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Nature’s chem lab: How microorganisms manufacture drugs

June 19, 2014 8:25 am | by Jim Erickson, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Michigan have obtained the first 3-D snapshots of the "assembly line" within microorganisms that naturally produces antibiotics and other drugs. Understanding the complete structure and movement within the molecular factory gives investigators a solid blueprint for redesigning the microbial assembly line to produce novel drugs of high medicinal value.

Collecting light with artificial moth eyes

June 18, 2014 4:00 pm | News | Comments

Researchers the world over are investigating solar cells which imitate plant photosynthesis, with the goal of using sunlight and water to create synthetic fuels such as hydrogen. Scientists in Switzerland have developed this type of photoelectrochemical cell, but this one recreates a moth’s eye to drastically increase its light collecting efficiency. The cell is made of cheap raw materials: iron and tungsten oxide.

Familiar yet strange: Water’s “split personality” revealed by computer model

June 18, 2014 2:01 pm | by Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research | News | Comments

Seemingly ordinary, water has quite puzzling behavior. Why, for example, does ice float when most liquids crystallize into dense solids that sink? Using a computer model to explore water as it freezes, a team at Princeton Univ. has found that water's weird behaviors may arise from a sort of split personality: At very cold temperatures and above a certain pressure, water may spontaneously split into two liquid forms.

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Human sweat can reduce bacteria defenses in hospitals, schools

June 18, 2014 8:35 am | News | Comments

Sweaty hands can reduce the effectiveness of bacteria-fighting brass objects in hospitals and schools after just an hour of coming into contact with them, according to scientists at the Univ. of Leicester. While copper found in everyday brass items has an antimicrobial effect on bacteria the team has discovered that peoples’ sweat can produce sufficient corrosion to adversely affect its use to kill a range of microorganisms.

Moscow researcher predicts new state of matter

June 17, 2014 11:25 am | News | Comments

A physicist in Russia, Alexander Rozhkov, has presented theoretical calculations which indicate the possible existence of fermionic matter in a previously unknown state. It is defined as a 1-D liquid, which cannot be described within the framework of existing models. According to Rozhkov, the 1-D liquid state of matter is not necessarily one that can be observed with the naked eye on a macroscopic scale.

Strange physics turns off laser

June 17, 2014 10:59 am | News | Comments

Inspired by anomalies that arise in certain mathematical equations, researchers have demonstrated a laser system that paradoxically turns off when more power is added rather than becoming continuously brighter. The finding could lead to new ways to manipulate the interaction of electronics and light, an important tool in modern communications networks and high-speed information processing.

Solar photons drive water off the moon

June 17, 2014 8:29 am | by Jason Maderer, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Water is thought to be embedded in the moon’s rocks or, if cold enough, “stuck” on their surfaces. It’s predominantly found at the poles. But scientists probably won’t find it intact on the sunlit side. New research at indicates that ultraviolet photons emitted by the sun likely cause water molecules to either quickly desorb or break apart.

A virus reveals the physics of nanopores

June 16, 2014 4:36 pm | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Nanopores may one day lead a revolution in DNA sequencing. By sliding DNA molecules one at a time through tiny holes in a thin membrane, it may be possible to decode long stretches of DNA at lightning speeds. Scientists, however, haven’t quite figured out the physics of how polymer strands like DNA interact with nanopores.

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With the right rehabilitation, paralyzed rats learn to grip again

June 16, 2014 2:58 pm | News | Comments

After a large stroke, motor skills barely improve, even with rehabilitation. An experiment conducted on rats demonstrates that a course of therapy combining the stimulation of nerve fiber growth with drugs and motor training can be successful. The key, however, is the correct sequence: Paralyzed animals only make an almost complete recovery if the training is delayed until after the growth promoting drugs have been administered.

Sensor in eye could track pressure changes, monitor glaucoma

June 16, 2014 2:21 pm | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Your eye could someday house its own high-tech information center, tracking important changes and letting you know when it’s time to see an eye doctor. Univ. of Washington engineers have designed a low-power sensor that could be placed permanently in a person’s eye to track hard-to-measure changes in eye pressure.

Bionic pancreas may revolutionize diabetes treatment

June 16, 2014 10:39 am | by Marilynn Marchione, Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists have made big progress on a "bionic pancreas" to free some people with diabetes from the daily ordeal of managing their disease. A wearable, experimental device passed a real-world test, constantly monitoring blood sugar and automatically giving insulin or a sugar-boosting drug as needed, doctors say.

How cormorants emerge dry after deep dives

June 16, 2014 7:46 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Feathers have long been recognized as a classic example of efficient water-shedding—as in the well-known expression “like water off a duck’s back.” A combination of modeling and laboratory tests has now determined how both chemistry—the preening oil that birds use—and the microstructure of feathers, with their barbs and barbules, allow birds to stay dry even after emerging from amazingly deep dives.

