Πέμπτη, 26 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News

Glimpse into the invisible world of electric asteroids

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 05:19 PM PDT

Space may appear empty -- a soundless vacuum, but it's not an absolute void. It flows with electric activity that is not visible to our eyes. NASA is developing plans to send humans to an asteroid, and wants to know more about the electrical environment explorers will encounter there.

'Cosmic own goal' another clue in hunt for dark matter

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 05:19 PM PDT

The hunt for dark matter has taken another step forward thanks to new supercomputer simulations showing the evolution of our 'local Universe' from the Big Bang to the present day. Physicists say their simulations could improve understanding of dark matter, a mysterious substance believed to make up 85 per cent of the mass of the Universe.

Ultra-stiff and lightweight: Carbon-fiber epoxy honeycombs mimic material performance of balsa wood

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 12:15 PM PDT

For centuries, the fast-growing balsa tree has been prized for its light weight and stiffness relative to density. But balsa wood is expensive and natural variations in the grain can be an impediment to achieving the increasingly precise performance requirements of turbine blades and other sophisticated applications. Materials scientists have now developed cellular composite materials of unprecedented light weight and stiffness.

Chemistry: New math technique improves atomic property predictions to historic accuracy

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 11:12 AM PDT

By combining advanced mathematics with high-performance computing, scientists have developed a tool that allowed them to calculate a fundamental property of most atoms on the periodic table to historic accuracy, reducing error by a factor of a thousand in many cases. The technique also could be used to determine a host of other atomic properties important in fields like nuclear medicine and astrophysics.

Space industry: Does 3-D printing have the right stuff?

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:33 AM PDT

3D-printed parts promise a revolution in the space industry, rapidly creating almost any object needed. But do the results really have the right stuff for flying in space? The European Space Agency is now checking if their surface finish comes up to scratch.

Whale of a target: Harpooning space debris

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:28 AM PDT

Faced with the challenge of capturing tumbling satellites to clear key orbits, the European Space Agency is considering turning to an ancient terrestrial technology: the harpoon.

Origin of life: Stanley Miller's forgotten experiments, analyzed

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:26 AM PDT

Stanley Miller, the chemist whose landmark experiment published in 1953 showed how some of the molecules of life could have formed on a young Earth, left behind boxes of experimental samples that he never analyzed. The first-ever analysis of some of Miller's old samples has revealed another way that important molecules could have formed on early Earth.

Scientists create new battery that's cheap, clean, rechargeable ... and organic

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:26 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a rechargeable battery that is all organic and could be scaled up easily for use in power plants where it can make the energy grid more resilient and efficient by creating a large-scale means to store energy for use as needed. The batteries could pave the way for renewable energy sources to make up a greater share of the nation's energy generation.

Using math to analyze movement of cells, organisms, disease

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:25 AM PDT

Math has been used by researchers to analyze movement of organisms and cells and transmission of disease in populations. Three recent articles have been published that focus on these issues.

Spintronic technologies: Advanced light source provides new look at skyrmions

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:25 AM PDT

Researchers for the first time have used x-rays to observe and study skyrmions, subatomic quasiparticles that could play a key role in future spintronic technologies.

Mathematical models explain how a wrinkle becomes a crease

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:25 AM PDT

Wrinkles, creases and folds are everywhere in nature, from the surface of human skin to the buckled crust of the Earth. They can also be useful structures for engineers. Wrinkles in thin films, for example, can help make durable circuit boards for flexible electronics. A new mathematical model developed by researchers from Brown University could help engineers control the formation of wrinkle, crease, and fold structures in a wide variety of materials. It may also help scientists understand how these structures form in nature.

Carbon monoxide hazards on houseboats highlighted by study

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:24 AM PDT

Boaters and marina workers should exercise caution this summer before taking to the seas. A study outlines hazards posed by carbon monoxide levels on houseboats that use gasoline-powered generators without emission controls, along with controls that are available to reduce exposure to carbon monoxide from the generators.

Prototype of unmanned spaceplane retrieved

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:24 AM PDT

On June 23, 2014, the ship and crew aiming to recover Europe's unmanned IXV spacecraft in November had a practice run off the coast of Tuscany, Italy. They retrieved a prototype of the suborbital IXV Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, the same model flown last year in a splashdown test off the east coast of Sardinia.

Collaborative learning -- for robots: New algorithm

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:24 AM PDT

Machine learning, in which computers learn new skills by looking for patterns in training data, is the basis of most recent advances in artificial intelligence, from voice-recognition systems to self-parking cars. It's also the technique that autonomous robots typically use to build models of their environments. A new algorithm lets independent agents collectively produce a machine-learning model without aggregating data.

Black hole trio holds promise for gravity wave hunt

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:24 AM PDT

The discovery of three closely orbiting supermassive black holes in a galaxy more than four billion light years away could help astronomers in the search for gravitational waves: the 'ripples in spacetime' predicted by Einstein.

