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Smarter infrastructure

January 11, 2013 9:21 am | News | Comments

A team from the University of Cambridge has developed a mechanical amplifier to convert ambient vibrations into electricity more effectively, which could be used to power wireless sensors for monitoring the structural health of roads, bridges, and tunnels.

Surgeons may use hand gestures to manipulate MRI images in OR

January 11, 2013 7:44 am | News | Comments

Doctors may soon be using a system in the operating room that recognizes hand gestures as commands to tell a computer to browse and display medical images of the patient during a surgery. Purdue University researchers are creating a system that uses depth-sensing cameras and specialized algorithms to recognize hand gestures as commands to manipulate MRI images on a large display.

Netzsch to supply SpaceX’s thermal analysis laboratory instruments

January 10, 2013 10:12 am | News | Comments

Netzsch Instruments North America LLC announced that it is currently the sole supplier to Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of high-temperature thermal analysis instruments used to characterize material properties for space applications. The instruments will be used to fine-tune properties of existing materials and to develop new materials for use in the demanding, harsh environments of space.

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UW, PNNL tackle big data with joint computing institute

January 10, 2013 7:43 am | News | Comments

The deluge of data coming from today's countless electronic devices will be harnessed to take on the most pressing problems facing science and society at a new computational institute in Seattle. The Northwest Institute for Advanced Computing is being formed by the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Chips that can steer light

January 9, 2013 1:18 pm | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a 4,096-emitter array that fits on a single silicon chip. Chips that can steer beams of light could enable a wide range of applications, including cheaper, more efficient, and smaller laser rangefinders; medical-imaging devices that can be threaded through tiny blood vessels; and even holographic televisions that emit different information when seen from different viewing angles.

Telescope gives researchers a glimpse of the beginning of time

January 9, 2013 9:27 am | News | Comments

Where do we come from? What is the universe made of? Will the universe exist only for a finite time or will it last forever? These are just some of the questions that University of California, San Diego physicists are working to answer in the high desert of northern Chile.

“Standard quantum limit” smashed

January 8, 2013 4:27 pm | News | Comments

Communicating with light may soon get a lot easier, hints recent research from NIST and the University of Maryland's Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), where scientists have potentially found a way to overcome a longstanding barrier to cleaner signals.

Counting the twists in a helical light beam

January 8, 2013 1:21 pm | by Caroline Perry, Harvard University | News | Comments

At a time when communication networks are scrambling for ways to transmit more data over limited bandwidth, a type of twisted light wave is gaining new attention. Called an optical vortex or vortex beam, this complex beam resembles a corkscrew, with waves that rotate as they travel. Now, applied physicists at the Harvard University have created a new device that enables a conventional optical detector—which would normally only measure the light's intensity—to pick up on that rotation.

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Engineers work to help biologists cope with big data

January 8, 2013 10:15 am | News | Comments

Iowa State University researchers have developed a microsystem instrument—a clear plastic cube, an inch or so across, just big enough to hold 10 to 20 tiny seeds. Using sophisticated sensors and software, the researchers can precisely control the light, temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide inside the cube.

Carbon found in Vesta's craters

January 8, 2013 8:43 am | News | Comments

Images taken by the framing camera onboard NASA's space probe Dawn show two enormous craters in the southern hemisphere of the asteroid Vesta, a remarkable protoplanet that is a time capsule of early planet formation in the solar system. Scientists have recently found that the asteroids that created these impact features also delivered dark, carbonaceous material to the protoplanet.

Better than diamond

January 7, 2013 1:39 pm | by Gunnar Bartsch | News | Comments

Silicon carbide crystals consist of a regular lattice formed by silicon and carbon atoms. At present, these semiconductors are extensively used in micro and opto-electronics. Physicists have recently modified silicon carbide crystals in a way that these exhibit new and surprising properties. This makes them interesting with regard to the design of high-performance computers or data transmission.

Atom smasher hiatus sets stage for more discovery

January 7, 2013 1:22 pm | by John Heilprin, Associated Press | News | Comments

The world's largest and most powerful atom smasher goes into a 2-year hibernation in March, as engineers carry out a revamp to help it reach maximum energy levels that could lead to more stunning discoveries following the detection of the so-called "God particle."

DARPA selects SwRI’s K-band space crosslink radio

January 7, 2013 9:16 am | News | Comments

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently selected Southwest Research Institute to provide the flight low-rate crosslink wireless communications platform for the System F6 Program.

