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Sensitive detection method may help impede illicit nuclear trafficking

April 15, 2014 12:34 pm | News | Comments

According to a new study, coupling commercially available spectral x-ray detectors with a specialized algorithm can improve the detection of uranium and plutonium in small, layered objects such as baggage. This approach enhances the detection powers of x-ray imaging and may provide a new tool to impede nuclear trafficking.

One kind of supersymmetry shown to emerge naturally

April 11, 2014 1:27 pm | by Julie Cohen, UC Santa Barbara | News | Comments

As yet, no one has found supersymmetry in our...

Researchers using math to whittle away at jet lag

April 10, 2014 5:22 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Lots of apps claim they can help you fight jet lag. Now Michigan researchers say mathematical...

New model combines multiple genomic data

April 8, 2014 10:53 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Data about DNA differences, gene expression or methylation can each tell epidemiologists...

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How coughs and sneezes float farther than you think

April 8, 2014 7:42 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The next time you feel a sneeze coming on, raise your elbow to cover up that multiphase turbulent buoyant cloud you’re about to expel. That’s right: A novel study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers shows that coughs and sneezes have associated gas clouds that keep their potentially infectious droplets aloft over much greater distances than previously realized.

One currency, one price?

April 1, 2014 4:43 pm | by Peter Dizikes, MIT | News | Comments

Economics has a “law of one price,” which states that identical goods should, in theory, sell for identical prices or else markets will even out the differences. Empirical work on the topic, however, has produced little evidence in support of this “law”. Now, a newly published paper presents evidence of a strong convergence of prices within the Eurozone, the region of European countries sharing a common currency.

Mathematician releases 2014 Major League Baseball projections

March 27, 2014 2:28 pm | News | Comments

As Opening Day rapidly approaches for most Major League Baseball teams, New Jersey Institute of Technology Associate Prof. of Mathematical Sciences Bruce Bukiet has prepared his annual MLB projections for the upcoming season. And, to the chagrin of loyal Mets fan Bukiet, New York’s National League club looks to be in store for a disappointing year.

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Researchers see Kelvin wave on quantum “tornado” for first time

March 26, 2014 9:44 am | News | Comments

In extremely cold helium, downward flow into a “drain” forms a vortex that obeys the law of quantum mechanics, not classical mechanics (as with, say, water). Sometimes two vortexes interact and violently separate. Computer simulations suggest that after the vortexes pull apart, they develop ripples called “Kelvin waves” to quickly get rid of the energy. Now, for the first time, researchers have visual evidence that this actually happens.

New method automatically tracks biological particles in live cell microscopy images

March 25, 2014 12:58 pm | News | Comments

In order to track the movements of biological particles in a cell, scientists at Heidelberg Univ. and the German Cancer Research Center have developed a powerful analysis method for live cell microscopy images. This so-called probabilistic particle tracking method is automatic, computer-based and can be used for time-resolved 2-D and 3-D microscopy image data.

Plugging the hole in Hawking’s black hole theory

March 24, 2014 3:38 pm | News | Comments

Recently, physicists have been poking holes in Stephen Hawking’s black hole theory, including Hawking himself. For decades, physicists have been trying to solve the mystery of black holes and Hawking, considered to be the foremost expert on the subject, has continually revised his opinions on this cosmic puzzle. Now, a Michigan State Univ. professor believes he has solved a fundamental problem in Hawking’s theory: the information paradox.

New mathematical equation explains the behavior of nanofoams

March 24, 2014 3:33 pm | News | Comments

A research study has discovered that nanometric-size foam structures follow the same universal laws as does soap lather: small bubbles disappear in favor of the larger ones. They reached this conclusion after producing and characterizing nanofoam formed by ion radiation on a silicon surface.

Physicists use geometry to understand “jamming” process

March 21, 2014 8:01 am | News | Comments

Univ. of Oregon physicists using a supercomputer and mathematically rich formulas have captured fundamental insights about what happens when objects moving freely jam to a standstill. Their approach captures jamming—the point at which objects come together too tightly to move—by identifying geometric signatures.

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Soccer displays fractal dynamics

March 19, 2014 9:14 am | News | Comments

Despite their seemingly arbitrary decisions, soccer players obey certain rules, as they constantly adjust their positions in relation to their teammates, opponents, the ball and the goal. A team of scientists in Japan has analyzed the time-dependent fluctuation of both the ball and all players’ positions throughout an entire match and have discovered that a simple rule governs the complex dynamics of an important piece of the game.

New algorithm improves the efficiency of small wind turbines

March 18, 2014 9:47 am | News | Comments

Small wind turbines tend to be located in areas where wind conditions are more unfavorable and control systems of current wind turbines cannot adapt. To address this problem, researchers in Spain have developed an adaptive algorithm that can contribute toward making these miniature turbines more efficient.

An equation to describe the competition between genes

March 17, 2014 8:08 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | News | Comments

In biology, scientists typically conduct experiments first, and then develop mathematical or computer models afterward to show how the collected data fit with theory. In his work, Rob Phillips flips that practice on its head. The Caltech biophysicist tackles questions in cellular biology as a physicist would—by first formulating a model that can make predictions and then testing those predictions.

