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Scientists confirm surprisingly small proton radius

January 25, 2013 11:17 am | by Olivia Meyer-Streng, Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics | News | Comments

Using laser spectroscopy to examine an exotic form of hydrogen, which has a negatively charged muon instead of an electron, physicists at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland have for the first time determined the magnetic radius of the proton. The result significantly different than the one from previous investigations of regular hydrogen.

Men more likely than women to commit scientific fraud

January 22, 2013 8:58 am | News | Comments

It's not hard to see that men are more likely to engage in risky behaviors than women, or that crime rates are many times higher among men, but this tendency to break the rules also extends to male scientists, according to a recent study. The study did not examine why men are more likely to commit fraud, but the study’s author suggested one possibility is that misconduct is biologically driven

Single-celled algae shed light on social lives of microbes

January 21, 2013 4:58 pm | News | Comments

Cheating is a behavior not limited to humans, animals and plants. Even microscopically small, single-celled algae do it, a team of University of Arizona researchers has discovered. Their research adds to the emerging view that microbes often have active social lives. Unlocking the secrets of those lives could help control serious threats to ecological or human health.

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Wind in the willows boosts biofuel production

January 21, 2013 9:43 am | News | Comments

A curious characteristic of willows is that when they are cultivated for green energy they can yield five times more biofuel if they grow diagonally, compared with those that grow naturally straight up. Scientists were previously unable to explain why some willows produced more biofuel than others, but researchers have now identified a genetic trait that causes this effect and is activated in some trees when they sense they are at an angle, such as where they are blown sideways in windy conditions.

A light switch inside the brain

January 18, 2013 11:06 am | News | Comments

Scientists in Germany and Switzerland have developed an implant that is able to genetically modify specific nerve cells, control them with light stimuli, and measure their electrical activity all at the same time. This new tool relies on an innovative genetic technique that forces nerve cells to change their activity by shining light of different colors onto them.

Space station to get $18 million balloon-like room

January 17, 2013 3:07 pm | by Hannah Dreier, Associated Press | News | Comments

NASA is partnering with a commercial space company in a bid to replace the cumbersome "metal cans" that now serve as astronauts' homes in space with inflatable bounce-house-like habitats that can be deployed on the cheap. A $17.8 million test project will send to the International Space Station an inflatable room that can be compressed into a 7-foot tube for delivery.

Researcher uses snail teeth to improve solar cells, batteries

January 16, 2013 2:13 pm | News | Comments

An assistant professor at the University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering is using the teeth of a marine snail found off the coast of California to create less costly and more efficient nanoscale materials to improve solar cells and lithium-ion batteries.

'Smart' potty or dumb idea? Wacky gadgets at CES

January 9, 2013 6:49 pm | by Barbara Ortutay and Ryan Nakashima, The Associated Press | News | Comments

Not everything there is “high-tech”, but the annual Consumer Electronics Show is a great place to see the newest and most fanciful products to reach the market each year. From the iPotty for toddlers to the 1,600-pound (725-kg) mechanical spider and the host of glitch-ridden "smart" TVs, the International CES show is a forum for gadget makers to take big—and bizarre—chances.

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Giant squid captured on video in ocean depths

January 9, 2013 6:24 pm | by Malcolm Foster, Associated Press | News | Comments

After years of searching, scientists and broadcasters say they have captured video images of a giant squid in its natural habitat deep in the ocean for the first time. Japanese public broadcaster NHK released photographs of the giant squid this week ahead of Sunday's show about the encounter. The Discovery Channel will air its program on Jan. 27.

A quantum eraser without causality

January 9, 2013 11:23 am | News | Comments

Whether a quantum object behaves like a wave or like a particle depends on the type of measurement performed. When two quantum objects, like photons, are observed, one behaves like a particle or a wave depending on the measurement performed on a second photon. When measurement methods are swapped, information appears to be “erased”. A recent experiment supports this phenomenon even in the absence of causality, when the photons are so far removed that no information can be exchanged between the two.

Stopping leaks the way blood does

January 8, 2013 2:00 pm | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers has analyzed the blood clotting process and found, for the first time, exactly how the different molecular components work together to block the flow of blood from a cut. Now, they are working on applying that knowledge to the development of synthetic materials that could be used to control different kinds of liquid flows, and could lead to a variety of new self-assembling materials.

A temperature below absolute zero

January 7, 2013 1:46 pm | News | Comments

According to the physical meaning of temperature, the temperature of a gas is determined by the chaotic movement of its particles. At zero kelvin (-273 C) the particles stop moving and all disorder disappears. Thus, nothing can be colder than absolute zero on the Kelvin scale. Nevertheless, researchers in Germany have now created an atomic gas in the laboratory that has negative Kelvin values.

