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Paramecia need Newton for navigation

November 19, 2014 7:36 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | Comments

For such humble creatures, single-celled paramecia have remarkable sensory systems. Give them a sharp jab on the nose, they back up and swim away. Jab them in the behind, they speed up their swimming to escape. But according to new research, when paramecia encounter flat surfaces, they’re at the mercy of the laws of physics.

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A new portrait of carbon dioxide

November 18, 2014 9:36 am | by Patrick Lynch, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | Comments

An ultra-high-resolution NASA computer model has given scientists a stunning new look at how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere travels around the globe. Plumes of carbon dioxide in the simulation swirl and shift as winds disperse the greenhouse gas away from its sources. The simulation also illustrates differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres.

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Artificial intelligence magic tricks

November 17, 2014 8:46 am | by Queen Mary Univ. of London | Comments

Researchers from the Queen Mary Univ. of London gave a computer program the outline of how a magic jigsaw puzzle and a mind-reading card trick work, as well the results of experiments into how humans understand magic tricks, and the system created completely new variants on those tricks which can be delivered by a magician.

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Lightning expected to increase by 50% with global warming

November 13, 2014 4:56 pm | by Robert Sanders, Univ. of California, Berkeley Media Relations | Comments

Today’s climate models predict a 50% increase in lightning strikes across the U.S. during this century as a result of warming temperatures associated with climate change. Reporting in Science, a team of climate scientists look at predictions of precipitation and cloud buoyancy in 11 different climate models and conclude that their combined effect will generate more frequent electrical discharges to the ground.

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Moving cameras talk to each other to identify, track pedestrians

November 13, 2014 10:11 am | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | Comments

It’s not uncommon to see cameras mounted on store ceilings, propped up in public places or placed inside subways, buses and even on the dashboards of cars. Cameras record our world down to the second. This can be a powerful surveillance tool on the roads and in buildings, but it’s surprisingly hard to sift through vast amounts of visual data to find pertinent information, until now.

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New way to move atomically thin semiconductors for use in flexible devices

November 13, 2014 8:51 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a new way to transfer thin semiconductor films, which are only one atom thick, onto arbitrary substrates, paving the way for flexible computing or photonic devices. The technique is much faster than existing methods and can perfectly transfer the atomic scale thin films from one substrate to others, without causing any cracks.

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Supercomputers enable climate science to enter a new golden age

November 13, 2014 7:59 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Not long ago, it would have taken several years to run a high-resolution simulation on a global climate model. But using some of the most powerful supercomputers now available, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory climate scientist Michael Wehner was able to complete a run in just three months. Not only were the simulations much closer to actual observations, but the high-resolution models were far better at reproducing intense storms.

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Cancer-killing nanodaisies

November 12, 2014 8:31 am | by Alastair Hadden, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

North Carolina State Univ. researchers have developed a potential new weapon in the fight against cancer: a daisy-shaped drug carrier that’s many thousands of times smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. Once injected into the bloodstream, millions of these “nanodaisies” sneak inside cancer cells and release a cocktail of drugs to destroy them from within.

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Microtubes create cozy space for neurons to grow

November 11, 2014 2:25 pm | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | Comments

Tiny, thin microtubes could provide a scaffold for neuron cultures to grow so that researchers can study neural networks, their growth and repair, yielding insights into treatment for degenerative neurological conditions or restoring nerve connections after injury. Researchers created the microtube platform to study neuron growth.

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A billion holes can make a battery

November 11, 2014 9:19 am | by Martha Heil, Univ. of Maryland | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Maryland have invented a single tiny structure that includes all the components of a battery that they say could bring about the ultimate miniaturization of energy storage components. The structure is called a nanopore: a tiny hole in a ceramic sheet that holds electrolyte to carry the electrical charge between nanotube electrodes at either end.

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Milestone hit in accelerating particles with plasma

November 10, 2014 9:09 am | by Andrew Gordon, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Comments

Scientists from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Univ. of California, Los Angeles have shown that a promising technique for accelerating electrons on waves of plasma is efficient enough to power a new generation of shorter, more economical accelerators. This could greatly expand their use in areas such as medicine, national security, industry and high-energy physics research.

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Ultracold disappearing act

November 3, 2014 8:09 am | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | Comments

A disappearing act was the last thing Rice Univ. physicist Randy Hulet expected to see in his ultracold atomic experiments, but that is what he and his students produced by colliding pairs of Bose Einstein condensates (BECs) that were prepared in special states called solitons. Hulet’s team documented the strange phenomenon in a new study published online in Nature Physics.

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IBM, Repsol launch world’s first cognitive technologies collaboration for the oil industry

October 30, 2014 11:46 am | Comments

Scientists at IBM and leading global energy company Repsol S.A. announced this week the world’s first research collaboration to leverage cognitive technologies that will help transform the oil and gas industry. IBM and Repsol are jointly developing two prototype cognitive applications specifically designed to augment Repsol’s strategic decision making in the optimization of oil reservoir production and in the acquisition of new oil fields.

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Projecting a robot’s intentions

October 29, 2014 1:27 pm | by Jennifer Chu, MIT | Comments

Inside Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Building 41, a small, Roomba-like robot is trying to decided where to go. As the robot considers its options, its “thoughts” are projected on the ground in the form of different colored dots and lines. This new visualization system, called “measurable virtual reality”, combines projectors with motion-capture technology and animation software to project a robot’s intentions in real time.

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Emergent behavior lets bubbles “sense” environment

October 27, 2014 12:46 pm | Comments

Tiny, soapy bubbles can reorganize their membranes to let material flow in and out in response to the surrounding environment, according to new research. This behavior could be exploited in creating microbubbles that deliver drugs or other payloads inside the body, and could help us understand how the very first living cells on Earth might have survived billions of years ago.

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