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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

Huge DNA code of the Christmas tree being revealed

December 13, 2012 4:46 pm | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

To millions of people, the Christmas tree is a cheerful sight. To scientists who decipher the DNA codes of plants and animals, it's a monster. Why? The conifer genome is dauntingly large, often six times or more the size of a human’s genome. The task of sequencing a conifer’s genes used to be far out of reach, but recent advances in technology cracked open one of genomics toughest nuts.

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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.

Protein strongest just before death

December 12, 2012 4:35 pm | News | Comments

Retinoblastoma protein are tumor suppressors that can be dysfunctional in several major types of cancers. Researchers at Michigan State University have discovered that these proteins actually do their best work with one foot in the grave. Most proteins, like living things, become weaker toward the end of their lifecycle. Retinoblastoma proteins instead become stronger.

More than 3,000 epigenetic switches control daily liver cycles

December 12, 2012 11:11 am | News | Comments

Circadian rhythms affect our bodies not just on a global scale, but at the level of individual organs, and even genes. Scientists at the Salk Institute have recently determined the specific genetic switches that sync liver activity to the circadian cycle. Their finding gives further insight into the mechanisms behind health-threatening conditions such as high blood sugar and high cholesterol.

Engineers pinpoint origin of bone fractures

December 12, 2012 10:57 am | News | Comments

A new study from engineering researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows, for the first time, how the little-understood protein osteocalcin—found in vegetables like broccoli and spinach—plays a significant role in the strength of our bones. The findings could lead to new strategies and therapeutics for fighting osteoporosis and lowering the risk of bone fracture.

Black branes and blackfolds: Revealing new study on black holes

December 11, 2012 11:25 am | News | Comments

Black holes are surrounded by many mysteries, but now researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, have come up with new groundbreaking theories that can explain several of their properties. The research shows that black holes have properties that resemble the dynamics of both solids and liquids.

Do we live in a computer simulation? Idea can be tested

December 11, 2012 8:20 am | by Vince Stricherz, UW | News | Comments

A decade ago, a British philosopher put forth the notion that the universe we live in might in fact be a computer simulation run by our descendants. While that seems far-fetched, perhaps even incomprehensible, a team of physicists at the University of Washington has come up with a potential test to see if the idea holds water.

Inspiration from a porcupine’s quills

December 10, 2012 5:46 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Anyone unfortunate enough to encounter a porcupine’s quills knows that once they go in, they are extremely difficult to remove. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brigham and Women’s Hospital now hope to exploit the porcupine quill’s unique properties to develop new types of adhesives, needles and other medical devices.

Eugene Cernan, “last man on moon”, landed 40 years ago

December 10, 2012 4:43 pm | by Emil Venere | News | Comments

Eugene A. Cernan, a Purdue University alumnus and the most recent person to walk on the moon, stepped out of the lunar lander 40 years ago Tuesday. Commander of Apollo 17, Cernan made three moonwalks, explored the barren landscape in a lunar rover, collected about 250 pounds of soil samples and moon rocks, and took scientific measurements.

Apollo's lunar dust data being restored

December 7, 2012 11:43 am | by Elizabeth Zubritsky, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

Forty years after the last Apollo spacecraft launched, the science from those missions continues to shape our view of the moon. In one of the latest developments, readings from the Apollo 14 and 15 dust detectors have been restored by scientists. Digital data from these two experiments were not archived before, and it's thought that roughly the last year-and-a-half of the data have never been studied.

Tapping citizen-scientists for a novel gut check

December 7, 2012 11:22 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

For a modest fee and a stool sample, the truly curious can join one or two unusual new citizen-science projects that represent attempts to find out more about our microbiomes—the colonies of microbes that make up a large part of our bodies’ functions, especially the digestive. Researchers with uBiome and the American Gut Project hope to enroll thousands in the projects.

To the moon? Firm hopes to sell $1.5 billion trips

December 7, 2012 8:49 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

A new venture called Golden Spike Co. was announced on Thursday that hopes to offer trips for two to the moon for a cool $1.5 billion. Some space experts are skeptical of the firm’s financial ability to get to the moon, but the team of former NASA executives believe they can combine the technical might of Apollo with the marketing of Apple.

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