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Quantum simulation of low temperature metallic hydrogen

July 1, 2013 5:57 pm | News | Comments

In spite of the tremendous progress made over the last 80 years, important gaps in our understanding of the hydrogen phase diagram remain, with arguably the most challenging issue being the solid-to-liquid melting transition at ultra-high pressures. A new study in the U.K. has looked at the melting of hydrogen by computer simulation, for the first time taking the quantum motion of the protons into account explicitly.

Biomedical research reveals secrets of cell behavior

July 1, 2013 8:27 am | News | Comments

Knowing virtually everything about how the body’s cells make transitions from one state to another would be a major jump forward in understanding the basics of what drives biological processes. An interdisciplinary team of researchers report on taking at least a step toward better comprehension of the fundamentals of “cell fate determination”.

The science of impact: "Shields to maximum, Mr. Scott"

June 27, 2013 2:43 pm | by Aaron Dubrow, TACC | News | Comments

According to NASA, there are more than 21,000 pieces of “space junk roughly the size of a baseball in orbit, and about 500,000 pieces that are golf ball-sized. These pieces can be dangerous, which is why researchers at Texas Advanced Computing Center’s supercomputers are simulating orbital debris impacts on spacecraft and fragment impacts on body armor to help NASA design better shielding.

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NIST to create center for advanced materials research

June 27, 2013 8:17 am | News | Comments

The National Institute of Standards and Technology this week announced that it plans to establish a new Advanced Materials Center of Excellence to facilitate collaborations between NIST and researchers from academia and industry on advanced materials development. Fund at about $25 million over five years, the center will emphasize innovations in measurement technology, modeling, simulation, and data and informatics tools

How fish swim

June 25, 2013 7:44 am | News | Comments

How do fish swim? It is a simple question, but there is no simple answer. Researchers at Northwestern Univ. have revealed some of the mechanical properties that allow fish to perform their complex movements. Their findings could provide insights in evolutionary biology and lead to an understanding of the neural control of movement and development of bio-inspired underwater vehicles.

Bacterial DNA may integrate into human genome more readily in tumor tissue

June 21, 2013 10:57 am | News | Comments

After analyzing genomic sequencing data from the Human Genome Project and other sources, scientists in Maryland have found evidence that lateral gene transfer is possible from bacteria to the cells of the human body, known as human somatic cells. They also found that bacterial DNA was more likely to integrate in the genome in tumor samples than in normal, healthy somatic cells.

Maplesoft, JSOL partner to combine powerful modeling techniques

June 21, 2013 9:08 am | News | Comments

JMAG is a powerful finite element analysis (FEA) tool that allows engineers to develop, analyze, and fine-tune electric motors and generators, taking into account such diverse factors as thermal, structural, and vibration issues.  This week, Maplesoft has launched a new product that allows users to combine JMAG with the advanced physical modeling approach of MapleSim.  This allows engineers to produce high-fidelity system models.

Mismatched materials can be tough enough

June 11, 2013 8:20 am | News | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers have for the first time detailed the molecular mechanism that makes a particular combination of cement and polymer glue so tough. The theoretical research led to a fine picture of how hydrogen bonds control the properties of hybrid organic-inorganic materials. The finding has implications for understanding the interface bonding that is often a roadblock to improved composite properties.

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How do you feed 9 billion people?

June 10, 2013 9:23 am | News | Comments

An international team of scientists has developed crop models to better forecast food production to feed a growing population—projected to reach 9 billion by mid-century—in the face of climate change. The team recently unveiled an all-encompassing modeling system that integrates multiple crop simulations with improved climate change models.

Study: Earthquake acoustics can indicate if a massive tsunami is imminent

June 7, 2013 12:07 pm | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford University | News | Comments

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake occurred 43 miles off the shore of Japan. It generated an unexpectedly massive tsunami that washed over eastern Japan roughly 30 minutes later. Scientists at Stanford University have identified key acoustic characteristics of this quake that indicated it would cause a large tsunami.

Quantum model helps solve mysteries of water

June 4, 2013 12:16 pm | News | Comments

Water is one of the most common and extensively studied substances on Earth. It is vital for all known forms of life but its unique behavior has yet to be explained in terms of the properties of individual molecules. A research team has now revealed a major breakthrough in the modeling of water that could shed light on its mysterious properties.

Crash-testing lithium-ion batteries

June 4, 2013 8:06 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Lithium-ion batteries are lightweight, fully rechargeable and can pack a lot of energy into a small volume—making them attractive as power sources for hybrid and electric vehicles. However, there’s a significant downside: Overheating and collisions may cause the batteries to short-circuit and burst into flames. Engineers have worked to improve the safety of lithium-ion batteries and now there may be ways to make batteries more resilient.

