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Mysteries of space dust revealed

August 18, 2014 8:03 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

The first analysis of space dust collected by a special collector onboard NASA’s Stardust mission and sent back to Earth for study in 2006 suggests the tiny specks, which likely originated from beyond our solar system, are more complex in composition and structure than previously imagined. The analysis opens a door to studying the origins of the solar system and possibly the origin of life itself.

Another Ebola problem: Finding its natural source

August 17, 2014 9:19 am | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writers - Associated Press | News | Comments

A scary problem lurks beyond the frenzied efforts to keep people from spreading Ebola: No one knows exactly where the virus comes from or how to stop it from seeding new outbreaks. Ebola has caused two dozen outbreaks in Africa since it first emerged in 1976. It is coming from somewhere—probably bats—but experts agree they need to pinpoint its origins in nature.

Seven tiny grains captured by Stardust likely visitors from intersteller space

August 15, 2014 11:30 am | by Robert Sanders, Univ. of California, Berkeley | News | Comments

Since 2006, when NASA’s Stardust spacecraft delivered its aerogel and aluminum foil dust collectors back to Earth, a team of scientists has combed through them. They now report finding seven dust motes that probably came from outside our solar system, perhaps created in a supernova explosion and altered by eons of exposure to the extremes of space. They would be the first confirmed samples of contemporary interstellar dust.

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Visual control of big data

August 15, 2014 7:55 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In the age of big data, visualization tools are vital. With a single glance at a graphic display, a human being can recognize patterns that a computer might fail to find even after hours of analysis. But what if there are aberrations in the patterns? Or what if there’s just a suggestion of a visual pattern that’s not distinct enough to justify any strong inferences? Or what if the pattern is clear, but not what was to be expected?

Scientists racing to test Ebola vaccines in humans

August 14, 2014 6:22 pm | by Matthew Perrone - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists are racing to begin the first human safety tests of two experimental Ebola vaccines, but it won't be easy to prove that the shots and other potential treatments in the pipeline really work. There are no proven drugs or vaccines for Ebola, a disease so rare that it's been hard to attract investments in countermeasures. But the current outbreak in West Africa is fueling new efforts to speed Ebola vaccine and drug development.

Chip-based platform could simplify measurements of single molecules

August 14, 2014 9:11 am | by Melissae Fellet, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of California, Santa Cruz have developed a new approach for studying single molecules and nanoparticles by combining electrical and optical measurements on an integrated chip-based platform. In a paper published in Nano Letters, the researchers reported using the device to distinguish viruses from similarly-sized nanoparticles with 100% fidelity.

Test reveals purity of graphene

August 14, 2014 8:02 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Graphene may be tough, but those who handle it had better be tender. The environment surrounding the atom-thick carbon material can influence its electronic performance, according to researchers at Rice and Osaka universities who have come up with a simple way to spot contaminants.

Single gene controls jet lag

August 14, 2014 7:52 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified a gene that regulates sleep and wake rhythms. The discovery of the role of this gene, called Lhx1, provides scientists with a potential therapeutic target to help night-shift workers or jet lagged travelers adjust to time differences more quickly. The results, published in eLife, can point to treatment strategies for sleep problems caused by a variety of disorders.

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New material could enhance fast, accurate DNA sequencing

August 14, 2014 7:41 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Gene-based personalized medicine has many possibilities for diagnosis and targeted therapy, but one big bottleneck: the expensive and time-consuming DNA sequencing process. Now, researchers at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found that nanopores in the material molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) could sequence DNA more accurately, quickly and inexpensively than anything yet available.

3-D Printing Builds Up Architecture

August 13, 2014 1:53 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

In May 2014, a private company in China, WinSun, printed 10 full-size houses using 3-D printers in the space of a day. The process utilized quick-drying cement and construction water to build the walls layer-by-layer. The company used a system of four 10-m-by-6.6-m-high printers with multi-directional sprays to create the houses.

Tattoo biobatteries produce power from sweat

August 13, 2014 12:45 pm | Videos | Comments

In the future, working up a sweat by exercising may not only be good for your health, but it could also power your small electronic devices. Researchers report that they have designed a sensor in the form of a temporary tattoo that can both monitor a person’s progress during exercise and produce power from their perspiration.

Snow has thinned on Arctic sea ice

August 13, 2014 11:30 am | by Hannah Hickey, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

From research stations drifting on ice floes to high-tech aircraft radar, scientists have been tracking the depth of snow that accumulates on Arctic sea ice for almost a century. Now that people are more concerned than ever about what is happening at the poles, research led by the Univ. of Washington and NASA confirms that snow has thinned significantly in the Arctic, particularly on sea ice in western waters near Alaska.

Eco-friendly pre-fab nanoparticles could advance nanomanufacturing

August 13, 2014 11:21 am | by Janet Lathrop, UMass Amherst | News | Comments

A team of materials chemists, polymer scientists, device physicists and others at the Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst report a breakthrough technique for controlling molecular assembly of nanoparticles over multiple length scales that should allow faster, cheaper, more ecologically friendly manufacture of organic photovoltaics and other electronic devices.

