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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.

Scientist discovers plate tectonics on Mars

August 10, 2012 7:19 am | News | Comments

For years, many scientists had thought that plate tectonics existed nowhere in our solar system but on Earth. Now, a University of California, Los Angeles scientist has discovered that the geological phenomenon, which involves the movement of huge crustal plates beneath a planet's surface, also exists on Mars.


Soft autonomous robot inches like earthworm

August 10, 2012 4:09 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Earthworms creep along the ground by alternately squeezing and stretching muscles along the length of their bodies, a mechanism called peristalsis, inching forward with each wave of contractions. Now researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and Seoul National University have engineered a soft autonomous robot that moves via peristalsis, crawling across surfaces by contracting segments of its body, much like an earthworm.

Gecko feet hold clues to creating bandages that stick when wet

August 10, 2012 3:45 am | News | Comments

Scientists already know that the tiny hairs on geckos' toe pads enable them to cling, like Velcro, to vertical surfaces. Now, University of Akron researchers are unfolding clues to the reptiles' gripping power in wet conditions in order to create a synthetic adhesive that sticks when moist or on wet surfaces.

Cheaper, cleaner, more efficient catalyst for burning methane

August 9, 2012 12:06 pm | News | Comments

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, along with collaborators from Italy and Spain, have created a material that catalyzes the burning of methane 30 times better than currently available catalysts. The discovery offers a way to more completely exploit energy from methane, potentially reducing emissions of this greenhouse gas from vehicles that run on natural gas.

Using years of cell evolution in the fight against cancer

August 9, 2012 8:47 am | News | Comments

As the medical community continues to make positive strides in personalized cancer therapy, scientists know some dead ends are unavoidable. Drugs that target specific genes in cancerous cells are effective, but not all proteins are targetable. In fact, it has been estimated that as few as 10% to 15% of human proteins are potentially targetable by drugs. For this reason, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers are focusing on ways to fight cancer by attacking defective genes before they are able to make proteins.

Simple mathematical computations underlie brain circuits

August 9, 2012 7:37 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The brain has billions of neurons, arranged in complex circuits that allow us to perceive the world, control our movements, and make decisions. Deciphering those circuits is critical to understanding how the brain works and what goes wrong in neurological disorders. Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientists have now taken a major step toward that goal.


Discovered: New atmospheric compound tied to climate change

August 9, 2012 3:39 am | News | Comments

An international research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Helsinki has discovered a surprising new chemical compound in Earth's atmosphere that reacts with sulfur dioxide to form sulfuric acid, which is known to have significant impacts on climate and health.

New device could improve fiber-optic quantum data transmission

August 8, 2012 7:06 am | News | Comments

Tests performed at NIST show that a new method for splitting photon beams could overcome a fundamental physical hurdle in transmitting electronic data. The findings confirm that a prototype device developed with collaborators at Stanford University can double the amount of quantum information that can be sent readily through fiber-optic cables, and in theory could lead to an even greater increase in the rate of this type of transmission.

Computer models calculate systems-wide costs of gene expression

August 8, 2012 6:16 am | News | Comments

Bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a method of modeling, simultaneously, an organism’s metabolism and its underlying gene expression. In addition to serving as a platform for investigating fundamental biological questions, this technology enables far more detailed calculations of the total cost of synthesizing many different chemicals, including biofuels.

Caught on camera: Quantum mechanics in action

August 8, 2012 5:59 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the University of Glasgow have captured images of quantum entanglement on camera for the first time. Making use of a 201 by 201 pixel array, the highly sensitive camera observed the full field of the quantum light at the same time, allowing the team to see up to 2,500 different entangled dimensions or states.

Chemists advance clear conductive films

August 7, 2012 11:36 am | News | Comments

Thin, conductive films are useful in displays and solar cells. A new solution-based chemistry developed at Brown University for making indium tin oxide films could allow engineers to employ a much simpler and cheaper manufacturing process.

Micron-scale swimming robot could deliver drugs using simple motion

August 7, 2012 6:52 am | News | Comments

When you're just a few microns long, swimming can be difficult. At that size scale, the viscosity of water is more like that of honey, and momentum can't be relied upon to maintain forward motion. Microorganisms, of course, have evolved ways to swim in spite of these challenges, but tiny robots haven't quite caught up, until now.

Evolutionary molecule identified by researchers

August 7, 2012 3:44 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Dundee have identified a molecule that could play a key role in how cells develop into the building blocks of life. The molecule, called cyclic-di-GMP, has been identified as being the signal which can induce differentiation into stalk cells.

Extreme plasma theories put to the test

August 7, 2012 3:34 am | News | Comments

The first controlled studies of extremely hot, dense matter have overthrown the widely accepted 50-year-old model used to explain how ions influence each other's behavior in a dense plasma. The results should benefit a wide range of fields, from research aimed at tapping nuclear fusion as an energy source to understanding the inner workings of stars.

Study finds link between cell division and growth rate

August 6, 2012 4:32 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

It's a longstanding question in biology: How do cells know when to progress through the cell cycle? In simple organisms such as yeast, cells divide once they reach a specific size. However, determining if this holds true for mammalian cells has been difficult, in part because there has been no good way to measure mammalian cell growth over time, until now.

Scientists find way to make disease-causing proteins vulnerable to drugs

July 27, 2012 5:15 am | News | Comments

One of the most daunting challenges facing pharmaceutical scientists today are "undruggable proteins"—the approximately 80% of proteins involved in human disease that do not interact with current drugs. Yale University researchers have identified a novel way to design drugs for these previously inaccessible proteins.

Unexpected ozone loss observed above United States

July 27, 2012 4:45 am | News | Comments

A team of Harvard University scientists announced the discovery of serious and wholly unexpected ozone loss over the United States in summer. The finding is startling because the complex atmospheric chemistry that destroys ozone has previously been thought to occur only at very cold temperatures over polar regions where there is very little threat to humans.

Deadly E. coli strain decoded

July 26, 2012 10:57 am | News | Comments

The secret to the deadly 2011 E. coli outbreak in Germany has been decoded, thanks to research conducted at Michigan State University. The deadliest E. coli outbreak ever was traced to a particularly virulent strain that researchers had never seen in an outbreak before. By focusing on the bacteria's biofilm, the researchers have devised a way to potentially tame the killer bacteria.

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