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Autonomous taxis could be cheaper and improve the environment, says Berkeley Lab study

July 6, 2015

Self-driving car concept (credit: Google)

It’s the year 2030. A fleet of driverless taxis roams throughout your city, ready to pick you up and take you to your destination at a moment’s notice. As a result, greenhouse gases are now 63 to 82 percent lower than with a privately owned hybrid car and 90 percent lower than a 2014 gasoline-powered private vehicle. …

Those numbers are from a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory… read more

This is how the universe will end: not with a bang but a rip

First the galaxies are destroyed. Then the solar system breaks apart and the Earth explodes. Finally, the atoms themselves are ripped apart.
July 3, 2015

This is a time line of life of the universe that ends in a Big Rip. (credit: Jeremy Teaford, Vanderbilt University)

Vanderbilt University mathematicians have come up with a new theory of “cosmological viscosity” (how sticky the universe is) that challenges current theories.

For decades, cosmologists have had trouble reconciling the classic notion of viscosity based on the laws of thermodynamics with Einstein’s general theory of relativity, according the the team, which has now come up with a fundamentally new mathematical formulation of the problem that appears to… read more

A solar-energy storage cell that works at night

July 3, 2015

The UT Arlington team developed a new solar cell that is more efficient and can store solar energy even at night (credit: UT Arlington)

A University of Texas at Arlington materials science and engineering team has developed a new “photoelectrochemical” energy cell that can efficiently store solar energy and deliver electrical power 24 hours a day. It can also be scaled up to provide large amounts of energy, limited only by the size of its chemical storage tanks, according to Fuqiang Liu, an assistant professor in the Materialsread more

Long-term memories in mice are maintained by prion-like proteins

July 3, 2015

CPEB3 Protein Is a Functional Prion that Interacts with the Actin Cytoskeleton (credit: Joseph S. Stephan et al./Cell Reports)

Columbia University Medical Center | Long-term Memories Are Maintained by Prion-like Proteins

The molecules that maintain long-term memories in mice are a normal version of prion* proteins and work the same way as mechanisms in prions that cause mad cow disease, Creutzfeld-Jakob disease in humans, and other degenerative brain diseases. That’s the conclusion of research from the lab of Nobel-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel, MD, of… read more

First spin-entangled electrons on a chip

July 2, 2015

False colour scanning image-ft

A team from the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science, along with collaborators from the University of Tokyo and University of Osaka, have successfully produced pairs of spin-entangled electrons and demonstrated, for the first time, that these electrons remain entangled even when they are separated from one another on a chip.

This research could allow information contained in quantum bits (qubits) to be shared between… read more

Oops, the universe may have ten to 100 times fewer galaxies than we thought

July 2, 2015

There may be far fewer galaxies further out in the universe then might be expected, according to a new study led by MSU (credit: NASA/CXC/STSci/DSS/Magellan)

There may be far fewer galaxies further out in the universe then might be expected, according to a new study led by Michigan State University.

Over the years, the Hubble Space Telescope has allowed astronomers to look deep into the universe. The long view stirred theories of untold thousands of distant, faint galaxies. But new research appearing in the current issue of the Astrophysical Journalread more

New printing technology for depositing silver at room temperature may lead to electronics advances

July 2, 2015

silver-line-ft

Engineers at Oregon State University (OSU) have invented a way to use silver at room temperature for printed electronics, with broad applications in microelectronics, sensors, energy devices, low emissivity coatings and even transparent displays.

Silver offers advantages in electronic devices because of its conductive and other properties. But the process for using it has required high heat and organic stablizers, followed by post-heating treatments that are required… read more

Freezing single atoms to near absolute zero with microwaves brings practical quantum technology closer

July 2, 2015

Winfried Hensinger (right) and Dr. Seb Weidt are freezing individual atoms using microwaves (credit: University of Sussex)

Physicists at the University of Sussex have frozen single ytterbium ions (charged atoms) to within a millionth of a degree of absolute zero (minus 273.15°C), using 12.6 GHz microwave radiation combined with a large static magnetic field gradient. Temperatures near absolute zero are required to hold ions stationary for quantum computing and other applications.

