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Fur and feathers keep animals warm by scattering light

January 23, 2014 9:33 am | News | Comments

Scientists have wondered why polar bear fur is much more efficient at insulation than what we can develop for our housing. Now, a team has calculated that hairs, due to an unexpected optical mechanism, reflect infrared light and may contribute significant insulating power to the exceptionally warm winter coats of polar bears and other animals.

Staying cool in the nanoelectric universe by getting hot

January 22, 2014 11:40 am | by Cory Nealon, Univ. at Buffalo | News | Comments

New research hints that nanodevices in microcircuits can protect themselves from heat generation through the transformation of nanotransistors into quantum states. The finding, demonstrated in nanoscale semiconductors devices, could boost computing power without large-scale changes to electronics.

Seashells inspire new way to preserve bones for archeologists, paleontologists

January 22, 2014 9:04 am | News | Comments

Recreating the story of humanity’s past by studying ancient bones can hit a snag when they deteriorate, but scientists are now reporting an advance inspired by seashells that can better preserve valuable remains. Their findings, which appear in Langmuir, could have wide-ranging implications for both archeology and paleontology.

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Turkeys inspire smartphone-capable early warning system for toxins

January 21, 2014 11:46 am | by Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Some may think of turkeys as good for just lunch meat and holiday meals, but bioengineers at the Univ. of California (UC), Berkeley saw inspiration in the big birds for a new type of biosensor that changes color when exposed to chemical vapors. This feature makes the sensors valuable detectors of toxins or airborne pathogens.

Researcher develops energy-dense sugar battery

January 21, 2014 11:34 am | News | Comments

A Virginia Tech research team has developed a battery that runs on sugar, using a non-natural synthetic enzymatic pathway that strip all charge potentials from the sugar. While other sugar batteries have been developed, this one has an energy density an order of magnitude higher than others, allowing it to run longer before needing to be refueled.

E-whiskers: Researchers develop highly sensitive tactile sensors for robotics

January 21, 2014 11:25 am | News | Comments

Researchers in California have created tactile sensors from composite films of carbon nanotubes and silver nanoparticles similar to the highly sensitive whiskers of cats and rats. These new e-whiskers respond to pressure as slight as a single Pascal, about the pressure exerted on a table surface by a dollar bill.

Study hints at therapeutic uses of ecstasy

January 21, 2014 11:10 am | News | Comments

Brian imaging experiments have revealed for the first time how ecstasy produces feelings of euphoria in users. The findings hint at ways that ecstasy, or MDMA, might be useful in the treatment of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. MDMA has been a popular recreational drug since the 1980s, but there has been little research on which areas of the brain it affects.

Mimicking how ants adjust to microgravity in space could lead to better robots

January 20, 2014 1:09 pm | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Several hundred ants have boldly gone where no ants have gone before: the International Space Station (ISS), high above Earth. An unmanned supply rocket delivered 600 small black common pavement ants to the ISS. Their arrival marked the beginning of an experiment designed by a team at Stanford Univ. to determine how the ants, in these exotic surroundings, adapt the innate algorithms that modulate their group behavior.

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Frozen magnetic monopoles create new laboratory physics

January 20, 2014 9:56 am | News | Comments

Many of the most interesting things in nature, from spectacular lightning strikes to the subtlety of life itself, are transient. To discover the secrets of transient, or far from equilibrium, states, physicists need simple yet appealing laboratory systems. Researchers have managed to create just such a system in the magnetic material known as "spin ice".

Natural 3-D counterpart to graphene discovered

January 16, 2014 2:40 pm | News | Comments

A collaboration of researchers has discovered that sodium bismuthate can exist as a form of quantum matter called a 3-D topological Dirac semi-metal (3DTDS). This is the first experimental confirmation of 3-D Dirac fermions in the interior or bulk of a material, a novel state that was only recently proposed by theorists. It is a natural counterpart because of its magnetoresistive properties.

Study dispels "obesity paradox" idea for diabetics

January 15, 2014 5:57 pm | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The controversial notion that being overweight might actually be healthier for some people with diabetes seems to be a myth, researchers report. A major study finds there's no survival advantage to being large, and a disadvantage to being very large. More than 24 million Americans have diabetes, mostly Type 2, the kind that is on the rise because of obesity. About two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight, including one-third who are obese.

Microscopic fountain pen to be used as a chemical sensor

January 15, 2014 12:39 pm | News | Comments

The atomic force microscope (AFM) uses a fine-tipped probe to scan surfaces at the atomic scale. But soon, thanks to efforts by scientists in The Netherlands, the AFM will soon be augmented with a new type chemical sensor, one that resembles a microscopic fountain pen. A hollow AFM cantilever acts as the pen, delivering droplets of mercury at the tip, which acts as a chemical sensor.

