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Rare earth bacteria

November 4, 2013 8:06 am | News | Comments

A team of researchers has discovered a bacterium in hot springs which needs rare earth materials such as lanthanum, cerium or neodymium to grow. The bacteria need the valuable metals to produce energy as co-factor for the enzyme methanol dehydrogenase, with which the microbes produce their energy. The use of rare earths is possibly more widespread among bacteria than previously thought.

Study: Hefty soda tax would reduce U.K. obesity

October 31, 2013 7:31 pm | by MARIA CHENG - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Slapping a 20% tax on soda in Britain could cut the number of obese adults by about 180,000, according to a new study. Though the number works out to a modest drop of 1.3% in obesity, scientists say that reduction would still be worthwhile in the U.K., which has a population of about 63 million and is the fattest country in Western Europe. About one in four Britons is obese.

Minecraft mod introduces gaming kids to quantum principles

October 31, 2013 12:00 pm | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

In the hugely popular game Minecraft, players can freely build and create their own world by mining and stacking different types of bricks in a sandbox-like environment. Because of its customizable dynamic, the game has also become a background platform for many user-generated modifications, or "mods". Researchers and the developers of Minecraft have built a new Google-funded mod that introduces quantum mechanics into the game's landscape.

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Physicists build “giant” atom to study individual elctrons

October 31, 2013 11:51 am | News | Comments

A team of experimental and theoretical physicists from the Univ. of Stuttgart have developed a method to study the influence an electron has on atoms in a Bose-Einstein condensate, which is a ultracold cloud of atoms at near absolute zero. This advance allows scientists to study the interactions between electrons and atoms without the technical challenge of “trapping” electrons individually.

Earth-size planet found with rocky core like ours

October 31, 2013 8:35 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

Scientists have found a planet way out in the cosmos that's close in size and content to Earth, an astronomical first. But hold off on the travel plans. This rocky world is so close to its sun that it's at least 2,000 degrees hotter than here, almost certainly too hot for life.

Scientists digitally reconstruct giant steps taken by dinosaurs

October 30, 2013 12:30 pm | News | Comments

One of the world’s largest dinosaurs has been digitally reconstructed by experts from The Univ. of Manchester allowing it to take its first steps in over 94 million years. The Manchester team, working with scientists in Argentina, were able to laser scan a 40-m-long skeleton of the vast Cretaceous Argentinosaurus dinosaur. Then using an advanced computer modeling technique they recreated its walking and running movements.

Mobile DNA kit helps Haiti manage sanitation

October 30, 2013 7:59 am | News | Comments

What does the coastal community of Bolinas, Calif., have in common with the impoverished island nation of Haiti? The surprising answer is a fledgling sanitation strategy whereby human waste is composted into nutrient-rich fertilizer, all supported by research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientist Gary Andersen.

Bee sting venom can help develop immunity to bee stings

October 28, 2013 11:40 am | News | Comments

Bee stings can be painful, and for people who are allergic to the bee’s venom, they can be deadly. But a new study from Yale School of Medicine finds that the key toxic component in bee venom—the major allergen—can actually induce immunity and protect against future allergic reactions to the toxin.

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Forest waste used to develop cheaper, greener supercapacitors

October 24, 2013 7:42 am | News | Comments

Researchers report that wood-biochar supercapacitors can produce as much power as today’s activated-carbon supercapacitors at a fraction of the cost, and with environmentally friendly byproducts. In wood-biochar supercapacitors, the wood’s natural pore structure serves as the electrode surface, eliminating the need for advanced techniques to fabricate an elaborate pore structure. Wood biochar is produced by heating wood in low oxygen.

London uses van with x-ray machine to find TB

October 23, 2013 7:41 pm | by Maria Cheng, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Famed for its historic sites, its double-decker buses and its West End shows, London now has a more dubious distinction: Britain's public health agency says it has become the tuberculosis capital of Western Europe. In response, health officials are taking to the streets in an effort to stop the spread of the infectious lung disease.

Tests suggest baby born with HIV may be cured

October 23, 2013 5:38 pm | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Doctors now have convincing evidence that they put HIV into remission, hopefully for good, in a Mississippi baby born with the AIDS virus—a medical first that is prompting a new look at how hard and fast such cases should be treated. The case was reported earlier this year but some doctors were skeptical that the baby was really infected rather than testing positive because of exposure to virus in the mom's blood.

A new idea for space tourism: Balloon over rocket

October 23, 2013 2:25 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The latest space tourism venture depends more on hot air than rocket science. World View Enterprises announced plans Tuesday to send people up in a capsule, lifted 19 miles by a high-altitude balloon. While it's not quite space, the plan requires approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees commercial space.

