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The boy who played with fusion

September 13, 2012 7:40 am | by Delaynie A Koenig | News | Comments

After four years of work in his parent’s garage, 14-year-old Taylor Wilson built his first successful fusion reactor. Now 18 and old enough to be actually be a student at the university where he shares a laboratory, Wilson is chasing research projects of many kinds and is still fascinated by the science of the atom.

Real-world levitation to inspire better pharmaceuticals

September 13, 2012 5:15 am | News | Comments

It's not a magic trick and it's not sleight of hand—scientists really are using levitation to improve the drug development process, eventually yielding more effective pharmaceuticals with fewer side effects. Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a way to use sound waves to levitate individual droplets of solutions containing different pharmaceuticals.

Human stem cells restore hearing in gerbil study

September 13, 2012 4:21 am | by Malcolm Ritter, Associated Press | News | Comments

For the first time, scientists have improved hearing in deaf animals by using human embryonic stem cells. The experiment involved an uncommon form of deafness, and the treatment wouldn't necessarily apply to all cases of that disorder. But scientists hope the approach can be expanded to help with more common forms of deafness.

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No more bubbles when boiling

September 13, 2012 3:53 am | News | Comments

A theoretical physicist from Swinburne University of Technology and colleagues from Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have discovered a specialty-engineered surface that allows liquids to boil without bubbling. To suppress bubbling while boiling, the team of researchers used a highly water-repellent surface to control the boiling state of a liquid.

Discovery: Quantum stress in nanofilms

September 12, 2012 9:39 am | News | Comments

Stresses arise in thin films during the manufacture of read heads in hard drives, lasers, and computer chip transistors. This can cause crystal lattice defects and eventual component failure. Researchers have recently determined that enormous stresses, up to 1,000 times atmospheric pressure, can be created in thin films by a quantum-mechanical mechanism that has been unknown until now. It is based on an effect by the name of quantum confinement.

Nanoparticle quick response code becomes banknote security feature

September 12, 2012 5:26 am | News | Comments

An invisible quick response (QR) code has been created by researchers in South Dakota in an attempt to increase security on printed documents and reduce the possibility of counterfeiting, a problem which costs governments and private industries billions of dollars each year. The QR code is made of tiny nanoparticles that have been combined with blue and green fluorescence ink, which is invisible until illuminated with laser light.

Predicting a die throw

September 12, 2012 5:20 am | News | Comments

Vegas, Monte Carlo, and Atlantic City draw people from around the world who are willing to throw the dice and take their chances. Researchers in Poland, however, have spotted something predictable in the seemingly random throw of the dice. By applying chaos theory and some high school level mechanics, they determined that by knowing the initial conditions it should be possible to predict the outcome when rolling the dice.

Mammoth fragments from Siberia raise cloning hopes

September 12, 2012 5:16 am | News | Comments

Scientists have discovered well-preserved frozen woolly mammoth fragments deep in Siberia that may contain living cells, edging a tad closer to the "Jurassic Park" possibility of cloning a prehistoric animal. Russia's North-Eastern Federal University said an international team of researchers had discovered mammoth hair, soft tissues and bone marrow some 100 m underground during a summer expedition in the northeastern province of Yakutia.

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Emotion detector developed using a genetic algorithm

September 10, 2012 9:00 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Malaysia have developed a system that allows a computer to “read lips”. The invention involves a genetic algorithm that gets better and better with each iteration to match irregular ellipse fitting equations to the shape of the human mouth displaying different emotions. The system could improve the way we interact with computers and perhaps allow disabled people to use communications devices more effectively.

Surprising methods heal wounded troops

September 10, 2012 8:21 am | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer | News | Comments

Four years ago, the federal government created a new institute encompassing top universities and institutes and gave it $300 million to spur new treatments using cell science and advanced plastic surgery. The results, which are now helping to heal war veterans, include the implantation of rebuilt tissues—such as ears and bones—and even more unusual solutions like sprayed-on skin cells.

Scientists cast doubt on the uncertainty principle

September 10, 2012 5:21 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Toronto have demonstrated that theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg was too pessimistic in 1927 when formulating his famous uncertainty principle. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is one of the cornerstones of quantum mechanics; and in its most familiar form, it says that it is impossible to measure anything without disturbing it. The principle has bedeviled quantum physicists for nearly a century, until recently, when the researchers demonstrated the ability to directly measure the disturbance.

Computer chip developed from sea squirt molecules

September 10, 2012 3:29 am | News | Comments

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen's Marine Biodiscovery Center and the University of St Andrews presented their work on the components of a new type of computer chip created using molecules from a sea squirt sourced from the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef.