Study: Copycats pave the way to problem-solving success

January 15, 2014 9:07 am | News | Comments

It is often better to be surrounded by copycats than innovators, according to a new Indiana Univ. study that created a virtual problem landscape to explore the advantages and disadvantages of “social learning”. The researchers thought at first it would be better to have innovators around, but in their experiments imitators offered the greater benefit.

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Microbes swap for tiny goods in minuscule markets, researchers find

January 14, 2014 2:32 pm | News | Comments

A closer look at microbes reveals there is big business going on in their very small world, and sometimes we are part of the transaction. In a published report, an international team of researchers argue that microbes, like many animals, can evolve into savvy traders, selling high and buying low.

3-D printing set to break out of niche

January 13, 2014 1:15 pm | by Peter Svensson, AP Technology Writer | News | Comments

Based on some of the printing technologies on display at the International CES gadget show in Las Vegas, the question is not whether everyone’s home will someday have a 3-D printer. The question is which rooms will have one: the garage, the kitchen or the wardrobe? Possibly all three. Startups are showcasing printers than can create food, robotics and even clothing in just minutes from inexpensive raw materials.

Beast quake: Seahawks fans rock stadium again

January 13, 2014 11:27 am | News | Comments

Seismologists say Seahawks fans shook the ground under Seattle's CenturyLink Field during Saturday's defeat of the New Orleans Saints, causing another fan-generated earthquake even stronger than Marshawn Lynch's famous "beast quake" touchdown run three years ago. That quake registered a magnitude 1 or 2.

Scientists solve 40-year-old mystery of how sodium controls opioid brain signaling

January 13, 2014 10:53 am | News | Comments

Scientists have discovered how the element sodium influences the signaling of a major class of brain cell receptors, known as opioid receptors. The discovery, from The Scripps Research Institute and the Univ. of North Carolina, suggests new therapeutic approaches to a host of brain-related medical conditions.

Technology uses micro-windmills to recharge cell phones

January 13, 2014 9:06 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Texas have designed a micro-windmill that generates wind energy and may become an innovative solution to cell phone batteries constantly in need of recharging. A single grain of rice could hold about 10 of these tiny windmills, and hundreds of them could be embedded in a sleeve for a cell phone.

Researchers develop artificial bone marrow

January 10, 2014 12:51 pm | News | Comments

A new porous structure under development in German possesses essential properties of natural bone marrow and can be used for the reproduction of stem cells in the laboratory. The specific reproduction of these hematopoietic cells outside the body might facilitate new therapies for leukemia in a few years.

Study: Thinking positive helps migraine drug work

January 8, 2014 3:29 pm | by LAURAN NEERGAARD - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Talk about mind over matter: A quirky new study suggests patients' expectations can make a big difference in how they feel after treatment for a migraine. Boston researchers recruited 66 migraine patients in an attempt to quantify how much of their pain relief came from a medication and how much was due to what's called the placebo effect, the healing power of positive belief.

Israel researcher: Elusive Biblical blue found

January 6, 2014 8:28 am | News | Comments

An Israeli researcher says she has identified a nearly 2,000-year old textile that may contain a mysterious blue dye described in the Bible, one of the few remnants of the ancient color ever found. Researchers and rabbis have long searched for the enigmatic color, called tekhelet in Hebrew, but thought it to be lost in antiquity.

New MIT technology allows 3-D image interaction

January 3, 2014 11:00 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found a way to allow people in one place to interact with 3-D versions of people or objects in a different location. MIT's Tangible Media Group calls the technology inFORM, and it could one day be used by architects, urban planners, or even doctors who need to look at computed tomography scans.

Moroccan mountains float on molten rock, study finds

January 3, 2014 10:46 am | by Robert Perkins, USC | News | Comments

According to a new study, the Atlas Mountains in Morocco defy the standard model for mountain structure in which high topography must have deep roots for support. In a new model, researchers show that the mountains are floating on a layer of hot molten rock that flows beneath the region’s lithosphere, perhaps all the way from the volcanic Canary Islands.

Vitamin E may slow Alzheimer's disease progression

December 31, 2013 4:33 pm | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Researchers say vitamin E might slow the progression of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease—the first time any treatment has been shown to alter the course of dementia at that stage. In a study of more than 600 older veterans, high doses of the vitamin delayed the decline in daily living skills, such as making meals, getting dressed and holding a conversation, by about six months over a two-year period.

Researchers make a micro-muscular breakthrough

December 19, 2013 8:27 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A team of researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has demonstrated a micro-sized robotic torsional muscle/motor made from vanadium dioxide that for its size is a thousand times more powerful than a human muscle. It is able to catapult objects 50 times heavier than itself over a distance five times its length within just 60 milliseconds.

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