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What to expect next from the world’s largest particle accelerator

February 23, 2015 7:56 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

In March, when researchers flip the switch to the world’s largest, most powerful particle accelerator, scientists from all over the world will be watching. Physicists expect the refurbished, higher-energy Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will build on the 2012 discovery of the Higgs particle and crack open even more mysteries of the universe.

Radio chip for the Internet of things

February 23, 2015 7:46 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the big theme was the “Internet of things”: the idea that everything in the human environment could be equipped with sensors and processors that can exchange data, helping with maintenance and the coordination of tasks. Realizing that vision, however, requires transmitters that are powerful enough to broadcast to devices dozens of yards away but energy-efficient enough to last for months.

New catalyst to create chemical building blocks from biomass

February 23, 2015 7:36 am | by Univ. of Tokyo | News | Comments

Univ. of Tokyo researchers have developed a novel selective catalyst that allows the creation of several basic chemicals from biomass instead of petroleum. This discovery may lead to the use of plant biomass as a basic feedstock for the chemical industry. The new catalyst enables selective cleaving (hydrogenolysis) of carbon-oxygen (C-O) single bonds in phenols and aryl methyl ethers, two of the main components of lignin.

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N. Korea bars tourists from marathon over Ebola concerns

February 22, 2015 11:06 pm | by Eric Talmadge, Associated Press | News | Comments

North Korean authorities are barring foreigners from this year's Pyongyang marathon, a popular tourist event, amid ongoing Ebola travel restrictions, the head of a travel agency that specializes in the country said Monday. Nick Bonner, co-founder of Beijing-based Koryo Tours, said more than 400 foreign runners had signed up with his agency alone for the event, which is to be held April 12.

Exoplanet could unlock secrets to how our solar system was formed

February 20, 2015 1:27 pm | by Rebecca Wilhelm, The Open Univ. | News | Comments

Exciting new research by astronomers at The Open Univ. and the Univs. of Warwick and Sheffield has opened up the chance to find out what distant planets are made of. The team of astronomers have made observations which can help reveal the chemical makeup of a small rocky world orbiting a distant star about 1,500 light-years away from Earth, increasing our understanding of how planets, including ours, were formed.

Spacecraft catch a solar shockwave in the act

February 20, 2015 1:19 pm | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

On Oct. 8, 2013, an explosion on the sun’s surface sent a supersonic blast wave of solar wind out into space. This shockwave tore past Mercury and Venus, blitzing by the moon before streaming toward Earth. The shockwave struck a massive blow to the Earth’s magnetic field, setting off a magnetized sound pulse around the planet.

Virus-cutting enzyme helps bacteria remember a threat

February 20, 2015 12:33 pm | by Wynne Parry, Rockefeller Univ. | News | Comments

Bacteria may not have brains, but they do have memories, at least when it comes to viruses that attack them. Many bacteria have a molecular immune system which allows these microbes to capture and retain pieces of viral DNA that they have encountered in the past, in order to recognize and destroy it when it shows up again.

Researchers find surprising trigger of new brain cell growth

February 20, 2015 11:52 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists have discovered that the human brain can produce new neurons, but exactly how those cells are produced and what purpose they serve are not well understood. Now a study by Yale Univ. researchers shows that key developmental factors that control the formation of blood vessels are also necessary for activating brain stem cells.

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New insight into fragile protein linked to cancer, autism

February 20, 2015 11:05 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

In recent years, scientists have found a surprising a connection between some people with autism and certain cancer patients: They have mutations in the same gene, one that codes for a protein critical for normal cellular health. Now scientists have reported in Biochemistry that the defects reduce the activity and stability of the protein. Their findings could someday help lead to new treatments for both sets of patients.

Evolving a bigger brain with human DNA

February 20, 2015 10:54 am | by Karl Bates, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

The size of the human brain expanded dramatically during the course of evolution, imparting us with unique capabilities to use abstract language and do complex math. But how did the human brain get larger than that of our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, if almost all of our genes are the same?

R&D Magazine Announces the 2015 Laboratory of the Year Winners

February 20, 2015 9:13 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | News | Comments

In its 49th year, the Laboratory of the Year Awards continue to recognize excellence in research laboratory design, planning and construction. Judging for this year’s competition took place on Thursday, February 19th and was conducted by a blue-ribbon panel of laboratory architects, engineers, equipment manufacturers, researchers and the editors of R&D Magazine and Laboratory Design Newsletter.

