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Accelerating universe? Not so fast

April 13, 2015 7:29 am | by Daniel Stolte, Univ. of Arizona Communications | News | Comments

Certain types of supernovae, or exploding stars, are more diverse than previously thought, a Univ. of Arizona-led team of astronomers has discovered. The results have implications for big cosmological questions, such as how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang.

Erupting electrodes

April 10, 2015 8:49 am | by Mary Beckman, PNNL | Videos | Comments

An eruption of lithium at the tip of a battery's electrode, cracks in the electrode's body and a coat forming on the electrode's surface reveal how recharging a battery many times leads to its demise. Using a powerful microscope to watch multiple cycles of charging and discharging under real battery conditions, researchers have gained insight into the chemistry that clogs rechargeable lithium batteries.

Chemists create nanoparticles that reflect nature’s patterns

April 10, 2015 7:55 am | by Jocelyn Duffy, Carnegie Mellon Univ. | News | Comments

Our world is full of patterns, from the twist of a DNA molecule to the spiral of the Milky Way. New research from Carnegie Mellon Univ. chemists has revealed that tiny, synthetic gold nanoparticles exhibit some of nature's most intricate patterns. Unveiling the kaleidoscope of these patterns was a Herculean task, and it marks the first time that a nanoparticle of this size has been crystallized and its structure mapped out atom by atom.

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Study finds small solar eruptions can have profound effects on unprotected planets

April 10, 2015 7:48 am | by Susan Hendrix, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

While no one yet knows what's needed to build a habitable planet, it's clear that the interplay between the sun and Earth is crucial for making our planet livable: a balance between a sun that provides energy and a planet that can protect itself from the harshest solar emissions. Our sun steadily emits light, energy and a constant flow of particles called the solar wind that bathes the planets as it travels out into space.

Graphene looks promising for future spintronic devices

April 10, 2015 7:39 am | by Chalmers Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers at Chalmers Univ. of Technology have discovered that large area graphene is able to preserve electron spin over an extended period, and communicate it over greater distances than had previously been known. This has opened the door for the development of spintronics, with an aim to manufacturing faster and more energy-efficient memory and processors in computers.

How complex carbon nanostructures form

April 9, 2015 4:46 pm | by Jeff Sossamon, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia | News | Comments

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are microscopic tubular structures that engineers “grow” through a process conducted in a high-temperature furnace. The forces that create the CNT structures known as “forests” often are unpredictable and are mostly left to chance. Now, a Univ. of Missouri researcher has developed a way to predict how these complicated structures are formed.

Detecting lysosomal pH with fluorescent probes

April 9, 2015 11:51 am | by Allison Mills, Michigan Technological Univ. | News | Comments

Lysosomes are the garbage disposals of animal cells. As the resources are limited in cells, organic materials are broken down and recycled a lot; and that’s what lysosomes do. Detecting problems with lysosomes is the focus of a new set of fluorescent probes developed by researchers at Michigan Technological Univ.

Science Connect: The Evolving Lab Environment

April 9, 2015 11:01 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Videos | Comments

Science is evolving: It’s becoming more translational and multidisciplinary in nature. Just as science evolves, so do lab environments. Most lab environments are now designed to be more open and not just meant for one discipline—today, biologists may work next to chemists, or chemists work alongside physicists, and so on.

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VEST helps deaf feel, understand speech

April 9, 2015 9:59 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

A vest that allows the profoundly deaf to “feel” and understand speech is under development by engineering students and their mentors at Rice Univ. and Baylor College of Medicine. Under the direction of neuroscientist David Eagleman, Rice students are refining a vest with dozens of embedded actuators that vibrate in specific patterns to represent words. The vest responds to input from a phone app that isolates speech from ambient sound.

A new view of the moon’s formation

April 9, 2015 8:25 am | by Matthew Wright, Univ. of Maryland | News | Comments

Within the first 150 million years after our solar system formed, a giant body roughly the size of Mars struck and merged with Earth, blasting a huge cloud of rock and debris into space. This cloud would eventually coalesce and form the moon. For almost 30 years, planetary scientists have been quite happy with this explanation, with one major exception.

Mixing up a batch of stronger metals

April 9, 2015 8:09 am | by Katie Bethea, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Just as a delicate balance of ingredients determines the tastiness of a cookie or cake, the specific ratio of metals in an alloy determines desirable qualities of the new metal, such as improved strength or lightness. A new class of alloys, called high entropy alloys, is unique in that these alloys contain five or more elements mixed evenly in near equal concentrations and have shown exceptional engineering properties.

Amniotic stem cells demonstrate healing potential

April 9, 2015 7:41 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists are using stem cells from amniotic fluid to promote the growth of functional blood vessels in healing hydrogels. In new experiments, the scientists combined versatile amniotic stem cells with injectable hydrogels used as scaffolds in regenerative medicine and proved they enhance the development of vessels needed to bring blood to new tissue and carry waste products away.

