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Cosmic radio waves mimic chirping of “alien birds”

December 5, 2012 10:20 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

NASA's Van Allen Probes have been exploring the hostile radiation belts surrounding Earth for just three months. But already measurements in unprecedented detail have been taken. Scientists said Tuesday these waves can provide an energy boost to radiation belt particles, somewhat like ocean waves can propel a surfer on Earth. What's more, these so-called chorus waves operate in the same frequency as human hearing so they can be heard.

DNA analysis of microbes in a fracking site yields surprises

December 3, 2012 3:15 pm | by Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State University | News | Comments

Researchers have made a genetic analysis of the microbes living deep inside a deposit of Marcellus Shale at a hydraulic fracturing. They expected to find many tough microbes, such as single-celled archaea, suited to extreme environments. Instead, they found very few genetic biomarkers for archaea, and many more for species that derive from bacteria.They also found that the populations of microbes changed dramatically over a short period of time.

Electrically spun fabric offers dual defense against pregnancy, HIV

November 30, 2012 1:52 pm | News | Comments

A new form of contraception could take an unexpected shape: electrically spun cloth with nanometer-sized fibers. These fibers, designed by a University of Washington team, can dissolve and release drugs, providing a cheap and discreet platform for protecting against unintended pregnancy, as well as HIV infection.

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Study: Carbon dioxide could reduce crop yields

November 30, 2012 11:03 am | News | Comments

Beyond recent warnings from the United Nations about climate change tipping points, researchers are beginning to make practical insights about the effects a greater concentration of greenhouse gas has on areas of industry like agriculture. Researchers have recently found that certain high-yield dwarf varieties of plants such as rice are actually struggling to meet yield predictions because high carbon dioxide levels prevent them from producing a vital acid.

3D printer makes parts from moon rock

November 28, 2012 4:45 pm | News | Comments

Imagine landing on the moon or Mars, putting rock through a 3D printer, and making something useful—like a needed wrench or replacement part. It may sound like science fiction, but it's really possible. A group of researchers from Washington State University have demonstrated how to print parts using materials from the moon.

CERN collider may have produced new type of matter

November 27, 2012 2:59 pm | News | Comments

When beams of particles crash into each other at high speeds, the collisions yield hundreds of new particles, most of which fly away from the collision point at close to the speed of light. However, the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) team at the Large Hadron Colllider found that in a sample of 2 million lead-proton collisions, some pairs of particles flew away from each other with their respective directions correlated. The observation suggests the collisions may have produced a new type of matter known as color-glass condensate.

Scientists find ancient microbes in ice-sealed Antarctic Lake

November 26, 2012 5:24 pm | News | Comments

Shedding light on the limits of life in extreme environments, scientists have discovered abundant and diverse metabolically active bacteria in the brine of an Antarctic lake sealed under more than 65 feet of ice. The finding is surprising because previous studies indicate that the brine has been isolated from the surface environment—and external sources of energy—for at least 2,800 years.

White smell: Scientists find odor has color

November 26, 2012 4:49 pm | News | Comments

You can see the color white; you can hear white noise. Now, researchers have shown that you can also smell a white odor. To be perceived as white, a stimulus (like light or sound) must meet two conditions: The mix that produces them must span the range of our perception; and each component must be present at the exact same intensity. Neuroscientists have reproduced these conditions for scent.

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Physicists achieve record ionization for xenon

November 26, 2012 4:38 pm | News | Comments

Scientists using the X-ray laser at the Linac Coherent Light Source have removed more than two complete shells from the electron cloud surrounding xenon atoms. The ejection of 36 electrons easily surpasses the greatest possible ionization estimated for the X-ray energy used. This high level of ionization is possible because of a resonance effect that the team discovered, and which will need to be considered when using X-rays for future studies of biomolecules.

Physicists entangle artificial atom with light particle

November 26, 2012 12:57 pm | by Fabio Bergamin | News | Comments

A team of researchers in Switzerland has succeeded in entangling an “artificial” atom and a light particle for the first time in a semiconductor system. Though impractical for use in actual semiconductor devices, the successful demonstration of entanglement of a stationary atom is a promising step toward a new form of telecommunication based on quantum physics.

Toshiba shows off robot meant to help at nuke site

November 26, 2012 11:00 am | by Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

Engineers at Toshiba Corp. have developed a robot it says can withstand high radiation to work in nuclear disasters. The four-legged robot can climb over debris and venture into radiated areas off-limits to humans while keeping in wireless communication despite high radiation. But it's not yet clear what exactly the robot is capable of doing if and when it gets the go-ahead to enter Japan's crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

Synthetic membrane channels built with DNA nanotechnology

November 21, 2012 9:13 am | News | Comments

In a shape inspired by a natural channel protein, the DNA-based membrane channel recently built by researchers in Michigan and Germany consists of a needle-like stem 42-nm long with an internal diameter of just 2 nm. The devices has been shown to function with lipid vesicles, and further experimentation shows the pores can act like voltage-controlled gates, just like the ion channels in living cells.

