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Good vibrations rock an insulator to go metallic

November 11, 2014 8:24 am | by Dawn Levy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

For more than 50 years, scientists have debated what turns particular oxide insulators, in which electrons barely move, into metals, in which electrons flow freely. Some scientists sided with Nobel Prize–winning physicist Nevill Mott in thinking direct interactions between electrons were the key. Others believed, as did physicist Rudolf Peierls, that atomic vibrations and distortions trumped all.

Heat transfer sets noise floor for ultra-sensitive electronics

November 11, 2014 8:10 am | by Ken Than, Caltech | News | Comments

A team of engineers and scientists has identified a source of electronic noise that could affect the functioning of instruments operating at very low temperatures, such as devices used in radio telescopes and advanced physics experiments. The findingscould have implications for the future design of transistors and other electronic components.

Microbot muscles: Chains of particles assemble and flex

November 11, 2014 7:57 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

In a step toward robots smaller than a grain of sand, Univ. of Michigan researchers have shown how chains of self-assembling particles could serve as electrically activated muscles in the tiny machines. So-called microbots would be handy in many areas. But several challenges lie between current technologies and science fiction possibilities. Two of the big ones are building the bots and making them mobile.

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The missing piece of the climate puzzle

November 11, 2014 7:49 am | by Genevieve Wanucha | Program in Atmospheres Oceans and Climate | MIT | News | Comments

In classrooms and everyday conversation, explanations of global warming hinge on the greenhouse gas effect. In short, climate depends on the balance between two different kinds of radiation: The Earth absorbs incoming visible light from the sun, called “shortwave radiation,” and emits infrared light, or “longwave radiation,” into space.

Medicare proposes covering lung cancer screening

November 10, 2014 5:58 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Medicare may soon begin paying for yearly scans to detect lung cancer in certain current or former heavy smokers. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Monday issued a long-awaited proposal to begin covering the screening for high-risk beneficiaries if their doctors agree they meet the criteria.

Catalyst-where-you-want-it method expands possibilities for new drug development

November 10, 2014 11:13 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Chemists at The Scripps Research Institute and the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry have described a method for creating and modifying organic compounds that overcomes a major limitation of previous methods. The advance opens up a large number of novel chemical structures for synthesis and evaluation, for example, as candidate pharmaceuticals.

Biochemistry detective work: Algae at night

November 10, 2014 11:05 am | by Carnegie Institute | News | Comments

Photosynthesis is probably the most well-known aspect of plant biochemistry. It enables plants, algae and select bacteria to transform the energy from sunlight during the daytime into chemical energy in the form of sugars and starches (as well as oils and proteins), and it involves taking in carbon dioxide from the air and releasing oxygen derived from water molecules.

First look at atom-thin boundaries

November 10, 2014 10:55 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have made the first direct observations of a 1-D boundary separating two different, atom-thin materials, enabling studies of long-theorized phenomena at these interfaces. Theorists have predicted the existence of intriguing properties at 1-D boundaries between two crystalline components, but experimental verification has eluded researchers.

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Underperforming? Energy efficiency of HVAC equipment suffers due to poor installation

November 10, 2014 10:45 am | by NIST | News | Comments

The push for more efficient air conditioners and heat pumps aims to trim the 30% share of residential electrical energy use devoted to cooling and heating. But the benefits of improved energy-efficiency ratings can go for naught if the equipment is not installed properly, as verified in a recent study from NIST.

New materials yield record efficiency polymer solar cells

November 10, 2014 10:20 am | by Tracey Peake, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. and Hong Kong Univ. of Science and Technology have found that temperature-controlled aggregation in a family of new semiconducting polymers is the key to creating highly efficient organic solar cells that can be mass produced more cheaply. Their findings also open the door to experimentation with different chemical mixtures that comprise the active layers of the cells.

Synthetic biology for space exploration

November 10, 2014 9:27 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Does synthetic biology hold the key to manned space exploration of the moon and Mars? Berkeley Lab researchers have used synthetic biology to produce an inexpensive and reliable microbial-based alternative to the world’s most effective anti-malaria drug, and to develop clean, green and sustainable alternatives to gasoline, diesel and jet fuels. In the future, synthetic biology could also be used to make manned space missions more practical.

Milestone hit in accelerating particles with plasma

November 10, 2014 9:09 am | by Andrew Gordon, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Scientists from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Univ. of California, Los Angeles have shown that a promising technique for accelerating electrons on waves of plasma is efficient enough to power a new generation of shorter, more economical accelerators. This could greatly expand their use in areas such as medicine, national security, industry and high-energy physics research.