A farewell to arms? Scientists developing a novel technique that could facilitate nuclear disarmament

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:24 AM PDT

A proven system for verifying that apparent nuclear weapons slated to be dismantled contained true warheads could provide a key step toward the further reduction of nuclear arms. The system would achieve this verification while safeguarding classified information that could lead to nuclear proliferation. Scientists are developing the prototype for such a system. Their novel approach, called a "zero-knowledge protocol," would verify the presence of warheads without collecting any classified information at all.

For the next generation: Democracy ensures we don't take it all with us

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:23 AM PDT

Given the chance to vote, people will leave behind a legacy of resources that ensures the survival of the next generation, a series of experiments by psychologists show. However, when people are left to their own devices, the next generation isn't so lucky.

Fracking flowback could pollute groundwater with heavy metals

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:18 AM PDT

The chemical makeup of wastewater generated by "hydrofracking" could cause the release of tiny particles in soils that often strongly bind heavy metals and pollutants, exacerbating the environmental risks during accidental spills, Cornell University researchers have found.

New device allows brain to bypass spinal cord, move paralyzed limbs

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:01 AM PDT

For the first time ever, a paralyzed man can move his fingers and hand with his own thoughts thanks to a new device. A 23-year-old quadriplegic is the first patient to use Neurobridge, an electronic neural bypass for spinal cord injuries that reconnects the brain directly to muscles, allowing voluntary and functional control of a paralyzed limb.

NASA's STEREO maps much larger solar atmosphere than previously observed

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 09:23 AM PDT

Surrounding the sun is a vast atmosphere of solar particles, through which magnetic fields swarm, solar flares erupt, and gigantic columns of material rise, fall and jostle each other around. Now, using NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, scientists have found that this atmosphere, called the corona, is even larger than thought, extending out some 5 million miles above the sun's surface -- the equivalent of 12 solar radii.

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover marks first Martian year

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 09:21 AM PDT

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover completed a Martian year -- 687 Earth days -- on June 24, having accomplished the mission's main goal of determining whether Mars once offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

Aluminum-bearing site on Mars draws NASA visitor

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 09:18 AM PDT

With its solar panels their cleanest in years, NASA's decade-old Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is inspecting a section of crater-rim ridgeline chosen as a priority target due to evidence of a water-related mineral.

Puzzling X-rays point to dark matter

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 08:38 AM PDT

Astronomers using ESA and NASA high-energy observatories have discovered a tantalizing clue that hints at an elusive ingredient of our Universe: dark matter. Astronomers believe that dark matter is the dominant type of matter in the Universe -- yet it remains obscure. Now a hint may have been found by studying galaxy clusters, the largest cosmic assemblies of matter bound together by gravity.

New material improves wound healing, keeps bacteria from sticking

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:16 AM PDT

As many patients know, treating wounds has become far more sophisticated than sewing stitches and applying gauze, but dressings still have shortcomings. Now scientists are reporting the next step in the evolution of wound treatment with a material that leads to faster healing than existing commercial dressings and prevents potentially harmful bacteria from sticking.

Fast, portable device for 'on-the-go,' laboratory-quality cocaine testing

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:16 AM PDT

Testing for cocaine and other drugs usually involves two steps: a quick on-site prescreen, and then a more accurate confirmatory test at a distant laboratory. This process can take days or weeks -- but that's too long in many cases where public safety is at risk. Now, researchers report development of a backpack-sized device that can perform highly accurate and sensitive tests anywhere within 15 minutes.

Alternative energy evaluation: Net energy analysis should become a standard policy tool, scientists say

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:16 AM PDT

To be viable, wind farms, power plants and other energy technologies should deliver more energy than they consume. Net energy analysis allows researchers to evaluate the long-term sustainability of a technology by comparing how much energy it produces over its lifetime with the energy required to build and maintain it, say scientists.

New device could improve biomarker analyses

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:15 AM PDT

A new devise could offer a more reliable alternative for detecting biomarkers in patients facing such illnesses as cancer or malaria. Whether to extract circulating tumor cells from the blood of a cancer patient, or to measure the elasticity of red blood cells due to malaria infection, the physical attributes of cells are important biomarkers in medicine.

Curiosity travels through ancient glaciers on Mars

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Some 3,500 million years ago, the Martian crater Gale -- through which the NASA rover Curiosity is currently traversing -- was covered with glaciers, mainly over its central mound. Very cold liquid water also flowed through its rivers and lakes on the lower-lying areas, forming landscapes similar to those which can be found in Iceland or Alaska.

Nanoscale ruler reveals organization of cell membrane

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:15 AM PDT

After a ten-year effort, biologists have developed a method to investigate the cell surface's organization on a nanometer scale. This allows them to monitor how the antigen receptor, which B cells of the immune system use to recognize foreign substances, changes after activation. This study shows that the receptor components dissociate from each other- rather than assemble, as previously assumed.

Eco-friendly versatile nanocapsules developed

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:14 AM PDT

This new technology suggests a possible application of eco-friendly solvents that can address environmental, safety and economic issues all at once. Since various kinds of metal nanoparticles can be employed on the surface of polymer nanocapsules, it is also potentially useful for other applications in the field of nano-medicine and bioimaging.

