Παρασκευή, 27 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News

Let there be light: Chemists develop magnetically responsive liquid crystals for writing tablets, billboards and more

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 12:09 PM PDT

Chemists have constructed liquid crystals with optical properties that can be instantly and reversibly controlled by an external magnetic field. The research opens the door to display applications relying on the instantaneous and contactless nature of magnetic manipulation -- such as signage, posters, writing tablets, and billboards. Requiring no electrodes, the liquid crystals have applications in anti-counterfeit technology and optical communication devices for controlling the amplitude, phase, polarization, propagation direction of light.

Not much force: Researchers detect smallest force ever measured

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 12:09 PM PDT

Researchers have detected the smallest force ever measured -- approximately 42 yoctonewtons -- using a unique optical trapping system that provides ultracold atoms. A yoctonewton is one septillionth of a newton.

Water-cleanup catalysts tackle biomass upgrading

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:18 AM PDT

A chemical engineer has spent a decade amassing evidence that palladium-gold nanoparticles are excellent catalysts for cleaning polluted water, but even he was surprised at how well the particles converted biodiesel waste into valuable chemicals.

Team develops a geothermometer for methane formation

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:16 AM PDT

A team of scientists has developed a new technique that can, for the first time, determine the temperature at which a natural methane sample formed. This determination can aid in figuring out how and where the gas formed.

A simple solution for big data: New algorithm simplifies the categorization of data

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 11:16 AM PDT

Categorizing and representing huge amounts of data -- we're talking about peta- or even exabytes of information -- synthetically is a challenge of the future. A research paper proposes an efficient procedure to face up to this challenge.

App focused on making obese adults less sedentary

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 10:22 AM PDT

More sedentary time, regardless of physical activity levels, is associated with greater risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease and mortality. However, a smartphone-based intervention can produce short-term reductions in sedentary behavior that may be effective in improving health.

Ask the crowd: Robots learn faster, better with online helpers

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 10:20 AM PDT

Sometimes it takes a village to teach a robot. Computer scientists have shown that crowdsourcing can be a quick and effective way to teach a robot how to complete tasks. Instead of learning from just one human, robots could one day query the larger online community, asking for instructions or input on the best way to set the table or water the garden.

Controlling body movement with light: Neuroscientists inhibit muscle contractions by shining light on spinal cord neurons

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:20 AM PDT

Neuroscientists report that they can inhibit muscle contractions by shining light on spinal cord neurons. The researchers studied mice in which a light-sensitive protein that promotes neural activity was inserted into a subset of spinal neurons. When the researchers shone blue light on the animals' spinal cords, their hind legs were completely but reversibly immobilized. The findings offer a new approach to studying the complex spinal circuits that coordinate movement and sensory processing, the researchers say.

Capturing carbon dioxide emissions needed to meet climate targets

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:20 AM PDT

Technologies that are discussed controversially today may be needed to keep the future risks and costs of climate change in check. Combining the production of energy from fossil fuels and biomass with capturing and storing the carbon dioxide they emit can be key to achieving current climate policy objectives such as limiting the rise of the global mean temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.

Packing hundreds of sensors into a single optical fiber for use in harsh environments

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:20 AM PDT

By fusing together the concepts of active fiber sensors and high-temperature fiber sensors, a team of researchers has created an all-optical high-temperature sensor for gas flow measurements that operates at record-setting temperatures above 800 degrees Celsius. It's expected to find industrial sensing applications in harsh environments, such as deep geothermal drill cores or space missions.

Cheap and enviromentally friendly: Tofu ingredient could revolutionize solar panel manufacture

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:18 AM PDT

The chemical used to make tofu and bath salts could also replace a highly toxic and expensive substance used to make solar cells, a new study has revealed. Cadmium chloride is currently a key ingredient in solar cell technology used in millions of solar panels around the world. This soluble compound is highly toxic and expensive to produce, requiring elaborate safety measures to protect workers during manufacture and then specialist disposal when panels are no longer needed.

LEGO bricks turned into scientific tool to study plant growth

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:17 AM PDT

Engineers are using LEGO bricks to build controlled environments to study how variations in climate and soil affect plant growth. They say LEGO bricks "are highly convenient and versatile building blocks" for the studies. While looking for a way to study plant and root growth that was simple, inexpensive and flexible -- something that allowed experiments to be reproduced all over the world, even in labs without the latest technologies or the infrastructure required for plant science or agronomy research -- researchers thought of LEGO bricks. And it worked.

Physicists' findings improve quality of flexible, conductive, transparent glass

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:17 AM PDT

A new technique will improve the quality of flexible, conductive, transparent glass. Companies such as Sharp and LG already use a-IGZO in some high-end displays. It's also found in Apple's new iPad Air. But it has been difficult to maintain transparency and conductivity: In some samples, experts said, the material took on a brown or yellow tinge that would harm the display's performance. New research addresses the problem.

Space-tested robot inspires medicine and manufacturing uses

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 09:13 AM PDT

Humans doing difficult, repetitive tasks or those who need assistance with movement may soon get a helping hand -- literally -- thanks to robotic technology developed to serve astronauts in space. Robonaut, a human-like robot designed by NASA and General Motors (GM), has been on the International Space Station since February 2011. Researchers have been testing the robot's ability to perform certain tasks to free up human crew time and energy.