Discovery: Dragonflies have human-like “selective attention”

December 21, 2012 1:15 pm | News | Comments

In a discovery that may prove important for cognitive science, our understanding of nature and applications for robot vision, researchers in Australia have found evidence that the dragonfly is capable of higher-level thought processes when hunting its prey. The finding is the first that show an invertebrate animal has brain cells for selective attention, which has so far only been demonstrated in primates.

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Suspend the crystals, and they grow better

December 21, 2012 12:47 pm | News | Comments

Crystals growing near the bottom of a beaker are subject to convection, but it is much quieter near the top of the beaker. In that case, why not just let them grow hanging in the beaker? A researcher in The Netherlands who had already tried growing crystals in space has used magnets to grow suspended crystals that form more perfectly, allowing better X-ray diffraction.

Gift misgivings? Trust your gut

December 20, 2012 8:06 pm | News | Comments

The clock is ticking and you still haven't decided what to get that special someone in your life for the holidays. When it comes to those last-minute gift-buying decisions for family and close friends, intuition may be the best way to think your way through to that perfect gift. At least, that’s according to new research from Boston College.

Paper waste used to make bricks

December 20, 2012 11:06 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Spain have mixed waste from the paper industry with ceramic material used in the construction industry. The result is a brick that has low thermal conductivity. Despite is good insulating properties, however, its mechanical resistance still requires improvement.

Physicists achieve elusive “evaporative cooling” of molecules

December 19, 2012 1:55 pm | News | Comments

Evaporative cooling has long been used to cool atoms, but it has never before been done by molecules—two different atoms bonded together. Achieving a goal considered nearly impossible, JILA physicists have done this, chilling a gas of molecules to very low temperatures by adapting the familiar process by which a hot cup of coffee cools.

Closest Sun-like star may have planets

December 19, 2012 10:40 am | News | Comments

An international team of scientists has discovered that Tau Ceti, one of the closest and most Sun-like stars, may have five planets. The surprise finding was the result of combining more than 6,000 observations from three different instruments and applying intensive modeling to the data. New techniques allowed the scientists to find signals half the size previously thought possible.

For bagged or boxed wine, cool is best

December 18, 2012 1:28 pm | News | Comments

In the most comprehensive study to date on how storage temperature affects wines with different packaging systems, University of California, Davis researchers found that bag-in-box wine is more vulnerable to warmer storage temperatures than bottled wine.

Chemists synthesize new breed of anti-aromatic compound

December 18, 2012 9:03 am | News | Comments

Benzene is an aromatic, a class of compounds that allows electrons to be shared among the different bonds between atoms. Highly stable, they are important to both biological function and industrial production. Anti-aromatics are their “evil twin”—they are missing one or two electrons and are very difficult to create in stable form. A team in Texas has recently synthesized a new anti-aromatic that is stable, as well as an as-yet unnamed intermediate state.

Team confirms “gusty winds” in space turbulence

December 17, 2012 3:53 pm | by Gary Galluzzo, University of Iowa | News | Comments

In much the same way that a plane is jolted back and forth by invisible gusts of wind, turbulence is common in space, where chaotic motions affect the movements of ionized gas, or plasma. A research team led by the University of Iowa reports to have directly measured this turbulence for the first time in the laboratory.

Researchers demonstrate a new kind of quantum entanglement

December 17, 2012 12:13 am | News | Comments

Physicists have published new research which builds on the original ideas of Einstein and adds a new ingredient: a third entangled particle. The new form of three-particle entanglement demonstrated in this experiment, which is based on the position and momentum properties of photons, may prove to be a valuable part of future communications networks that operate on the rules of quantum mechanics

Scientists use light to remotely trigger biochemical reactions

December 13, 2012 9:40 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at Rice University have recently  turned light into heat at the point of need, on the nanoscale, to trigger biochemical reactions remotely on demand. The method makes use of materials derived from unique microbes—thermophiles—that thrive at high temperatures but shut down at room temperature.

Cloud forest trees drink water through their leaves

December 13, 2012 9:59 am | by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Using an electronic “leaf” that is able to detect when leaves receive moisture, a team of researchers working in Costa Rica’s cloud forests have discovered that tropical montane cloud forest can augment their water intake by drinking directly from the clouds. In dry but otherwise foggy areas, this ability to drink water through leaves is an essential survival strategy.

A second ascent of chemistry's Mt. Everest

December 12, 2012 4:41 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in China are reporting success in one of the most difficult challenges in synthetic chemistry—a field in which scientists reproduce natural and other substances from jars of chemicals in a laboratory. The feat involved the synthesis of a rare substance with promising in vitro anti-cancer effects found naturally in tiny amounts in a Chinese medicinal herb. Without synthetic chemistry, scientists could never attain enough to pursue a viable drug compound.

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