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 The 78-second recording was originally made on a Thomas Edison-invented phonograph, and features both music and the first recorded blooper.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.
Using the world’s fastest laser pulses, which can freeze the ultrafast motion of electrons and atoms, physicists have caught the action of molecules breaking apart and electrons getting knocked out of atoms. Their most recent accomplishment is a real-time series of snapshots documenting what happens to an oxygen molecule when it pops apart after absorbing too much energy to maintain the stable bond between its two atoms.
Research assessing the impact of higher tuition fees on future university physics students has found them largely undeterred by fear of debt and determined to pursue a subject they love. The report uses secondary data, focus groups, and a survey, involving more than 500 applicants, to understand better the potential implications of the new funding model.
Felix Baumgartner stood poised in the open hatch of a capsule suspended above Earth, wondering if he would make it back alive. Twenty four miles below him, millions of people were right there with him, watching on the Internet and marveling at the wonder of the moment. Nine minutes later he landed, becoming the world's first supersonic skydiver.
Logic circuits can be built from just about anything, including billiard balls, pipes of water, or animals in a maze. Tae Seok Moon, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, intends to build logic gates out of genes, and has already built the largest such device yet reported. But the purpose of these circuits is not to crunch numbers.
At very low temperatures, close to absolute zero, chemical reactions may proceed at a much higher rate than classical chemistry says they should—because in this extreme chill, quantum effects enter the picture. With a new experiment, a research team in Israel has now confirmed this elusive process in a chemical reaction they performed at chilling temperatures of just a fraction of a degree above the absolute zero: 0.01 K.
Two instruments on the Mars rover Curiosity were used to study the chemical makeup of a football-size rock called "Jake Matijevic". In addition to the ChemCam, which had examined a number of rocks, NASA for the first time used an X-ray spectrometer on the new rock, finding that its composition resembles some unusual rocks found in Earth’s interior.
A new approach, developed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, that allows objects to become "invisible" has now been applied to an entirely different area: letting particles "hide" from passing electrons, which could lead to more efficient thermoelectric devices and new kinds of electronics.
At this week’s Frontiers in Optics 2012, physicists are presenting possible applications based on research that uses natural spider silk to catch light. Recent findings could present an eco-friendly alternative to glass or plastic fiber optics: the traditional materials for manipulating light. Silk-enabled implantable biosensors, lasers, and microchips could result.
Scientists in Scotland have proved a 60-year-old theory about how nerve signals are sent around the body at varying speeds as electrical impulses. An insulating layer called myelin surrounds nerve fibers, and is interrupted by gaps called nodes. Sir Andrew Huxley, who won the Nobel Prize in 1963, proposed a theory that the distance between these gaps might affect the speed of electrical signals.
Located by Yale University researchers, a new planet—called 55 Cancri e—has a radius twice Earth’s, and a mass eight times greater, making it a “super-Earth.” Forty light-years away, the placement and chemical signature suggest to planetary scientists that it is composed primarily of carbon, iron, silicon carbide, and silicates. Much of that carbon would in the form of graphite or diamond.
While the North Pole has been losing sea ice over the years, the water nearest the South Pole has been gaining it. Antarctic sea ice hit a record 7.51 million square miles in September, just days after reports of the biggest loss of Arctic sea ice on record. Climate change skeptics have seized on this example, but scientists say the skeptics are misinterpreting what's happening and why.
The Pioneer spacecraft, two probes launched into space by NASA in the early 70s, seemed to violate the Newtonian law of gravity by decelerating anomalously as they traveled. Nothing in physics was able to explain this effect, but a physicist in Missouri believes the confusion can be readily explained by the effect of the expansion of the universe.
University of Adelaide applied mathematicians have extended Einstein's theory of special relativity to work beyond the speed of light. Einstein's theory holds that nothing could move faster than the speed of light, but the mathematicians have developed new formulas that extend special relativity to a situation where the relative velocity can be infinite, and can be used to describe motion at speeds faster than light.
The majority of languages—roughly 85% of them—can be sorted into two categories: those in which the basic sentence form is subject-verb-object and those in which the basic sentence form is subject-object-verb. Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology believe that information theory—the discipline that gave us digital communication—can explain differences between human languages.
Ask adults what number is halfway between 1 and 9, and most will say 5. But pose the same question to small children and they're likely to answer 3. Cognitive scientists theorize that that's because it's actually more natural for humans to think logarithmically than linearly. A new information-theoretical model of human sensory perception and memory sheds light on these peculiarities of the nervous system.