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The Lead

MRI based on sugar molecule can tell cancerous from noncancerous cells

March 27, 2015 8:32 am | by Shawna Williams, Johns Hopkins Univ. | News | Comments

Imaging tests like mammograms or CT scans can detect tumors, but figuring out whether a growth is or isn't cancer usually requires a biopsy to study cells directly. Now results of a Johns Hopkins Univ. study suggest that MRI could one day make biopsies more effective or even replace them altogether by noninvasively detecting telltale sugar molecules shed by the outer membranes of cancerous cells.

Big data allows computer engineers to find genetic clues in humans

March 27, 2015 8:26 am | by Washington Univ. in St. Louis | News | Comments

Big data: It's a term we read and hear about often, but is hard to grasp. Computer scientists at...

Physicists solve low-temperature magnetic mystery

March 27, 2015 8:19 am | by Chelsea Whyte, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers have made an experimental breakthrough in explaining a rare property of an exotic...

Do government technology investments pay off?

March 27, 2015 8:08 am | by Greta Guest, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Studies confirm that IT investments in companies improve productivity and efficiency. Univ. of...

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Chemists make new silicon-based nanomaterials

March 27, 2015 8:01 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Chemists from Brown Univ. have found a way to make new 2-D, graphene-like semiconducting nanomaterials using an old standby of the semiconductor world: silicon. In a paper published in Nanoletters, the researchers describe methods for making nanoribbons and nanoplates from a compound called silicon telluride. The materials are pure, p-type semiconductors that could be used in a variety of electronic and optical devices.

Dark matter even darker than once thought

March 27, 2015 7:54 am | by Hubble Information Centre | News | Comments

Astronomers using observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have studied how dark matter in clusters of galaxies behaves when the clusters collide. The results, published in Science, show that dark matter interacts with itself even less than previously thought, and narrows down the options for what this mysterious substance might be.

Using magnetic fields to understand high-temperature superconductivity

March 27, 2015 7:44 am | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

Taking our understanding of quantum matter to new levels, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are exposing high-temperature superconductors to very high magnetic fields, changing the temperature at which the materials become perfectly conducting and revealing unique properties of these substances.

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Critters found in Antarctic ice shows how tenacious life is

March 27, 2015 2:10 am | by Luis Andres Henao And Seth Borenstein, Associated Press | News | Comments

Deep below the ice, far from the playful penguins and other animals that bring tourists to Antarctica, is a cold and barren world that by all indications should be completely void of life. But recently, scientists researching melting ice watched a half-foot-long (15-cm) fish swim by. Not long after that, they saw shrimp-like creatures.

Analysis sees many promising pathways for solar photovoltaic power

March 26, 2015 12:07 pm | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In a broad new assessment of the status and prospects of solar photovoltaic technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers say that it is “one of the few renewable, low-carbon resources with both the scalability and the technological maturity to meet ever-growing global demand for electricity.”

FDA to scrutinize unproven alternative remedies

March 26, 2015 12:05 pm | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal officials plan to review the safety and evidence behind alternative remedies like Zicam and Cold-Eeze, products that are protected by federal law, but not accepted by mainstream medicine. The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it will hold a two-day meeting next month on regulations for homeopathic medicines, which have long occupied a place on the fringes of U.S. health care.

Ancient Martian lake system records two water-related events

March 26, 2015 11:37 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from Brown Univ. have completed a new analysis of an ancient Martian lake system in Jezero Crater, near the planet’s equator. The study finds that the onslaught of water that filled the crater was one of at least two separate periods of water activity in the region surrounding Jezero.

Quantum compute this

March 26, 2015 11:05 am | by Washington State Univ. | News | Comments

Washington State Univ. mathematicians have designed an encryption code capable of fending off the phenomenal hacking power of a quantum computer. Using high-level number theory and cryptography, the researchers reworked an infamous old cipher called the knapsack code to create an online security system better prepared for future demands.

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Agricultural waste could be used as biofuel

March 26, 2015 10:55 am | by Univ. of East Anglia | News | Comments

Straw-powered cars could be a thing of the future thanks to new research from the Univ. of East Anglia. A new study pinpoints five strains of yeast capable of turning agricultural by-products, such as straw, sawdust and corncobs, into bioethanol. It is estimated that more than 400 billion litres of bioethanol could be produced each year from crop wastage.

Protein shake-up

March 26, 2015 10:47 am | by Chris Samoray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

For living organisms proteins are an essential part of their body system and are needed to thrive. In recent years, a certain class of proteins has challenged researchers’ conventional notion that proteins have a static and well-defined structure. It’s thought that mutations in these proteins, known as intrinsically disordered proteins, are associated with neurodegenerative changes, cardiovascular disorders and diseases like cancer.

New spin on Saturn’s peculiar rotation

March 26, 2015 8:41 am | by Tel Aviv Univ. | News | Comments

Tracking the rotation speed of solid planets, like the Earth and Mars, is a relatively simple task: Just measure the time it takes for a surface feature to roll into view again. But giant gas planets Jupiter and Saturn are more problematic for planetary scientists, as they both lack measurable solid surfaces and are covered by thick layers of clouds, foiling direct visual measurements by space probes.

