities, from bendable displays and batteries to medical implants that move with the body. Networks of spherical nanoparticles embedded in elastic materials may make the best stretchy conductors yet, engineering researchers at the Univ. of Michigan have discovered.

Kickstarting tiny satellites into interplanetary space

July 16, 2013 8:12 am | News | Comments

Two Univ. of Michigan engineering professors are turning to the Kickstarter online community to help fund an interplanetary satellite mission. They are teaming up to create two new technologies in a matter of months, with the goal of using a plasma thruster to push a CubeSat into deep space—something that has never been done before.

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