How to double the power of solar panels

October 16, 2012

Solar collectors: A micrograph shows silicon nanowires produced by Bandgap Engineering. They can help a solar cell absorb more light. (Credit: Bandgap Engineering)

In an attempt to further drop the cost of solar power, Bandgap Engineering has a long-term project to develop a nanowire-based solar cell that could eventually generate twice as much power as conventional solar cells, Technology Review reports.

Meanwhile the company is about to launch a simpler version of the technology, using silicon nanowires that can improve the performance and lower the cost of conventional silicon solar cells.… read more

Intelligence agencies turn to crowdsourcing

October 16, 2012


Research firm Applied Research Associates has just launched a website, Global Crowd Intelligence, that invites the public to sign up and try their hand at intelligence forecasting, BBC Future reports.

The website is part of an effort called Aggregative Contingent Estimation, sponsored by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (Iarpa), to understand the potential benefits of crowdsourcing for predicting future events by… read more

Shape coding replaces risky viruses in DNA nanoparticle therapy

October 16, 2012


Researchers from Johns Hopkins and Northwestern universities have discovered how to control the shape of nanoparticles that move DNA through the body and have shown that the shapes of these carriers may make a big difference in how well they work in treating cancer and other diseases.

This study is also noteworthy because this gene therapy technique does not use a virus to carry DNA into… read more

Synthesizing collagen for drug design and disease treatments

Program defines stable sequences for synthesis, could help fight disease, design drugs
October 16, 2012

A program developed at Rice University details stable forms of collagen proteins for synthesis in the lab. The ability to synthesize custom collagen could lead to better drug design and treatment of disease. The colored portion of the molecule in this illustration shows positively charged lysine and negatively charged aspartate interacting in the required axial geometry that stabilizes the triple helix. (Credit: Hartgerink Lab/Rice University)

In a development that could lead to better drug design and new treatments for disease, Rice University researchers have made a major step toward synthesizing custom collagen, the fibrous protein that binds cells together into organs and tissues.

Jeffrey Hartgerink, an associate professor of chemistry and of bioengineering, and his former graduate student Jorge Fallas, now a postdoctoral researcher at the University… read more

Gold nanoparticle prostate cancer treatment found safe in dogs, MU study shows

New treatment may have fewer side effects than traditional cancer therapy
October 16, 2012


Scientists at the University of Missouri have proven that their new form of prostate cancer treatment using radioactive gold nanoparticles is safe to use in dogs.

Sandra Axiak-Bechtel, an assistant professor in oncology at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, says that this is a big step for gold nanoparticle research.

Currently, large… read more

World’s biggest geoengineering experiment ‘violates’ UN rules

October 17, 2012

Geoengineering with bloom : high concentrations of chlorophyll in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska

Controversial U.S. businessman’s iron fertilization off west coast of Canada contravenes two UN conventions.

Russ George, a controversial California businessman, dumped about 100 tons of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean as part of a geoengineering scheme off the west coast of Canada in July, a Guardian investigation reveals.

Lawyers, environmentalists and civil… read more

A robotic exoskeleton for space and Earth

October 17, 2012


A robotic exoskeleton called X1 has been developed by NASAThe Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), and Oceaneering Space Systems.

The 57-pound device is a robot that a human could wear over their body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints.

In the inhibit mode, the robotic device would be used as an in-space exercise machine to supply resistance against leg… read more

Armchair astronomers find planet in four-star system

October 17, 2012


A joint effort of citizen scientists and professional astronomers has led to the first reported case of a planet orbiting twin suns that are orbited by a second distant pair of stars.

Aided by volunteers using the Planethunters.org website, a Yale-led international team of astronomers identified and confirmed discovery of the phenomenon, called a circumbinary planet in a four-star system.

Only six… read more

High-carb foods associated with cognitive impairment: Mayo Clinic study

Those 70-plus who ate food high in fat and protein fared better cognitively, research showed
October 17, 2012


People 70 and older who eat food high in carbohydrates have nearly four times the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, and the danger also rises with a diet heavy in sugar, Mayo Clinic researchers have found.

Those who consume a lot of protein and fat relative to carbohydrates are less likely to become cognitively impaired, the study found.

Researchers tracked 1,230 people ages… read more

New drugs counter neural inflammation in Parkinson’s

October 17, 2012

Illustration of Parkinson's disease (credit: William Richard Gowers)

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have identified a set of experimental drugs called LRRK2 inhibitors that may go beyond symptom relief to directly counter the inflammation and nerve cell death at the root of Parkinson’s.

These effects have been suggested in mouse and cell culture studies meant to approximate human disease.

Most Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients are still treated with a 42-year-old drug called L-DOPA, which… read more

Less-invasive method of brain stimulation helps patients with Parkinson’s disease

October 17, 2012


Electrical stimulation using extradural electrodes — placed underneath the skull but not implanted in the brain — is a safe approach with meaningful benefits for patients with Parkinson’s disease, reports the October issue of Neurosurgery, official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

The technique, called extradural motor cortex stimulation (EMCS), may provide a less-invasive alternative to electrical deep brain stimulation (DBS) for some patients with the… read more

Planet found in star system nearest Earth

Earth-mass exoplanet found orbiting Alpha Centauri B
October 17, 2012


European astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system — the star system nearest Earth. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a star like the Sun.

The planet was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Alpha Centauri is one of… read more

How sleep deprivation poses risks to physical and mental health

How sleep deprivation impacts dementia, different types of memory, and learning
October 17, 2012

Sleep deprivation effects (credit: Wikipedia)

One in five American adults show signs of chronic sleep deprivation, making the condition a widespread public health problem. Sleeplessness is related to health issues such as obesity, cardiovascular problems, and memory problems.

New findings presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience Tuesday report the important role sleep plays, and the brain mechanisms at work as sleep shapes memory, learning, and behavior.

The findings show… read more

Neural-like stem cells from muscle tissue may hold key to cell therapies for neurodegenerative diseases

October 17, 2012


Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have taken the first steps to create neural-like stem cells from muscle tissue in animals.

“Reversing brain degeneration and trauma lesions will depend on cell therapy, but we can’t harvest neural stem cells from the brain or spinal cord without harming the donor,” said Osvaldo Delbono, M.D., Ph.D., professor of internal medicine at Wake… read more

How ‘normal’ prion proteins in the brain actually aid learning and memory

October 17, 2012

Fluorescence images of primary hippocampal neurons showing the distribution of prion proteins in untreated (left) and siRNA-treated cells. Scale bar equals 10 microns.

Scientists from the University of Leeds have found that the protein called prion helps our brains to absorb zinc, which is believed to be crucial to our ability to learn and the well-being of our memory.

The findings published on Tuesday 16 October in Nature Communications (open access) show that prion protein regulates the amount of zinc in the brain by helping cells absorb it… read more

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