Can you make your own Game of Thrones sword using chemistry?

April 8, 2015 8:41 am | by American Chemical Society | Videos | Comments

The fantasy epic Game of Thrones is back April 12, 2015, and it is sure to be chock full of intrigue, indiscretions and, of course, swords. The most sought-after blades in Westeros are made from Valyrian steel, forged using ancient magic. But could you make your own Valyrian steel sword using real-life chemistry?

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Carbon nanotube composites show promise for use in “unconventional” computing

April 8, 2015 8:17 am | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

As we approach the miniaturization limits of conventional electronics, alternatives to silicon-based transistors are being hotly pursued. Inspired by the way living organisms have evolved in nature to perform complex tasks with remarkable ease, a group of researchers from Durham Univ. and the Univ. of São Paulo-USP are exploring similar "evolutionary" methods to create information processing devices.

Optical method for producing high-res, 3-D images of nanoscale objects

April 8, 2015 8:07 am | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford Univ. | Videos | Comments

To design the next generation of optical devices, ranging from efficient solar panels to LEDs to optical transistors, engineers will need a 3-D image depicting how light interacts with these objects on the nanoscale. Unfortunately, the physics of light has thrown up a roadblock in traditional imaging techniques: The smaller the object, the lower the image's resolution in 3-D.

Possible new RNA engineering tool

April 8, 2015 7:50 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A great deal of public attention in the past couple of years has been showered on complexes of bacterial proteins known as “CRISPR-Cas” for their potential use as a tool for editing DNA. Now, researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are reporting that CRISPR-Cas complexes could also serve as an engineering tool for RNA, the molecule that translates DNA’s genetic instructions into the production of proteins.

Inkjet-printed liquid metal could bring wearable tech, soft robotics

April 8, 2015 7:40 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

New research shows how inkjet-printing technology can be used to mass-produce electronic circuits made of liquid-metal alloys for "soft robots" and flexible electronics. Elastic technologies could make possible a new class of pliable robots and stretchable garments that people might wear to interact with computers or for therapeutic purposes.

Spotting a molecular warhead for disease in the human gut

April 7, 2015 12:20 pm | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Univ. scientists are using new chemical tools to identify and understand molecules in the human gut that alter DNA and regulate inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancers. In a recent article, researchers describe the chemical structures of 32 such molecules from the bacterial colibactin pathway, found in select strains of E. coli in the gut.

Office inkjet printer could produce simple tool to identify infectious diseases

April 7, 2015 12:03 pm | by Michelle Donovan, McMaster Univ. | News | Comments

Consumers are one step closer to benefiting from packaging that could give simple text warnings when food is contaminated with deadly pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella, and patients could soon receive real-time diagnoses of infections such as C. difficile right in their doctors' offices, saving critical time and trips to the lab.

Science Connect: Sexy Laboratories

April 7, 2015 11:34 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Videos | Comments

Sometimes just reading about great lab and building design isn’t enough. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the annual Laboratory Design Conference allows our attendees to view some of the most sexy, most well-planned and most sustainable labs there are in the host city.

Tunneling across a tiny gap

April 7, 2015 11:07 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Conduction and thermal radiation are two ways in which heat is transferred from one object to another: Conduction is the process by which heat flows between objects in physical contact, such as a pot of tea on a hot stove, while thermal radiation describes heat flow across large distances, such as heat emitted by the sun. These two fundamental heat-transfer processes explain how energy moves across microscopic and macroscopic distances.

Study hints at spontaneous appearance of primordial DNA

April 7, 2015 10:51 am | by Jim Scott, CU-Boulder Media Relations | News | Comments

The self-organization properties of DNA-like molecular fragments four billion years ago may have guided their own growth into repeating chemical chains long enough to act as a basis for primitive life, says a new study by the Univ. of Colorado Boulder and the Univ. of Milan.

Sound separates cancer cells from blood samples

April 7, 2015 8:26 am | by A’ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

Separating circulating cancer cells from blood cells for diagnostic, prognostic and treatment purposes may become much easier using an acoustic separation method and an inexpensive, disposable chip, according to a team of engineers from Penn State Univ.

Accelerating materials discovery with world’s largest database of elastic properties

April 7, 2015 7:53 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have published the world’s largest set of data on the complete elastic properties of inorganic compounds, increasing by an order of magnitude the number of compounds for which such data exists.

How do you feel? Video of your face may tell all

April 7, 2015 7:42 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers are developing a highly accurate, touch-free system that uses a video camera to monitor patients’ vital signs just by looking at their faces. The technique isn’t new, but engineering researchers in Rice’s Scalable Health Initiative are making it work under conditions that have so far stumped earlier systems.

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