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Planet-hunting satellite to observe supermassive black hole

January 6, 2015 11:00 am | by Joe Hadfield, Brigham Young Univ. | Comments

If you want to see just how far Brigham Young Univ. (BYU)’s latest research extends, step outside of your house tonight, look up towards the sky, focus your view between the constellations of Cygnus and Lyra, and then zoom in about 100 million light years. That’s the home of a galaxy known as KA 1858, which contains a black hole that BYU scientists observed with the help of NASA and astrophysicists throughout the Univ. of California system.

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DNA origami could lead to nano “transformers” for biomedical applications

January 5, 2015 3:59 pm | by Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State Univ. | Comments

If the new nanomachines built at The Ohio State Univ. look familiar, it’s because they were designed with full-size mechanical parts such as hinges and pistons in mind. The project is the first to prove that the same basic design principles that apply to typical full-size machine parts can also be applied to DNA; and can produce complex, controllable components for future nanorobots.

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New technology makes 3-D tissues, maybe organs in the future

December 22, 2014 10:34 am | Comments

A new instrument could someday build replacement human organs the way electronics are assembled today: with precise picking and placing of parts. In this case, the parts are not resistors and capacitors, but 3-D microtissues containing thousands to millions of living cells that need a constant stream of fluid to bring them nutrients and to remove waste. The new device is called “BioP3” for pick, place, and perfuse.

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New conversion process turns biomass “waste” into lucrative chemical products

December 17, 2014 2:58 pm | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | Comments

A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel. A team of researchers from Purdue Univ.'s Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels, or C3Bio, has developed a process that uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin into valuable chemical commodities.

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3-D maps reveal the genome’s origami code

December 15, 2014 8:13 am | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | Comments

In a triumph for cell biology, researchers have assembled the first high-resolution, 3-D maps of entire folded genomes and found a structural basis for gene regulation—a kind of “genomic origami” that allows the same genome to produce different types of cells. The research appears online in Cell.

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3-D maps reveal the genome's origami code

December 12, 2014 7:00 am | Comments

In a triumph for cell biology, researchers have assembled the first high-resolution, 3-D maps of entire folded genomes and found a structural basis for gene regulation -- a kind of "genomic origami" that allows the same genome to produce different types of cells. 

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Molecules for the masses

December 10, 2014 2:28 pm | by Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois | Comments

Scientists have created an app that brings molecules to life in a handheld device. Through the app, people can use up to eleven fingers to examine in great detail more than 350 molecules.                  

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Detecting gases wirelessly, cheaply

December 8, 2014 3:54 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemists have devised a new way to wirelessly detect hazardous gases and environmental pollutants, using a simple sensor that can be read by a smartphone. These inexpensive sensors could be widely deployed, making it easier to monitor public spaces or detect food spoilage in warehouses.

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Technique offers spray-on solar power

December 8, 2014 8:18 am | by Marit Mitchell, Senior Communications Office, Univ. of Toronto | Comments

Pretty soon, powering your tablet could be as simple as wrapping it in cling wrap. A Univ. of Toronto team has invented a new way to spray solar cells onto flexible surfaces using miniscule light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots (CQDs)—a major step toward making spray-on solar cells easy and cheap to manufacture.

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Electric eels deliver Taser-like shocks

December 5, 2014 9:23 am | by Vanderbilt Univ. | Comments

The electric eel—the scaleless Amazonian fish that can deliver an electrical jolt strong enough to knock down a full-grown horse—possesses an electroshock system uncannily similar to a Taser. That’s the conclusion of a nine-month study of the way in which the electric eel uses high-voltage electrical discharges to locate and incapacitate its prey. 

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Traces of biological activity inside meteorite

December 4, 2014 10:57 am | by EPFL | Comments

Did Mars ever have life? Does it still? A meteorite from Mars has reignited the old debate. An international team that includes scientists from EPFL has published a paper in Meteoritics and Planetary Sciences, showing that Martian life is more probable than previously thought.

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Computer model enables design of complex DNA shapes

December 3, 2014 8:31 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Biological engineers have created a new computer model that allows them to design the most complex 3-D DNA shapes ever produced, including rings, bowls and geometric structures such as icosahedrons that resemble viral particles. This design program could allow researchers to build DNA scaffolds to anchor arrays of proteins and light-sensitive molecules called chromophores that mimic the photosynthetic proteins found in plant cells.

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Research shows way to design digital metamaterials

December 1, 2014 2:39 pm | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | Comments

Metamaterials, precisely designed composite materials that have properties not found in natural ones, could be used to make light-bending invisibility cloaks, flat lenses and other otherwise impossible devices. Figuring out the necessary composition and internal structure to create these unusual effects is a challenge but new research from the Univ. of Pennsylvania presents a way of simplifying things.

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Microbullet hits confirm graphene’s strength

December 1, 2014 7:52 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Graphene’s great strength appears to be determined by how well it stretches before it breaks, according to Rice Univ. scientists who tested the material’s properties by peppering it with microbullets. The 2-D carbon honeycomb discovered a decade ago is thought to be much stronger than steel. But the scientists didn’t need even a pound of graphene to prove the material is on average 10 times better than steel at dissipating kinetic energy.

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Engineers climb walls using gecko-inspired climbing device

November 25, 2014 8:54 am | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford News Service | Comments

If you spot someone stuck to the sheer glass side of a building on the Stanford Univ. campus, it's probably Elliot Hawkes testing his dissertation work. Hawkes, a mechanical engineering graduate student, works with a team of engineers who are developing controllable, reusable adhesive materials that, like the gecko toes that inspire the work, can form a strong bond with smooth surfaces but also release with minimal effort.

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