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Your brain on speed: Walking doesn’t impair thinking, multitasking

May 8, 2014 2:04 pm | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

When we're strolling down memory lane, our brains recall just as much information while walking as while standing still—findings that contradict the popular science notion that walking hinders one's ability to think. Univ. of Michigan researchers at the School of Kinesiology and the College of Engineering examined how well study participants performed a very complex spatial cognitive task while walking versus standing still.

Undersea warfare: Viruses hijack deep-sea bacteria at hydrothermal vents

May 2, 2014 9:04 am | News | Comments

Microbiologists have recently studied unseen armies of viruses and bacteria as they wage war at hydrothermal vents more than a mile beneath the ocean's surface. They have found that viruses infect bacterial cells to obtain tiny globules of elemental sulfur stored inside the bacterial cells. Instead of stealing this bounty, the viruses force the bacteria to burn their valuable sulfur reserves, then use the unleashed energy to replicate.

Chameleon crystals could make active camouflage possible

April 24, 2014 8:04 am | by Kate McAlpine, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

The ability to control crystals with light and chemistry could lead to chameleon-style color-changing camouflage for vehicle bodies and other surfaces. Univ. of Michigan researchers discovered a template-free method for growing shaped crystals that allows for changeable structures that could appear as different colors and patterns.

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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 suggest that interactions among neurons that govern circadian rhythms are more complex than originally thought. A Univ. of Michigan team looked at the circadian clock neuron network in fruit flies, which is functionally similar to that of mammals, but at only 150 clock neurons is much simpler.

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 Michigan 3-D Lab employee Sean Petty stands a few inches away. Petty wears special glasses and pilots a joystick to arbitrarily slice away sections of the cadaver. He enlarges and turns the body for a better view of the detailed anatomy inside.

Magnetic behavior discovery could advance nuclear fusion

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

Inspired by the space physics behind solar flares and the aurora, a team of researchers from the Univ. of Michigan and Princeton Univ. has uncovered a new kind of magnetic behavior that could help make nuclear fusion reactions easier to start.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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