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Long-sought discovery fills in missing details of cell “switchboard”

July 23, 2015 11:15 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Comments

A biomedical breakthrough, published in Nature, reveals never-before-seen details of the human body’s cellular switchboard that regulates sensory and hormonal responses. The work is based on an x-ray laser experiment at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The much-anticipated discovery, a decade in the making, could have broad impacts on development of more highly targeted and effective drugs with fewer side effects. 


Finding the origins of life in a drying puddle

July 21, 2015 7:39 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Anyone who’s ever noticed a water puddle drying in the sun has seen an environment that may have driven the type of chemical reactions that scientists believe were critical to the formation of life on the early Earth. Research demonstrates that important molecules of contemporary life, known as polypeptides, can be formed simply by mixing amino and hydroxy acids and then subjecting them to cycles of wet and dry conditions.


The secret to the sea sapphire’s colors, invisibility

July 16, 2015 7:40 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Sapphirina, or sea sapphire, has been called “the most beautiful animal you’ve never seen,” and it could be one of the most magical. Some of the tiny, little-known copepods appear to flash in and out of brilliantly colored blue, violet or red existence. Now scientists are figuring out the trick to their hues and their invisibility.


Bacteria: The next frontier of mind control

July 16, 2015 7:18 am | by Amy Loeffler, Virginia Tech | Comments

Forget the Vulcan mind-meld of the Star Trek generation. As far as mind control techniques go, bacteria is the next frontier. In a paper published in Scientific Reports, a Virginia Tech scientist used a mathematical model to demonstrate that bacteria can control the behavior of an inanimate device like a robot.


Volcanic rocks resembling Roman concrete help solve mystery

July 13, 2015 8:28 am | by Ker Than, Stanford Univ. | Comments

The discovery of a fiber-reinforced, concrete-like rock formed in the depths of a dormant supervolcano in Italy could help explain the unusual ground swelling that led to the evacuation of an Italian port city in recent years, and may inspire the creation of durable building materials in the future, Stanford Univ. scientists say.


Neutrons find “missing” magnetism of plutonium

July 13, 2015 7:55 am | by Katie Bethea, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

Groundbreaking work at two U.S. Dept. of Energy national laboratories has confirmed plutonium’s magnetism, which scientists have long theorized but have never been able to experimentally observe. The advances that enabled the discovery hold great promise for materials, energy and computing applications.


A jump for soft-bodied robots

July 10, 2015 12:30 pm | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | Comments

Traditional robots are made of components and rigid materials like you might see on an automotive assembly line. But away from the assembly line, for robots to harmoniously assist humans in close–range tasks scientists are designing new classes of soft–bodied robots. Yet one of the challenges is integrating soft materials with requisite rigid components that power and control the robot's body.


Bacteria use DNA replication to time key decision

July 10, 2015 7:15 am | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | Comments

In spore-forming bacteria, chromosomal locations of genes can couple the DNA replication cycle to critical, once-in-a-lifetime decisions about whether to reproduce or form spores. The new finding by Rice Univ. bioengineers and colleagues at the Univ. of California at San Diego and the Univ. of Houston appears in Cell.


Novel battery uses light to produce power

July 9, 2015 8:37 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

To move the world toward sustainability, scientists are continuing to explore and improve ways to tap the vast power of sunlight to make fuels and generate electricity. Now they have come up with a brand-new way to use light—solar or artificial—to drive battery power safely. Their “photo battery,” reported in The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, uses light and titanium nitride for the anode.


Driving tiny shock waves through diamond

July 9, 2015 8:23 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Comments

Researchers have used an x-ray laser to record, in detail never possible before, the microscopic motion and effects of shock waves rippling across diamond. The technique allows scientists to precisely explore the complex physics driving massive star explosions, which are critical for understanding fusion energy, and to improve scientific models used to study these phenomena.


Autonomous taxis would deliver significant environmental, economic benefits

July 6, 2015 3:30 pm | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Imagine a fleet of driverless taxis roaming your city, ready to pick you up and take you to your destination at a moment’s notice. While this may seem fantastical, it may be only a matter of time before it becomes reality. And according to a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, such a system would both be cost-effective and greatly reduce per-mile emissions of greenhouse gases.


Seahorse tails could inspire new generation of robots

July 6, 2015 8:56 am | by Paul Alongi, Clemson Univ. | Comments

Inspiration for the next big technological breakthrough in robotics, defense systems and biomedicine could come from a seahorse’s tail, according to a new study reported in Science. The research centers on the curious shape of seahorse tails and was led by Clemson Univ.’s Michael M. Porter, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering.


Backward-moving glacier helps scientists explain glacial earthquakes

June 26, 2015 7:21 am | by Jim Erickson, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

The relentless flow of a glacier may seem unstoppable, but a team of researchers has shown that during some calving events, the glacier moves rapidly backward and downward, causing the characteristic glacial earthquakes which until now have been poorly understood. This new insight into glacier behavior should enable scientists to measure glacier calving remotely.


Science Connect: Water Shortage, Reuse is a Social Problem

June 25, 2015 7:31 am | by Michelle Taylor, Editor-in-Chief, Laboratory Equipment and Jon Dipierro, Multimedia Production | Comments

In this one-minute video, hear from an expert in water sustainability regarding the economic and social challenges of water purification and reuse. Are these challenges holding back the potential of modern water technology?


Re-energizing antibiotics in the war against infections

June 24, 2015 5:00 pm | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | Comments

Antibiotics are the mainstay in the treatment of bacterial infections, and together with vaccines, have enabled the near eradication of infectious diseases in developed countries. However, the overuse of antibiotics has also led to an alarming rise in resistant bacteria that can outsmart antibiotics using different mechanisms. Some pathogenic bacteria are thus becoming almost untreatable.



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