How human cells become immortal

November 10, 2014 8:35 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Every day, some of your cells stop dividing, and that’s a good thing. Cells that proliferate indefinitely are immortal, an essential early step in the development of most malignant tumors. Despite its importance in cancer, the process of cell immortalization is poorly understood. That’s because scientists have lacked a good way to study immortalization in human cells as it occurs during cancer progression.

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Unexpected findings change the picture of sulfur on early Earth

November 10, 2014 8:20 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | News | Comments

Scientists believe that until about 2.4 billion years ago there was little oxygen in the atmosphere. Evidence in support of this hypothesis comes from studies of sulfur isotopes preserved in the rock record. But the sulfur isotope story has been uncertain because of the lack of key information that has now been provided by a new analytical technique developed by a team of Caltech geologists and geochemists.

Dynamic graph analytics tackle social media, other big data

November 10, 2014 8:08 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Today, petabytes of digital information are generated daily by such sources as social media, Internet activity, surveillance sensors and advanced research instruments. The results are often referred to as “big data”—accumulations so huge that highly sophisticated computer techniques are required to identify useful information hidden within. Graph analysis is a prime tool for finding the needle in the data haystack.

First peek at how neurons multitask

November 10, 2014 8:01 am | by Laura Williams, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Michigan have shown how a single neuron can perform multiple functions in a model organism, illuminating for the first time this fundamental biological mechanism and shedding light on the human brain. Investigators found that a neuron in C. elegans regulates both the speed and direction in which the worm moves.

Mars spacecraft reveal comet flyby effects on Martian atmosphere

November 10, 2014 7:46 am | by Jim Scott, CU-Boulder Media Relations | News | Comments

Two NASA and one European spacecraft, including NASA’s MAVEN mission led by the Univ. of Colorado Boulder, have gathered new information about the basic properties of a wayward comet that buzzed by Mars October 19, 2014, directly detecting its effects on the Martian atmosphere. Data from observations revealed that debris from the comet caused an intense meteor shower and added a new layer of ions, or charged particles, to the ionosphere.

Ebola volunteers wrestle with quarantine mandates

November 8, 2014 9:58 am | by Jennifer Peltz - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Dr. Robert Fuller didn't hesitate to go to Indonesia to treat survivors of the 2004 tsunami, to Haiti to help after the 2010 earthquake or to the Philippines after a devastating typhoon last year. But he's given up on going to West Africa to care for Ebola patients this winter. He could make the six-week commitment sought by his go-to aid organization, International Medical Corps.

Shifts in states of matter: It’s complicated

November 7, 2014 3:23 pm | by Anne M. Stark, LLNL | News | Comments

The process of phase changes- those transitions between states of matter- is more complex than previously thought. A team researchers has found that we may need to rethink one of science’s building blocks and illustrate how a proper theoretical description of transitions has remained unclear.

Life in Earth’s primordial sea was starved for sulfate

November 7, 2014 3:18 pm | by Univ. of British Columbia | News | Comments

The Earth’s ancient oceans held much lower concentrations of sulfate— a key biological nutrient— than previously recognized, according to new research.                             

Greater use of social media gets scientists noticed

November 7, 2014 3:14 pm | by Chris Barncard, Univ. of Wisconsin | News | Comments

Here is an idea worth following: “share” for tenure; “like” to get cited. Academic researchers are turning to social media more and more, according to new research.                          

DNA study dates Eurasian split from East Asians

November 7, 2014 3:08 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

The human populations now predominant in Eurasia and East Asia probably split between 36,200 and 45,000 years ago, according to a study released Thursday.                            

Hubble surveys debris-strewn exoplanetary construction yards

November 7, 2014 3:03 pm | by NASA | News | Comments

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have completed the largest and most sensitive visible-light imaging survey of dusty debris disks around other stars.                         

Maybe it wasn't the Higgs particle, after all

November 7, 2014 2:58 pm | by Univ. of Southern Denmark | News | Comments

Last year CERN announced the finding of a new elementary particle, the Higgs particle. But, maybe it wasn't the Higgs particle– maybe it just looks like it. And maybe, it is not alone.

Purdue innovation might make MR imaging more effective, less toxic

November 7, 2014 10:17 am | by Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers led by David Thompson, president of Aten Biotherapeutics and a professor in Purdue's Department of Chemistry, are developing controlled-release imaging agents that allow for a longer, safer imaging session.         

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