The physicists measured a reduction of almost two orders of magnitude in the… read more

Wait, some stem cells use nanotubes to communicate with other cells? Seriously?

Ask postdoc Mayu Inaba, who discovered something biologists have mistaken for a speck of dust
July 1, 2015

Confocal microscope image showing stem cells (blue) clustering around a hub in the stem cell niche (pink). One stem cell extends a nanotube into the hub. (credit: Mayu Inaba, University of Michigan)

Certain types of stem cells use microscopic, threadlike nanotubes to communicate with neighboring cells, rather than sending a broadcast signal, researchers at University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have discovered.

The fruit-fly research findings, published today (July 1) in Nature, suggest that short-range, cell-to-cell communication may rely on this type of direct connection more than was previously understood, said… read more

Walking in nature lowers risk of depression, scientists find in MRI study

Urbanization is associated with increased levels of mental illness
July 1, 2015

rumination to sgPFC-ft

A new study has found quantifiable evidence that supports the common-sense idea that walking in nature could lower your risk of depression.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to participants who walked in a high-traffic urban setting (El Camino Real in Palo Alto, California, a noisy street with three to four… read more

Future of Life Institute awards $7M to explore artificial intelligence risks

Terminator Genisys film will distract from the real issues posed by future AI, says Tegmark
July 1, 2015

Elon Musk (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Future of Life Institute (FLI) announced today (July 1) the selection of 37 research teams around the world to which it plans to award about $7 million from Elon Musk and the Open Philanthropy Project for a global research program aimed at keeping AI beneficial to humanity.

The grants were funded by part of Musk’s $10 million donation to the group in January and $1.2 million from the… read more

Pulsed electric field technology may rejuvenate skin function and appearance

June 30, 2015

electrodes used for PEF-ft

A team of Tel Aviv University and Harvard Medical School researchers has devised a novel non-invasive tissue-stimulation technique using pulsed electric fields (PEF) to generate new skin tissue growth.

The technique produces scarless skin rejuvenation and may revolutionize the treatment of degenerative skin diseases, according to research team leader Alexander Golberg of TAU’s Porter School of Environmental Studies and the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical… read more

How to form 3-D shapes from flat sheets of graphene

Could lead to highly sensitive 3D sensors, graphene-coated atomic force microscope (AFM) probes, electrode arrays, and new biosensing devices
June 30, 2015

Credit: University of Illinois College of Engineering

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a new approach for forming 3D shapes from flat, 2D sheets of graphene, paving the way for future integrated systems of graphene-MEMS hybrid devices and flexible electronics.

Reported methods of using graphene transfer have been mostly limited to planar or curvilinear surfaces due to the challenges associated with fractures from local stress during transfer onto… read more

Rice University installs powerful electron microscope with sub-nanoscale resolution

Will create awesome 4K images
June 30, 2015

The Titan Themis microscope at Rice University incorporates a variety of detectors, including X-ray, optical and multiple electron detectors and a 4K-resolution camera. The microscope gives researchers the ability to create three-dimensional structural reconstructions and carry out electric field mapping of subnanoscale materials. (credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)

Rice University has installed the Titan Themis scanning/transmission electron microscope, which will enable scientists from Rice as well as academic and industrial partners to view and analyze materials at angstrom-scale (one-tenth of a nanometer) resolution, about the size of a single hydrogen atom.

Images will be captured with a variety of detectors, including X-ray, optical and multiple electron detectors and a 4K-resolution camera (will create 4K ultra… read more

‘Microswimmer’ robots to drill through blocked arteries within four years

Controlled by an external magnetic field, nanoscale bacteria-like chains could replace stents and angioplasty balloons
June 30, 2015

spiral-shaped microswimmer-ft

Swarms of microscopic, magnetic, robotic beads could be used within five years by vascular surgeons to clear blocked arteries. These minimally invasive microrobots, which look and move like corkscrew-shaped bacteria, are being developed by an $18-million, 11-institution research initiative headed by the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technologies (KEIT).

These “microswimmers” are driven and controlled by external magnetic fields, similar to how nanowires from … read more

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