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Physics World names top 10 physics breakthroughs of 2014

December 12, 2014 7:47 am | News | Comments

The first ever landing of a man-made probe onto a comet has been named Physics World Breakthrough of the Year for 2014. From a shortlist of 10 highly commended breakthroughs, the historic achievement by scientists working on the Rosetta mission was singled out by the Physics World editorial team for its significance and fundamental importance to space science.

Scientists measure speedy electrons in silicon

December 12, 2014 7:00 am | News | Comments

An international team of physicists and chemists based at UC Berkeley has, for the first time, taken snapshots of this ephemeral event using attosecond pulses of soft X-ray light lasting only a few billionths of a billionth of a second.                             

RoboSimian beats out Surrogate for spot at DARPA finals

December 12, 2014 7:00 am | News | Comments

RoboSimian was created for the DARPA Robotics Challenge, a competition consisting of several disaster-related tasks for robots to perform. Using extra limbs from RoboSimian, researchers constructed Surrogate. Over the past six months, they have been testing both robots to see which one should compete in the finals.

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Nanoshaping method points to future manufacturing technology

December 12, 2014 7:00 am | News | Comments

A new method that creates large-area patterns of three-dimensional nanoshapes from metal sheets represents a potential manufacturing system to inexpensively mass produce innovations such as "plasmonic metamaterials" for advanced technologies.

3-D maps reveal the genome's origami code

December 12, 2014 7:00 am | Videos | Comments

In a triumph for cell biology, researchers have assembled the first high-resolution, 3-D maps of entire folded genomes and found a structural basis for gene regulation -- a kind of "genomic origami" that allows the same genome to produce different types of cells. 

Cause of malaria drug resistance in SE Asia identified

December 12, 2014 7:00 am | News | Comments

Growing resistance to malaria drugs in Southeast Asia is caused by a single mutated gene inside the disease-causing Plasmodium falciparum parasite. This finding provides public health officials around the world with a way to look for pockets of emerging resistance and potentially eliminate them before they spread.

Interstellar mystery solved by supercomputer simulations

December 11, 2014 2:48 pm | by Jorge Salazar, TACC | News | Comments

An interstellar mystery of why stars form has been solved thanks to the most realistic supercomputer simulations of galaxies yet made.                                 

Theory details how ‘hot’ monomers affect thin-film formation

December 11, 2014 2:43 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice University | News | Comments

Researchers at Rice and the University of Maryland led by Rice theoretical physicist Alberto Pimpinelli devised the first detailed model to quantify what they believe was the last unknown characteristic of film formation through deposition by vacuum sublimation and chemical vapor deposition.

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Stacking 2-D materials may lower cost of semiconductor devices

December 11, 2014 2:34 pm | by North Caroline State University | News | Comments

A team of researchers led by North Carolina State University has found that  stacking materials that are only one atom thick can create semiconductor junctions that transfer charge efficiently, regardless of whether the crystalline structure of the materials is mismatched.

New technology tracks carcinogens as they move through the body

December 11, 2014 12:17 pm | by Oregon State University | News | Comments

Researchers for the first time have developed a method to track through the human body the movement of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, as extraordinarily tiny amounts of these potential carcinogens are biologically processed and eliminated.

Ebola vaccine trial suspended after side effects

December 11, 2014 12:12 pm | by Associated Press | News | Comments

Swiss researchers have suspended the testing of one of the leading Ebola vaccine candidates after some volunteers reported unexpected side effects.                             

Baby steps toward molecular robots

December 11, 2014 8:32 am | News | Comments

A walking molecule, so small that it cannot be observed directly with a microscope, has been recorded taking its first nanometer-sized steps. It's the first time that anyone has shown in real time that such a tiny object – termed a "small molecule walker" – has taken a series of steps.

Meniscus regenerated with 3-D-printed implant

December 11, 2014 8:25 am | News | Comments

Researchers have devised a way to replace the knee’s protective lining, called the meniscus, using a personalized 3D-printed implant, or scaffold, infused with human growth factors that prompt the body to regenerate the lining on its own. The therapy, successfully tested in sheep, could provide the first effective and long-lasting repair of damaged menisci.

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‘High-entropy’ alloy is as light as aluminum, as strong as titanium alloys

December 11, 2014 8:09 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a new “high-entropy” metal alloy that has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than any other existing metal material. High-entropy alloys are materials that consist of five or more metals in approximately equal amounts. 

New way to plug 'leaky' light cavities

December 11, 2014 8:07 am | News | Comments

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have demonstrated a new and more efficient way to trap light, using a phenomenon called bound states in the continuum (BIC) that was first proposed in the early days of quantum wave mechanics.

New form of ice could explore avenues for energy production and storage

December 11, 2014 8:01 am | News | Comments

The discovery of a new form of ice could lead to an improved understanding of our planet’s geology, potentially helping to unlock new solutions in the production, transportation and storage of energy. Ice XVI, the least dense of all known forms of ice, has a highly symmetric cage-like structure that can trap gaseous molecules to form compounds known as clathrates or gas hydrates.

New way to turn genes on

December 10, 2014 2:37 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT | News | Comments

Using a gene-editing system originally developed to delete specific genes, MIT researchers have now shown that they can reliably turn on any gene of their choosing in living cells.                    

Molecules for the masses

December 10, 2014 2:28 pm | by Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois | Videos | Comments

Scientists have created an app that brings molecules to life in a handheld device. Through the app, people can use up to eleven fingers to examine in great detail more than 350 molecules.                  

Organic electronics could lead to cheap, wearable medical sensors

December 10, 2014 2:19 pm | by Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Future fitness trackers could soon add blood-oxygen levels to the list of vital signs measured with new technology developed by engineers.                               

‘Electronic skin’ detects pressure from different directions

December 10, 2014 2:12 pm | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

For the first time, scientists report the development of a stretchable “electronic skin” closely modeled after our own that can detect not just pressure, but also what direction it’s coming from.                

‘Smart windows’ have potential to keep heat out, save energy

December 10, 2014 2:07 pm | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Scientists are developing a new kind of “smart window” that can block out heat when the outside temperatures rise. The advance could one day help consumers better conserve energy on hot days and reduce electric bills.       

NASA, Houston hospital work on spacesuit issue

December 10, 2014 2:00 pm | by Juan A. Lozano, Associated Press | News | Comments

The empty spacesuit that sat on the operating table in a lab at Houston Methodist Hospital's research institute made for an unusual patient.                               

Nanotechnology battles malaria parasites

December 10, 2014 8:04 am | News | Comments

Malaria parasites invade human red blood cells, which they bring to burst and infect others. Researchers at the University of Basel and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute called nano imitations of host cell membranes have developed that deceive and trick the pathogen. This could lead to novel therapeutic and vaccine strategies against malaria and other infectious diseases.

Defects are perfect in laser-induced graphene

December 10, 2014 7:50 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Rice University have created flexible, patterned sheets of multilayer graphene from a cheap polymer by burning it with a computer-controlled laser. The process works in air at room temperature and eliminates the need for hot furnaces and controlled environments, and it makes graphene that may be suitable for electronics or energy storage.

The gold standard

December 9, 2014 5:37 pm | News | Comments

Precious elements such as platinum work well as catalysts in chemical reactions, but require large amounts of metal and can be expensive. However, computational modeling below the nanoscale level may allow researchers to design more efficient and affordable catalysts from gold.

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