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“Breaking waves” perturb Earth’s magnetic field

May 11, 2015 11:37 am | by David Sims, Univ. of New Hampshire | News | Comments

The underlying physical process that creates striking "breaking wave" cloud patterns in our atmosphere also frequently opens the gates to high-energy solar wind plasma that perturbs Earth's magnetic field, or magnetosphere, which protects us from cosmic radiation. The discovery was made by two Univ. of New Hampshire space physicists.

Out with heavy metal

May 11, 2015 11:29 am | by Dawn Zimmerman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated a new process for the expanded use of lightweight aluminum in cars and trucks at the speed, scale, quality and consistency required by the auto industry. The process reduces production time and costs while yielding strong and lightweight parts, for example delivering a car door that is 62% lighter and 25% cheaper than that produced with today's manufacturing methods.

Last Day for 2015 R&D 100 Award Entries

May 11, 2015 11:15 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | News | Comments

The editors of R&D Magazine have announced that today, May 18, 2015, is the last day to accept 2015 R&D 100 Award entries. The R&D 100 Awards have a 50 plus year history of awarding the 100 most technologically significant products of the year.

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Whispering gallery for graphene electrons

May 11, 2015 9:08 am | by NIST | News | Comments

An international research group led by scientists at NIST has developed a technique for creating nanoscale whispering galleries for electrons in graphene. The development opens the way to building devices that focus and amplify electrons just as lenses focus light and resonators (like the body of a guitar) amplify sound.

Altering genes with the aid of light

May 11, 2015 8:18 am | by Joe Miksch, Univ. of Pittsburgh | News | Comments

Scientists have been manipulating genes for a while. The Univ. of Pittsburgh’s Alexander Deiters just found a way to control the process with higher precision. By using light. Since 2013, scientists have used a gene-editing tool called CRISPR/Cas9. The method employs a bacterially derived protein (Cas9) and a synthetic guide RNA to induce a double-strand break at a specific location in the genome.

Removing reflections

May 11, 2015 7:58 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

It’s hard to take a photo through a window without picking up reflections of the objects behind you. To solve that problem, professional photographers sometimes wrap their camera lenses in dark cloths affixed to windows by tape or suction cups. But that’s not a terribly attractive option for a traveler using a point-and-shoot camera to capture the view from a hotel room or a seat in a train.

Physicists stop and store light traveling in an optical fiber

May 11, 2015 7:48 am | by Pierre and Marie Curie Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at the Kastler Brossel Laboratory in Paris have managed to store light that propagates in an optical fiber and to release it later on demand. By causing interaction between the traveling light and a few thousand atoms in the vicinity, they demonstrated an all-fibered memory.

New thin, flat lenses

May 11, 2015 7:35 am | by Adam Hadhazy, Caltech | News | Comments

Lenses appear in all sorts of everyday objects, from prescription eyeglasses to cell phone cameras. Typically, lenses rely on a curved shape to bend and focus light. But in the tight spaces inside consumer electronics and fiber-optic systems, these rounded lenses can take up a lot of room. Over the last few years, scientists have started crafting tiny flat lenses that are ideal for such close quarters.

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Smart cane provides facial recognition for blind

May 8, 2015 10:50 am | by Birmingham City Univ. | News | Comments

A revolutionary “smart” cane enabling the visually impaired to instantly identify friends and family could be available soon, thanks to students at Birmingham City Univ. The “XploR” mobility cane, being developed by ICT students Steve Adigbo, Waheed Rafiq and Richard Howlett, uses smartphone technology to recognize familiar faces from up to 10-m away. The cane also features GPS functionality to aid navigation.

Lopsided star explosion holds key to supernova mysteries

May 8, 2015 10:34 am | by Ker Than, Caltech | News | Comments

New observations of a recently exploded star are confirming supercomputer model predictions made at Caltech that the deaths of stellar giants are lopsided affairs in which debris and the stars' cores hurtle off in opposite directions. While observing the remnant of supernova (SN) 1987A, NuSTAR recently detected the unique energy signature of titanium-44.

PTSD linked to accelerated aging

May 8, 2015 10:21 am | by Scott LaFee, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

In recent years, public health concerns about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have risen significantly, driven in part by affected military veterans returning from conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere. PTSD is associated with number of psychological maladies, among them chronic depression, anger, insomnia, eating disorders and substance abuse.

Sunny news for medicine

May 8, 2015 8:57 am | by Univ. of Western Australia | News | Comments

Scientists have discovered an extraordinary protein-cutting enzyme that has also evolved to glue proteins together, a finding that may be valuable in the production of therapeutic drugs. They found the unusual enzyme in an ordinary plant, the sunflower. The researchers have unraveled the manufacturing route sunflowers use to make a super-stable protein ring.