Methane source discovered in the underbrush

September 7, 2012 9:46 am | News | Comments

Some six years ago scientific textbooks had to be updated because of the surprising discovery made by a research group in Germany led by Frank Keppler that plants produce methane in an oxygen-rich environment. It had been previously thought that biogenic methane could only be formed during the decomposition of organic material under strictly anoxic conditions. Now, Keppler’s group has now made another fascinating new observation: Fungi produce methane.

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Computing with water droplets and superhydrophobic materials

September 7, 2012 9:37 am | News | Comments

In Finland, researchers have experimentally determined the conditions for rebounding of water droplets moving on superhydrophobic surfaces. Like billiard balls, these droplets move by way of collisions, allowing the scientists to build “droplet logic”. When combined with chemical reactions these devices demonstrate elementary Boolean logic operations.

Study finds how BPA affects gene expression

September 7, 2012 7:15 am | News | Comments

New research led by researchers at North Carolina State University shows that exposure to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) early in life results in high levels of anxiety by causing significant gene expression changes in a specific region of the brain called the amygdala. The researchers also found that a soy-rich diet can mitigate these effects.

The quantum world only partially ‘melts’

September 7, 2012 5:10 am | News | Comments

Physical systems in the everyday world are constantly striving for thermal equlibrium: ice cubes in hot water, for example. In the transition area from mixed state to thermalized state are intermediary stages that have attracted the attention of physicists, particularly with regard to quantum systems. Recent research results in Austria have shown that in the quantum world the transition to thermal equilibrium is more interesting and more complicated than assumed so far.

Rust never sleeps

September 7, 2012 4:33 am | News | Comments

A multi-institutional team led by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have directly observed electron hopping in iron oxide particles, a phenomonon that holds huge significance for a broad range of environment- and energy-related applications.

Smart fabric triggers alarm at intrusion

September 6, 2012 6:26 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a new kind of anti-theft system, based on a woven fabric, that triggers an alarm when penetrated. Because of the fine lattice of conductive threads woven into the material, the fabric can notify the precise location of a failure, allowing the source of a break-in to be quickly identified. The invention could be significantly cheaper than other burglary detection systems.

Tough gel stretches to 21 times its length

September 5, 2012 10:52 am | News | Comments

A team of experts in mechanics, materials science, and tissue engineering at Harvard University have created an extremely stretchy and tough gel that may pave the way to replacing damaged cartilage in human joints. Called a hydrogel, the new material is a hybrid of two weak gels that combine to create something much stronger. Not only can this new gel stretch to 21 times its original length, but it is also exceptionally tough, self-healing, and biocompatible.

Thirty-five years later, Voyager 1 is heading for the stars

September 5, 2012 8:01 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Today marks the 35th anniversary of Voyager 1's launch to Jupiter and Saturn. Since leaving the ringed gas giant behind many years ago, Voyager 1 has rocketed toward an invisible boundary that no human spacecraft has ever ventured beyond. Scientists now say, based on instrument readings, that it is about to leave our solar system and venture into interstellar space.

Spinach power gets a major boost

September 4, 2012 9:17 am | News | Comments

Spinach power has just gotten a big boost. An interdisciplinary team of researchers at Vanderbilt University have developed a way to combine the photosynthetic protein that converts light into electrochemical energy in spinach with silicon, the material used in solar cells, in a fashion that produces substantially more electrical current than has been reported by previous "biohybrid" solar cells.

'Magic carpet' could help prevent falls

September 4, 2012 4:10 am | News | Comments

A "magic carpet" which can immediately detect when someone has fallen and can help to predict mobility problems has been demonstrated by University of Manchester scientists. Plastic optical fibers, laid on the underlay of a carpet, can bend when anyone treads on it and map, in real time, their walking patterns.

New DNA method tracks fish and whales in seawater

August 30, 2012 8:31 am | News | Comments

Today, marine fish are largely surveyed using selective and invasive methods mostly limited to commercial species, and restricted to areas with favorable conditions. Researchers in Denmark, however, have shown that seawater contains DNA from animals such as fish and whales. They have successfully used this trace presence, using as little as half a liter of water, to establish a method for tracking species.

Math ability requires crosstalk in the brain

August 29, 2012 11:38 am | News | Comments

According to a recent study that used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure brain activity, the strength of communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain predicts performance on basic arithmetic problems. The findings shed light on the neural basis of human math abilities and suggest a possible route to aiding those who suffer from dyscalculia—an inability to understand and manipulate numbers.

Small droplets grow differently

August 29, 2012 4:01 am | News | Comments

For the first time, scientists in Germany have comprehensively investigated what laws govern droplets when they originate and grow in size. Computer simulations and experiments show that the beginning of this growth phase proceeds differently than previously thought: The smallest droplets grow notably faster compared to their larger siblings. This new knowledge could be important for irrigation technology and refrigeration.

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