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Quantum physics meets genetic engineering

October 15, 2015 7:29 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Nature has had billions of years to perfect photosynthesis, which directly or indirectly supports virtually all life on Earth. In that time, the process has achieved almost 100% efficiency in transporting the energy of sunlight from receptors to reaction centers where it can be harnessed, a performance vastly better than even the best solar cells.


Soft robot changes color as it grips, walks

October 14, 2015 1:00 pm | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Soft robots can bend, walk and grip. And, unlike their rigid counterparts, some can get flattened and bounce back into shape. Now scientists report a new advance in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces: a way to make elastic material for soft robots that changes color when it stretches. They say this process opens the door to robot camouflage, new ways to deliver medicines and other applications.


How to fall gracefully if you’re a robot

October 14, 2015 10:00 am | by Tara La Bouff, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Miss Georgia tripped in the final round. Jennifer Lawrence stumbled on her way to accept an Oscar. Even rock stars, world leaders and presidential candidates have fallen in front of the crowd or completely off stage. And robots can too.


Study Advances Possibility of Mind-Controlled Devices

October 12, 2015 8:46 am | by Ryan Bushey, Associate Editor | Comments

A study published in Nature Medicine has shown a possible path to creating effective neural prosthetics. The study’s subjects, only listed as T6 and T7, have Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). 


New “design rule” brings nature-inspired nanostructures one step closer

October 8, 2015 11:00 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Scientists aspire to build nanostructures that mimic the complexity and function of nature’s proteins, but are made of durable and synthetic materials. These microscopic widgets could be customized into incredibly sensitive chemical detectors or long-lasting catalysts, to name a few possible applications.


Water from the sun

October 8, 2015 9:30 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

Deep in the jungles of the Yucatan peninsula, residents of the remote Mexican village of La Mancalona are producing clean drinking water using the power of the sun. For nearly two years now, members of the community, most of whom are subsistence farmers, have operated and maintained a solar-powered water purification system engineered by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Crucial hurdle overcome in quantum computing

October 6, 2015 11:00 am | by Wilson da Silva, Univ. of New South Wales | Comments

The significant advance, by a team at the Univ. of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney appears in Nature. "What we have is a game-changer," said team leader Andrew Dzurak, Scientia Professor and Director of the Australian National Fabrication Facility at UNSW.


Flame retardant breakthrough is naturally derived and nontoxic

October 5, 2015 3:00 pm | by Sandra Zaragoza, Univ. of Texas at Austin | Comments

Inspired by a naturally occurring material found in marine mussels, researchers at The Univ. of Texas at Austin have created a new flame retardant to replace commercial additives that are often toxic and can accumulate over time in the environment and living animals, including humans.


Simulating path of “magma mush” inside an active volcano

October 2, 2015 11:00 am | by Hannah Hickey, Univ. of Washington | Comments

Months of warning signs from Mauna Loa, on Hawaii’s Big Island, prompted the U.S. Geological Survey to recently start releasing weekly updates on activity at the world’s largest active volcano. For now, such warning signs can only rely on external clues, like earthquakes and gas emissions. But a Univ. of Washington simulation has managed to demonstrate what’s happening deep inside the volcano.


Holography helps to better understand clouds

October 2, 2015 7:55 am | by Allison Mills, Michigan Technological Univ. | Comments

Watching the clouds go by, swirls of white puff up and melt away. The changes mirror mixing within the clouds as drier air mingles with water-saturated air. New research led by Michigan Technological Univ. with support from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz Univ., analyzes this mixing with holographic imaging and an airborne laboratory.


New polymer creates safer fuels

October 2, 2015 7:47 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | Comments

Before embarking on a transcontinental journey, jet airplanes fill up with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. In the event of a crash, such large quantities of fuel increase the severity of an explosion upon impact. Researchers at Caltech and JPL have discovered a polymeric fuel additive that can reduce the intensity of post-impact explosions that occur during accidents and terrorist acts.


Reaction snapshots of a notch-modifying enzyme provide basis for drug design

September 29, 2015 1:00 pm | by Chelsea Whyte, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Comments

Notch receptors are core components of the signaling pathways that regulate the development of cells within the human body. Notch signaling pathways can determine how cells proliferate or change during development, and defects in Notch signaling can lead to many diseases, including several types of cancer and developmental disorders.


First optical rectenna converts light to DC current

September 29, 2015 10:00 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Using nanometer-scale components, researchers have demonstrated the first optical rectenna, a device that combines the functions of an antenna and a rectifier diode to convert light directly into DC current. Based on multiwall carbon nanotubes and tiny rectifiers fabricated onto them, the optical rectennas could provide a new technology for photodetectors that would operate without the need for cooling.


Deep-diving whales could hold answer for synthetic blood

September 25, 2015 12:00 pm | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | Comments

The ultra-stable properties of the proteins that allow deep-diving whales to remain active while holding their breath for up to two hours could help Rice Univ. biochemist John Olson and his colleagues finish a 20-year quest to create lifesaving synthetic blood for human trauma patients.


Soft Exoskeletons Tested by Army

September 25, 2015 8:39 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Trudging through the Maryland woods, the soldier carried a bulbous pack. He held a gun in his hands. But something was different. Cables hung around him, extending from his pack to his pants. At the Aberdeen Proving Ground, scientists are performance testing a battery-powered soft exoskeleton.



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