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Study reveals extraordinary glass properties

January 7, 2013 7:41 am | News | Comments

Armed with a better understanding of how glasses age and evolve, researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison raise the possibility of designing a new class of materials at the molecular level via a vapor-deposition process.

How computers push on the molecules they simulate

January 3, 2013 10:15 am | News | Comments

Computer simulations are essential to test theories and explore what's inaccessible to direct experiment. Digital computers can't use exact, continuous equations of motion and have to slice time into chunks, so persistent errors are introduced in the form of "shadow work" that distorts the result. Scientists have learned to separate the physically realistic aspects of the simulation from the artifacts of the computer method.

Record-setting p-type transistor demonstrated

January 3, 2013 7:35 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Microsystems Technology Laboratories presented a p-type transistor with the highest "carrier mobility" yet measured. By that standard, the device is twice as fast as previous experimental p-type transistors and almost four times as fast as the best commercial p-type transistors.

Tool developed to evaluate genome sequencing method

January 2, 2013 10:37 am | News | Comments

Advances in biotechnologies and computer software have helped make genome sequencing much more common than in the past. But still in question are both the accuracy of different sequencing methods and the best ways to evaluate these efforts. Now, computer scientists have devised a tool to better measure the validity of genome sequencing.

Military projects push boundaries of flexible electronics in imaging technologies

January 2, 2013 9:59 am | News | Comments

Aiming to address the strategic military need for accurate, high-resolution imaging, a University of Wisconsin-Madison electrical and computer engineer working with the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the U.S. Department of Defense has a simple goal: to make night vision more accurate and easier for soldiers and pilots to use.

Physicists take photonic topological insulators to the next level

December 26, 2012 8:13 am | News | Comments

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have designed a simulation that, for the first time, emulates key properties of electronic topological insulators. Their simulation is part of a rapidly moving scientific race to understand and exploit the potential of topological insulators, which are a state of matter that was only discovered in the past decade.

From Cassini for the holidays: A splendor seldom seen

December 21, 2012 12:21 pm | News | Comments

Just in time for the holidays, NASA's Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn for more than eight years now, has delivered another glorious, backlit view of the planet Saturn and its rings.On Oct. 17, 2012, during its 174th orbit around the gas giant, Cassini was deliberately positioned within Saturn's shadow, a perfect location from which to look in the direction of the sun and take a backlit view of the rings and the dark side of the planet.

Clays on Mars: More plentiful than expected

December 21, 2012 9:30 am | News | Comments

A new study indicates that clay minerals, rocks that usually form when water is present for long periods of time, cover a larger portion of Mars than previously thought.  In fact, the research team say clays were in some of the rocks studied by Opportunity when it landed at Eagle crater in 2004. But Opportunity doesn’t have the capability any longer to detect these clays, which were found using spectroscopic analysis from the Mars Reconnaissance Observer.

A nanoscale window to the biological world

December 21, 2012 8:24 am | by Ken Kingery, Virginia Tech | News | Comments

Investigators at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have invented a way to directly image biological structures at their most fundamental level and in their natural habitats. Their newly developed in situ molecular microscopy provides a gateway to imaging dynamic systems in structural biology

Scientists construct first map of how the brain organizes everything we see

December 20, 2012 11:40 am | by Yasmin Anwar, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Our eyes may be our window to the world, but how do we make sense of the thousands of images that flood our retinas each day? Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the brain is wired to put in order all the categories of objects and actions that we see. They have created the first interactive map of how the brain organizes these groupings.

Cell phone data helps pinpoint source of traffic tie-ups

December 20, 2012 11:36 am | by Denise Brehm, Civil and Environmental Engineering | News | Comments

Researchers tracked traffic in Boston and San Francisco with cell tower and GPS data and analyzed bottlenecks. Their computer analysis suggested a possible strategy for relieving traffic tie-ups: Instead of asking all drivers to reduce their driving during commute hours, target those communities whose drivers contribute most to congestion.

Preventing heat buildup within 3D integrated circuits

December 19, 2012 1:39 pm | News | Comments

In the effort to pile more power atop silicon chips, engineers have developed the equivalent of miniature skyscrapers in 3D integrated circuits and encountered a new challenge: how to manage the heat created within the tiny devices. But a team of University of Texas at Arlington researchers is working first to minimize the heat generated and then to developing nanowindows that will allow the heat to dissipate before it damages the chip.

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