Τετάρτη, 25 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News

Morphable surfaces cut air resistance: Golf ball-like dimples on cars may improve fuel efficiency

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 08:07 AM PDT

Testing over the years has proved that a golf ball's irregular surface dramatically increases the distance it travels, because it can cut the drag caused by air resistance in half. Now researchers are aiming to harness that same effect to reduce drag on a variety of surfaces -- including domes that sometimes crumple in high winds, or perhaps even vehicles.

Should universities censor students on social media?

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 07:58 AM PDT

Huge increases in the use of social media by students have posed difficult ethical questions for Universities. Comments posted on sites such as Facebook are often 'stream of consciousness' thoughts, expressed with little regard to their potential impact. Sometimes, they constitute serious transgressions, including racism, homophobia, violent threats and admissions of plagiarism.  Do Universities have a duty of care to intervene for staff and student well-being?  Should freedom of speech be upheld?

More bicyclists on road means fewer collisions, study shows

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:33 AM PDT

Bicyclist safety significantly increases when there are more bikes on the road, according to a study examining collisions between bicycles and motorists. This finding could be attributed to a 'safety in numbers effect.' As bicycling increases in cities across the U.S. each year, the results could have national implications. "In fact, we are beginning to find that cities with a high level of bicycling are not just safer for cyclists but for all road users," one author said. "Improving the streets to better accommodate bicycles may enhance safety for everyone."

Computer-aided diagnosis of rare genetic disorders from family snaps

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:33 AM PDT

Computer analysis of photographs could help doctors diagnose which condition a child with a rare genetic disorder has, say researchers. The researchers have come up with a computer program that recognizes facial features in photographs; looks for similarities with facial structures for various conditions, such as Down's syndrome, Angelman syndrome, or Progeria; and returns possible matches ranked by likelihood.

Facelock: New password alternative which plays to the strengths of human memory

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:33 AM PDT

Forgotten passwords are a serious problem for both IT managers and users. The root of the problem is a trade-off between memorability and security: simple passwords are easy to remember but easy to crack; complex passwords are hard to crack but hard to remember. A newly proposed alternative based on the psychology of face recognition was announced today. Dubbed 'Facelock', it could put an end to forgotten passwords, and protect users from prying eyes.

Cell phones reflect our personal microbiome

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:33 AM PDT

Smartphones are everywhere, and they may be smarter than you think. Our cell phones actually reflect the personal microbial world of their owners, with potential implications for their use as bacterial and environmental sensors, according to new research. New research focused on the personal microbiome -- the collection of microorganisms on items regularly worn or carried by a person -- demonstrates the significant microbiological connection we share with our phones.

Should the Higgs boson have caused our universe to collapse? Findings puzzle cosmologists

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

British cosmologists are puzzled: they predict that the universe should not have lasted for more than a second. This startling conclusion is the result of combining the latest observations of the sky with the recent discovery of the Higgs boson.

When it rains, it pours ... on the sun

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

Just like on Earth, the sun has spells of bad weather, with high winds and showers of rain. But unlike storms on Earth, rain on the sun is made of electrically charged gas (plasma) and falls at around 200,000 kilometers an hour from the outer solar atmosphere, the corona, to the sun's surface. Now a team of solar physicists has pieced together an explanation for this intriguing phenomenon with imagery that shows a 'waterfall' in the atmosphere of the sun.

Carbon footprint of the Swedish information and communication technology sector mapped out

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

A unique study that maps out the climate impact of the Swedish Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector has been completed and published. Despite a rapid growth in the use of computers and mobile phones in Sweden, emissions per user are low. The Swedish ICT sector has grown significantly in the last ten years and now represents 1.2 percent of Sweden's total carbon footprint, according to the researchers' calculations.

Amazon water comprehensively mapped from space

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

Groundwater represents more than 96% of the fresh water on Earth. But these reservoirs under our feet remain very difficult to study. For humid regions such as the Amazon, researchers have refined a new method for measuring phreatic levels by satellite. Thus, they have created the first maps of ground water in the Amazon, which lies under the largest rivers in the world. The maps show the height of the aquifer during low water periods. They show the response of the ground water in particular to droughts, and help better characterize its role in the climate and the Amazon.

Puzzle games can improve mental flexibility, study shows

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:25 AM PDT

Want to improve your mental finesse? Playing a puzzle game like Cut the Rope could just be the thing you need. A recent study showed that adults who played the physics-based puzzle video game Cut the Rope regularly, for as little as an hour a day, had improved executive functions. The executive functions in your brain are important for making decisions in everyday life when you have to deal with sudden changes in your environment -- better known as thinking on your feet.

Sound waves harnessed to enable precision micro- and nano-manufacturing

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:25 AM PDT

In a breakthrough discovery, researchers have harnessed the power of sound waves to enable precision micro- and nano-manufacturing. The researchers have demonstrated how high-frequency sound waves can be used to precisely control the spread of thin film fluid along a specially designed chip.

Titan's building blocks might pre-date Saturn

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 02:07 PM PDT

A combined NASA and European Space Agency (ESA)-funded study has found firm evidence that nitrogen in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan originated in conditions similar to the cold birthplace of the most ancient comets from the Oort cloud. The finding rules out the possibility that Titan's building blocks formed within the warm disk of material thought to have surrounded the infant planet Saturn during its formation.

