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The largest electrical networks are not the best

May 12, 2014 2:55 pm | News | Comments

There is an optimum size for electrical networks if what is being considered is the risk of a blackout. This is the conclusion reached by a scientific study by researchers in Spain and the U.S. The study, which analyzed the dynamics of these complex infrastructures, found that an optimum adequate size exists that helps guarantee correct functioning of an electrical network.

Astronomers create first realistic virtual universe

May 7, 2014 2:43 pm | News | Comments

Move over, Matrix, astronomers at MIT/Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies in Germany have done you one better. They have created the first realistic virtual universe using a computer simulation called "Illustris." Illustris can recreate 13 billion years of cosmic evolution in a cube 350 million light-years on a side with unprecedented resolution.

Sprites form at plasma irregularities in the lower ionosphere

May 7, 2014 9:46 am | News | Comments

Sprites are an optical phenomenon that occur above thunderstorms, about 37 to 56 miles above the Earth. Atmospheric sprites have been known for nearly a century, but their origins were a mystery. Now, a team of researchers has evidence that sprites form at plasma irregularities and may be useful in remote sensing of the lower ionosphere.

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Food security may be increased by new agricultural production modeling

May 5, 2014 9:16 am | News | Comments

Farmers optimize crop production on their own lands by rotating crops, or testing soils to choose the right amount of fertilizers to apply. But is it possible to optimize production across a much bigger area, such as the eastern U.S.? That’s the question a team of U.S. Dept. of Agriculture scientists has begun to tackle by developing a sophisticated new modeling tool.

ANSYS acquires 3-D modeling company SpaceClaim

May 1, 2014 11:46 am | News | Comments

Engineering simulation software provider ANSYS announced Thursday that it has acquired SpaceClaim Corp. for a purchase price of $85 million in cash. SpaceClaim is a developer of fast, intuitive 3-D direct modeling software for engineers, and has partnered with ANSYS in the past to offer customers ANSYS SpaceClaim Direct Modeler.

Computational record: Earthquake simulation tops one quadrillion flops

April 15, 2014 4:28 pm | News | Comments

A team of computer scientists, mathematicians and geophysicists in Germany have optimized the SeisSol earthquake simulation software at Leibniz Supercomputing Center to push its performance beyond the one petaflop/sec mark, which equates to one quadrillion floating point operations per second. SeisSol is used to investigate rupture processes and seismic waves.

When Physical Prototypes Fail, Simulation Provides the Answers

April 15, 2014 9:45 am | by Alexandra Foley, COMSOL Inc. | COMSOL, Inc. | Articles | Comments

In today’s fast-paced markets, engineers are continuously challenged to deliver products that meet market demand, improve operational efficiency and exceed customer expectations. Multiphysics simulation is an essential component of the product design workflow for creating innovative designs, especially when building prototypes becomes impractical or when taking actual measurements is not possible.

Oil and Gas Industry Training Requires Rich New Technology

April 15, 2014 8:06 am | by Oliver Diaz, CEO and Founder, FuelFX | Articles | Comments

The stakes are incredibly high for the safety and compliance efforts of today’s oil and gas industry. Engineers and crews must be trained for increasingly complex processes and procedures used aboard drilling rigs and production platforms. The consequences of inadequate training during oil production can be disastrous to both operator crews and the environment.

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Scientists create wiring diagram for mouse brain

April 3, 2014 1:08 pm | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Scientists have created a detailed, three-dimensional wiring diagram of the mouse brain. That should help researchers seek clues about how the human brain works in health and disease.                   

Model predicts blood glucose levels 30 minutes later

March 27, 2014 9:21 am | by Sara LaJeunesse, Penn State | News | Comments

A mathematical model created by Penn State Univ. researchers can predict with more than 90% accuracy the blood glucose levels of individuals with type 1 diabetes up to 30 min in advance of imminent changes in their levels, which is plenty of time to take preventative action. The model was estimated by the extended Kalman filtering technique and accounts for time-varying changes in glucose kinetics due to insulin and meal intake.  

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.

Scientists develop 3-D SEM metrology for 10-nm structures

March 24, 2014 9:55 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST have devised an idea for determining the 3-D shape of features as small as 10-nm wide. The model-based method compares data from scanning electron microscope images with stored entries in a library of 3-D shapes to find a match and to determine the shape of the sample. The work provides a powerful new way to characterize nanostructures.

Study: Deep ocean current may slow due to climate change

March 21, 2014 2:12 pm | News | Comments

Far beneath the surface of the ocean, deep currents act as conveyer belts, channeling heat, carbon, oxygen and nutrients around the globe. A new study by the Univ. of Pennsylvania’s Irina Marinov and Raffaele Bernardello and colleagues from McGill Univ. has found that recent climate change may be acting to slow down one of these conveyer belts, with potentially serious consequences for the future of the planet’s climate.

