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Ivanpah solar electric generating system connects to grid

September 30, 2013

ivanpah featured

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California’s Mojave Desert produced its first output of energy when the first of three towers was synchronized last week to the power grid for the first time.

Power generated from Ivanpah will first go to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), followed by Southern California Edison in the coming months.

Ivanpah is the largest solar thermal plant in the… read more

NSA tracking/graphing social-network connections of Americans

September 29, 2013

NSA diagram

Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials, an investigation by The New York Times has revealed.

A top-secret

read more

Accelerator on a chip

Could spawn new generations of smaller, less expensive devices for science and medicine say Stanford, SLAC researchers
September 28, 2013

The nanostructured glass chip is smaller than a grain of rice (credit: Stanford University)

In an advance that could dramatically shrink particle accelerators for science and medicine, researchers used a laser to accelerate electrons at a rate 10 times higher than conventional technology in a nanostructured glass chip just .5 millimeters long.

The achievement was reported in the journal Nature by a team including scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University.… read more

Dental implants that heal faster and fight infection

Self-assembled nanotube coating could significantly improve healing following dental implant surgery
September 28, 2013

This is a bone cell anchoring itself to a surface of titanium dioxide nanotubes. Because osteoblasts readily adhere to this novel surface, dental implants coated with TiO2 nanotubes could significantly improve healing following dental implant surgery. Credit: Tolou Shokuhfar

Michigan Technological University researchers have developed a way to use self-assembled titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanotubes to lower the rate of dental-implant failures.

Dental implants are posts, usually made of titanium, that are surgically placed into the jawbone and topped with artificial teeth.

While most dental implants are successful, a small percentage fail and either fall out or must be removed.

“There are two… read more

Google announces new Knowledge Graph features

September 27, 2013

Filter tool (credit: Google)

Google announced new Knowledge-Graph features Thursday in celebration of its fifteenth birthday.

Comparisons and filters

“We keep expanding features of Knowledge Graph so it can answer more questions — even those that don’t have a simple answer,” said Amit Singhal, SVP, Google Search.

“Let’s say you want to get your daughter excited about a visit to the Met. You can pull up your… read more

Water discovered on Mars

September 27, 2013

The Sample Analysis at Mars instrument suite found water in the dust, dirt and fine soil from the Rocknest site on Mars. (This file photo shows trenches Curiosity dug in October 2012.) (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The first scoop of soil analyzed by the analytical suite in NASA’s Curiosity rover reveals that fine materials on the surface of Mars contain several percent water by weight.

The results were published today in Science as one article in a five-paper special section on the Curiosity mission.

“One of the most exciting results from this very first solid sample ingested by Curiosity is the high… read more

Nanoparticle vaccine offers better protection

Could help protect against influenza and other respiratory viruses, or prevent sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV
September 27, 2013

Cryoelectron microscope image of the nanoparticles developed by MIT researchers to deliver vaccines to mucosal surfaces.<br />
IMAGE: ADRIENNE LI AND DONG SOO YUN

MIT engineers have developed a new type of nanoparticle that protects a vaccine long enough to generate a strong immune response in mucosal surfaces far from the vaccination site, such as the gastrointestinal and reproductive tracts, as well as in the lungs.

Such vaccines could help protect against influenza and other respiratory viruses, or prevent sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, herpes simplex virus and… read more

Densest array of carbon nanotubes grown to date

New technique could one day help improve the performance of microelectronics devices
September 27, 2013

nanotube_forests

Cambridge University researchers have devised a simple technique to increase the density of carbon nanotube forests grown on conductive supports by about five times over previous methods.

Such high-density nanotubes might one day replace some metal electronic components, such as interconnects, leading to faster devices.

Carbon nanotubes’ outstanding mechanical, electrical and thermal properties make them an alluring material to electronics manufacturers. However, until recently scientists believed… read more

How to use an iPhone to diagnose eye disease

September 26, 2013

Massachusetts Eye and Ear researchers have developed a simple technique of fundus (retinal) photography in human and rabbit eyes using a iPhone, an inexpensive app, and instruments that are readily available in an ophthalmic practice, as described in the Journal of Ophthalmology (open access).

Commercial fundus cameras can cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, making the technology out of reach for smaller ophthalmic… read more

Improving ‘plastic’ semiconductors to achieve flexible electronics

September 26, 2013

flexible semiconductor graphic

Understanding how the molecular structure of polymers influences their electrical characteristics could hasten the advent of flexible electronics.

Flexible electronics could spawn new products: clothing wired to cool or heat, reading tablets that could fold like newspaper, and so on.

However, electronic components such as chips, displays and wires are generally made from metals and inorganic semiconductors — materials with physical properties that make them fairly stiff and… read more

A computer-like brain mechanism that makes sense of novel situations

September 26, 2013

Indirection_glassbrain

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have demonstrated that our brains could process new situations by relying on a method similar to the “pointer” system used by computers.

Pointers are used to tell a computer where to look for information stored elsewhere in the system.

For the study, the research team relied on sentences with words used in unique ways to test the… read more

Hawking predicts uploading the brain into a computer

September 26, 2013

Hawking

Professor Stephen Hawking has predicted that it could be possible to preserve a mind as powerful as his on a computer — but not with technology existing today, The Telegraph reports.

Hawking said the brain operates in a way similar to a computer program, meaning it could in theory be kept running without a body to power it.

“I think the… read more

A first: Stanford engineers build basic computer using carbon nanotubes

September 26, 2013

A scanning electron microscopy image of a section of the first ever carbon nanotube computer. Credit: Butch Colyear</p>
<p>Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-09-stanford-carbon-nanotube-technology.html#jCp

A team of Stanford engineers has built a basic computer using carbon nanotubes (CNTs) — a semiconductor material with the potential to launch a new generation of smaller electronic devices that run faster, while using less energy, than those made from silicon chips.

This unprecedented feat culminates years of efforts by scientists around the world to harness this promising but quirky material.

The achievement is reported… read more

Colossal explosion from supermassive black hole at center of galaxy revealed

September 25, 2013

black_hole_jet

Two million years ago, a supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy erupted in an explosion so immensely powerful that it lit up a cloud 200,000 light years away, a team of researchers led by the University of Sydney has revealed.

The finding is an exciting confirmation that black holes can “flicker,” moving from maximum power to switching off over short periods of… read more

Scientists closer to universal flu vaccine after pandemic ‘natural experiment’

September 25, 2013

CD8-T-cell---Gillian-Griffiths

Scientists have moved closer to developing a universal flu vaccine by using the 2009 pandemic to study why some people seem to resist severe illness.

Researchers at Imperial College London asked volunteers to donate blood samples just as the swine flu pandemic was getting underway and report any symptoms they experienced over the next two flu seasons.

They found that those who avoided severe… read more

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