Ferroelectric switching seen in biological tissues

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 12:51 PM PDT

Researchers have shown that a favorable electrical property is present in a type of protein found in organs that repeatedly stretch and retract. These findings are the first that clearly track this phenomenon, called ferroelectricity, occurring at the molecular level in biological tissues.

The JBEI GT Collection: A new resource for advanced biofuels research

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 12:51 PM PDT

The JBEI GT Collection, the first glycosyltransferase clone collection specifically targeted for the study of plant cell wall biosynthesis, is expected to drive basic scientific understanding of GTs and better enable the manipulation of cell walls for the production of biofuels and other chemical products.

Picture books for visually impaired kids go 3-D

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 12:51 PM PDT

A children's classic that already is a candidate for the all-time best feel-good book, 'Goodnight Moon,' has gotten a boost: Researchers printed the first 3D version of it, allowing visually impaired children and their families to touch objects in the story -- like the cow jumping over the moon -- as it is read aloud.

Emergence of bacterial vortex explained

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 12:47 PM PDT

When a bunch of B. subtilis bacteria are confined within a droplet of water, a very strange thing happens. The chaotic motion of individual swimmers spontaneously organizes into a swirling vortex, with bacteria on the outer edge of the droplet moving in one direction while those on the inside move the opposite direction. Researchers have now explained for the first time how that dual-motion vortex is generated.

Treading into gray area along spectrum of wood decay fungi

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 12:47 PM PDT

A fungus that can break down all the components of plant cell walls is considered a white rot fungus. If it can only break down cellulose and hemicellulose, it's a brown rot fungus. A research team suggests that categorizing wood-decaying fungi may be more complicated, broadening the range of fungal decay strategies to be explored for commercializing biofuels production.

Scientists use X-rays to look at how DNA protects itself from UV light

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 11:20 AM PDT

The molecular building blocks that make up DNA absorb ultraviolet light so strongly that sunlight should deactivate them -- yet it does not. Now scientists have made detailed observations of a 'relaxation response' that protects these molecules, and the genetic information they encode, from UV damage.

By any stretch: New software harnesses computer vision to more accurately measure infant length

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 11:20 AM PDT

After the hectic delivery experience, newborns are almost immediately stretched out on an uncomfortable measuring board to assess their length because it serves as an indispensable marker of growth, health, and development. Researchers are now using new software that harnesses computer vision to more accurately measure infant length. The technique is much easier on infants and at least as accurate as conventional measuring methods.

Air apparent: Using bubbles to reveal fertility problems

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 11:17 AM PDT

Doctors in California are the first fertility specialists in the county to use a new ultrasound technique to assess fallopian tubes by employing a mixture of saline and air bubbles that is less painful, avoids X-ray exposure and is more convenient to patients during an already vulnerable time. Using the technique, the physician delivers the mixture of saline and air bubbles into the uterus through a small catheter, which then flows into the fallopian tubes. Under ultrasound, the air bubbles are highly visible as they travel through the tubes, allowing the physician to determine if a blockage exists.

'Sensing skin' quickly detects cracks, damage in concrete structures

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 09:04 AM PDT

Researchers have developed new 'sensing skin' technology designed to serve as an early warning system for concrete structures, allowing authorities to respond quickly to damage in everything from nuclear facilities to bridges.

Sharper imaging using X-rays

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 09:04 AM PDT

Physicists have developed a process to generate improved lenses for X-ray microscopy that provide both better resolution and higher throughput. To accomplish this, they fabricate three-dimensional X-ray optics for volume diffraction that consist of on-chip stacked Fresnel zone plates. These three-dimensional nanostructures focus the incident X-rays much more efficiently and enable improved spatial resolution below ten nanometers.

Measuring the mass of 'massless' electrons: Individual electrons in graphene are massless, but apparently not when they move together

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 09:01 AM PDT

Graphene, a one-atom-thick carbon sheet, has taken the world of physics by storm -- in part, because its electrons behave as massless particles. Yet these electrons seem to have dual personalities. Phenomena observed in the field of graphene plasmonics suggest that when the electrons move collectively, they must exhibit mass.

Physicists find way to boot up experimental quantum computers 72 times faster than previously possible

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 06:21 AM PDT

Press the start button, switch on the monitor, grab a cup of coffee and off you go. That is pretty much how most us experience booting up a computer. But with a quantum computer the situation is very different. So far, researchers have had to spend hours making dozens of adjustments and fine calibrations in order to set up a chip with just five quantum bits so that it can be used for experimental work.

Electronic health record patient safety issues persist long after 'go live' date

Posted: 21 Jun 2014 06:31 PM PDT

Patient safety issues related to electronic health records persist long after the 'go live' date, concludes research. EHRs can improve the quality of patient care, but recent evidence suggests that their use can also prompt new patient safety concerns, such as when computer glitches cause clinical decision support to suddenly stop working or when network outages occur. Sophisticated monitoring systems are needed to unearth the complex mix of human and technological causes behind these problems, say the authors.

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