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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A new computer algorithm developed at the University of Buffalo can analyze the footwear marks left at a crime scene according to clusters of footwear types, makes and tread patterns. The tool is able to group recurring patterns in a database of footwear marks, even if the imprint recorded by crime scene investigators is distorted or only a partial print.
Scientists in Oregon have created embryos with genes from one man and two women, using a provocative technique that could someday be used to prevent babies from inheriting certain rare incurable diseases. The embryos are not being used to produce children, but it has already stirred a debate over its risks and ethics in Britain, where scientists did similar work a few years ago.
When astronauts return to Earth, their altitude isn't the only thing that drops—their blood pressure does too. New research that solves this biological mystery suggests that a major cause of low blood pressure in astronauts—particularly during standing—is the compromised ability of arteries and veins to constrict normally and return blood back to the heart.
A multinational research team has discovered filamentous bacteria that function as living power cables in order to transmit electrons thousands of cell lengths away. These cells are so tiny that they are invisible to the naked eye. And yet, under the right circumstances, they form a multicellular filament that can transmit electrons across a distance as large as 1 cm as part of the filament’s respiration and ingestion processes.
A new study based on data from European Space Agency’s Cluster mission shows that it is easier for the solar wind to penetrate Earth’s magnetic environment, the magnetosphere, than had previously been thought. Scientists have, for the first time, directly observed the presence of certain waves that show Earth’s atmosphere behaving more like a sieve than a barrier.
The modern masses can now listen to what experts say is the oldest playable recording of an American voice and the first-ever capturing of a musical performance, thanks to digital advances that allowed the sound to be transferred from flimsy tinfoil to computer. The 78-second recording was originally made on a Thomas Edison-invented phonograph, and features both music and the first recorded blooper.
A University of Southampton team have discovered that by embossing tiny raised or indented patterns onto the metal’s surface they can change the way it absorbs and reflects light—ensuring our eyes don’t see it as “golden” in color at all. Equally applicable to other metals such as silver and aluminium, this breakthrough opens up the prospect of coloring metals without having to coat or chemically treat them.
A pair of University of California, Santa Barbara researchers have created a dynamic gel made of DNA that mechanically responds to stimuli in much the same way that cells do. This DNA gel, at only 10 μm in width, is roughly the size of a eukaryotic cell, the type of cell of which humans are made. When “fed”, it can generate forces independently, leading to changes in elasticity or shape.
The ability to ingest solid samples and examine them using X-ray diffraction is a core capability for the Curiosity rover. This week that ability was tested using a small scoop of minerals that has been shaken to remove any residues carried from Earth. These particles have been placed inside CheMin, an analytical instrument about the size of a laptop computer inside a carrying case.
Light might one day be used to cool the materials through which it passes, instead of heating them, thanks to a breakthrough by engineers at Lehigh and Johns Hopkins Universities. The discovery could lead to smaller, lighter, and cheaper communication devices with faster switching times, increased output, and higher operating voltages.
Extending 60 million light-years from one of the most massive galaxy clusters known, the filament of dark matter examined recently by the Hubble Space Telescope is part of the cosmic web that constitutes the large-scale structure of the Universe, and is a leftover of the very first moments after the Big Bang. If the high mass measured for the filament is representative of the rest of the Universe, then these structures may contain more than half of all the mass in the Universe.
For the first time, three separately found extreme Earth events have been compared by researchers who now believe they may be linked. About 41,000 years ago, a complete and rapid reversal of the geomagnetic field occurred, lasting for just a few hundred years. Around the same time, a super volcano erupted and major climate changes occurred.