Discovery of “super Jupiter” sheds new light on planet birth

November 20, 2012 10:52 am | News | Comments

Capturing an image of extrasolar planets is difficult, and they exist for very few of the almost 850 exoplanets which are known. A team of researchers has recently obtained an image of a “super Jupiter” about 13 times the mass of Jupiter, circling a star 2.5 times the mass of our own sun. The similarity of this planet to ordinary, lower-mass planets makes it an important test case for current models of how planets are born.

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Nanotech device mimics dog's nose to detect explosives

November 20, 2012 10:01 am | News | Comments

Portable, accurate, and highly sensitive devices that sniff out vapors from explosives and other substances could become as commonplace as smoke detectors in public places, thanks to researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The researchers have designed a detector that uses microfluidic nanotechnology to mimic the biological mechanism behind canine scent receptors.

Invisibility cloaking to shield floating objects from waves

November 19, 2012 6:17 pm | News | Comments

A new approach to invisibility cloaking may one day be used at sea to shield floating objects—such as oil rigs and ships—from rough waves. Unlike most other cloaking techniques that rely on transformation optics, this one is based on the influence of the ocean floor's topography on the various "layers" of ocean water.

Human eye gives researchers vision for new lens technology

November 14, 2012 12:28 pm | News | Comments

Drawing upon nature for inspiration, a team of researchers has created a new artificial lens that is nearly identical to the natural lens of the human eye. Made up of thousands of nanoscale polymer layers, the lens may one day provide more natural performance in implantable lenses. It also may lead to superior ground and aerial surveillance technology.

Games may help train analysts to overcome bias

November 13, 2012 10:52 am | News | Comments

Analytic exercises conducted by researchers at Raytheon that used scenario-based games showed that some of the participants displayed anchoring and confirmation biases as they tried to determine responsibility and motivations for insurgent attacks in the scenario. This game-playing approach may help intelligence analysts identify biases that can cloud decision-making and problem-solving during life or death situations.

CERN collider to become the world's fastest stopwatch?

November 12, 2012 10:24 am | News | Comments

In addition to ability to create elusive particles, the Large Hadron Collider also has the ability to create the shortest light pulses yet. According to scientists, these heavy ion collisions produce yoctosecond-scale pulses that have been impossible to measure. Now, however, researchers say they can do this by using a concept originally developed for astronomy.

Alaska ice tested as possible new energy source

November 11, 2012 11:28 am | by DAN JOLING - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Researchers are looking into frozen gas that looks like ice but burns like a candle as a possible future source of energy. U.S. Department of Energy researchers and industry partners are analyzing data from trials on Alaska's North Slope that tested a method of extracting methane from methane hydrate.

Gene find turns soldier beetle defence into biotech opportunity

November 8, 2012 11:49 am | News | Comments

Soldier beetles have a potent predator defence system, which a research team in Australia discovered was powered by an exotic fatty acid called dihydromatricaria acid, or DHMA, which is one of a group called polyynes that have known anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties. Researchers have now found the three genes that combine to make this acid, opening a new way to synthesize this difficult-to-reproduce substance.

Medical devices powered by the ear itself

November 8, 2012 7:58 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Deep in the inner ear of mammals is a natural battery—a chamber filled with ions that produces an electrical potential to drive neural signals. A team of researchers has, for the first time, demonstrated that this battery could power implantable electronic devices without impairing hearing.

Butterfly wings inspire new high-tech surfaces

November 7, 2012 2:33 pm | by Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State University | News | Comments

After carefully studying the structure of butterfly wings and rice leaves, Ohio State University engineers designed a coated plastic surface resembling a butterfly wing’s texture. Butterflies in the wild need to have bright, clean wings for reproduction and flying, and the surface created by engineers was reportedly easier to keep free of dust particles than a flat surface. The finding could inform designs for a variety of surfaces in various industries.

A strange diet for methane-consuming microorganisms

November 6, 2012 12:36 pm | News | Comments

To keep cellular systems running all cells need fuel. For certain ocean-dwelling microorganisms, methane can be such a fuel. But researchers studying these creatures had previously assumed that the methane they consumed was used as a carbon source. However, recent studies have surprisingly shown that is not the case and will force scientists to reevaluate the microorganisms’ role in inactivating environmental methane.

In-sync brain waves hold memory of objects just seen

November 5, 2012 11:38 am | News | Comments

The brain holds in mind what has just been seen by synchronizing brain waves in a working memory circuit, an animal study supported by the National Institutes of Health suggests. The more in-sync such electrical signals of neurons were in two key hubs of the circuit, the more those cells held the short-term memory of a just-seen object.

How silver turns people blue

October 26, 2012 11:17 am | News | Comments

Ingesting silver—in antimicrobial health tonics or for extensive medical treatments involving silver—can cause argyria, condition in which the skin turns grayish-blue. Brown University researchers have discovered how that happens. The process is similar to developing black-and-white photographs, and it's not just the silver.

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