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Relaxation helps pack DNA into a virus

May 27, 2014 7:57 am | by Susan Brown, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Taking a moment to pause and relax can help if you find yourself in a tight spot. This strategy can work for molecules as well as people, it turns out. Researchers at the Univ. of California, San Diego have found that DNA packs more easily into the tight confines of a virus when given a chance to relax.

Miniature truss work

May 27, 2014 7:44 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | News | Comments

Fancy Erector Set? Nope. The elaborate fractal structure shown at left is many, many times smaller than that and is certainly not child's play. It’s the latest example of a fractal nanotruss—nano because the structures are made up of members that are as thin as 5 nm; truss because they are carefully architected structures that might one day be used in structural engineering materials.

Chip produces, detects specialized gas for biomedical analysis

May 23, 2014 8:27 am | News | Comments

A chip-scale device that both produces and detects a specialized gas used in biomedical analysis and medical imaging has been built and demonstrated at NIST. Described in Nature Communications, the new microfluidic chip produces polarized (or magnetized) xenon gas and then detects even the faintest magnetic signals from the gas.

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Scientists discover new magnetic phase in iron-based superconductors

May 23, 2014 8:16 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a previously unknown phase in a class of superconductors called iron arsenides. This sheds light on a debate over the interactions between atoms and electrons that are responsible for their unusual superconductivity.

How the anticancer drug Taxol works

May 23, 2014 8:08 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A pathway to the design of even more effective versions of the powerful anticancer drug Taxol has been opened with the most detailed look ever at the assembly and disassembly of microtubules, tiny fibers of tubulin protein that form the cytoskeletons of living cells and play a crucial role in mitosis.

A new way to make sheets of graphene

May 23, 2014 7:39 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Graphene’s promise as a material for new kinds of electronic devices, among other uses, has led researchers around the world to study the material in search of new applications. But one of the biggest limitations to wider use of the strong, lightweight, highly conductive material has been the hurdle of fabrication on an industrial scale.

Engineer invents safe way to transfer energy to medical chips in the body

May 22, 2014 11:43 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Videos | Comments

A Stanford Univ. electrical engineer has invented a way to wirelessly transfer power deep inside the body, and then use this power to run tiny electronic medical gadgets such as pacemakers, nerve stimulators or new sensors and devices yet to be developed. The discoveriesculminate years of efforts to eliminate the bulky batteries and clumsy recharging systems that prevent medical devices from being more widely used.

Automated guided vehicles ripe for standardized performance tests

May 22, 2014 10:40 am | News | Comments

Automated guided vehicles—or AGVs—are robotic versions of draft animals, hauling heavy loads and navigating their way in factories, distribution centers, ports and other facilities. These modern beasts of burden are evolving so rapidly in capabilities and electronic intelligence that the need for the equivalent of standardized performance testing has become apriority for the fast-growing AGV industry and its customers.

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Why quantum dots suffer from “fluorescence intermittency”

May 22, 2014 8:12 am | News | Comments

Researchers have found that a particular species of quantum dots that weren't commonly thought to blink, do. So what? Well, although the blinks are short, even brief fluctuations can result in efficiency losses that could cause trouble for using quantum dots to generate photons that move information around inside a quantum computer or between nodes of a future high-security internet based on quantum telecommunications.

A robust source of information on marine energy, offshore wind projects

May 22, 2014 8:04 am | by Tom Rickey, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Wondering what the impact on killer whales might be from a turbine installed under the sea? Curious whether crabs and other crustaceans might be attracted to underwater cables carrying electricity to homes and businesses on the mainland? Interested in which country is harvesting the most energy from the world's oceans? The answers to these and many more lie with Tethys.

Supernova caught in the act by Palomar Transient Factory

May 22, 2014 7:52 am | by Cynthia Eller, California Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Supernovae are incredibly energetic, dynamic events. It’s easy to imagine that they are uncommon, but the universe is a big place and supernovae are actually fairly routine. The problem with observing supernovae is knowing just when and where one is occurring and being able to point a world-class telescope at it in the hours immediately afterward, when precious data about the supernova's progenitor star is available.

Why eumelanin is a good absorber of light

May 22, 2014 7:39 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Melanin—and specifically, the form called eumelanin—is the primary pigment that gives humans the coloring of their skin, hair and eyes. It protects the body from the hazards of ultraviolet and other radiation that can damage cells and lead to skin cancer, but the exact reason why the compound is so effective at blocking such a broad spectrum of sunlight has remained something of a mystery.

