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Weapons of mass protection

September 7, 2012 5:18 am | by Denise Brehm, Civil and Environmental Engineering | News | Comments

Competition is a strong driving force of evolution for organisms of all sizes: Those individuals best equipped to obtain resources adapt and reproduce, while others may fall by the wayside. Many organisms also form cooperative social structures that allow resources to be defended and shared within a population. But surprisingly, even microbes, which are thought to thrive only when able to win the battle for resources against those nearest to them, have a somewhat sophisticated social structure that relies on cooperation, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists.

Mathematicians offer unified theory of dark matter, dark energy

September 7, 2012 4:57 am | News | Comments

A pair of mathematicians, one from Indiana University and the other from Sichuan University in China, have proposed a unified theory of dark matter and dark energy that alters Einstein's equations describing the fundamentals of gravity. The mathematicians suggest the law of energy and momentum conservation in spacetime is valid only when normal matter, dark matter, and dark energy are all taken into account.

Engineering team improves lab-on-a-chip blood testing technology

September 6, 2012 9:55 am | News | Comments

A team of engineers and students at the University of Rhode Island has developed an advanced blood-testing technology that incorporates a smartphone application, a handheld biosensor, and a credit card-sized cartridge to provide rapid, accurate biological analysis and wireless communication of test results.

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What light through yonder tiny window breaks?

September 6, 2012 9:02 am | News | Comments

Sorting good data from bad is critical when analyzing microscopic structures like cells and their contents, according to researchers at Rice University. The trick is to find the right window of time through which to look. A new paper offers a methodology to optimize the sensitivity of photoluminescent probes using time-resolved spectroscopy.

Quantum physics at a distance

September 6, 2012 6:57 am | News | Comments

Physicists at the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences have achieved quantum teleportation over a record distance of 143 km. The experiment is a major step towards satellite-based quantum communication.

Study may lead to understanding of how to break up bacterial biofilms

September 6, 2012 6:27 am | News | Comments

A new study shows that when enough bacteria get together in one place, they can make a collective decision to grow an appendage and swim away. This type of behavior has been seen for the first time in marine sponges, and could lead to an understanding of how to break up harmful bacterial biofilms, such as plaque on teeth or those found on internal medical devices like artificial heart valves.

A step forward for ultrafast spintronics

September 6, 2012 4:08 am | News | Comments

In spin-based electronics, the spin of the electron is used as a carrier of information. To meet the need for faster electronics, the speed must be increased as far as possible. Uppsala University physicists have shown how spin information can be transmitted using spin currents at terahertz speeds, a thousand times faster than today.

Researchers identify biochemical functions for most of the human genome

September 5, 2012 11:06 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Only about 1% of the human genome contains gene regions that code for proteins, raising the question of what the rest of the DNA is doing. Scientists have now begun to discover the answer: About 80% of the genome is biochemically active, and likely involved in regulating the expression of nearby genes, according to a study from a large international team of researchers.

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Tough gel stretches to 21 times its length

September 5, 2012 10:52 am | News | Comments

A team of experts in mechanics, materials science, and tissue engineering at Harvard University have created an extremely stretchy and tough gel that may pave the way to replacing damaged cartilage in human joints. Called a hydrogel, the new material is a hybrid of two weak gels that combine to create something much stronger. Not only can this new gel stretch to 21 times its original length, but it is also exceptionally tough, self-healing, and biocompatible.

Explosion of galaxy formation lit up early universe

September 5, 2012 6:54 am | News | Comments

New data from the South Pole Telescope indicates that the birth of the first massive galaxies that lit up the early universe was an explosive event, happening faster and ending sooner than suspected. Extremely bright, active galaxies formed and fully illuminated the universe by the time it was 750 million year old, or about 13 billion years ago, according to a researcher from the University of California, Berkeley.

Researchers create tiny, wirelessly powered cardiac device

September 5, 2012 6:01 am | by Andrew Myers, Stanford University | News | Comments

Stanford University electrical engineers overturn existing models to demonstrate the feasibility of a millimeter-sized, wirelessly powered cardiac device. The findings, say the researchers, could dramatically alter the scale of medical devices implanted in the human body.

Waste silicon gets new life in lithium-ion batteries

September 5, 2012 4:58 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Rice University and from Belgium have developed a way to make flexible components for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries from discarded silicon. The researchers created forests of nanowires from high-value but hard-to-recycle silicon. Silicon absorbs 10 time more lithium than the carbon commonly used in lithium-ion batteries.

