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Biologists identify brain tumor weakness

April 9, 2015 7:31 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Biologists have discovered a vulnerability of brain cancer cells that could be exploited to develop more-effective drugs against brain tumors. The study found that a subset of glioblastoma tumor cells is dependent on a particular enzyme that breaks down the amino acid glycine. Without this enzyme, toxic metabolic byproducts build up inside the tumor cells, and they die.

Scientists seek source of giant methane mass over Southwest

April 9, 2015 2:05 am | by Colleen Slevin, Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists are working to pinpoint the source of a giant mass of methane hanging over the southwestern U.S., which a study found to be the country's largest concentration of the greenhouse gas. The report that revealed the methane hot spot over the Four Corners region, where Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona meet, was released last year.

Emotionally inspired engineering: Emma Nelson tackles environmental issues with engineering

April 8, 2015 2:42 pm | by Julia Sklar, MIT | News | Comments

When MIT senior Emma Nelson was teaching engineering classes in China in 2013, a male student remarked of her as an instructor, “I thought we were supposed to meet engineers, not women.” As she stared out at the 100 college students before her, Nelson noticed there was just one female face looking back at her.

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Glass fiber that brings light to standstill

April 8, 2015 2:33 pm | by Vienna University of Technology | News | Comments

Light is an extremely useful tool for quantum communication, but it has one major disadvantage: it usually travels at the speed of light and cannot be kept in place. A team of scientists at the Vienna Univ. of Technology has now demonstrated that this problem can be solved—not only in strange, unusual quantum systems, but in the glass fiber networks we are already using today.

Complex organic molecules discovered in infant star system: hints that prebiotic chemistry is universal

April 8, 2015 2:21 pm | by National Radio Astronomy Observatory | News | Comments

For the first time, astronomers have detected the presence of complex organic molecules, the building blocks of life, in a protoplanetary disk surrounding a young star, suggesting once again that the conditions that spawned our Earth and Sun are not unique in the universe.

SESAME passes an important milestone at CERN

April 8, 2015 1:57 pm | by CERN | News | Comments

The SESAME project has reached an important milestone: the first complete cell of this accelerator for the Middle East has been assembled and successfully tested at CERN. SESAME is a synchrotron light source under construction in Jordan.

How unwanted CDs and DVDs could help cut carbon emissions

April 8, 2015 1:45 pm | by ACS | News | Comments

Now that most consumers download and stream their movies and music, more and more CDs and DVDs will end up in landfills or be recycled. But soon these discarded discs could take on a different role: curbing the release of greenhouse gases. In ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, scientists report a way to turn the discs into a material that can capture carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas, and other compounds

A potential Rosetta Stone of high-temperature superconductivity

April 8, 2015 1:36 pm | by U.S. Department of Energy | News | Comments

High purity single crystals of superconducting material (CeCoIn5) with the highest observed superconducting temperature for a cerium-based material enabled investigation of the relationship among magnetism, superconductivity and disorder by strategic substitution of certain atoms with others (dopants) in the superconductor.

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Food for thought: Master protein enhances learning and memory

April 8, 2015 8:54 am | by The Salk Institute | News | Comments

Just as some people seem built to run marathons and have an easier time going for miles without tiring, others are born with a knack for memorizing things, from times tables to trivia facts. These two skills are not so different as it turns out. Salk scientists and collaborators have discovered that physical and mental activities rely on a single metabolic protein that controls the flow of blood and nutrients throughout the body.

Can you make your own Game of Thrones sword using chemistry?

April 8, 2015 8:41 am | by American Chemical Society | Videos | Comments

The fantasy epic Game of Thrones is back April 12, 2015, and it is sure to be chock full of intrigue, indiscretions and, of course, swords. The most sought-after blades in Westeros are made from Valyrian steel, forged using ancient magic. But could you make your own Valyrian steel sword using real-life chemistry?

Carbon nanotube composites show promise for use in “unconventional” computing

April 8, 2015 8:17 am | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

As we approach the miniaturization limits of conventional electronics, alternatives to silicon-based transistors are being hotly pursued. Inspired by the way living organisms have evolved in nature to perform complex tasks with remarkable ease, a group of researchers from Durham Univ. and the Univ. of São Paulo-USP are exploring similar "evolutionary" methods to create information processing devices.

Optical method for producing high-res, 3-D images of nanoscale objects

April 8, 2015 8:07 am | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford Univ. | Videos | Comments

To design the next generation of optical devices, ranging from efficient solar panels to LEDs to optical transistors, engineers will need a 3-D image depicting how light interacts with these objects on the nanoscale. Unfortunately, the physics of light has thrown up a roadblock in traditional imaging techniques: The smaller the object, the lower the image's resolution in 3-D.