Turning smartphones into personal, real-time pollution monitors

February 20, 2015 8:48 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

As urban residents know, air quality is a big deal. When local pollution levels go up, the associated health risks also increase, especially for children and seniors. But air pollution varies widely over the course of a day and by location, even within the same city. Now scientists, reporting in Environmental Science & Technology, have used smartphone and sensing technology to better pinpoint where and when pollution is at its worst.

Semiconductor works better when hitched to graphene

February 20, 2015 8:41 am | by SLAC Office of Communications | News | Comments

Graphene shows great promise for future electronics, advanced solar cells, protective coatings and other uses, and combining it with other materials could extend its range even further. Experiments at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory looked at the properties of materials that combine graphene with a common type of semiconducting polymer.

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Fibers made by transforming materials

February 20, 2015 8:26 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Scientists have known how to draw thin fibers from bulk materials for decades. But a new approach to that old method, developed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, could lead to a whole new way of making high-quality fiber-based electronic devices. The idea grew out of a long-term research effort to develop multifunctional fibers that incorporate different materials into a single long functional strand.

Tool helps boost wireless channel frequencies, capacity

February 20, 2015 8:16 am | by Laura Ost, NIST | News | Comments

Smartphones and tablets are everywhere, which is great for communications but a growing burden on wireless channels. Forecasted huge increases in mobile data traffic call for exponentially more channel capacity. Boosting bandwidth and capacity could speed downloads, improve service quality and enable new applications like the Internet of Things connecting a multitude of devices.

New technique developed for making graphene competitor, molybdenum disulphide

February 20, 2015 7:59 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

Graphene is often touted as a replacement for silicon in electronic devices due to its extremely high conductivity and unbeatable thinness. But graphene isn’t the only 2-D material that could play such a role. Univ. of Pennsylvania researchers have made an advance in manufacturing one such material, molybdenum disulphide.

Perfect colors, captured with ultra-thin lens

February 20, 2015 7:50 am | by Caroline Perry, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Most lenses are, by definition, curved. After all, they are named for their resemblance to lentils, and a glass lens made flat is just a window with no special powers. But a new type of lens created at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences turns conventional optics on its head.

Giving shape to black holes’ intense winds

February 20, 2015 7:41 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

By looking at the speed of ambient gas spewing out from a well-known quasar, astronomers are gaining insight into how black holes and their host galaxies might have evolved at the same time. Using the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), researchers were able to use the x-ray spectra of an extremely luminous black hole (quasar PDS 456) to detect a nearly spherical stream of highly ionized gas streaming out of it.

Antarctica: Mystery continent holds key to mankind's future

February 20, 2015 1:08 am | by Luis Andres Henao And Seth Borenstein, Associated Press | News | Comments

Earth's past, present and future come together here on the northern peninsula of Antarctica, the wildest, most desolate and mysterious of its continents. Clues to answering humanity's most basic questions are locked in this continental freezer the size of the U.S. and half of Canada: Where did we come from? Are we alone in the universe? What's the fate of our warming planet?

FDA eases access to DNA screening for inherited diseases

February 19, 2015 9:08 pm | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal health officials are easing access to DNA tests used to screen parents for devastating genetic disorders that can be passed on to their children. The surprise announcement offers a path forward for Google-backed genetic testing firm 23andMe, which previously clashed with regulators over its direct-to-consumer technology.

Igniting the air for atmospheric research

February 19, 2015 9:14 am | by Vienna Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

Scientists have created a high-energy mid-infrared laser powerful enough to create shining filaments in the air. Such devices could be used to detect chemical substances in the atmosphere.

Shape-shifting groups of nanorods release heat differently

February 19, 2015 9:11 am | by Justin H.S. Breaux, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers have revealed previously unobserved behaviors that show how details of the transfer of heat at the nanoscale cause nanoparticles to change shape in ensembles.

For the first time, spacecraft catch a solar shockwave in the act

February 19, 2015 9:02 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

New research has shown that a 2013 solar storm produced “ultrarelativistic, killer electrons” in 60 seconds, disrupting Earth's magnetic field and setting off a magnetized sound pulse around the planet. 

Cancer risk linked to DNA 'wormholes'

February 19, 2015 8:58 am | by Institute of Cancer Research | News | Comments

Single-letter genetic variations within parts of the genome once dismissed as 'junk DNA' can increase cancer risk through wormhole-like effects on far-off genes, new research shows.

Does dark matter cause mass extinctions and geologic upheavals?

February 19, 2015 8:56 am | by NYU | News | Comments

Research concludes that Earth's infrequent but predictable path around and through our Galaxy's disc may have a direct and significant effect on geological and biological phenomena occurring on Earth.

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