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Student-built satellite to prepare NASA instrument

October 26, 2011 7:03 am | News | Comments

When the M-Cubed satellite, built by University of Michigan students, goes into orbit, it will become the first CubeSat to test a NASA instrument for major space missions. It is scheduled to be launched on October 28.

Researchers grow synapses in laboratory

October 26, 2011 6:46 am | by Anne Trafton, News Office | News | Comments

Many scientists believe that strengthening synaptic connections could offer a way to treat neurological disorders, as well as age-related decline in brain function. To that end, a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers has developed a new way to grow synapses between cells in a laboratory dish, under very controlled conditions that enable rapid, large-scale screens for potential new drugs.

Tool clears the air on cloud simulations

October 26, 2011 6:12 am | News | Comments

Climate models have a hard time representing clouds accurately because they lack the spatial resolution necessary to accurately simulate the billowy air masses. But Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and international collaborators have developed a new tool that will help scientists better represent the clouds observed in the sky in climate models.

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Quantum computer components 'coalesce' to 'converse'

October 26, 2011 4:47 am | News | Comments

If quantum computers are ever to be realized, they likely will be made of different types of parts that will need to share information with one another, just like the memory and logic circuits in today's computers do. However, prospects for achieving this kind of communication seemed distant—until now.

Technology pinpoints anomalies in complex financial data

October 26, 2011 4:36 am | News | Comments

Identifying atypical information in financial data early could help identify problematic financial trends such as the systemic risk that recently put the U.S. and global financial systems in a downward fall. Recognizing such anomalous information can also help regulators, investors, and advisors better manage their investment and savings portfolios. Now, new analytical software developed by Battelle researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory can do just that.

Power up: Shining brightly

October 26, 2011 4:20 am | News | Comments

With the world's energy needs growing rapidly, can zero-carbon energy options be scaled up enough to make a significant difference? How much of a dent can these alternative make in the world's total energy usage over the next half-century? Part three of this Massachusetts Institute of Technology five-part series explores the vast amounts of solar energy technologies that radiate the Earth.

Yale engineers bring new meaning to the force of light

October 25, 2011 8:24 am | News | Comments

New research by engineers at the Yale University School of Engineering & Applied Science demonstrates that nanomechanical resonators can operate at much higher amplitudes than previously thought. The results represent an advance in optomechanics, in which the force of light is used to control mechanical devices.

Researchers discover new process for biofuel

October 25, 2011 7:57 am | News | Comments

Researchers have long been interested in waste products as sources of biofuel. In Maine, those waste items could include treetops and limbs deemed by the forest products industry as unusable and often left behind in the woods. A University of Maine research team has, however, discovered a new chemical process can transform forest residues into a hydrocarbon fuel oil.

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Scientists target bacteria 'quorum sensing' as route to antibacterial therapies

October 25, 2011 7:11 am | News | Comments

Among the complex molecular processes involved in the development of bacteria-borne disease is quorum sensing, the way bacteria communicate and coordinate collective behaviors. By studying how to inhibit quorum sensing, scientists may be able create antibacterial pharmaceuticals for a variety of ailments.

Dividing corn stover makes ethanol conversion more efficient

October 25, 2011 6:50 am | News | Comments

Not all parts of a corn stalk are equal, and they shouldn't be treated that way when creating cellulosic ethanol, say Purdue University researchers. When corn stover is processed to make cellulosic ethanol, everything is ground down and blended together. But a research team found that three distinct parts of the stover—the rind, pith, and leaves—break down in different ways.

Sodium-ion batteries that are worth their salt

October 25, 2011 5:04 am | News | Comments

Although lithium-ion technology dominates headlines in battery research and development, a new element is making its presence known as a potentially powerful alternative: sodium. Sodium-ion technology possesses a number of benefits that lithium-based energy storage cannot capture, and Argonne National Laboratory is looking to improve the performance of ambient-temperature sodium-based batteries.

Singling out the real breast cancer among the lumps

October 25, 2011 4:48 am | News | Comments

Early detection of breast cancer saves thousands of lives each year. But screening for breast cancer also produces false alarms, which can cause undue stress and costly medical bills. Now, a recent study using patient blood reveals a possible way to reduce the number of false alarms that arise during early screening.

