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.
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.
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.
Researchers at Tyndall National Institute in Ireland have produced the first ever atom-by-atom simulation of nanoscale film growth by atomic layer deposition (ALD), a thin-film technology used in the production of silicon chips. The accomplishment required the acquisition of the complete set of hundreds of ALD reactions at the quantum mechanical level.
The concept of a hypersonic aircraft that takes off from the runway and doesn’t need a rest, inspection or repair is still a unbuilt dream, but Univ. of Cincinnati researchers are developing the validation metrics that could help predict the success or failure of such a model before it is even built, as test data becomes available from component, to sub-system, to the completely assembled air vehicle.
Water resource management efforts have given rise to several computer models dealing with hydrology, public policy, chemistry and more. Jonathan Goodall, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Univ. of Virginia, is working to design an integrated computer modeling system that will seamlessly connect all the different models, enabling everyone involved in the water resources field to see the big picture.
According to a study by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, China can build its way to a more energy efficient future by improving the rules regulating these structures like houses, apartments and retail stores. The scientists created a unique model that projects how much energy can be saved with changes to China's building energy codes, and those savings were significant.
Rice Univ. scientists have created a way to interpret interactions among pairs of task-oriented proteins that relay signals. The goal is to learn how the proteins avoid crosstalk and whether they can be tuned for better performance. Each cell contains thousands of these two-component signaling proteins, which often act as sensors and trigger the cell to act.
Scientists at the Univ. of Liverpool have shown that deep sea fault zones could transport much larger amounts of water from the Earth’s oceans to the upper mantle than previously thought. They have estimated that over the age of the Earth, the Japan subduction zone alone could transport the equivalent of up to three and a half times the water of all the Earth’s oceans to its mantle.
As part of his PhD, postdoctoral research fellow Dr. Daniel Tune in Australia has designed a computer modelling system that shows which combination of carbon nanotubes absorb the most sunlight, therefore providing the most energy. In 2011, researchers in the U.S. successfully fabricated a solar cell using carbon nanotubes, but there are more than 70 different types of carbon nanotube that could be used in such solar cells.
A new model by a team of researchers may shed new understanding on the phenomenon known as discontinuous shear thickening (DST), in which the resistance to stirring takes a sudden jump. Easily observed in a “kitchen experiment” by mixing together equal amounts of cornstarch and water, DST occurs because concentrated suspensions of hard particles in a liquid respond differently than normal fluids to shear forces.
Plasmonic nanostructures are of great current interest as chemical sensors or imaging agents because they can detect the emission of light at a different wavelength than the excitation light. Researchers have struggled with how to interpret this resonant secondary light emission. Recent work that models the emission as Raman scattering from electron-hole pairs, however, has shown a way to predict emission outcome.
New model calculations indicate that the extreme density of the base of the thickened primary crust caused it to subside vertically, or “drip”, into Earth's mantle during the Archean eon, which began about 4 billion years ago. In contrast, the movements of today's tectonic plates involve largely lateral movements with oceanic lithosphere recycled in subduction zones.
A group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon Univ. is banking on the efficiency of an environmentally friendly alternative to large hydroelectric operations. Known as hydrokinetic or run-of-the-river power extraction, the new method harvests a small portion of kinetic energy in the river at multiple locations. They are building multi-scale hierarchical models for analyzing large-scale river networks, hydropower project placement, and control.
Physicists in Germany have developed a “planet-satellite model” to precisely connect and arrange nanoparticles in 3-D structures. Inspired by the photosystems of plants and algae, these artificial nanoassemblies of DNA strands might in the future serve to collect and convert energy.
Computational work conducted at Northwestern Univ. has led to a new mathematical theory for understanding the global spread of epidemics. The resulting insights could not only help identify an outbreak’s origin but could also significantly improve the ability to forecast the global pathways through which a disease might spread.
Jupiter’s moon Europa features an intricate network of cracks in its icy surface. This unusual pattern is particularly pronounced around the equator. Scientists performing modeling studies on the potential marine currents below this ice layer have discovered that, near Europa’s equator, warmer water rises from deep within the moon.
To learn new motor skills, the brain must be plastic: able to rapidly change the strengths of connections between neurons, forming new patterns that accomplish a particular task. However, if the brain were too plastic, previously learned skills would be lost too easily. A new computational model explains how the brain maintains the balance between plasticity and stability, and how it can learn similar tasks without interference.
In a new effort to understand magnetism, a group of Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging researchers created “mimic” magnets by controlling quantum matter waves made of rubidium atoms. Under well-defined conditions made possible with the help of supercomputers, these artificially created magnets can be studied with clarity and then give a fresh perspective on long-standing riddles.
The research team was inspired by biological processes in species such as amphibians, which can regenerate severed limbs, engineers in Pittsburgh have developed computational models to design a new polymer gel that would enable complex materials to regenerate bulk sections of severed material using nanorods.
A new study reveals how pollution causes thunderstorms to leave behind larger, deeper, longer lasting clouds. Appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the results solve a long-standing debate and reveal how pollution plays into climate warming. The work can also provide a gauge for the accuracy of weather and climate models.
Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory are investigating the complex relationships between the spread of the HIV virus in a population (epidemiology) and the actual, rapid evolution of the virus (phylogenetics) within each patient’s body. The team models the uninfected population using traditional differential equations on the computer; this is done for computational speed, because an agent-based component is much more demanding.
“Function follows form” might have been written to describe proteins, as the M. C. Escher-esque folds and twists of nature’s workhorse biomolecules enables each to carry out its specific responsibilities. X-ray protein crystallography determines protein structures by creating a diffraction pattern of dots that can be reconstructed by computer into a 3-D model.
One of the world’s largest dinosaurs has been digitally reconstructed by experts from The Univ. of Manchester allowing it to take its first steps in over 94 million years. The Manchester team, working with scientists in Argentina, were able to laser scan a 40-m-long skeleton of the vast Cretaceous Argentinosaurus dinosaur. Then using an advanced computer modeling technique they recreated its walking and running movements.
In a pair of studies that exploit the genetic sequencing of the “missing link” cold virus, rhinovirus C, scientists at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison have constructed a 3-D model of the pathogen that shows why there is no cure yet for the common cold. The new cold virus model was built in silico, drawing on advanced bioinformatics and the genetic sequences of 500 rhinovirus C genomes, which provided 3-D coordinates of the viral capsid.