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Giant polygons offer evidence for ancient Martian oceans

July 30, 2012 4:18 am | News | Comments

Debate over the origin of large-scale polygons (often many kilometers in diameter) on Mars has been intensified by comparison to similar geometric patterns on Earth. Geologists at The University of Texas at Austin have recently examined these polygons and compared them to similar features on Earth's seafloor, which they believe may have formed via similar processes.

Prozac could be an effective anti-viral

July 30, 2012 4:15 am | News | Comments

Researchers have come across an unexpected potential use for fluoxetine—commonly known as Prozac—which shows promise as an antiviral agent. Using molecular screening, a California research team found that fluoxetine was a potent inhibitor of replication in viruses found in the gastrointestinal tract. The discovery could provide another tool in treating human enteroviruses that sicken and kill people in the U.S. and around the world.

Bio-inspired nanoantennas amplify light emission

July 30, 2012 4:00 am | News | Comments

For the first time, researchers in France have succeeded in producing a nanoantenna from short strands of DNA, two gold nanoparticles, and a small fluorescent molecule that captures and emits light. This work could in the longer term lead to the development of more efficient light-emitting diodes, more compact solar cells or even be used in quantum cryptography.

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Wyss Institute aims to mimic whole human body with organ-on-chip

July 27, 2012 7:35 am | News | Comments

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University this week reported that it will receive up to $37 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop an automated instrument that integrates 10 human organs-on-chips to study complex human physiology outside the body. The aim is to simulate the entire body’s physiology.

DNA could be future component of electronics

July 26, 2012 11:25 am | News | Comments

Scientists in Germany have developed a new strategy for the controlled production and metallization of DNA nanostructures. The team used a DNA strand consisting of an immobilization sequence and a metallization sequence and strung several alternating sequences together. Such a construction could someday be used in electronics.

Professor sees green energy in termite guts

July 26, 2012 9:03 am | by Bob Silberg, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory | News | Comments

According a California Institute of Technology microbiologist, there are hundreds of species of microbes in termite guts found nowhere else in nature. And he’s interested in a particular substance called pyruvate that is an intermediary in termites’ wood conversion ability. If we can learn how this works, he says, we could recover a tremendous amount of wasted energy from woody plant materials.

Skydiver Fearless Felix jumps from 18 miles up

July 25, 2012 5:21 pm | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

On Wednesday, Felix Baumgartner took another stratospheric leap, this time from an altitude of more than 18 miles—an estimated 96,640 feet, nearly three times higher than cruising jetliners. He landed safely near Roswell, N.M. His top speed was an estimated 536 mph, said Brian Utley, an official observer on site.

Chemical makes blind mice see

July 25, 2012 10:02 am | News | Comments

A team of University of California, Berkeley scientists in collaboration with researchers at the University of Munich and University of Washington, in Seattle, has discovered a chemical that temporarily restores some vision to blind mice, and is working on an improved compound that may someday allow people with degenerative blindness to see again.

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Researchers find clues to explain life’s left-handedness

July 25, 2012 8:42 am | by Bill Steigerwald | News | Comments

Researchers analyzing meteorite fragments that fell on a frozen lake in Canada have developed an explanation for the origin of life's handedness—why living things only use molecules with specific orientations. The work also gave the strongest evidence to date that liquid water inside an asteroid leads to a strong preference of left-handed over right-handed forms of some common protein amino acids in meteorites.

Scientists create artificial mother of pearl

July 25, 2012 7:23 am | News | Comments

Nacre, also called mother of pearl, is the iridescent coating that is found on the inside of some molluscs and on the outer coating of pearls. By recreating the biological steps that form nacre in molluscs, the scientists were able to manufacture a material which has a similar structure, mechanical behaviour, and optical appearance of that found in nature.

Engineers study physics of avalanches

July 25, 2012 3:32 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

Snow avalanches, a real threat in countries from Switzerland to Afghanistan, are fundamentally a physics problem: What are the physical laws that govern how they start, grow, and move, and can theoretical modeling help predict them? Cornell University researchers have uncovered some clues.

Scientists use microbes to make 'clean' methane

July 24, 2012 12:49 pm | News | Comments

Most methane comes from natural gas, a fossil fuel. Stanford University and Penn State University scientists are taking a greener approach using microbes that can convert renewable electricity into carbon-neutral methane.

Some harmful effects of light at night can be reversed

July 24, 2012 4:59 am | News | Comments

Chronic exposure to dim light at night can lead to depressive symptoms in rodents—but these negative effects can be reversed simply by returning to a standard light-dark cycle, a new study suggests. These findings add to the growing evidence that suggest chronic exposure to artificial light at night may play some role in the rising rates of depression in humans during the past 50 years.