World's first magnetic hose created

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:14 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a material which guides and transports a magnetic field from one location to the other, similar to how an optical fiber transports light or a hose transports water.

New easel reveals secrets of old masters

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:14 AM PDT

A state-of-the-art easel is literally shedding new light on the ingenious variety of materials that have been used over the centuries to create artists' paint pigments.

Nanoscale velcro used for molecule transport

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:13 AM PDT

Biological membranes are like a guarded border. They separate the cell from the environment and at the same time control the import and export of molecules. The nuclear membrane can be crossed via many tiny pores. Scientists have now discovered that proteins found within the nuclear pore function similar to a velcro. They report how these proteins can be used for controlled and selective transport of particles.

3-D computer model may help refine target for deep brain stimulation therapy for dystonia

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:11 AM PDT

Using a complex set of data from records and imaging scans of patients who have undergone successful DBS implantation, researchers have created 3-D, computerized models that map the brain region involved in dystonia. The models identify an anatomical target for further study and provide information for neurologists and neurosurgeons to consider when planning surgery and making device programming decisions.

Young researcher discovers source of disco clams' light show

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 07:00 PM PDT

The disco clam was named for the rhythmic, pulsing light that ripples along the lips of its mantle. A graduate student was fascinated the first time she saw the clam, and set out to investigate the reflective material on its lips and why it flashes. She reports that the mirror is actually a highly reflective, densely packed layer of silica spheres a mere 340 nanometers across never before seen in animals.

Clumped galaxies give General Relativity its toughest test yet

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:59 PM PDT

Nearly 100 years since Albert Einstein developed General Relativity, the theory has passed its toughest test yet in explaining the properties of observable Universe.  The most precise measurements to date of the strength of gravitational interactions between distant galaxies show perfect consistency with General Relativity's predictions.

Discovery of exotic supernova sees Dark Energy Survey start off with a bang

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:59 PM PDT

The first images taken by the Dark Energy Survey (DES) after the survey began in August 2013 have revealed a rare, 'superluminous' supernova that erupted in a galaxy 7.8 billion light years away. The stellar explosion, called DES13S2cmm, easily outshines most galaxies in the Universe and could still be seen in the data six months later, at the end of the first of what will be five years of observing by DES.

Study of over 450,000 women finds 3-D mammography detects more invasive cancers and reduces call-back rates

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:51 PM PDT

Researchers have found that 3D mammography —- known as digital breast tomosynthesis —- found significantly more invasive, or potentially lethal, cancers than a traditional mammogram alone and reduced call-backs for additional imaging.

Nanoparticles could provide easier route for cell therapy

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 02:23 PM PDT

Physics researchers may have developed a way to use laser technology to deliver drug and gene therapy at the cellular level without damaging surrounding tissue. The method eventually could help patients suffering from genetic conditions, cancers and neurological diseases. A significant advantage of the new method is that the near-infrared light absorption of the nanoparticle can be used to selectively amplify interaction of low power laser with targeted tissue and "laser induced-damage to non-targeted cells along the irradiation path can be avoided," the report says.

Demonstrating a driverless future: Promise of driverless cars

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 02:23 PM PDT

In the coming decades, we will likely commute to work and explore the countryside in autonomous, or driverless, cars capable of communicating with the roads they are traveling on. A convergence of technological innovations in embedded sensors, computer vision, artificial intelligence, control and automation, and computer processing power is making this feat a reality.

Collaboration of minds and metal leads to possible shortcut to new drugs

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 02:21 PM PDT

Researchers merged two powerful areas of research to enable an unprecedented chemical reaction that neither could broadly achieve on its own. The resulting bond formation could provide an excellent shortcut for chemists as they construct and test thousands of molecules to find new drugs.

Engineered muscle-mimic research: Technique uses living cells to build engineered muscle tissue

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 02:18 PM PDT

Biomedical engineers are designing and testing a biomaterial that regenerates damaged skeletal muscle. Living cells secrete fibrous proteins and polysaccharide gels called extracellular matrix, which support cell survival and tissue strength. Minor muscle injuries affect tissue cells but not the extracellular components. In severe injuries, however, the extracellular matrix does not function properly and cannot initiate the healing process. Engineered "muscle-mimics" provide the molecules necessary to cue regeneration.

New study uses blizzard to measure wind turbine airflow

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 11:24 AM PDT

A first-of-its-kind study using snow during a Minnesota blizzard is giving researchers new insight into the airflow around large wind turbines. This research is essential to improving wind energy efficiency, especially in wind farms where airflows from many large wind turbines interact with each other.

Metal particles in solids aren't as fixed as they seem, new memristor study shows

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 11:23 AM PDT

In work that unmasks some of the magic behind memristors and 'resistive random access memory,' or RRAM -- cutting-edge computer components that combine logic and memory functions -- researchers have shown that the metal particles in memristors don't stay put as previously thought.

Astronomers map space's icy wastes

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 07:58 AM PDT

Using the AKARI orbiting observatory, astronomers have made the first large-scale maps of icy material where stars are forming. In a challenge to conventional ideas about the formation of water in space, they find ice in regions with little dust or gas.

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