Possible new RNA engineering tool

April 8, 2015 7:50 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A great deal of public attention in the past couple of years has been showered on complexes of bacterial proteins known as “CRISPR-Cas” for their potential use as a tool for editing DNA. Now, researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are reporting that CRISPR-Cas complexes could also serve as an engineering tool for RNA, the molecule that translates DNA’s genetic instructions into the production of proteins.

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Inkjet-printed liquid metal could bring wearable tech, soft robotics

April 8, 2015 7:40 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

New research shows how inkjet-printing technology can be used to mass-produce electronic circuits made of liquid-metal alloys for "soft robots" and flexible electronics. Elastic technologies could make possible a new class of pliable robots and stretchable garments that people might wear to interact with computers or for therapeutic purposes.

Spotting a molecular warhead for disease in the human gut

April 7, 2015 12:20 pm | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Univ. scientists are using new chemical tools to identify and understand molecules in the human gut that alter DNA and regulate inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancers. In a recent article, researchers describe the chemical structures of 32 such molecules from the bacterial colibactin pathway, found in select strains of E. coli in the gut.

Shifts in electricity generation spur net job growth, but coal jobs decline

April 7, 2015 12:09 pm | by Tim Lucas, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

In the four years following the 2008 recession, the coal industry lost more than 49,000 jobs, while the natural gas, solar and wind industries together created nearly four times that amount, according to a new Duke Univ. study. A county-by-county geographical analysis of the losses and gains shows that few new jobs were added in regions hardest hit by coal’s decline, particularly counties in southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.

Office inkjet printer could produce simple tool to identify infectious diseases

April 7, 2015 12:03 pm | by Michelle Donovan, McMaster Univ. | News | Comments

Consumers are one step closer to benefiting from packaging that could give simple text warnings when food is contaminated with deadly pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella, and patients could soon receive real-time diagnoses of infections such as C. difficile right in their doctors' offices, saving critical time and trips to the lab.

Science Connect: Sexy Laboratories

April 7, 2015 11:34 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Videos | Comments

Sometimes just reading about great lab and building design isn’t enough. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the annual Laboratory Design Conference allows our attendees to view some of the most sexy, most well-planned and most sustainable labs there are in the host city.

Future electronics based on carbon nanotubes

April 7, 2015 11:16 am | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

The exceptional properties of tiny molecular cylinders known as carbon nanotubes have tantalized researchers for years because of the possibility they could serve as a successors to silicon in laying the logic for smaller, faster and cheaper electronic devices.

Tunneling across a tiny gap

April 7, 2015 11:07 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Conduction and thermal radiation are two ways in which heat is transferred from one object to another: Conduction is the process by which heat flows between objects in physical contact, such as a pot of tea on a hot stove, while thermal radiation describes heat flow across large distances, such as heat emitted by the sun. These two fundamental heat-transfer processes explain how energy moves across microscopic and macroscopic distances.

Study hints at spontaneous appearance of primordial DNA

April 7, 2015 10:51 am | by Jim Scott, CU-Boulder Media Relations | News | Comments

The self-organization properties of DNA-like molecular fragments four billion years ago may have guided their own growth into repeating chemical chains long enough to act as a basis for primitive life, says a new study by the Univ. of Colorado Boulder and the Univ. of Milan.

Sound separates cancer cells from blood samples

April 7, 2015 8:26 am | by A’ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

Separating circulating cancer cells from blood cells for diagnostic, prognostic and treatment purposes may become much easier using an acoustic separation method and an inexpensive, disposable chip, according to a team of engineers from Penn State Univ.

Computers that mimic the function of the brain

April 7, 2015 8:16 am | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers are always searching for improved technologies, but the most efficient computer possible already exists. It can learn and adapt without needing to be programmed or updated. It has nearly limitless memory, is difficult to crash, and works at extremely fast speeds. It’s not a Mac or a PC; it’s the human brain. And scientists around the world want to mimic its abilities.

Discovery may be breakthrough for hydrogen cars

April 7, 2015 8:10 am | by Zeke Barlow, Virginia Tech | News | Comments

A team of Virginia Tech researchers has discovered a way to create hydrogen fuel using a biological method that greatly reduces the time and money it takes to produce the zero-emissions fuel. This method uses abundantly available corn stover to produce the hydrogen. The team's new findings could help speed the widespread arrival of the hydrogen-powered vehicles in a way that is inexpensive and has extremely low carbon emissions.

Sea sponge anchors are natural models of strength

April 7, 2015 8:02 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Life may seem precarious for the sea sponge known as Venus’ flower basket. Tiny, hair-like appendages made essentially of glass are all that hold the creatures to their seafloor homes. But fear not for these creatures of the deep. Those tiny lifelines, called basalia spicules, are fine-tuned for strength, according to new research led by Brown Univ. engineers.

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