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Scientists set quantum speed limit

January 23, 2015 8:01 am | by Robert Sanders, Univ. of California, Berkeley Media Relations | News | Comments

Scientists have proved a fundamental relationship between energy and time that sets a “quantum speed limit” on processes ranging from quantum computing and tunneling to optical switching. The energy-time uncertainty relationship is the flip side of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which sets limits on how precisely you can measure position and speed, and has been the bedrock of quantum mechanics for nearly 100 years.

Bending acoustic and elastic waves with metamaterials

January 23, 2015 7:51 am | by Jeff Sossamon, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia | News | Comments

Sound waves passing through the air, objects that break a body of water and cause ripples or shockwaves from earthquakes all are considered “elastic” waves. These waves travel at the surface or through a material without causing any permanent changes to the substance’s makeup. Now, researchers have developed a material that has the ability to control these waves.

Atomic Scientists: We're getting even closer to doomsday

January 22, 2015 2:18 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists says Earth is now closer to human-caused doomsday than it has been in more than 30 years because of global warming and nuclear weaponry. But other experts say that's way too gloomy. The advocacy group founded by the creators of the atomic bomb moved their famed "Doomsday Clock" ahead two minutes on Thursday.

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One dose, then surgery: A new way to test brain tumor drugs

January 22, 2015 1:18 pm | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Lori Simons took the bright orange pill at 3 a.m. Eight hours later, doctors sliced into her brain, looking for signs that the drug was working. She is taking part in one of the most unusual cancer experiments in the nation. With special permission from the Food and Drug Administration and multiple drug companies, an Arizona hospital is testing medicines very early in development and never tried on brain tumors before.

Biological safety lock for genetically modified organisms

January 22, 2015 1:17 pm | by Stephanie Dutchen, Harvard Medical School | News | Comments

The creation of genetically modified and entirely synthetic organisms continues to generate excitement as well as worry. Such organisms are already churning out insulin and other drug ingredients, helping produce biofuels and teaching scientists about human disease. While the risks can be exaggerated to frightening effect, modified organisms do have the potential to upset natural ecosystems if they were to escape.

Perovskites provide big boost in silicon solar cells

January 22, 2015 1:04 pm | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Stacking perovskites, a crystalline material, onto a conventional silicon solar cell dramatically improves the overall efficiency of the cell, according to a new study led by Stanford Univ. scientists. The researchers describe their novel perovskite-silicon solar cell in Energy & Environmental Science.

Researchers reveal how the mundane can be meaningful, remembered

January 22, 2015 11:36 am | by James Devitt, New York Univ. | News | Comments

It’s not surprising that our memories of highly emotional events, such as 9/11 or the birth of a child, are quite strong. But can these events change our memories of the past? In a study published in Nature, New York Univ. researchers report that emotional learning can lead to the strengthening of older memories.

Two lakes beneath Greenland’s ice gone within weeks

January 22, 2015 8:57 am | by Pam Frost Gorder, The Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers who are building the highest-resolution map of the Greenland Ice Sheet to date have made a surprising discovery: two lakes of meltwater that pooled beneath the ice and rapidly drained away. One lake once held billions of gallons of water and emptied to form a mile-wide crater in just a few weeks. The other lake has filled and emptied twice in the last two years.

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Toward a cocaine vaccine to help addicts kick the habit

January 22, 2015 8:44 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

In their decades-long search for vaccines against drugs of abuse, scientists have hit upon a new approach to annul cocaine’s addictive buzz. They report in Molecular Pharmaceutics that their strategy, which they tested on mice, harnesses a bacterial protein to trigger an immune system attack on the drug if it enters the body. This response could dull cocaine’s psychotropic effects and potentially help users of the drug kick the habit.

Predicting the behavior of new concrete formulas

January 22, 2015 8:39 am | by Chad Boutin, NIST | News | Comments

Just because concrete is the most widely used building material in human history doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. A recent study conducted by researchers from NIST, the Univ. of Strasbourg and Sika Corp. using U.S. Dept. of Energy Office of Science supercomputers has led to a new way to predict concrete’s flow properties from simple measurements.

Drug compounds show promise against endometriosis

January 22, 2015 8:15 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Two new drug compounds appear to be effective in treating endometriosis, a disorder that, like MS, is driven by estrogen and inflammation, scientists report in Science Translational Medicine. The researchers hope to eventually use the new compounds and others like them to treat a variety of disorders linked to estrogen signaling and inflammation.

Doubt cast on global firestorm generated by dino-killing asteroid

January 22, 2015 8:08 am | by Jo Bowler, Univ. of Exeter | News | Comments

Pioneering new research has debunked the theory that the asteroid thought to have led to the extinction of dinosaurs also caused vast global firestorms that ravaged planet Earth. A team of researchers from the Univ. of Exeter, Univ. of Edinburgh and Imperial College London recreated the immense energy released from an extraterrestrial collision with Earth that occurred around the time that dinosaurs became extinct.

Is glass a true solid?

