science + technology news

First complete pictures of cells’ DNA-copying machinery

Electron microscope images reveal that structure of DNA-copying protein complex differs from long-held textbook view
November 3, 2015

These cartoons show the old "textbook" view of the replisome, left, and the new view, right, revealed by electron micrograph images in the current study. Prior to this study, scientists believed the two polymerases (green) were located at the bottom (or back end) of the helicase (tan), adding complementary DNA strands to the split DNA to produce copies side by side. The new images reveal that one polymerase is located at the front end of the helicase. The scientists are conducting additional studies to explore the biological significance of this unexpected location. (credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory)

The first-ever electron microscope images of the protein complex that unwinds, splits, and copies double-stranded DNA reveal something rather different from the standard textbook view.

The images, created by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory with partners from Stony Brook University and Rockefeller University, offer new insight into how this molecular machinery functions, including new possibilities about its role… read more

Just one junk-food snack triggers signals of metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes
November 3, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Just one high-calorie milkshake was enough to make metabolic syndrome worse for some people. And overindulgence in just a single meal or snack (especially junk food) is enough to trigger the beginnings of metabolic syndrome, which is associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes (obesity around the waist and trunk is the main sign).

That finding… read more

China plans world’s largest supercollider

CERN also planning High-Luminosity LHC upgrade for 2025
November 2, 2015

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Chinese scientists are completing plans for the Circular Electron Positron Collider (CEPC), a supergiant particle collider. With a circumference of 80 kilometers (50 miles) when built, it will be at least twice the size of the world’s current leading collider, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, outside Geneva, according to the Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing. Work on the collider is expect to start in 2020.… read more

Massive supercomputer simulation models universe from near birth until today

One of the largest cosmological simulations ever run
November 2, 2015

Galaxies have halos surrounding them, which may be composed of both dark and regular matter. This image shows a substructure within a halo in the Q Continuum simulation, with "subhalos" marked in different colors. (credit: Heitmann et al.)

The Q Continuum simulation, one of the largest cosmological simulations ever performed, has modeled the evolution of the universe from just 50 million years after the Big Bang to the present day.

DOE’s Argonne National Laborator led the simulation on the Titan supercomputer at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Over the course of 13.8 billion years, the matter in the universe clumped… read more

Single-agent phototherapy system diagnoses and kills cancer cells

November 2, 2015

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Researchers at Oregon State University have announced a new single-agent phototherapy (light-based) approach to combating cancer, using a single chemical compound (SiNc-PNP), for both diagnosis and treatment.

The compound makes cancer cells glow when exposed to near-infrared light so a surgeon can identify the cancer. The compound includes a copolymer called PEG-PCL as the biodegradable carrier. The carrier causes the silicon naphthalocyanine to accumulate selectively in cancer… read more

How to build a full-scale quantum computer in silicon

The key is scalable error correction
November 2, 2015

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A new 3D silicon-chip architecture based on single-atom quantum bits has been designed by researchers at UNSW Australia (The University of New South Wales) and the University of Melbourne.

The use of silicon makes it compatible with existing atomic-scale fabrication techniques, providing a way to build a large-scale quantum computer.**

The scientists and engineers from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellenceread more

Is this the ‘ultimate’ battery?

October 30, 2015

False-colour microscopic view of a reduced graphene oxide electrode (black, centre), which hosts the large (on the order of 20 micrometers) lithium hydroxide particles (pink) that form when a lithium-oxygen battery discharges (credit: T Liu et al./Science)

University of Cambridge scientists have developed a working laboratory demonstrator of a lithium-oxygen battery that has very high energy density (storage capacity per unit volume), is more than 90% efficient, and can be recharged more than 2000 times (so far), showing how several of the problems holding back the development of more powerful batteries could be solved.

Lithium-oxygen (lithium-air) batteries have been touted as the… read more

Flexible phototransistor is world’s fastest, most sensitive

May dramatically improve performance of cameras and other light-capturing devices
October 30, 2015

Developed by UW-Madison electrical engineers, this unique phototransistor is flexible, yet faster and more responsive than any similar phototransistor in the world (credit: Jung-Hun Seo)

University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) electrical engineers have created the fastest, most responsive flexible silicon phototransistor ever made, inspired by mammals’ eyes.

