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Urine test could diagnose eye disease

October 9, 2013 11:54 am | News | Comments

You might not think to look to a urine test to diagnose an eye disease. But a new Duke Univ. study says it can link what is in a patient's urine to gene mutations that cause retinitis pigmentosa, or RP, an inherited, degenerative disease that results in severe vision impairment and often blindness.

Cracked metal, heal thyself

October 9, 2013 8:00 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

It was a result so unexpected that Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers initially thought it must be a mistake: Under certain conditions, putting a cracked piece of metal under tension has the reverse effect, causing the crack to close and its edges to fuse together. The surprising finding could lead to self-healing materials that repair incipient damage before it has a chance to spread.

Clues to foam formation could help find oil

October 8, 2013 3:02 pm | News | Comments

Blowing bubbles in the backyard is one thing and quite another when searching for oil. That distinction is at the root of new research by Rice Univ. scientists who describe in greater detail than ever precisely how those bubbles form, evolve and act. The research describes two previously unknown ways that bubbles form in foam.

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Scientists create first computer-designed superconductor

October 8, 2013 9:04 am | News | Comments

A Binghamton Univ. scientist and his international colleagues report on the successful synthesis of the first superconductor designed entirely on the computer. The synthesized material, a novel iron tetraboride compound, is made out of two common elements, has a brand-new crystal structure and exhibits an unexpected type of superconductivity for a material that contains iron, just as predicted in the original computational study.

Scientists discover new role for cell dark matter in genome integrity

October 4, 2013 11:26 am | News | Comments

Non-coding RNAs constitute the “dark matter of the genome”, as they are abundant but their function is largely unknown. Researchers in Canada have discovered how these RNA direct telomerase, a molecule essential for cancer development, toward structures on our genome called telomeres in order to maintain its integrity and in turn, the integrity of the genome.

Researchers identify the neural circuits that modulate REM sleep

October 3, 2013 11:58 am | News | Comments

Previous studies had established an association between the activity of certain types of neurons and the phase of sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM). Scientists have now found the source of this causal relationship and have used optogenetics techniques to induce and modulate REM sleep in mice.

Pills made from feces cure serious gut infections

October 3, 2013 11:31 am | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Hold your nose and don't spit out your coffee: Doctors have found a way to put healthy people's poop into pills that can cure serious gut infections—a less yucky way to do "fecal transplants." Canadian researchers tried this on 27 patients and cured them all after strong antibiotics failed to help.

Study reduces Casimir force to lowest recorded level

October 2, 2013 9:39 am | News | Comments

A research team that includes a physics prof. at Indiana Univ.-Purdue Univ. Indianapolis has recorded a drastically reduced measurement of the Casimir effect, a fundamental quantum phenomenon experienced between two neutral bodies that exist in a vacuum. The experiment used nanostructured metallic plates to suppress the force at a much lower rate than ever recorded previously.

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Grant opens new dimension in printing: 4-D

October 1, 2013 2:02 pm | News | Comments

With a $855,000 grant from the U.S. Army Research Office, a trio of university researchers is proposing the development a new printing technology that adds a fourth dimension. By manipulating materials at the micro- and nanoscale dimensions, they hope to develop printable structures that can exhibit behavior that changes over time.

NASA preparing to launch 3-D printer into space

September 30, 2013 11:03 am | by Martha Mendoza, AP National Writer | News | Comments

A new toaster-sized 3-D printer, set for launch next year, is designed to greatly reduce the need for astronauts to load up with every tool, spare part or supply they might ever need. The printers would serve as a flying factory of infinite designs, creating objects by extruding layer upon layer of plastic from long strands coiled around large spools.

“Transformer” star discovered with x-rays and radio waves

September 27, 2013 8:47 am | by Francis Reddy and Barbara K. Kennedy, Penn State | News | Comments

A fleet of orbiting x-ray telescopes has been used by an international team of scientists in the discovery of a "millisecond pulsar" star with a dual identity. The star readily shifts back and forth between two mutually exclusive styles of pulsed emissions, one in x-rays, the other in radio waves. The discovery, the scientists say, reveals a long-sought intermediate phase in the life of these powerful objects.

Quantum material may transport zero-resistance current above room temperature

September 26, 2013 9:57 am | News | Comments

A theoretical study conducted by scientists at Japan’s National Institute of Materials Science reveals the possibility of developing a quantum material to transport zero-resistance edge current above room temperature. This capability, allowed by large spin-orbit coupling, will depend on the construction of a new class of topological materials that the researchers have designed.