Mapping neurological disease

September 5, 2012 4:36 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

Disorders such as schizophrenia can originate in certain regions of the brain and then spread out to affect connected areas. Identifying these regions of the brain, and how they affect the other areas they communicate with, would allow drug companies to develop better treatments and could ultimately help doctors make a diagnosis. But interpreting the vast amount of data produced by brain scans to identify these connecting regions has so far proved impossible, until now.

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Interfaces provide new control over oxides' electronic properties

September 5, 2012 3:38 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

Materials called transition metal oxides have physicists intrigued by their potentially useful properties. By combining two sophisticated experimental tools, researchers have gained the first insights into quantum interactions in transition metal oxide superlattices, which are artificial stacked layers of alternating materials, each just a few atoms thick.

UCF researchers record world record laser pulse

September 4, 2012 12:06 pm | News | Comments

A University of Central Florida research team has created the world's shortest laser pulse and in the process may have given scientists a new tool to watch quantum mechanics in action—something that has been hidden from view until now.

Every atom counts in graphene formation

September 4, 2012 9:37 am | News | Comments

Like tiny ships finding port in a storm, carbon atoms dock with the greater island of graphene in a predictable manner. But until recent research by scientists at Rice University, nobody had the tools to make that kind of prediction.

Spinach power gets a major boost

September 4, 2012 9:17 am | News | Comments

Spinach power has just gotten a big boost. An interdisciplinary team of researchers at Vanderbilt University have developed a way to combine the photosynthetic protein that converts light into electrochemical energy in spinach with silicon, the material used in solar cells, in a fashion that produces substantially more electrical current than has been reported by previous "biohybrid" solar cells.

Research reveals contrasting consequences of a warmer Earth

September 4, 2012 5:45 am | News | Comments

A new study, by scientists from the Universities of York, Glasgow, and Leeds, involving analysis of fossil and geological records going back 540 million years, suggests that biodiversity on Earth generally increases as the planet warms. But the research says that the increase in biodiversity depends on the evolution of new species over millions of years, and is normally accompanied by extinctions of existing species.

Showing the way to improved water-splitting catalysts

September 4, 2012 5:05 am | News | Comments

Scientists and engineers are working to find a way to power the planet using solar-powered fuel cells. Such green systems would split water during daylight hours, generating hydrogen that could then be stored and used later to produce water and electricity. But robust catalysts are needed to drive the water-splitting reaction. Chemists at Caltech have determined the dominant mechanism for cobalt catalysts, a cheaper alternative to platinum catalysts.

'Magic carpet' could help prevent falls

September 4, 2012 4:10 am | News | Comments

A "magic carpet" which can immediately detect when someone has fallen and can help to predict mobility problems has been demonstrated by University of Manchester scientists. Plastic optical fibers, laid on the underlay of a carpet, can bend when anyone treads on it and map, in real time, their walking patterns.

Making Web applications more efficient

September 4, 2012 3:54 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Most major Websites maintain huge databases. Almost any transaction on a shopping site, travel site, or social networking site require multiple database queries, which can slow response time. Now, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a system that automatically streamlines Websites' database access patterns, making the sites up to three times as fast.

Researchers develop new, less-expensive nanolithography technique

August 31, 2012 4:05 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new nanolithography technique that is less expensive than other approaches and can be used to create technologies with biomedical applications. The new technique relies on cantilevers, which are 150-micron long silicon strips.

Physicists measure photonic interactions at the atomic level

August 31, 2012 3:28 am | News | Comments

By measuring the unique properties of light on the scale of a single atom, researchers from Duke University and Imperial College London believe that they have characterized the limits of metal's ability in devices that enhance light.

A one-way street for spinning atoms

August 30, 2012 12:01 pm | News | Comments

Elementary particle have a property called "spin" that can be thought of as rotation around their axes. In work reported this week in Physical Review Letters , Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicists have imposed a stringent set of traffic rules on atomic particles in a gas: Those spinning clockwise can move in only one direction, while those spinning counterclockwise can move only in the other direction.

New record in quantum communications

August 30, 2012 4:44 am | News | Comments

Researchers from the Australian National University have taken a quantum leap towards developing the next generation of super-fast networks needed to drive future computers. The team has developed a technique that allows for quantum information to travel at higher bandwidth using a beam of light and the phenomenon called entanglement.

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