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Study: Strobe eyewear training improves visual memory

July 24, 2012 3:44 am | by Julie Rhodes, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences | News | Comments

According to recent research at Duke University, performing a physical activity while using eyewear that simulates a strobe-like experience has been found to increase visual short-term memory retention, and the effects lasted 24 hours. Stroboscopic training like this tended to boost the ability of the brain to keep information alive for short-lived periods.

Fool's gold found to regulate oxygen

July 23, 2012 5:51 am | News | Comments

As sulfur cycles through Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and land, it undergoes chemical changes that are often coupled to changes in other such elements as carbon and oxygen. Although this affects the concentration of free oxygen, sulfur has traditionally been portrayed as a secondary factor in regulating atmospheric oxygen, with most of the heavy lifting done by carbon. However, new findings suggest that sulfur's role may have been underestimated.

New lab working on security shoe sole to ID people

July 23, 2012 4:48 am | by Kevin Begos, Associated Press | News | Comments

Carnegie Mellon University's new Pedo-Biometrics Lab is working to perfect special shoe insoles that can help monitor access to high-security areas, like nuclear power plants or special military bases. The concept is based on research that shows each person has unique feet, and ways of walking. Sensors check on the pressure of feet and the gait, using a computer to compare patterns.

Artificial jellyfish swims in a heartbeat

July 23, 2012 3:46 am | News | Comments

Using recent advances in marine biomechanics, materials science, and tissue engineering, a team of researchers at Harvard University and the California Institute of Technology have turned inanimate silicone and living cardiac muscle cells into a freely swimming "jellyfish."

Colorful science sheds light on solar heating

July 19, 2012 2:04 pm | News | Comments

A new visualization technique created by Nicholeen Viall, a solar scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center produces images of the sun reminiscent of Van Gogh, with broad strokes of bright color splashed across a yellow background. But it's science, not art. The color of each pixel contains a wealth of information about the 12-hour history of cooling and heating at that particular spot on the sun.

World’s first sensitive artificial finger

July 19, 2012 1:45 pm | by Annette Oestrand | News | Comments

Research teams in Europe have developed a prototype of the first sensitive artificial finger. It works with an array of pressure sensors that mimic the spatial resolution, sensitivity, and dynamics of human neural tactile sensors and can be directly connected to the central nervous system. Combined with an artificial skin that mimics a human fingerprint, the device´s sensitivity to vibrations is improved.

Motions below Sun’s surface are unexpectedly slow

July 19, 2012 8:56 am | News | Comments

Using observations of solar oscillations from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory to glimpse the interior of the Sun, researchers have found that rather than moving at the speed of a jet plane (as previously understood) the plasma flows at a walking pace, just a few meters per second. The finding refutes predictions made by previous numerical models.

Study of interstellar plasma reveals a wave mystery

July 18, 2012 7:33 pm | by Karen C. Fox | News | Comments

Most of the matter in the universe is plasma. Using data from the WAVES instrument on NASA's Wind mission, space plasma physicist Lynn Wilson and his colleagues at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have discovered evidence for a type of plasma wave moving faster than theory predicted it could move. The research suggests that a different process than expected may be driving the waves.

Hopping bacterial enzyme gives insight into epigenetic gene expression

July 18, 2012 5:00 am | News | Comments

University of California, Santa Barbara researchers' discovery of a variation of an enzyme's ability to "hop" as it moves along DNA, modifying the genetic material of a bacteria—and its physical capability and behavior—holds much promise for biomedical and other scientific applications.

Man-made pores mimic important features of natural pores

July 17, 2012 9:18 am | News | Comments

Inspired by nature, an international research team has created synthetic pores that mimic the activity of cellular ion channels, which play a vital role in human health by severely restricting the types of materials allowed to enter cells. The pores the scientists built are permeable to potassium ions and water, but not to other ions such as sodium and lithium ions.

Frog calls inspire new algorithm for wireless networks

July 17, 2012 7:02 am | News | Comments

Males of the Japanese tree frog have learned not to use their calls at the same time so that the females can distinguish between them. Scientists at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia have used this form of calling behavior to create an algorithm that assigns colors to network nodes—an operation that can be applied to developing efficient wireless networks.

Generation X is surprisingly unconcerned about climate change

July 17, 2012 6:08 am | News | Comments

As the nation suffers through a summer of record-shattering heat, a University of Michigan report finds that Generation X is lukewarm about climate change—uninformed about the causes and unconcerned about the potential dangers.

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