Engineers build basic computer using carbon nanotubes

September 26, 2013 8:45 am | News | Comments

A team of Stanford Univ. engineers has built a basic computer using carbon nanotubes, a semiconductor material that has the potential to launch a new generation of electronic devices that run faster, while using less energy, than those made from silicon chips. This unprecedented feat culminates years of efforts by scientists around the world to harness this promising but quirky material.

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Turning plastic bags into high-tech materials

September 25, 2013 12:08 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in Australia have developed a process for turning waste plastic bags into a high-tech nanomaterial. The furnace-driven process uses non-biodegradable plastic grocery bags to produce carbon layers that line pores in nanoporous alumina membranes. The result is carbon nanotube membranes.

New study finds “microbial clock” may help determine time of death

September 25, 2013 9:04 am | News | Comments

An intriguing study led by the Univ. of Colorado Boulder may provide a powerful new tool in the quiver of forensic scientists attempting to determine the time of death in cases involving human corpses: a microbial clock. The clock is essentially the lock-step succession of bacterial changes that occur postmortem as bodies move through the decay process.

Building bridges between nanowires

September 20, 2013 1:23 pm | News | Comments

A researcher in the Netherlands has managed to bridge the “gap” between two ultrathin gold nanowires, each just a few atoms high, with a single molecule. This bridge could serve to detect new physical effects or may act as a switch.

A new generation of odor-releasing materials for training dogs

September 20, 2013 8:03 am | News | Comments

Traditionally, the training of bomb-sniffing dogs has been a hazardous job, but newly developed odor-releasing materials could take the risk out of that work. Scientists at NIST are seeking to patent a novel system that can capture scents and release them over time.

“Sticky tape” for water droplets mimics rose petal

September 17, 2013 2:05 pm | News | Comments

A new nanostructured material with applications that could include reducing condensation in airplane cabins and enabling certain medical tests without the need for high tech laboratories has been developed by researchers in Australia. The newly discovered material uses “raspberry” particles, which emulate the structure of some rose petals and can trap tiny water droplets.

“Terminator”polymer regenerates itself

September 13, 2013 12:22 pm | News | Comments

Scientists in Spain have reported the first self-healing polymer that spontaneously and independently repairs itself without any intervention. The researchers have dubbed the material a “Terminator” polymer in tribute to the shape-shifting, molten T-100 terminator robot from the Terminator 2 film.

Researchers accidentally make glass just two atoms thick

September 12, 2013 2:48 pm | News | Comments

At just a molecule thick, it's a new record: The world's thinnest sheet of glass, a serendipitous discovery by scientists at Cornell Univ. and Germany's Univ. of Ulm, has been recorded for posterity in the Guinness Book of World Records. The remarkable material was an accidental byproduct of a graphene fabrication process.

Microgels in tiny polar ice algae important to ocean carbon budgets

September 12, 2013 8:04 am | by Peter Bondo Christensen and Christina Troelsen, Aarhus Univ. | News | Comments

Secretion of polysaccharides from the micro community living within the sea ice stick organism together and forms greater particles introducing a rapid transport of carbon to the seafloor. New research now makes it possible to forecast the importance for the global carbon budget of this transport.

Scientists strike scientific gold with meteorite

September 11, 2013 11:40 am | News | Comments

An important discovery has been made concerning the possible inventory of molecules available to early Earth. Scientists at Arizona State Univ. have found that the Sutter’s Mill meteorite, which exploded in a blazing fireball over California last year, contains organic molecules not previously found in any meteorites. These findings suggest a far greater availability of extraterrestrial organic molecules than previously thought possible.

Robohand uses 3-D printing to replace lost digits

September 11, 2013 10:50 am | by Carley Petesch, Associated Press | News | Comments

Richard Van As, a South African carpenter, lost four fingers from his right hand to a circular saw two years ago. He was unable to afford the tens of thousands of dollars to get a myoelectric hand, which detects a muscle's electric impulses to activate an artificial limb. He decided to build his own hand, made from cables, screws and thermoplastic, using only the Internet and a 3-D printer. He has since fitted 170 people with Robohands.

Motorized microscopic matchsticks move in water with sense of direction

September 10, 2013 11:26 am | News | Comments

Before now most research seeking to influence the direction of motion of microscopic components have had to use outside influences such as a magnetic field or the application of light. Scientists in the U.K. have controlled the speed and direction of motion of microscopic structures in water with a chemical-based technique using what they have dubbed “motorized microscopic matchsticks”.

Accidental nanoparticle discovery could impact nanomanufacturing

September 10, 2013 8:32 am | News | Comments

A nanoparticle shaped like a spiky ball, with magnetic properties, has been uncovered in a new method of synthesizing carbon nanotubes by physicists in the U.K. The nanoparticles were discovered on the rough surfaces of a reactor designed to grow carbon nanotubes and are described as sea urchins because of their characteristic spiny appearance.

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