Managing specialized microbes to clean stubborn chemicals from environment

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 07:19 AM PDT

Unique groups of microorganisms capable of converting hazardous chlorinated chemicals like trichloroetheene into ethene, a benign end product of microbial biodegradation, have been examined by scientists. The studies explore the metabolic activities of a group of microbes known as Dehalococcoides and propose strategies to improve their effectiveness for environmental cleanup projects involving chlorinated chemicals.

Sensitive to skin wetness? New fabric for sports clothing developed

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:57 AM PDT

A Loughborough University PhD student's award winning research into the body's sensitivity to skin wetness could influence the design of a major international retailer's sports clothing.

Synchronised imaging techniques: One more chance for rhinoceroses' foot treatment

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:57 AM PDT

A new imaging strategy of synchronizing computed tomography with digital radiography helps to diagnose and initiate appropriate treatment of foot diseases in mega-vertebrates. Despite their long history in captivity, extending at least to Roman times, the fate of some rhinoceros species in zoological collections is still uncertain. Captive rhinos are confronted with chronic foot diseases, a group of severe disorders previously thought to be confined to soft tissues and recently shown to include diverse severe bone pathologies.

'Likes' provide humanitarian support

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:57 AM PDT

According to a Norwegian study, 'likes' on Facebook are providing a new type of humanitarian support and social responsibility. Scientists have been mapping the habits of more than 400 Facebook users recruited from Plan Norge's Facebook page. The aim was to identify their motives in 'liking' a particular humanitarian cause or organization on Facebook.

Deeper insights into protein folding

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:57 AM PDT

A new theoretical foundation explaining the mechanism of protein folding and unfolding in water has been presented by researchers investigating the structure and dynamics of so-called Meso-Bio-Nano (MBN) systems. Their statistic mechanics model describes the thermodynamic properties of real proteins in an aqueous environment, using a minimal number of free physical parameters.

A versatile joystick for animation artists

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:46 AM PDT

Remember those molecule models made from sticks and balls you could assemble to study complex molecules back in school? Something similar has taken shape in the Interactive Geometry Lab at ETH Zurich. Scientists do not study molecules but ways to manipulate virtual shapes, like animated characters on a computer screen. Now they have developed an input device or "joystick" to move and pose virtual characters, made up – similar to the molecule models – of modular building blocks.

Janus capsules, miniature hollow structures, produced easily at low cost

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:46 AM PDT

Everything depends on how you look at them. Looking from one side you will see one face; and when looking from the opposite side – you will see a different one. So appear Janus capsules, miniature, hollow structures, in different fragments composed of different micro- and nanoparticles. Theoreticians were able to design models of such capsules, but a real challenge was to produce them. Now, Janus capsules can be produced easily and at low cost.

A breakthrough for organic reactions in water

Posted: 26 Jun 2014 06:29 AM PDT

Green-chemistry researchers have discovered a way to use water as a solvent in one of the reactions most widely used to synthesize chemical products and pharmaceuticals. The findings mark a potential milestone in efforts to develop organic reactions in water.

Researchers find portable, low-cost optical imaging tool useful in concussion evaluation

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 11:20 PM PDT

Two separate research projects, published recently, represent important steps toward demonstrating on patients the utility of portable, optical brain imaging for concussion and substantiating -- via a large-scale statistical analysis -- computerized neurocognitive testing for concussion.

'Nanosubmarine' designed that delivers complementary molecules inside cells

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 05:19 PM PDT

Nanoparticles that under the right conditions, self-assemble -- trapping complementary guest molecules within their structure -- have been recently created by scientists. Like tiny submarines, these versatile nanocarriers can navigate in the watery environment surrounding cells and transport their guest molecules through the membrane of living cells to sequentially deliver their cargo.

Automatic cutting of boring parts from long videos

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:24 AM PDT

Smartphones, GoPro cameras and Google Glass are making it easy for anyone to shoot video anywhere. But, they do not make it any easier to watch the tedious videos that can result. Computer scientists, however, have invented a video highlighting technique that can automatically pick out the good parts.

Using femtosecond lasers to administer drugs

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:14 AM PDT

Scientists are using lasers, nanotechnology and neuroscience to develop a new, versatile drug delivery system.  The system uses a laser to release a neurochemical that is dysfunctional in Parkinson's Disease in a controlled and repeatable manner.

Music can help neuroscience: Detecting patterns in neuronal dendrite spines by translating them into music

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:14 AM PDT

Scientists have analyzed morphological features extracted from dendritic spines of brain neurons to detect patterns in their distribution. Then a software tool was developed in order to convert these features into musical notes. This new technique will be able to explore new hypothesis to understand how human brain works and also search for new solutions to fight against diseases such as Alzheimer's, epilepsy and Parkinson's.

Innovation: Magnetic field conductors

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:13 AM PDT

Physicists have developed a new technology to transfer magnetic fields to arbitrary long distances, which is comparable to transmitting and routing light in optical fibers. They have theoretically proposed and already tested this new device experimentally. The field of possible applications is broad and includes spintronic and quantum computers among others.

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