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A Potential New Route to Stopping Surgical Bleeding

August 13, 2014 10:44 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

Surgical and trauma patients are at significant risk for morbidity and mortality from bleeding and/or leaking bodily fluids. With the number and complexity of surgeries rising, so is the need for better hemostatic agents to stop bleeding as quickly as possible. The history of approaches to hemostasis goes back to when people simply used their hands or a tool to apply to a wound to stop bleeding.

3-D Printing for Blood Recycling, Medical Developments

August 13, 2014 10:15 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Stratasys, Ltd. | Articles | Comments

Imagine your religious beliefs lied between you and your life. This is what happened in mid-April to Julie Penoyer, a 50-year-old U.K. heart patient and Jahovah’s Witness. Following her religious beliefs, her request when undergoing open-heart surgery was to not receive donated blood products.

Copper foam turns CO2 into useful chemicals

August 13, 2014 8:21 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

A catalyst made from a foamy form of copper has vastly different electrochemical properties from catalysts made with smooth copper in reactions involving carbon dioxide, a new study shows. The research, by scientists in Brown Univ.’s Center for the Capture and Conversion of CO2, suggests that copper foams could provide a new way of converting excess CO2 into useful industrial chemicals.

Lunar-landing rocket research hits milestone with “hot-fire” test

August 13, 2014 8:00 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A Purdue Univ. student team has designed, built and tested a critical part of a new a rocket engine as part of a NASA project to develop spacecraft technologies needed to land on the moon, Mars and other cosmic venues. The students are making a central part of the new engine—called the thrust chamber or combustor—as part of NASA's Project Morpheus.

Foam favorable for oil extraction

August 13, 2014 7:49 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

A Rice Univ. laboratory has provided proof that foam may be the right stuff to maximize enhanced oil recovery (EOR). In tests, foam pumped into an experimental rig that mimicked the flow paths deep underground proved better at removing oil from formations with low permeability than common techniques involving water, gas, surfactants or combinations of the three.

New analysis reveals tumor weaknesses

August 13, 2014 7:40 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Scientists have known for decades that cancer can be caused by genetic mutations, but more recently they have discovered that chemical modifications of a gene can also contribute to cancer. These alterations, known as epigenetic modifications, control whether a gene is turned on or off. Analyzing these modifications can provide important clues to the type of tumor a patient has, and how it will respond to different drugs.

R&D Magazine Announces Scientist and Innovator of the Year Award Winners

August 12, 2014 12:00 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | News | Comments

R&D Magazine introduced its annual Scientist of the Year Award winner, Dr. Karl Deisseroth, and its Innovator of the Year Award winner, Dr. Hugh Herr. As R&D Magazine's 49th Scientist of the Year Award winner, Dr. Deisseroth is one of the United States’ leading researchers in the rapidly growing field of optogenetics, having invented several new technologies in support of efforts to understand neural functions in the human brain.

Follow the radio waves to exomoons

August 12, 2014 8:26 am | News | Comments

Scientists hunting for life beyond Earth have discovered more than 1,800 planets outside our solar system, or exoplanets, in recent years, but so far, no one has been able to confirm an exomoon. Now, physicists from The Univ. of Texas at Arlington believe following a trail of radio wave emissions may lead them to that discovery.

Therapy for ultraviolet laser beams: Hydrogen-treated fibers

August 12, 2014 8:17 am | by Laura Ost, NIST | News | Comments

To make a better optical fiber for transmitting laser beams, the first idea that comes to mind is probably not a nice long hydrogen bath. And yet, scientists have known for years that hydrogen can alter the performance of optical fibers, which are often used to transmit or even generate laser light in optical devices. Researchers at NIST have put this hydrogen “cure” to practical use.

From eons to seconds, proteins exploit the same forces

August 12, 2014 7:58 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Nature’s artistic and engineering skills are evident in proteins. Scientists at Rice Univ. have now employed their unique theories to show how the interplay between evolution and physics developed these skills. The team used computer models to show that the energy landscapes that describe how nature selects viable protein sequences over evolutionary timescales employ the same forces as those that allow proteins to fold.

An easier way to manipulate malaria genes

August 11, 2014 10:35 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria, has proven notoriously resistant to scientists’ efforts to study its genetics. It can take up to a year to determine the function of a single gene, which has slowed efforts to develop new, more targeted drugs and vaccines. Biological engineers have now demonstrated a new genome-editing technique that can disrupt a single parasite gene in a matter of weeks.

“Seeing” through virtual touch is believing

August 11, 2014 10:10 am | by Tom Robinette, Univ. of Cincinnati | News | Comments

Visual impairment comes in many forms, and it's on the rise in America. A Univ. of Cincinnati experiment aimed at this diverse and growing population could spark development of advanced tools to help all the aging baby boomers, injured veterans, diabetics and white-cane-wielding pedestrians navigate the blurred edges of everyday life.

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