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Artificial intelligence helps detect subtle differences in mutant worms

August 20, 2012 4:35 am | News | Comments

Research into the genetic factors behind certain disease mechanisms, illness progression, and response to new drugs is frequently carried out using tiny multicellular animals such as nematodes. Often progress relies on the microscopic visual examination of many individual animals to detect mutants worthy of further study. Now, scientists have demonstrated an automated system that uses artificial intelligence and image processing to examine large numbers of individual Caenorhabditis elegans .

Big Bang theory challenged by big chill

August 20, 2012 4:09 am | News | Comments

The start of the universe should be modeled not as a Big Bang, but more like water freezing into ice, according to a team of theoretical physicists at the University of Melbourne and RMIT University. The have suggested that by investigating the cracks and crevices common to all crystals our understanding of the nature of the universe could be revolutionized.

Patterning defect-free nanocrystal films with nanometer resolution

August 20, 2012 3:33 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Films made of semiconductor nanocrystals are seen as a promising new material for a wide range of applications. The size of a semiconductor nanocrystal determines its electrical and optical properties. But it's hard to control the placement of nanocrystals on a surface in order to make structurally uniform films. Now, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have found ways of making defect-free patterns of nanocrystal films where the shape and position of the films are controlled with nanoscale resolution.

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MASER power comes out of the cold

August 17, 2012 6:10 am | News | Comments

Scientists from the National Physical Laboratory and Imperial College London have demonstrated, for the first time, a solid-state MASER (microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation). The device is capable of operating at room temperature, helping to pave the way for its widespread adoption.

Aerospace materials used to build endless green pipeline

August 17, 2012 5:49 am | by Pete Brown, University of Arizona | News | Comments

Mo Ehsani, a University of Arizona professor of civil engineering, has designed a new, lightweight underground pipe he says could transform the pipeline construction industry. Instead of conventional concrete or steel, the new pipe consists of a central layer of lightweight plastic honeycomb, similar to that used in the aerospace industry, sandwiched between layers of resin-saturated carbon fiber fabric.

'Microthrusters' could propel small satellites

August 17, 2012 3:55 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A penny-sized rocket thruster may soon power the smallest satellites in space. The device, designed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, bears little resemblance to today's bulky satellite engines, which are laden with valves, pipes, and heavy propellant tanks. Instead, its design is a flat, compact square covered with 500 microscopic tips that, when stimulated with voltage, emit tiny beams of ions.

New form of carbon observed

August 16, 2012 12:17 pm | News | Comments

A team of scientists led by Carnegie Institution for Science's Lin Wang has observed a new form of very hard carbon clusters, which are unusual in their mix of crystalline and disordered structure. The material is capable of indenting diamond. This finding has potential applications for a range of mechanical, electronic, and electrochemical uses.

Radiation belt probes may help predict space weather

August 16, 2012 9:26 am | News | Comments

Living with a star can be a challenge, especially as Earthlings extend their reach into space. A Rice University scientist is contributing to an effort to make life more comfortable for both the people and satellites sent out there, and provide valuable research for those who remain planet-bound.

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Sunflowers inspire more efficient solar power system

August 16, 2012 4:38 am | News | Comments

A field of young sunflowers will slowly rotate from east to west during the course of a sunny day, each leaf seeking out as much sunlight as possible as the sun moves across the sky through an adaptation called heliotropism. It's a clever bit of natural engineering that inspired imitation from a University of Wisconsin-Madison electrical and computer engineer, who has found a way to mimic the passive heliotropism seen in sunflowers for use in the next crop of solar power systems.

Good vibrations

August 15, 2012 10:20 am | News | Comments

Using a unique optical trapping system that provides ensembles of ultracold atoms, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists have recorded the first direct observations of distinctly quantum optical effects—amplification and squeezing—in an optomechanical system. Their findings point the way toward low-power quantum optical devices and enhanced detection of gravitational waves among other possibilities.

Researchers reveal behaviors of the tiniest water droplets

August 15, 2012 9:58 am | News | Comments

A new study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego and Emory University has uncovered fundamental details about the hexamer structures that make up the tiniest droplets of water, the key component of life–and one that scientists still don’t fully understand.

Recreating a slice of the universe

August 15, 2012 9:07 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and their colleagues at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies have invented a new computational approach that can accurately follow the birth and evolution of thousands of galaxies over billions of years.