January 22, 2015 7:54 am | by Hannah Johnson, Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

Does glass ever stop flowing? Researchers have combined computer simulation and information theory, originally invented for telephone communication and cryptography, to answer this puzzling question. Watching a glass blower at work we can clearly see the liquid nature of hot glass. Once the glass has cooled down to room temperature though, it has become solid and we can pour wine in it or make window panes out of it.

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New analysis explains collagen’s force

January 22, 2015 7:48 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Research combining experimental work and detailed molecular simulations has revealed, for the first time, the complex role that water plays in collagen. The new analysis reveals an important mechanism that had never been observed before: Adding even small amounts of water to, or removing water from, collagen in tendons can generate surprisingly strong forces, as much as 300 times stronger than the forces generated by muscles.

Senate says climate change real, but doesn't agree on cause

January 21, 2015 6:16 pm | by By Dina Cappiello - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The Republican-controlled Senate acknowledged Wednesday that climate change is real but refused to say humans are to blame. The series of votes publicly tested Republicans' stance on global warming just days after two federal agencies declared 2014 the hottest year on record and hours after President Barack Obama called global warming one of the greatest threats to future generations.

Study: DNA trick cripples bacteria that escape confinement

January 21, 2015 2:18 pm | by By Malcolm Ritter - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Bacteria have been modified so that they die if they get out of human control, a potential step toward better management of genetically engineered organisms—perhaps including crops, researchers say. Genetically altered microbes are used now in industry to produce fuels, medicines and other chemicals. The new technique might also reduce the risk of using them outdoors, such as for cleaning up toxic spills.

Peering into cosmic magnetic fields

January 21, 2015 12:03 pm | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

The generation of cosmic magnetic fields has long intrigued astrophysicists. Since it was first described in 1959, a phenomenon known as Weibel filamentation instability has generated tremendous theoretical interest from astrophysicists and plasma physicists as a potential mechanism for seed magnetic field generation in the universe. However, direct observation of Weibel-generated magnetic fields remained challenging for decades.

New method to generate arbitrary optical pulses

January 21, 2015 11:43 am | by Univ. of Southampton | News | Comments

Scientists from the Univ. of Southampton have developed a new technique to generate more powerful, more energy-efficient and low-cost pulsed lasers. The technique, which was developed by researchers from the university's Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), has potential applications in a number of fields that use pulsed lasers including telecommunications, metrology, sensing and material processing.

Nanobeaker offers insight into the condensation of atoms

January 21, 2015 11:15 am | by Univ. of Basel | News | Comments

An international team of physicists has succeeded in mapping the condensation of individual atoms, or rather their transition from a gaseous state to another state, using a new method. The team was able to monitor for the first time how xenon atoms condensate in microscopic measuring beakers, or quantum wells, thereby enabling key conclusions to be drawn as to the nature of atomic bonding.

Smart keyboard cleans, powers itself

January 21, 2015 9:44 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

In a novel twist in cybersecurity, scientists have developed a self-cleaning, self-powered smart keyboard that can identify computer users by the way they type. The device, reported in ACS Nano, could help prevent unauthorized users from gaining direct access to computers.

Optimizing optimization algorithms

January 21, 2015 9:36 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Optimization algorithms are everywhere in engineering. Among other things, they’re used to evaluate design tradeoffs, to assess control systems and to find patterns in data. One way to solve a difficult optimization problem is to first reduce it to a related but much simpler problem, then gradually add complexity back in, solving each new problem in turn and using its solution as a guide to solving the next one.

The ups and downs of the seemingly idle brain

January 21, 2015 9:24 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Even in its quietest moments, the brain is never “off.” Instead, while under anesthesia, during slow-wave sleep, or even amid calm wakefulness, the brain’s cortex maintains a cycle of activity and quiet called “up” and “down” states. A new study by Brown Univ. neuroscientists probed deep into this somewhat mysterious cycle in mice, to learn more about how the mammalian brain accomplishes it.

Engineers use x-rays to illuminate catalysis, revise theories

January 21, 2015 9:11 am | by Andrew Myers, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Many of today's most promising renewable energy technologies rely upon catalysts to expedite the chemical reactions at the heart of their potential. Catalysts are materials that enhance chemical reactions without being consumed in the process. For over a century, engineers across the world have engaged in a near-continual search for ways to improve catalysts for their devices and processes.

Model explores location of future U.S. population growth

January 21, 2015 8:59 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a population distribution model that provides unprecedented county-level predictions of where people will live in the U.S. in the coming decades. Initially developed to assist in the siting of new energy infrastructure, the team’s model has a broad range of implications from urban planning to climate change adaptation.

X-rays shed light on scrolls buried by volcano

January 21, 2015 8:45 am | by Frank Jordans, Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists have succeeded in reading parts of an ancient scroll that was buried in a volcanic eruption almost 2,000 years ago, holding out the promise that the world's oldest surviving library may one day reveal all of its secrets. The scroll is among hundreds retrieved from the remains of a lavish villa at Herculaneum that, along with Pompeii, was one of several Roman towns that were destroyed when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79.

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