Phototransistors (an advanced type of photodetector) convert light to electricity. They are widely used in products ranging from digital cameras, night-vision goggles, and smoke detectors to surveillance systems and satellites.

Developed by UW-Madison collaborators Zhenqiang “Jack” Ma, professor of electrical andread more

MOTOBOT: the first autonomous motorcycle-riding humanoid robot

Cooler than Terminator and Robocop
October 29, 2015

MOTOBOT Ver. 1 (credit: Yamaha)

Yamaha introduced MOTOBOT Ver.1, the first autonomous motorcycle-riding humanoid robot, at the Tokyo Motor Show Wednesday (Oct. 28). A fusion of Yamaha’s motorcycle (an unmodified Yamaha YZF-R1M) and robotics technology, the future Motobot robot will ride an unmodified motorcycle on a racetrack at more than 200 km/h (124 mph), Yamaha says.

“We want to apply the fundamental technology and know-how gained in the process of this challenge… read more

This robot will out-walk and out-run you one day

Human-like “spring-mass” design may lead to walking-running robot soldiers, fire fighters, factory workers, and home servants of the near future.
October 29, 2015


Imagine robots that can walk and run like humans — or better than humans. Engineers at Oregon State University (OSU) and Technische Universitat Munchen may have achieved a major step in that direction with their “spring-mass” implementation of human and animal walking dynamics, allowing robots to maintain balance and efficiency of motion in difficult environments.

Studies done with OSU’s ATRIAS robot model, which… read more

Controlling acoustic properties with algorithms and computational methods

October 28, 2015

A “zoolophone” with animal shapes automatically created using a computer algorithm. The tone of each key is comparable to those of professionally made instruments as a demonstration of an  algorithm for computationally designing an object's vibrational properties and sounds. (credit: Columbia Engineering)

Computer scientists at Columbia Engineering, Harvard, and MIT have demonstrated that acoustic properties — both sound and vibration — can be controlled by 3D-printing specific shapes.

They designed an optimization algorithm and used computational methods and digital fabrication to alter the shape of 2D and 3D objects, creating what looks to be a simple children’s musical instrument — a xylophone with keys in the shape of zoo animals.… read more

What happens in the brain when we learn

Findings could enhance teaching methods and lead to treatments for cognitive problems
October 28, 2015

These are isolated cells in the visual cortex of a mouse (credit: Alfredo/Kirkwood (JHU))

A Johns Hopkins University-led research team has proven a working theory that explains what happens in the brain when we learn, as described in the current issue of the journal Neuron.

More than a century ago, Pavlov figured out that dogs fed after hearing a bell eventually began to salivate when they heard the bell ring. The team looked into the question of how… read more

Holographic sonic tractor beam lifts and moves objects using soundwaves

Another science-fiction idea realized
October 27, 2015

Holograms are tridimensional light-fields that can be projected from a two-dimensional surface (credit: Asier Marzo, Bruce Drinkwater and Sriram Subramanian © 2015)

British researchers have built a working Star-Trek-style “tractor beam” — a device that can attract or repel one object to another from a distance. It uses high-amplitude soundwaves to generate an acoustic hologram that can grasp and move small objects.

The technique, published in an open-access paper in Nature Communications October 27, has a wide range of potential applications, the researchers say. A sonic production line could… read more

Longer-lasting, lighter lithium-ion batteries from silicon anodes

October 27, 2015

electrode made of SiNP SG PAN-ft

Zhongwei Chen, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Waterloo, and a team of graduate students have created a new low-cost battery design using silicon instead of graphite, boosting the performance and life of lithium-ion batteries.

Waterloo’s silicon battery technology promises a 40 to 60 per cent increase in energy density (energy storage per unit volume), which is important for consumers with smartphones, smart… read more

Up to 27 seconds of inattention after talking to your car or smartphone

Distraction rated "high" for most devices while driving
October 26, 2015

Mazda 2015 dashboard, allowing GPS audio and video display (credit: Landmark MAZDA)

If you think it is okay to talk to your car infotainment system or smartphone while driving or even when stopped at a red light, think again. It takes up to 27 seconds to regain full attention after issuing voice commands, University of Utah researchers found in two new studies for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

One of the studies showed that it is highly distracting to use… read more

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