New computer program aims to teach itself everything about anything

June 13, 2014 11:11 am | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | Videos | Comments

Without a specific search term in mind, it can be surprisingly hard to find information on the Internet , or to know how to start searching. To help, computer scientists have created the first fully automated computer program that teaches everything there is to know about any visual concept. Called Learning Everything about Anything (LEVAN), the program searches millions of books and images to learn all possible variations of a concept.

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New evidence for oceans deep in the Earth

June 13, 2014 7:59 am | by Megan Fellman, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers report evidence for an oceans worth of water deep beneath the U.S. Though not in the familiar liquid form—the ingredients for water are bound up in rock deep in the Earth’s mantle—the discovery may represent the planet’s largest water reservoir. The presence of liquid water on the surface is what makes our “blue planet” habitable, and scientists have tried to figure out just how much water may be cycling between Earth’s surface.

Nanotube forests drink water from arid air

June 12, 2014 7:27 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

If you don’t want to die of thirst in the desert, be like the beetle. Or have a nanotube cup handy. New research by scientists at Rice Univ. demonstrated that forests of carbon nanotubes can be made to harvest water molecules from arid desert air and store them for future use.

The inflatable concrete dome

June 11, 2014 3:51 pm | News | Comments

When concrete shells are constructed, they usually have to be supported by elaborate timber structures. This is one reason why such structures are now rarely built. In Austria, engineers have developed a new construction method that does not require any solid supporting structure at all. Instead, an air cushion is inflated below a concrete slab, bending the concrete and quickly forming a self-supporting shell.

Study: Red meat possibly linked to breast cancer

June 11, 2014 9:22 am | by Maria Cheng - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Women who often indulge their cravings for hamburgers, steaks and other red meat may have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer, a new study suggests. Doctors have long warned that a diet loaded with red meat is linked to cancers including those of the colon and pancreas, but there has been less evidence for its role in breast cancer.

Music under the microscope

June 11, 2014 9:01 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Germany have converted the frequencies of droplets flowing through thin channels into musical notes. This is more than just a gimmick: The fact that droplets can be controlled so precisely that they become musical instruments means they are also of interest with regard to medical diagnostics applications.

Obesity surgery may "cure" diabetes for 15 years

June 10, 2014 5:22 pm | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Obesity surgery may keep diabetes in remission even after 15 years in some patients, a study suggests. Long-term results were missing for more than half the patients who began the study and remission rates dropped off considerably. But still, 35 out of 115 patients remained diabetes-free 15 years after surgery.

New teaching approach touted for engineering education

June 10, 2014 9:59 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers who developed a new approach to more effectively teach large numbers of engineering students are recommending that the approach be considered for adoption by universities globally. The system, called the Purdue Mechanics Freeform Classroom, allows students to interact with each other and faculty online while accessing hundreds of instructional videos and animations. It has been used for more than two years.

55-year-old dark side of the moon mystery solved

June 10, 2014 8:09 am | by A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

The "man in the moon" appeared when meteoroids struck the Earth-facing side of the moon creating large flat seas of basalt that we see as dark areas called maria. But no "face" exists on farside of the moon and now, Penn State Univ. astrophysicists think they know why.

Protein could put antibiotic-resistant bugs in handcuffs

June 10, 2014 7:38 am | News | Comments

Staph infections that become resistant to multiple antibiotics don't happen because the bacteria themselves adapt to the drugs, but because of a kind of genetic parasite they carry called a plasmid that helps its host survive the antibiotics. Plasmids are rings of bare DNA containing a handful of genes that are essentially freeloaders, borrowing most of what they need to live from their bacterial host.

New molecule enables quick drug monitoring

June 9, 2014 10:07 am | Videos | Comments

Scientists in Switzerland have invented a molecule that can easily and quickly show how much drug is in a patient’s system. All that is needed to perform accurate measurements is a conventional digital camera. The result of innovative protein engineering and organic chemistry, the molecule has been shown to work on a range of common drugs for cancer, epilepsy and immunosuppression.

Octocopter named “HorseFly” takes flight

June 9, 2014 9:48 am | by Tom Robinette, Univ. of Cincinnati | News | Comments

HorseFly has eight rotors, a wirelessly recharging battery and a mission to deliver merchandise right to your doorstep. The new drone is the result of collaborative efforts by the Univ. of Cincinnati and AMP Electric Vehicles makers of the WorkHorse all-electric delivery truck. The newly designed, autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle was developed to work in tandem with AMP's delivery trucks to deliver packages in an efficient way.

Scientists explore using trees to clean pollution

June 9, 2014 2:20 am | by Ramit Plushnick-masti - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Before Houston and its suburbs were built, a dense forest naturally purified the coastal air along a stretch of the Texas Gulf Coast that grew thick with pecan, ash, live oak and hackberry trees. It was the kind of pristine woodland that was mostly wiped out by settlers in their rush to clear land and build communities.

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