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‘Rogue’ asteroids may be the norm

February 3, 2014


A new map of asteroids developed by researchers from MIT and the Paris Observatory charts the size, composition, and location of more than 100,000 asteroids throughout the solar system, and shows that rogue asteroids are more common than previously thought.

Particularly in the solar system’s main asteroid belt — between Mars and Jupiter — the researchers found a compositionally diverse mix of asteroids.

The new asteroid… read more

Quantum engineers make a major step towards a scalable quantum computer

Quantum interference on a chip
February 3, 2014

(Credit: Nature)

Scientists and engineers from an international collaboration led by Mark Thompson from the University of Bristol have, for the first time, generated and manipulated single photons on a silicon chip — a major step forward in the race to build a quantum computer, achieved by shrinking down key components and integrating them onto a silicon microchip, according to the researchers.

Previous attempts have required external… read more

Quantum espionage

February 3, 2014

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Will a future NSA quantum computer really be capable of cracking nearly every kind of encryption, as reported in The Washington Post (based on documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden)?

Not likely, say some experts. “Even if a quantum code cracker can be built, it might be defeated by encryption algorithms already in the works — or by another technology, called quantum key distribution,… read more

Chemical imaging brings cancer tissue analysis into the digital age

Eliminates delay of weeks for interpretation by histology specialists
January 31, 2014

A section of bowel tissue as an optical image (A) and using mass spectrometry imaging to identify tissue types (B and C) (credit: Imperial College London)

Imperial College London researchers have developed a new method for analyzing biological samples based on their chemical makeup that could transform the way medical scientists examine diseased tissue.

When tests are carried out on a patient’s tissue today, such as looking for cancer, the test has to be interpreted by a histology specialist, which can take weeks to get a full result.

Scientists have proposed using… read more

First weather map of a brown dwarf

"One step closer to the goal of understanding weather patterns in other solar systems."
January 31, 2014


ESO‘s Very Large Telescope has been used to create the first ever map of the weather on the surface of the brown dwarf* nearest to Earth.

An international team has made a chart of the dark and light features on WISE J104915.57-531906.1B (“Luhman 16B”) — one of two recently discovered brown dwarfs forming a pair only six light-years from the Sun.

Ian Crossfield (Max… read more

First one-way acoustic circulator lets you hear without being heard

May lead to advances in noise control and improved compact components for acoustic imaging and sensing
January 31, 2014

A one-way circulator for sound. The arrows represent acoustic signals flowing through the device (diameter: ~20 centimeters), which circulates sound in a nonreciprocal fashion: signals can flow from left to top, from top to right, and from right to left, but not in the opposite directions. This creates one-way communication channels for sound, allowing listeners to hear but not be heard in return. (Credit: Erik Zumalt, Cockrell School of Engineering, UT Austin)

A team of researchers at The University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering has built the first-ever one-way circulator for sound.

The team’s experiments successfully prove that the fundamental symmetry with which acoustic waves travel through air between two points in space (“if you can hear, you can also be heard”) can be broken by a compact and simple device.

“Imagine being able to listen… read more

Natural plant compound prevents Alzheimer’s disease in mice

January 30, 2014

Fisetin reduces (right) astrocytic reactivity in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease mice. Scale bar: 10 microns. (Credit: Antonio Currais et al./Aging Cell)

A daily dose of fisetin, an  antioxidant chemical that’s found in fruits and vegetables from strawberries to cucumbers, appears to stop memory loss that accompanies Alzheimer’s disease in mice, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered.

In experiments on mice that normally develop Alzheimer’s symptoms less than a year after birth, a daily dose of the compound prevented the progressive memory and… read more

Stress turns ordinary cells pluripotent [RESEARCHER MISCONDUCT FOUND]

Implications for regenerative medicine, aging, cancer
January 30, 2014


UPDATE: April 4, 2014 — A committee organized by the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology has concluded that RIKEN’s Haruko Obokata, Ph.D., the lead researcher of this study, is guilty of scientific misconduct, according to a news article in Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News


Breakthrough findings by Haruko Obokata and colleagues at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) look to upset the fundamental… read more

Physicists create synthetic magnetic monopoles

May lead to entirely new materials, such as superconductors
January 30, 2014


Nearly 85 years after pioneering theoretical physicist Paul Dirac predicted the possibility of their existence, scientists have created, identified and photographed synthetic magnetic monopoles.

The groundbreaking accomplishment, described by a paper in Nature, paves the way for the detection of the particles in nature, which would be a revolutionary development comparable to the discovery of the electron, according to the scientists.

“The creation of a synthetic magnetic monopole… read more

A brain area unique to humans is linked to strategic planning/decision making/multitasking

January 30, 2014

human brain region

Oxford University researchers have identified a specific area of the human brain that appears to be unlike anything in the brains of some of our closest relatives.

MRI imaging of 25 adult volunteers was used to identify key components in the area of the human brain called the ventrolateral frontal cortex, and how these components were connected up with other brain areas. The results were then compared with equivalent… read more

Interplanetary dust particles carry water and organics

Mars had liquid water 4 billion years ago
January 29, 2014


Interplanetary dust particles could be delivering water and organics to the Earth and other terrestrial planets scientists have found.

Interplanetary dust — dust that has come from comets, asteroids, and leftover debris from the birth of the solar system — continually rains down on the Earth and other Solar System bodies.

These particles are bombarded by the solar wind, predominately hydrogen ions.  This ion bombardment knocks the atoms… read more

DNA-built nanoparticles target cancer tumors, deal with toxicity

January 29, 2014

Nanoparticle superstructures - featured

University of Toronto researchers have discovered a method of assembling building blocks of gold nanoparticles as the vehicle to deliver cancer medications or cancer-identifying markers directly into cancerous tumors while addressing the long-term risk of toxicity from particles that remain in the body.

“To get materials into a tumor they need to be a certain size,” explained Professor Warren Chan. “Tumors are characterized by leaky vessels with… read more

How the brain forms time-linked memories

January 28, 2014


MIT neuroscientists have discovered how two neural circuits in the brain work together to control the formation of time-linked memories, such as the sound of skidding tires, followed by a car crash.*

This is a critical ability that helps the brain to determine when it needs to take action to defend against a potential threat, says Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience… read more

Where and when the brain recognizes, categorizes an object

January 28, 2014


MIT researchers scanned individuals’ brains as they looked at different images and were able to pinpoint, to the millisecond, when the brain recognizes and categorizes an object, and where these processes occur.

“This method gives you a visualization of ‘when’ and ‘where’ at the same time. It’s a window into processes happening at the millisecond and millimeter scale,” says Aude Oliva, a principal research scientist in… read more

Crowdsourced ‘EteRNA’ RNA designs outperform computer algorithms

Carnegie Mellon and Stanford project combines global online design challenge with lab experiments
January 28, 2014


An enthusiastic group of non-experts, working through an online interface and receiving feedback from lab experiments, has produced designs for RNA molecules that are consistently more successful than those generated by the best computerized design algorithms, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford University report.

The researchers then gathered some of the best design rules and practices generated by players of the online EteRNA design… read more

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