Future increases in U.S. natural gas exports not as large as thought

August 15, 2012 8:42 am | News | Comments

Amid policy debate over potential liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the United States, a new paper from Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy predicts the long-term volume of exports from the U.S. will not likely be very large. The paper also argues that the impact on U.S. domestic natural gas prices will not be large if exports are allowed by the U.S government.

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Success of engineered tissue depends on where it's grown

August 15, 2012 4:57 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Tissue implants made of cells grown on a sponge-like scaffold have been shown in clinical trials to help heal arteries scarred by atherosclerosis and other vascular diseases. However, it has been unclear why some implants work better than others. Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have now shown that implanted cells' therapeutic properties depend on their shape, which is determined by the type of scaffold on which they are grown.

Georgia Tech advances potential commercial space flight system

August 15, 2012 3:32 am | News | Comments

Last spring private industry successfully sent a spacecraft carrying cargo to the International Space Station. Now the race is on to see which company will be the first to make commercial human spaceflight a reality. Sierra Nevada Corporation will receive hundreds of millions of dollars to further develop its commercial human spacecraft system, NASA announced earlier this month; and they are now turning to Georgia Tech for help.

New design tool nixes mouse

August 14, 2012 11:31 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a design tool that enables people to create 3D objects with their bare hands by using a depth-sensing camera and advanced software algorithms to interpret hand movements and gestures.

Impulsive micromanagers help plants to adapt, survive

August 14, 2012 10:02 am | News | Comments

Soil microbes are impulsive. So much so that they help plants face the challenges of a rapidly changing climate. Michigan State University biologists studied how plants and microbes work together to help plants survive the effects of global changes, such as increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, warmer temperatures, and altered precipitation patterns.

Photos reflect light like 3D objects with novel printing technology

August 14, 2012 4:48 am | News | Comments

A novel printing method yields photos that respond to different angles of light the same way a 3D object does. The technique, which uses specially designed "reflectance paper" covered with thousands of tiny dimples, was developed by a team of researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz; Hewlett-Packard Laboratories; and 3M.

Advance made in generating electricity from wastewater

August 13, 2012 9:43 am | News | Comments

Engineers at Oregon State University have made a breakthrough in the performance of microbial fuel cells that can produce electricity directly from wastewater, opening the door to a future in which waste treatment plants not only will power themselves, but will sell excess electricity.

Thermo Fisher Scientific, Princeton University form technology alliance partnership

August 13, 2012 8:48 am | News | Comments

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. has entered into a technology alliance partnership agreement with scientists at Princeton University, establishing a formal collaboration to accelerate research in triple quadrupole and high-resolution accurate mass liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry for life science applications.

Scientists' gold discovery sheds light on catalysis

August 13, 2012 7:20 am | News | Comments

An international team of researchers has discovered that the catalytic activity of nanoporous gold originates from high concentrations of surface defects present within its complex 3D structure. The research has the potential to assist in the development of more efficient and durable catalytic converters and fuel cells because nanoporous gold is a catalytic agent for oxidizing carbon monoxide.

Team discovers how stress, depression can shrink the brain

August 13, 2012 6:42 am | News | Comments

Major depression or chronic stress can cause the loss of brain volume, a condition that contributes to both emotional and cognitive impairment. Now a team of researchers led by Yale University scientists has discovered one reason why this occurs—a single genetic switch that triggers loss of brain connections in humans and depression in animal models.

Researchers make optical fibers from common materials

August 13, 2012 5:58 am | News | Comments

Clemson University researchers are taking common materials to uncommon places by transforming easily obtainable and affordable materials into fiber. The research team found that sapphire possesses extraordinary properties that make it exceptionally valuable for high-power lasers in which the light intensity interacts with sound waves in the glass and leads to diminished power-handling capabilities.

Unraveling intricate interactions, one molecule at a time

August 13, 2012 4:37 am | News | Comments

A team of researchers at Columbia Engineering, in collaboration with Brookhaven National Laboratory, has succeeded in performing the first quantitative characterization of van der Waals interactions at metal/organic interfaces at the single-molecule level.

Graphene's behavior depends on where it sits

August 13, 2012 3:41 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

When you look at a gift-wrapped present, the basic properties of the wrapping paper are not generally changed by the nature of the gift inside. But surprising new experiments conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology show that graphene behaves quite differently depending on the nature of material it's wrapped around. When sheets of graphene are placed on substrates made of different materials, fundamental properties can be drastically different, depending on the nature of the underlying material.

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