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Fool’s gold as a solar material?

November 19, 2014 7:47 am | by David Tennebaum, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

As the installation of photovoltaic solar cells continues to accelerate, scientists are looking for inexpensive materials beyond the traditional silicon that can efficiently convert sunlight into electricity. Theoretically, iron pyrite could do the job, but when it works at all, the conversion efficiency remains frustratingly low. Now, a Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison research team explains why that is.

Paramecia need Newton for navigation

November 19, 2014 7:36 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | Videos | Comments

For such humble creatures, single-celled paramecia have remarkable sensory systems. Give them a sharp jab on the nose, they back up and swim away. Jab them in the behind, they speed up their swimming to escape. But according to new research, when paramecia encounter flat surfaces, they’re at the mercy of the laws of physics.

Study will test survivors' blood to treat Ebola

November 18, 2014 11:00 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A coalition of companies and aid groups announced plans Tuesday to test experimental drugs and collect blood plasma from Ebola survivors to treat new victims of the disease in West Africa. Plasma from survivors contains antibodies, substances the immune system makes to fight the virus.

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Warmth, flowing water on early Mars were episodic

November 18, 2014 11:46 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Ample evidence of ancient rivers, streams and lakes make it clear that Mars was at some point warm enough for liquid water to flow on its surface. While that may conjure up images of a tropical Martian paradise, new research published in Nature Geoscience throws a bit of cold water on that notion.

Gravity may have saved the universe after the Big Bang

November 18, 2014 10:34 am | by Laura Gallagher, Imperial College London | News | Comments

New research by a team of European physicists could explain why the universe did not collapse immediately after the Big Bang. Studies of the Higgs particle have suggested that the production of Higgs particles during the accelerating expansion of the very early universe (inflation) should have led to instability and collapse.

A new portrait of carbon dioxide

November 18, 2014 9:36 am | by Patrick Lynch, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | Videos | Comments

An ultra-high-resolution NASA computer model has given scientists a stunning new look at how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere travels around the globe. Plumes of carbon dioxide in the simulation swirl and shift as winds disperse the greenhouse gas away from its sources. The simulation also illustrates differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres.

Scientists reveal weak spots in Ebola’s defenses

November 18, 2014 9:27 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have identified weak spots on the surface of Ebola virus that are targeted by the antibodies in ZMapp, the experimental drug cocktail administered to several patients during the recent Ebola outbreak. The study provides a revealing 3-D picture of how the ZMapp antibodies bind to Ebola virus.

New acoustic sensor developed for chemical, biological detection

November 18, 2014 9:14 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Testing for ovarian cancer or the presence of a particular chemical could be almost as simple as distinguishing an F sharp from a B flat, thanks to a new microscopic acoustic device that has been dramatically improved by scientists at Argonne National Laboratory. The device, known as a surface acoustic wave (SAW) sensor, detects frequency changes in waves that propagate through its crystalline structure.

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As temperatures rise, soil will relinquish less carbon to atmosphere

November 18, 2014 8:26 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Here’s another reason to pay close attention to microbes: Current climate models probably overestimate the amount of carbon that will be released from soil into the atmosphere as global temperatures rise, according to research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The findings are from a new computer model that explores the feedbacks between soil carbon and climate change.

Two sensors in one

November 18, 2014 8:10 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemists have developed new nanoparticles that can simultaneously perform magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and fluorescent imaging in living animals. Such particles could help scientists to track specific molecules produced in the body, monitor a tumor’s environment, or determine whether drugs have successfully reached their targets.

Chemical disguise transforms RNAi drug delivery

November 18, 2014 7:57 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Small pieces of synthetic RNA trigger a RNA interference (RNAi) response that holds great therapeutic potential to treat a number of diseases, especially cancer and pandemic viruses. The problem is delivery: It’s extremely difficult to get RNAi drugs inside the cells in which they are needed.

Researchers create, control spin waves

November 18, 2014 7:50 am | by James Devitt, New York Univ. | News | Comments

A team of New York Univ. and Univ. of Barcelona physicists has developed a method to control the movements occurring within magnetic materials, which are used to store and carry information. The breakthrough could simultaneously bolster information processing while reducing the energy necessary to do so.

Study: Polar bears disappearing from key region

November 17, 2014 5:01 pm | by Seth Borenstein - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A key polar bear population fell nearly by half in the past decade, a new U.S.-Canada study found, with scientists seeing a dramatic increase in young cubs starving and dying. Researchers chiefly blame shrinking sea ice from global warming. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and Environment Canada captured, tagged and released polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea from 2001 to 2010.