Wit, grit, and a supercomputer yield chemical structure of HIV capsid

May 29, 2013 5:43 pm | News | Comments

Researchers report that they have determined the precise chemical structure of the HIV capsid, a protein shell that protects the virus’s genetic material and is a key to its virulence. The capsid has become an attractive target for the development of new antiretroviral drugs. The researchers used the University of Illinois’ supercomputer Blue Waters to determine the complete HIV capsid structure.

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Computational study tracks E. coli cells’ regulatory mechanisms

May 22, 2013 8:58 am | News | Comments

Environment is not the only factor in shaping cell regulatory patterns—and it might not even be the primary factor, according to a new Rice University study that looks at how cells’ protein networks relate to a bacteria’s genome. When environmental factors are eliminated from an evolutionary model, the researchers say, mutations and genetic drift can give rise to the patterns that appear.

Cells must use their brakes moderately for effective speed control

May 15, 2013 11:34 am | News | Comments

All living cells have a regulatory system similar to what can be found in today's smartphones. Just like our phones process a large amount of information that we feed them, cells continuously process information about their outer and inner environment. Researchers have recently modeled how cells regulate this processing function.

Sulfate aerosols cool climate less than assumed

May 15, 2013 10:47 am | News | Comments

Sulfur dioxide has been pegged as a significant cooling element in atmospheric climate models because of its ability to form sulfate aerosol particles that reflect sunlight. Recent findings from a team suggest that it is likely most models overestimate the cooling effect of these particles. The reason is a largely disregarded reaction pathway catalyzed by mineral dust within clouds.

Revising Darwin's sinking-island theory

May 13, 2013 7:41 am | by Genevieve Wanucha, Oceans at MIT | News | Comments

The three different formations of South Pacific coral-reef islands, fringing, barrier, and atoll, have long fascinated geologists. The question of how reefs develop into these shapes over evolutionary time produced an enduring conflict between two hypotheses, one from Charles Darwin and the other from Reginald Daly. But in a recently published paper, researchers use modern measurements and computer modeling to resolve this old conundrum.

Mathematics of popping bubbles in a foam

May 10, 2013 7:42 am | News | Comments

Bubble baths and soapy dishwater and the refreshing head on a beer: These are foams, beautiful yet ephemeral as the bubbles pop one by one. Now, a team of researchers has described mathematically the successive stages in the complex evolution and disappearance of foamy bubbles, a feat that could help in modeling industrial processes in which liquids mix or in the formation of solid foams such as those used to cushion bicycle helmets.

Computer simulations reveal the energy landscape of ion channels

May 3, 2013 11:55 am | News | Comments

Ion channels are important drug targets. A team of researchers University of Vienna has investigated the opening and closing mechanisms of these channels, which represent large proteins with more than 400 amino acids. Their work for the first time calculates in atomic detail the full energy landscape of this protein.

Material loss protects teeth against fatigue failure

May 1, 2013 9:07 am | News | Comments

Computer simulations conducted in Germany have shown that the reduction of natural dental wear might be the main cause for widely spread non-carius cervical lesions—the loss of enamel and dentine at the base of the crown—in our teeth. The discovery was made by examining the biomechanical behavior of teeth using finite element analysis methods typically applied to engineering problems.

Computer scientists suggest new spin on origins of evolvability

April 29, 2013 8:53 am | News | Comments

Scientists have long observed that species seem to have become increasingly capable of evolving in response to changes in the environment. But computer science researchers now say that the popular explanation of competition to survive in nature may not actually be necessary for evolvability to increase.

U.S. Coast Guard accredits analytical system developed at Purdue

April 24, 2013 7:48 am | News | Comments

In efforts to prioritize and efficiently manage the repair of boats and stations damaged by Superstorm Sandy, the U.S. Coast Guard has accredited a system called Coast Guard Search and Rescue Visual Analytics (cgSARVA) developed in collaboration with Purdue University.

Study aims to understand how neurons represent the world

April 23, 2013 11:49 am | News | Comments

To understand the development of sensory representations within our brain, we have to comprehend how electrical activation is linked to the sensory experience. For this reason, researchers in Italy have analyzed the behavior and the activation of neural networks in rats while carrying out tactile object recognition tests. The study represents the first time that the activity of multiple neurons has been monitored.

New fatigue model could lead to more durable, efficient ships

April 23, 2013 11:14 am | News | Comments

An engineer in Finland has designed a new evaluation model that allows developers to determine how fatigue sets in with various welded steel materials. By considering the differences between traditional welds and structural joining technologies and newer more advanced methods, he model allows for the development of lighter structures, and as a consequence, more energy-efficient ships.

Nitrogen has key role in estimating CO2 emissions from land use change

April 23, 2013 9:42 am | News | Comments

A new global-scale modeling study that takes into account nitrogen—a key nutrient for plants—estimates that carbon emissions from human activities on land were 40% higher in the 1990s than in studies that did not account for nitrogen. Most existing models used to estimate global emissions changes based on land use do not have the ability to model nitrogen limitations on plant regrowth.

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