Power up: Where the wind blows

October 25, 2011 4:30 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

With the world's energy needs growing rapidly, can zero-carbon energy options be scaled up enough to make a significant difference? How much of a dent can these alternative make in the world's total energy usage over the next half-century? Part two of this Massachusetts Institute of Technology five-part series explores how far wind power can go toward reducing global carbon emissions from electricity production.

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Nanoparticles and their size may not be big issues

October 24, 2011 9:16 am | News | Comments

Since the emergence of nanotechnology, researchers, regulators, and the public have been concerned that the potential toxicity of nano-sized products might threaten human health by way of environmental exposure. Now, with the help of high-powered transmission electron microscopes, chemists captured never-before-seen views of miniscule metal nanoparticles naturally being created by silver articles, showing nanoparticle have been in contact with humans for a long time.

Computer modeling helps Coast Guard plan search and rescue on Great Lakes

October 24, 2011 8:23 am | News | Comments

Purdue University has developed a system to analyze the historic response of U.S. Coast Guard search-and-rescue operations in the Great Lakes and assess the potential risks associated with hypothetical changes in the allocation of resources in the region.

Hold your forces

October 24, 2011 7:56 am | News | Comments

A new study demonstrates that mechanical forces affect the growth and remodeling of blood vessels during tissue regeneration and wound healing. The forces diminish or enhance the vascularization process and tissue regeneration depending on when they are applied during the healing process.

Research finds gallium nitride is biocompatible

October 24, 2011 7:34 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State University and Purdue University have shown that the semiconductor material gallium nitride (GaN) is non-toxic and is compatible with human cells—opening the door to the material's use in a variety of biomedical implant technologies.

Researchers build transparent, super-stretchy skin-like sensor

October 24, 2011 7:08 am | News | Comments

Using carbon nanotubes bent to act as springs, Stanford University researchers have developed a stretchable, transparent skin-like sensor. The sensor can be stretched to more than twice its original length and bounce back perfectly to its original shape. It can sense pressure from a firm pinch to thousands of pounds.

Women making slow, sure strides in science, math

October 24, 2011 6:48 am | by Martha Irvine, AP National Writer | News | Comments

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—the so-called STEM jobs—have been slower than other disciplines to integrate women at the highest levels. With two-thirds of all undergraduate degrees and 60% of master's degrees now going to women, many believe it's only a matter of time before that trend influences the upper echelons of the STEM fields.

Physicists unveil a theory for a new kind of superconductivity

October 24, 2011 5:33 am | News | Comments

In this 100th anniversary year of the discovery of superconductivity, physicists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology have published a fully self-consistent theory of the new kind of superconducting behavior.

Power up: What can make a dent?

October 24, 2011 5:15 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

With the world's energy needs growing rapidly, can zero-carbon energy options be scaled up enough to make a significant difference? How much of a dent can these alternatives make in the world's total energy usage over the next half-century? As the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Energy Initiative approaches its fifth anniversary next month, this five-part series takes a broad view of the likely scalable energy candidates.

Unexpected magnetic excitations in doped insulator surprise researchers

October 24, 2011 4:46 am | News | Comments

When doping a disordered magnetic insulator material with atoms of a nonmagnetic material, the conventional wisdom is that the magnetic interactions between the magnetic ions in the material will be weakened. However, when the antiferromagnetic insulator barium manganate was doped, the barium manganate's magnetic excitations were surprisingly unreduced in strength and energy.

Scientists discover new way to determine when water was present on Mars, Earth

October 21, 2011 10:13 am | News | Comments

The discovery of the mineral jarosite in rocks analyzed by the Mars Rover, Opportunity, on the Martian surface had special meaning for a team of Syracuse University scientists who study the mineral here on Earth. Jarosite can only form in the presence of water. Its presence on Mars means that water had to exist at some point in the past.

Team helps measure femtosecond pulses of X-ray free electron

October 21, 2011 7:49 am | News | Comments

An international team has measured, for the first time, the spatial and temporal coherence of a single femtosecond X-ray pulse generated by the first hard X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL), the Linac Coherent Light Source, at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

SpaceX completes key milestone to fly astronauts to International Space Station

October 21, 2011 6:43 am | News | Comments

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announced it has successfully completed the preliminary design review of its launch abort system, a system designed for manned missions using its Dragon spacecraft. This represents a major step toward creating an American-made successor to the space shuttle.

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