Scientists control the flow of heat, light in photonic crystals

May 8, 2015 8:44 am | by Univ. of Twente | News | Comments

Scientists from the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology at the Univ. of Twente in the Netherlands and Thales Research & Technology, France, have found a way to control heat propagation in photonic nano-sized devices, which will be used for high speed communications and quantum information technologies.

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Encouraging minerals to capture troubling radionuclides

May 8, 2015 8:28 am | by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Associated with contamination in certain spots around the world, pentavalent neptunium does not always behave the same as its stand-in when moving through the soil, according to scientists. The less studied pentavalent neptunium and the well-studied hexavalent uranium are incorporated at dramatically different levels in calcite and other carbonate minerals. Assimilation in minerals can limit the radionuclides migration.

Revealing security flaws in teleoperated surgical robots

May 8, 2015 8:17 am | by Jennifer Langston, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

To make cars as safe as possible, we crash them into walls to pinpoint weaknesses and better protect people who use them. That’s the idea behind a series of experiments conducted by a Univ. of Washington engineering team who hacked a next-generation teleoperated surgical robot to test how easily a malicious attack could hijack remotely controlled operations in the future and to make those systems more secure.

Researchers develop custom artificial membranes

May 8, 2015 8:06 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

Decorating the outside of cells like tiny antenna, a diverse community of sugar molecules acts like a telecommunications system, sending and receiving information, recognizing and responding to foreign molecules and neighboring cells. This sugar part of biomembranes is as crucial to health as DNA, but not much is known about it.

Plugging up leaky graphene

May 8, 2015 7:49 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

For faster, longer-lasting water filters, some scientists are looking to graphene to serve as ultra-thin membranes, filtering out contaminants to quickly purify high volumes of water. Graphene’s unique properties make it a potentially ideal membrane for water filtration or desalination. But there’s been one main drawback to its wider use.

Some see telescope as an opportunity for science education

May 8, 2015 2:09 am | by Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Associated Press | News | Comments

Before going up to Mauna Kea's summit on Hawaii's Big Island, Heather Kaluna makes an offering to Poliahu, the snow goddess of the mountain. She holds it sacred, as do other Native Hawaiians. The mountain holds another important place in her life: Poised to be the first Native Hawaiian to get an astronomy doctorate from the Univ. of Hawaii, she uses the mountain to gaze at the stars.

Electrons corralled using new quantum tool

May 7, 2015 3:22 pm | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers have succeeded in creating a new “whispering gallery” effect for electrons in a sheet of graphene, making it possible to precisely control a region that reflects electrons within the material. They say the accomplishment could provide a basic building block for new kinds of electronic lenses, as well as quantum-based devices that combine electronics and optics.

Potential painkiller provides longer lasting effects

May 7, 2015 1:40 pm | by Derek Thompson, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia | News | Comments

Medications have long been used to treat pain caused by injury or chronic conditions. Unfortunately, most are short-term fixes or cause side effects that limit their use. Researchers at the Univ. of Missouri have discovered a new compound that offers longer lasting painkilling effects, and shows promise as an alternative to current anesthetics.

Researchers match physical and virtual atomic friction experiments

May 7, 2015 12:00 pm | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

Technological limitations have made studying friction on the atomic scale difficult, but researchers at the Univ. of Pennsylvania and the Univ. of California, Merced, have now made advances in that quest on two fronts. By speeding up a real atomic force microscope and slowing down a simulation of one, the team has conducted the first atomic-scale experiments on friction at overlapping speeds.

A new spin on plasmonics

May 7, 2015 10:46 am | by Aalto Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers experimentally demonstrated that patterning of magnetic materials into arrays of nanoscale dots can lead to a very strong and highly controllable modification of the polarization of light when the beam reflects from the array. This discovery could increase the sensitivity of optical components for telecommunication and biosensing applications.

Using light to probe acoustic tuning in gold nanodisks

May 7, 2015 10:34 am | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

In a study that could open doors for new applications of photonics from molecular sensing to wireless communications, Rice Univ. scientists have discovered a new method to tune the light-induced vibrations of nanoparticles through slight alterations to the surface to which the particles are attached.

Molecular homing beacon redirects human antibodies

May 7, 2015 8:28 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | Videos | Comments

With the threat of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens growing, new ideas to treat infections are sorely needed. Researchers at Univ. of California, San Diego report preliminary success testing an entirely novel approach: tagging bacteria with a molecular “homing beacon” that attracts pre-existing antibodies to attack the pathogens.

Fresh evidence for how water reached Earth

May 7, 2015 8:11 am | by Univ. or Warwick | News | Comments

Water delivery via asteroids or comets is likely taking place in many other planetary systems, just as it happened on Earth, new research strongly suggests. Led by the Univ. of Warwick, the research finds evidence for numerous planetary bodies, including asteroids and comets, containing large amounts of water.

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