Synthetic biologists shine light on genetic circuit analysis

March 10, 2014 7:56 am | Videos | Comments

In a significant advance for the growing field of synthetic biology, Rice Univ. bioengineers have created a toolkit of genes and hardware that uses colored lights and engineered bacteria to bring both mathematical predictability and cut-and-paste simplicity to the world of genetic circuit design.

Meet your match: Algorithms to spark scientific collaboration

February 21, 2014 10:33 am | News | Comments

Scientists in the U.K. have developed a novel approach to enabling collaborations between researchers at conferences and academic meetings: Treat them like genes. Using mathematical algorithms, the team created a method of matching conference-goers according to pre-set criteria, bringing about unforeseen collaboration opportunities while also enabling “would-like-to-meet” match-ups across disciplines and knowledge areas.

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Ion beams pave way to new kinds of valves for use in spintronics

February 19, 2014 8:29 am | News | Comments

Using ion beams, researchers in Germany have succeeded in structuring an iron aluminium alloy in such a way as to subdivide the material into individually magnetizable regions at the nanometer scale. The prepared alloy can function as a spin valve, which is of great interest as a component for use in spintronics. Normally, the fabrication of a spin valve is a difficult process involving layering non-magnetic and ferromagnetic layers.

Geophysicist teams with mathematicians to describe how river rocks round

February 13, 2014 10:27 am | News | Comments

For centuries, geologists have recognized that the rocks that line riverbeds tend to be smaller and rounder further downstream. But these experts have not agreed on the reason these patterns exist. Does abrasion reduce the size of rocks significantly, or is it that smaller rocks are simply more easily transported downstream? A new study has arrived at a resolution to this puzzle.

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.

Molecular collisions now imaged better than ever

February 11, 2014 1:45 pm | News | Comments

Molecular physicists in The Netherlands have produced images of the changes in direction of colliding nitrogen monoxide molecules (NO) with unprecedented sharpness. By combining a Stark decelerator with advanced imaging techniques, they were able to obtain very high resolution images of the collision processes. The finding sheds light on the wave nature of molecules by imaging what previously had only been theorized.

Shape-sifting: NIST categorizes bio-scaffold by characteristic cell shapes

February 10, 2014 7:49 am | News | Comments

Shape is thought to play an important role in the effectiveness of cells grown to repair or replace damaged tissue in the body. To help design new structures that enable cells to "shape up," researchers at NIST have come up with a way to measure, and more importantly, classify, the shapes cells tend to take in different environments.

Quasi-particle swap between graphene layers

February 4, 2014 9:02 am | News | Comments

Scientists have used a particle physics theory to describe the behavior of particle-like entities, referred to as excitons, in two layers of graphene. The use of equations typically employed in high-energy physics has prompted the authors to suggest a design for an experimental device relying on a magnetically tunable optical filter that could verify their predictions.

Peeking into Schrödinger's box

January 20, 2014 9:45 am | News | Comments

Until recently, measuring a 27-dimensional quantum state would have been a time-consuming, multistage process using a technique called quantum tomography, which is similar to creating a 3-D image from many 2-D ones. Researchers at the Univ. of Rochester have been able to apply a recently developed, alternative method called direct measurement to do this in a single experiment with no post-processing.

An old mathematical puzzle soon to be unraveled?

January 15, 2014 8:45 am | News | Comments

It’s one the oldest mathematical problems in the world. Several centuries ago, the twin primes conjecture was formulated. As its name indicates, this hypothesis deals with prime numbers, those divisible only by themselves and by one. Under this assumption, there exists an infinite number of pairs of prime numbers whose difference is two, called twin primes, but nobody has confirmed this so far.

Research lays out theory for metamaterial that acts as an analog computer

January 10, 2014 8:39 am | News | Comments

The field of metamaterials has produced structures with unprecedented abilities, including flat lenses, invisibility cloaks and even optical metatronic devices that can manipulate light in the way electronic circuitry manipulates the flow of electrons.  Now, the birthplace of the digital computer, ENIAC, is using this technology in the rebirth of analog computing.

Quantum mechanics explains efficiency of photosynthesis

January 9, 2014 9:40 am | News | Comments

According to recent research that shows the first unambiguous theoretical evidence of quantum effects in photosynthesis, light-gathering macromolecules in plant cells transfer energy by taking advantage of molecular vibrations whose physical descriptions have no equivalents in classical physics.

Three-star system could debunk Einstein’s theory of General Relativity

January 6, 2014 4:47 pm | News | Comments

A newly discovered system of two white dwarf stars and a superdense pulsar is packed within a space smaller than the Earth’s orbit around the sun. The finding is scientists’ best opportunity yet to discover a violation of a key concept in Albert Einstein’s theory of General Relativity: the strong equivalence principle, which states that the effect of gravity on a body does not depend on the nature or internal structure of that body.

New approach to vertex connectivity could maximize networks’ bandwidth

December 30, 2013 1:21 pm | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

A fundamental concept in graph theory is connectivity, which describes how many lines or nodes would have to be removed from a given graph to disconnect it. Progress has been made in “edge connectivity”, or the connections between nodes or vertices. But “vertex connectivity”, which looks at the nodes themselves, is less understood. It has been reexamined recently and the findings could help coax as much bandwidth as possible from networks.

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