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Big data tackles tiny molecular machines

March 14, 2014 12:11 pm | News | Comments

Biophysicists at Rice Univ. have used a miniscule machine, a protease called an FtsH-AAA hexameric peptidase, as a model to test calculations that combine genetic and structural data. Their goal is to solve one of the most compelling mysteries in biology: how proteins perform the regulatory mechanisms in cells upon which life depends.

Lignin breakthroughs serve as GPS for plant research

March 12, 2014 7:57 am | by D'Lyn Ford, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at North Carolina State Univ. have developed the equivalent of GPS directions for future plant scientists to understand how plants adapt to the environment and to improve plants’ productivity and biofuel potential. Two articles published in The Plant Cell offer a step-by-step approach for studying plant traits, drawing on comprehensive, quantitative research on lignin formation in black cottonwood.

Physicists solve 20-year-old debate surrounding glassy surfaces

February 28, 2014 4:20 pm | News | Comments

U.K. scientists have succeeded in measuring how the surfaces of glassy materials flow like a liquid, even when they should be solid. A series of simple and elegant experiments were the solution to a problem that has been plaguing condensed matter physicists for the past 20 years. The finding has implications for thin-film coating designs.

Study: New gas-phase compounds form organic particle ingredients

February 27, 2014 10:51 am | News | Comments

So-called extremely low-volatility organic compounds, which are produced by plants, have been detected for the first time during field and laboratory experiments in Finland and Germany. The results may help to explain discrepancies between observations and theories about how volatile organic compounds produced by vegetation are converted into atmospheric aerosol. This in turn should improve existing climate models.

Researchers “design for failure” with model material

February 24, 2014 11:02 am | News | Comments

When deciding what materials to use in building something, determining how those materials respond to stress and strain is often the first task. A material’s macroscopic, or bulk, properties in this area is generally the product of what is happening on a microscopic scale. When stress causes a material’s constituent molecules to rearrange in a way such that they can't go back to their original positions, it is known as plastic deformation.

Scientists successfully test code that models neutrons in reactor core

February 19, 2014 7:15 am | News | Comments

Technical staff at Westinghouse Electric Company LLC, supported by a light water reactor research team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, have used a new core simulator to analyze its AP1000 advanced pressurized water reactor. The testing focused on modeling the startup conditions and its “neutronics”: the behavior of neutrons in a reactor core.

Study: Arctic getting darker, making Earth warmer

February 18, 2014 8:39 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The Arctic isn't nearly as bright and white as it used to be because of more ice melting in the ocean, and that's turning out to be a global problem, a new study says. With more dark, open water in the summer, less of the sun's heat is reflected back into space. So the entire Earth is absorbing much more heat than expected.

The physics of curly hair

February 14, 2014 8:23 am | by Denise Brehm, Civil and Environmental Engineering | News | Comments

The heroes and villains in animated films tend to be on opposite ends of the moral spectrum. But they’re often similar in their hair, which is usually extremely rigid or straight and swings to and fro. It’s rare to see an animated character with bouncy, curly hair, since computer animators don’t have a simple mathematical means for describing it. That is, until now.

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.

Computer models help decode cells that sense light without seeing

February 10, 2014 7:47 am | News | Comments

For more than two years, researchers have been investigating melanopsin, a retina pigment capable of sensing light changes in the environment, informing the nervous system and synchronizing it with the day/night rhythm. They have found that this pigment is potentially more sensitive to light than its more famous counterpart rhodopsin, the pigment that allows night vision.

New application of physics tools used in biology

February 10, 2014 7:43 am | by Anne M. Stark, Livermore Lab | News | Comments

A team of physicists have used statistical mechanics and mathematical modeling to shed light on something known as epigenetic memory, which allows an organism to create a biological memory of some variable condition, such as quality of nutrition or temperature. The model highlights the "engineering" challenge a cell must constantly face during molecular recognition.

Simulating Subsidence from Oil and Gas Extraction

February 6, 2014 10:33 am | by S. Monaco, G. Capasso, S. Mantica, Eni E&P D and Datye, R. Vitali, Dassault Systemes | Articles | Comments

Oil and gas remain primary power sources for both personal and industrial use worldwide. Extraction of these fuel resources from underground reservoirs involves complex geomechanical processes, and can result in subsidence of the ground over a reservoir. Since this occurrence can have an impact on the environment and affect the operability of extraction equipment, it needs to be accurately predicted and kept within safe limits.

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