Metal-organic framework shows new talent

May 21, 2014 8:15 am | News | Comments

This gift from science just keeps on giving. Measurements taken at NIST show why a material already known to be good at separating components of natural gas also can do something trickier: help convert one chemical to another, a process called catalysis. The discovery is a rare example of a laboratory-made material easily performing a task that biology usually requires a complex series of steps to accomplish.

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Cognitive test can differentiate between Alzheimer’s and normal aging

May 21, 2014 8:06 am | by Chelsey Coombs, Life Sciences Intern, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a new cognitive test that can better determine whether memory impairments are due to very mild Alzheimer’s disease or the normal aging process. Previous research has shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease often have impairments in hippocampal function. So the team designed a task that tested participants’ relational memory abilities.

A new way to harness waste heat

May 21, 2014 7:55 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Vast amounts of excess heat are generated by industrial processes and by electric power plants; researchers around the world have spent decades seeking ways to harness some of this wasted energy. Most such efforts have focused on thermoelectric devices, solid-state materials that can produce electricity from a temperature gradient, but the efficiency of such devices is limited by the availability of materials.

Scientists forecast economic impacts of the drought on Central Valley agriculture

May 20, 2014 8:19 am | by Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service | News | Comments

California’s drought will deal a severe blow to Central Valley irrigated agriculture and farm communities this year, and could cost the industry $1.7 billion and cause more than 14,500 workers to lose their jobs, according to preliminary results of a new study by the Univ. of California, Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.

How beach microbes responded to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

May 20, 2014 8:03 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

In June, 2010, two months after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Regina Lamendella collected samples along a hard-hit beach near Grand Isle, Louisiana. She was part of a team of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers that wanted to know how the microbes along the shoreline were responding to the spill.

Bionic particles self-assemble to capture light

May 20, 2014 7:53 am | by Kate McAlpine, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Inspired by fictional cyborgs like Terminator, a team of researchers at the Univ. of Michigan and the Univ. of Pittsburgh has made the first bionic particles from semiconductors and proteins. These particles recreate the heart of the process that allows plants to turn sunlight into fuel.

Chemists discover structure of cancer drug candidate

May 20, 2014 7:43 am | News | Comments

Chemists at The Scripps Research Institute have determined the correct structure of a highly promising anticancer compound approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for clinical trials in cancer patients. The new report, published in Angewandte Chemie, focuses on a compound called TIC10.

Studies say climate change worsens wildfires

May 19, 2014 11:44 am | by Seth Borenstein, Associated Press | News | Comments

The devastating wildfires scorching Southern California offer a glimpse of a warmer and fierier future, according to scientists and federal and international reports. In the past three months, at least three different studies and reports have warned that wildfires are getting bigger, that man-made climate change is to blame, and it's only going to get worse with more fires starting earlier in the year.

Illuminating neuron activity in 3-D

May 19, 2014 10:34 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Univ. of Vienna have created an imaging system that reveals neural activity throughout the brains of living animals. This technique, the first that can generate 3-D movies of entire brains at the millisecond timescale, could help scientists discover how neuronal networks process sensory information and generate behavior.

Watching HIV bud from cells

May 19, 2014 8:09 am | by Lee J. Siegel, Science News Specialist, Univ. of Utah | Videos | Comments

Univ. of Utah researchers devised a way to watch newly forming AIDS virus particles emerging or “budding” from infected human cells without interfering with the process. The method shows a protein named ALIX gets involved during the final stages of virus replication, not earlier, as was believed previously.

Engineers find way to lower risk of mid-air collisions for small aircraft

May 19, 2014 7:57 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at North Carolina State Univ. have developed new modifications for technology that helps pilots of small aircraft avoid midair collisions. The modified tools significantly improved pilot response times in making decisions to avert crashes. At issue are cockpit displays of traffic information (CDTIs). These are GPS displays used by private pilots to track other aircraft in their vicinity.

Genetic study helps resolve speculation about first people in the Americas

May 19, 2014 7:45 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

A new study could help resolve a longstanding debate about the origins of the first people to inhabit the Americas, researchers report in Science. The study relies on genetic information extracted from the tooth of an adolescent girl who fell into a sinkhole in the Yucatan 12,000 to 13,000 years ago.

Team visualizes complex electronic state

May 19, 2014 7:35 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A material called sodium manganese dioxide has shown promise for use in electrodes in rechargeable batteries. Now a team of researchers has produced the first detailed visualization—down to the level of individual atoms—of exactly how the material behaves during charging and discharging, in the process elucidating an exotic molecular state that may help in understanding superconductivity.

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