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DNA motor “walks” along nanotube, transports tiny particle

December 17, 2013 2:45 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have created a new type of molecular motor made of DNA and demonstrated its potential by using it to transport a nanoparticle along the length of a carbon nanotube. The design was inspired by natural biological motors that have evolved to perform specific tasks critical to the function of cells.

This pot boils faster than you can watch it

December 16, 2013 3:31 pm | News | Comments

Scientists from the Hamburg Center for Free-Electron Laser Science have devised a novel way to boil water in less than a trillionth of a second. The theoretical concept, which uses terahertz radiation but has not yet been demonstrated in practice, could heat a small amount of water by as much as 600 C in just half a picosecond.

Cellulose nanocrystals possible “green” wonder material

December 16, 2013 2:38 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

The same tiny cellulose crystals that give trees and plants their high strength, light weight and resilience, have now been shown to have the stiffness of steel. Calculations using precise models based on the atomic structure of cellulose show the crystals have a stiffness of 206 gigapascals, which is comparable to steel.

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Machine-learning algorithms could make chemical reactions intelligent

December 12, 2013 5:09 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and Harvard Univ. have have recently shown that an important class of artificial intelligence algorithms could be implemented using chemical reactions. These algorithms use a technique called “message passing inference on factor graphs” and are a mathematical coupling of ideas from graph theory and probability.

Researchers develop algorithm that uses computer vision to identify social groups

December 12, 2013 8:18 am | News | Comments

Hipster, surfer or biker? Computers may soon  be able to tell the difference: Scientists in California are developing an algorithm that uses group pictures to determine to which of these groups, or urban tribes, you belong. So far, the algorithm is 48% accurate on average, much better than chance but not yet to level of humans.

Cold dis-comfort: Antarctica set record of -135.8

December 10, 2013 1:44 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

A new look at NASA satellite data revealed that Earth set a new record for coldest temperature recorded. It happened in August 2010 when it hit -135.8 degrees. Then on July 31 of this year, it came close again: -135.3 degrees. That’s about 50 degrees colder than anything ever seen in Alaska or Siberia.

Study raises questions about longstanding forensic identification technique

December 10, 2013 7:58 am | News | Comments

Forensic experts have long used the shape of a person’s skull to make positive identifications of human remains. But those findings may now be called into question, since a new study from North Carolina State Univ. shows that there is not enough variation in skull shapes to make a positive identification.

Scientists discover quick recipe for producing hydrogen

December 9, 2013 10:00 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Lyon, a French city famed for its cuisine, have discovered a quick-cook recipe for copious volumes of hydrogen that involves water, rock, aluminum oxide and extreme pressure. The breakthrough suggests a better way of producing the hydrogen that propels rockets and energizes battery-like fuel cells.

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Recycled plastic effective in killing drug-resistant fungi

December 9, 2013 9:46 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Singapore and at IBM Research in California have discovered a new, potentially life-saving application for polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is widely used to make plastic bottles. They have successfully converted PET into a non-toxic biocompatible material with superior fungal killing properties. This could help prevent and treat various fungus-induced diseases such as keratitis.

“Smuggling” drugs at the cellular level

December 9, 2013 9:28 am | by Britt Faulstick, Drexel Univ. | News | Comments

Medicated adhesive patches have become a preferred method of delivery for everything from nicotine to hormones to motion sickness medication. Drexel Univ. researchers are trying to expand the possibilities of this system, which is called transdermal delivery, with the help of a cleverly designed delivery vehicle and an ultrasonic "push," or pressure from sound waves.

CERN, eat your heart out?

December 5, 2013 9:46 am | by Jamie Hanlon, Univ. of Alberta | News | Comments

A research team has discovered a natural particle accelerator of interstellar scale. By analyzing data from NASA’s Van Allen probes, physicists have been able to measure and identify the “smoking gun” of a planetary scale process that accelerates particles to speeds close to the speed of light within the Van Allen radiation belt.

Ultrathin “diagnostic skin” allows continuous patient monitoring

December 5, 2013 9:10 am | News | Comments

An international multidisciplinary team including researchers at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering has developed  a sophisticated ”electronic skin” that adheres non-invasively to human skin, conforms well to contours, and provides a detailed temperature map of any surface of the body.

Study: Ocean crust lavas could store many centuries of industrial carbon dioxide

December 4, 2013 10:54 am | News | Comments

At high pressures and low temperatures, such as those in the deep oceans, carbon dioxide occurs as a liquid that is denser than seawater. Researchers in England have identified regions beneath the oceans where the igneous rocks of the upper ocean crust could safely store very large volumes of carbon dioxide.