Black-hole wind linked to galactic gush of star-forming gas

March 26, 2015 8:33 am | by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | Videos | Comments

By combining observations from the Japan-led Suzaku x-ray satellite and the European Space Agency's infrared Herschel Space Observatory, scientists have connected a fierce "wind" produced near a galaxy's monster black hole to an outward torrent of cold gas a thousand light-years across. The finding validates a long-suspected feedback mechanism enabling a supermassive black hole to influence the evolution of its host galaxy.

A new kind of light bulb

March 26, 2015 8:25 am | by Univ. of Southern California | News | Comments

How many researchers does it take to change a light bulb? And how many lives could they save by changing it? The answer to both questions is larger than you might expect. In the developing world, light bulbs might as well be insect magnets. The light they emit, particularly the blue wavelengths of LED lights, is attractive to a range of insects, drawing them out from the night and straight to people's homes.

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Novel plastic could spur new green energy applications, artificial muscles

March 26, 2015 8:11 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

A plastic used in filters and tubing has an unusual trait: It can produce electricity when pulled or pressed. This ability has been used in small ways, but now researchers are coaxing fibers of the material to make even more electricity for a wider range of applications from green energy to "artificial muscles."

Copper atoms bring a potential new battery material to life

March 26, 2015 8:03 am | by Laura Mgrdichian, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Lithium-ion batteries are an important component of modern technology, powering phones, laptops, tablets and other portable devices when they are not plugged in. They even power electric vehicles. But to make batteries that last longer, provide more power, and are more energy efficient, scientists must find battery materials that perform better than those currently in use.

Desalination with nanoporous graphene membrane

March 26, 2015 7:53 am | by Dawn Levy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Less than 1% of Earth’s water is drinkable. Removing salt and other minerals from our biggest available source of water, seawater, may help satisfy a growing global population thirsty for fresh water for drinking, farming, transportation, heating, cooling and industry. But desalination is an energy-intensive process, which concerns those wanting to expand its application.

Thousands of atoms entangled with a single photon

March 26, 2015 7:40 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Physicists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Univ. of Belgrade have developed a new technique that can successfully entangle 3,000 atoms using only a single photon. The results represent the largest number of particles that have ever been mutually entangled experimentally.

New pox discovered in Eastern Europe, but not deadly

March 25, 2015 6:06 pm | by Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Health officials have discovered a new germ in Eastern Europe that is related to the dreaded smallpox and monkeypox viruses but so far seems far less threatening. The germ caused two cattle herders to suffer fever, swollen lymph nodes and painful boils on their hands and arms in 2013.

Building a nanolaser using a single atomic sheet

March 25, 2015 12:33 pm | by Jennifer Langston, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Univ. of Washington scientists have built a new nanometer-sized laser that is energy efficient, easy to build and compatible with existing electronics. Lasers play essential roles in countless technologies, from medical therapies to metal cutters to electronic gadgets. But to meet modern needs in computation, communications, imaging and sensing, scientists are striving to create ever-smaller laser systems that also consume less energy.

Science, patients driving rare disease drug research surge

March 25, 2015 12:10 pm | by Linda A. Johnson, AP Business Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

The global pharmaceutical industry is pouring billions of dollars into developing treatments for rare diseases, which once drew little interest from major drugmakers but now point the way toward a new era of innovative therapies and big profits. The investments come as researchers harness recent scientific advances.

Algae from clogged waterways could serve as biofuels, fertilizer

March 25, 2015 11:31 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Water-borne algal blooms from farm fertilizer runoff can destroy aquatic life and clog rivers and lakes, but scientists will report today that they are working on a way to clean up these environmental scourges and turn them into useful products. The algae could serve as a feedstock for biofuels, and the feedstock leftovers could be recycled back into farm soil nutrients.

Metals used in high-tech products face future supply risks

March 25, 2015 11:08 am | by Kevin Dennehy, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

In a new paper, a team of Yale Univ. researchers assesses the “criticality” of all 62 metals on the Periodic Table of Elements, providing key insights into which materials might become more difficult to find in the coming decades, which ones will exact the highest environmental costs and which ones simply cannot be replaced as components of vital technologies.

Manufacturing process could yield better solar cells, faster chips

March 25, 2015 10:57 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Videos | Comments

Computer chips, solar cells and other electronic devices have traditionally been based on silicon, the most famous of the semiconductors, that special class of materials whose unique electronic properties can be manipulated to turn electricity on and off the way faucets control the flow of water. There are other semiconductors. Gallium arsenide is one such material and it has certain technical advantages over silicon.

Researchers find promising new biomarkers for concussion

March 25, 2015 10:50 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

By looking at the molecular aftermath of concussion in an unusual way, a team of researchers at Brown Univ. and the Lifespan health system has developed a candidate panel of blood biomarkers that can accurately signal mild traumatic brain injury within hours using standard, widely available lab arrays. The results appear in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

Carbon nanotube fibers make superior links to brain

March 25, 2015 10:33 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Carbon nanotube fibers invented at Rice Univ. may provide a way to communicate directly with the brain. The fibers have proven superior to metal electrodes for deep brain stimulation and to read signals from a neuronal network. Because they provide a two-way connection, they show promise for treating patients with neurological disorders while monitoring the real-time response of neural circuits in areas that control movement and mood.

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