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Advance in cryopreservation could change management of world blood supplies

November 17, 2014 3:58 pm | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Engineers at Oregon State Univ. have identified a method to rapidly prepare frozen red blood cells for transfusions, which may offer an important new way to manage the world’s blood supply. It’s already possible to cryopreserve human red blood cells in the presence of 40% glycerol, but is rarely done because of the time-consuming process to thaw and remove the glycerol from the blood.

Mixing light at the nanoscale

November 17, 2014 3:46 pm | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

The race to make computer components smaller and faster and use less power is pushing the limits of the properties of electrons in a material. Photonic systems could eventually replace electronic ones, but the fundamentals of computation, mixing two inputs into a single output, currently require too much space and power when done with light.

Graphene/nanotube hybrid benefits flexible solar cells

November 17, 2014 3:37 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have invented a novel cathode that may make cheap, flexible dye-sensitized solar cells practical. The Rice laboratory of materials scientist Jun Lou created the new cathode, one of the two electrodes in batteries, from nanotubes that are seamlessly bonded to graphene and replaces the expensive and brittle platinum-based materials often used in earlier versions.

Huge solar plant lags in early production

November 17, 2014 3:01 pm | by Michael R. Blood - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The largest solar power plant of its type in the world isn't producing as much energy as planned. One of the reasons is as basic as it gets: The sun isn't shining as much as expected. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System opened in February, with operators saying it would produce enough electricity to power a city of 140,000 people.

Solar-friendly form of silicon shines

November 17, 2014 11:16 am | by Carnegie Institute | News | Comments

Silicon is the second-most-abundant element in the Earth's crust. When purified, it takes on a diamond structure, which is essential to modern electronic devices—carbon is to biology as silicon is to technology. A team of Carnegie scientists has synthesized an entirely new form of silicon, one that promises even greater future applications.

Artificial muscle can “remember” movements

November 17, 2014 11:07 am | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Cambridge have developed artificial muscles which can learn and recall specific movements, the first time that motion control and memory have been combined in a synthetic material. The muscles, made from smooth plastic, could eventually be used in a applications where mimicking the movement of natural muscle would be an advantage, such as robotics, aerospace, exoskeletons and biomedical applications.

Chemical in coffee may help prevent obesity-related disease

November 17, 2014 10:33 am | by James Hataway, Univ. of Georgia | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Georgia have discovered that a chemical compound commonly found in coffee may help prevent some of the damaging effects of obesity. In a recently published paper published, scientists found that chlorogenic acid, or CGA, significantly reduced insulin resistance and accumulation of fat in the livers of mice who were fed a high-fat diet.

Spiral laser beam creates quantum whirlpool

November 17, 2014 10:24 am | by Australian National Univ. | News | Comments

Physicists at Australian National Univ. have engineered a spiral laser beam and used it to create a whirlpool of hybrid light-matter particles called polaritons. The ability to control polariton flows in this way could aid the development of completely novel technology to link conventional electronics with new laser and fiber-based technologies.

Efficient method developed to measure residual stress in 3-D printed parts

November 17, 2014 10:08 am | by Kenneth Ma, LLNL | News | Comments

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have developed an efficient method to measure residual stress in metal parts produced by powder-bed fusion additive manufacturing. This 3-D printing process produces metal parts layer by layer using a high-energy laser beam to fuse metal powder particles.

Study suggests genetic link for male homosexuality

November 17, 2014 10:01 am | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A large study of gay brothers adds to evidence that genes influence men's chances of being homosexual, but the results aren't strong enough to prove it. Some scientists believe several genes might affect sexual orientation. Researchers who led the new study of nearly 800 gay brothers say their results bolster previous evidence pointing to genes on the X chromosome.

Hand transplant research sheds light on touch

November 17, 2014 8:52 am | by Associated Press, Lauran Neergaard | News | Comments

Recovery of feeling can gradually improve for years after a hand transplant, suggests a small study that points to changes in the brain, not just the new hand, as a reason. Research presented at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience sheds light on how the brain processes the sense of touch, and adapts when it goes awry. The work could offer clues to rehabilitation after stroke, brain injury, maybe one day even spinal cord injury.

Artificial intelligence magic tricks

November 17, 2014 8:46 am | by Queen Mary Univ. of London | Videos | Comments

Researchers from the Queen Mary Univ. of London gave a computer program the outline of how a magic jigsaw puzzle and a mind-reading card trick work, as well the results of experiments into how humans understand magic tricks, and the system created completely new variants on those tricks which can be delivered by a magician.

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