Scientist use heat to make magnets

October 21, 2013 2:19 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have recently provided the first evidence ever that it is possible to generate a magnetic field by using heat instead of electricity. The phenomenon is referred to as the Magnetic Seebeck effect or “thermomagnetism”.

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Printing architecture

October 21, 2013 2:12 pm | News | Comments

Two researchers from the Institute for Technology in Architecture in Switzerland have created an immersive space from artificial sandstone with a 3D printer. The design, which cannot be drawn by hand or generated by software such as CAD, resembles a gothic cathedral’s façade and is currently on display in Orléans, France.

Biological clock found that can measure age of most human tissues

October 21, 2013 8:10 am | News | Comments

Everyone grows older, but scientists don't really understand why. Now a Univ. of California, Los Angeles study has uncovered a biological clock embedded in our genomes that may shed light on why our bodies age and how we can slow the process.

Two genetic wrongs make a biochemical right

October 21, 2013 8:01 am | News | Comments

In a biological quirk that promises to provide researchers with a new approach for studying and potentially treating Fragile X syndrome, scientists at UMass Medical School have shown that knocking out a gene important for messenger RNA translation in neurons restores memory deficits and reduces behavioral symptoms in a mouse model of a prevalent human neurological disease.

DNA links mysterious Yeti to ancient polar bear

October 18, 2013 9:24 am | by Jill Lawless, Associated Press | News | Comments

A British scientist says he may have solved the mystery of the Abominable Snowman, the elusive ape-like creature of the Himalayas. DNA analysis conducted by Oxford Univ. genetics professor Bryan Sykes suggests the creature, also known as the Yeti, is the descendant of an ancient polar bear.

Radical recoding tests limits of genetic reprogramming

October 17, 2013 2:33 pm | News | Comments

In two parallel projects, researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have created new genomes inside the bacterium E. coli in ways that could open new possibilities for increasing flexibility, productivity and safety in biotechnology. In the first project, researchers created a novel genome, the first-ever entirely genomically recoded organism. They then greatly expanded genetic changes in the second project.

Study of photosynthesis clears the path to developing new super-crops

October 17, 2013 1:28 pm | News | Comments

Around 3% of all plants use an advanced form of photosynthesis, which allows them to capture more carbon dioxide, use less water, and grow more rapidly. This phenomenon had been a mystery, but researchers have used a mathematical analysis to uncover a number of tiny changes in the plants' physiology that allow them to grow more quickly, using a third as much water as other plants and capturing around 13 times more carbon dioxide.

Maximizing broccoli’s cancer-fighting potential

October 17, 2013 8:19 am | News | Comments

Spraying a plant hormone on broccoli—already one of the planet’s most nutritious foods—boosts its cancer-fighting potential, and researchers say they have new insights on how that works. They published their findings, which could help scientists build an even better, more healthful broccoli.

Restoring surgeons’ sense of touch during minimally invasive surgeries

October 16, 2013 10:11 am | by David Salisbury, Vanderbilt Univ. | News | Comments

During open surgery, doctors rely on their sense of touch to identify anatomical structures: a procedure they call palpation. But this practice is not possible in minimally invasive surgery where surgeons work with small, specialized tools and miniature cameras. A small, wireless capsule has been developed that can restore the sense of touch that surgeons are losing as they shift increasingly from open to minimally invasive surgery.

Software uses cyborg swarm to map unknown environs

October 16, 2013 8:19 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed software that allows them to map unknown environments based on the movement of a swarm of insect cyborgs, or “biobots.” The software would also allow public safety officials to determine the location of radioactive or chemical threats, if the biobots have been equipped with the relevant sensors.

New multi-touch sensor is customizable with scissors

October 15, 2013 2:37 pm | News | Comments

People often customize the size and shape of materials like textiles and wood without turning to specialists like tailors or carpenters. In the future this should be possible with electronics, according to computer scientists who have developed a printable multi-touch sensor whose shape and size can be altered by anybody.

A new role for “hunger hormone”

October 15, 2013 9:06 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

About a dozen years ago, scientists discovered that a hormone called ghrelin enhances appetite. Dubbed the “hunger hormone,” ghrelin was quickly targeted by drug companies seeking treatments for obesity—none of which have yet panned out. Neuroscientists have now discovered that ghrelin’s role goes far beyond controlling hunger.

First pilot system to extract dandelion rubber for making tires

October 14, 2013 12:24 pm | News | Comments

Rubber can be extracted from the juice of the dandelion, but transitioning this technology to the industrial setting has been a challenge. The Fraunhofer Institute in Germany has joined with Continental tire company to build the first-ever pilot system to extract vast quantities of dandelion rubber for making tires

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