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Amazon.com sees delivery drones as the future

December 2, 2013 1:44 pm | by Scott Mayerowitz, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

Online retailer Amazon.com aiming to deliver packages quicker than pizza. Its so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project, now underway in Amazon’s research and development labs, could get goods to customers in 30 minutes or less. But the company admits it will take years to advance the needed technology and for the needed federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations to be created.

When aluminum outshines gold

December 2, 2013 8:02 am | News | Comments

Humble aluminum’s plasmonic properties may make it far more valuable than gold and silver for certain applications, according to new research by Rice Univ. scientists. Because aluminum, as nanoparticles or nanostructures, displays optical resonances across a much broader region of the spectrum than either gold or silver, it may be a good candidate for harvesting solar energy and for other large-area optical devices and materials.

Celebration of a Persian mystic leads to better understanding of dynamics

November 27, 2013 9:00 am | News | Comments

Stuck inside on a rainy, dreary day in France, two physicists and an engineer stumbled on a television program about whirling dervishes. The film caused them to discuss structures with conical symmetry, or rotating flexible structures with a conical shape. Their thoughts have become the basis for a recent technical paper, which uses understandings of Coriolis force to develop simple explanatory equations.

Comet dances with sun, death; giving mixed signals

November 27, 2013 8:46 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Comet ISON will be only about 1 million miles away from the sun's super-hot surface during its close encounter on Thanksgiving. On Monday, it looked like it was about to die even before it got there. On Tuesday, it appeared healthy again. Will it meet a fiery death (or survive) when it whips around the sun on Thursday? Scientists haven’t seen a comet behave this way before.

Scientists invent implantable slimming aid

November 27, 2013 6:22 am | by Peter Rüegg, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

A new innovation may help us deal with post-Thanksgiving guilt: Biotechnologists have constructed a genetic regulatory circuit from human components that monitors blood-fat levels. In response to excessive levels, it produces a messenger substance that signals satiety to the body. Tests on obese mice reveal that this helps them to lose weight.

Engineering team proposes new composites that can regenerate when damaged

November 26, 2013 11:51 am | News | Comments

The research team was inspired by biological processes in species such as amphibians, which can regenerate severed limbs, engineers in Pittsburgh have developed computational models to design a new polymer gel that would enable complex materials to regenerate bulk sections of severed material using nanorods.

Levitating nanoparticle enables ultra-sensitive force sensing

November 26, 2013 8:28 am | News | Comments

The Q-factor is a dimensionless parameter that describes how under-damped an oscillator or resonator is, and this has so far been limited by coupling the device to a physical contact for support. Researchers in Spain, however, have used optically levitated objects that do not suffer from clamping forces to achieve the highest force sensitivity ever observed with a nanomechanical resonator.

Nanotubes can solder themselves, improving device performance

November 26, 2013 7:53 am | Videos | Comments

Univ. of Illinois researchers have developed a way to heal gaps in wires too small for even the world's tiniest soldering iron. Junctions between nanotubes have high resistance, slowing down the current and creating hotspots. The researchers use these hot spots to trigger a local chemical reaction that deposits metal that nanosolders the junctions.

Study: Research funding has become prone to bubble formation

November 22, 2013 11:12 am | News | Comments

According to a recent study, fashions in research funding, reward structures in universities and streamlining of scientific agendas undermine traditional academic norms and may result in science bubbles. New research shows how the mechanisms that set off the financial crisis might be replicating in the field of science.

Additive may make wine fine for a longer time

November 21, 2013 12:52 pm | by Matthew Swayne, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

Oxygen usually enters wine through the cork and interacts with metals, particularly iron, setting off a chain reaction that changes compounds that add often disagreeable tastes and smells to the drink. Penn State Univ. researchers have added chelation compounds that bind with metals to inhibit oxidation, or oxygen's ability to react with trace metals. These compounds, they found, were effective.

Researchers in Germany build bio-based solar cell

November 21, 2013 12:46 pm | News | Comments

In leaves, two proteins are responsible for photosynthesis, and they perform the conversion of carbon dioxide into oxygen and biomass very efficiently. Scientists have now harnessed this capability by embedding these proteins into complex molecules developed in the laboratory. Their bio-based solar cell creates electron current instead of biomass.

Study ties nuts to lower cancer, heart death risk

November 21, 2013 6:54 am | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Help yourself to some nuts this holiday season: Regular nut eaters were less likely to die of cancer or heart disease—in fact, were less likely to die of any cause—during a 30-year Harvard study. Nuts have long been called heart-healthy, and the study is the largest ever done on whether eating them affects mortality.

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