Τετάρτη, 2 Ιουλίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News

Nature of solids and liquids explored through new pitch drop experiment

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 04:33 PM PDT

Physicists have set up a new pitch drop experiment for students to explore the difference between solid and liquids. Known as the 'world's longest experiment', the set up at the University of Queensland was famous for taking ten years for a drop of pitch -- a thick, black, sticky material -- to fall from a funnel.

How do ants get around? Ultra-sensitive machines measure their every step

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 04:32 PM PDT

How do ants manage to move so nimbly whilst coordinating three pairs of legs and a behind that weighs up to 60 percent of their body mass? Scientists have recently developed a device that may reveal the answer and could even help design micro-robots in the future. Researchers used an elastic polycarbonate material to produce a miniature force plate. Springs arranged at right angles to each other enabled forces to be measured across the plate in the micro-Newton range.

Net-zero energy test house exceeds goal; ends year with energy to spare

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 03:38 PM PDT

The NIST net-zero energy test house in suburban Washington, D.C., not only absorbed winter's best shot, it came out on top, reaching its one-year anniversary on July 1 with enough surplus energy to power an electric car for about 1,440 miles.

New metamaterial gives light a one-way ticket

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 03:38 PM PDT

Researchers have built a silver, glass and chromium nanostructure that can all but stop visible light cold in one direction while giving it a pass in the other. The device could someday play a role in optical information processing and in novel biosensing schemes.

Seeing your true colors: Standards for hyperspectral imaging

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 03:38 PM PDT

After a successful non-human trial, researchers have started gathering data on how human skin looks under various wavelengths of light in order to develop badly needed standards for a diagnostic technique called hyperspectral imaging that gives doctors a noninvasive, painless way to discriminate between healthy and diseased tissue and reveal how well damaged tissue is healing over a wide area.

Solar panels light the way from carbon dioxide to fuel

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 02:01 PM PDT

Researchers have devised an efficient method for harnessing sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into a potential alternative fuel known as formic acid. The transformation from carbon dioxide and water to formic acid was powered by a commercial solar panel.

Blind lead the way in brave new world of tactile technology

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:57 AM PDT

Imagine feeling a slimy jellyfish, a prickly cactus or map directions on your iPad Mini retina display, because that's where tactile technology is headed. But you'll need more than just an index finger to feel your way around. New research has found that people are better and faster at navigating tactile technology when using both hands and several fingers. Moreover, blind people outmaneuvered their sighted counterparts.

Two Kuiper Belt objects found: Hubble to proceed with full search for New Horizons targets

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:55 AM PDT

Planetary scientists have successfully used the Hubble Space Telescope to find two Kuiper Belt objects for NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto. After the marathon probe zooms past Pluto in July 2015, it will travel across the Kuiper Belt -- a vast rim of primitive ice bodies left over from the birth of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago. If NASA approves, the probe could be redirected to fly to a Kuiper Belt object and photograph it up close.

Video games could provide venue for exploring sustainability concepts

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:29 AM PDT

Video games have the potential to educate the public and encourage development of creative solutions to social, economic and environmental problems related to global sustainability issues such as pollution, drought or climate change. "Video games encourage creative and strategic thinking, which could help people make sense of complex problems," said one author.

Proton therapy has advantages over IMRT for advanced head, neck cancers

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:29 AM PDT

A new study by radiation oncologists comparing the world's literature on outcomes of proton beam therapy in the treatment of a variety of advanced head and neck cancers of the skull base compared to intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) has found that proton beam therapy significantly improved disease free survival and tumor control when compared to IMRT.

New bridge design improves earthquake resistance, reduces damage and speeds construction

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:29 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a new design for the framework of columns and beams that support bridges, called 'bents,' to improve performance for better resistance to earthquakes, less damage and faster on-site construction.

Bolstering batteries with nanotubes

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:29 AM PDT

Researchers are turning to extremely tiny tubes and rods to boost power and durability in lithium-ion batteries, the energy sources for cell phones, laptops, and electric vehicles. If successful, the batteries will last longer and perform better, leading to a cost advantage for electric vehicles.

Supercomputer tackles grid challenges

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:28 AM PDT

'Big data' is playing an increasingly big role in the renewable energy industry and the transformation of the nation's electrical grid.

Muscle-powered bio-bots walk on command

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:28 AM PDT

A new generation of miniature biological robots is flexing its muscle. Engineers have demonstrated a class of walking 'bio-bots' powered by muscle cells and controlled with electrical pulses, giving researchers unprecedented command over their function.

Smartphone app may revolutionize mental health treatment

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:28 AM PDT

A new technology is poised to transform the way in which patients with mental illnesses are monitored and treated by clinicians. Their new smartphone-based system detects changes in patients' behavioral patterns, and then transmits them to professionals in real time. It has the potential to greatly improve the response time and efficacy of clinical psychiatrists.

Separating finely mixed oil and water: Membrane can separate even highly mixed fine oil-spill residues

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:28 AM PDT

Whenever there is a major spill of oil into water, the two tend to mix into a suspension of tiny droplets, called an emulsion, that is extremely hard to separate -- and that can cause severe damage to ecosystems. But researchers have discovered a new, inexpensive way of getting the two fluids apart again. Their newly developed membrane could be manufactured at industrial scale, and could process large quantities of the finely mixed materials back into pure oil and water.

Bringing the bling to antibacterials: New way to combat bacterial biofilm formation with titanium encrusted with gold nanoparticles

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 11:01 AM PDT

Bacteria love to colonize surfaces inside your body, but they have a hard time getting past your skin. Surgeries to implant medical devices give such bacteria the opportunity needed to gain entry into the body cavity, allowing the implants themselves to act then as an ideal growing surface for biofilms. Researchers are looking to combat these dangerous sub-dermal infections by upgrading your new hip or kneecap in a fashion appreciated since ancient times – adding gold.

Up in flames: Evidence confirms combustion theory

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Researchers have uncovered the first step in the process that transforms gas-phase molecules into solid particles like soot and other carbon-based compounds. The finding could help combustion chemists make more-efficient, less-polluting fuels and help materials scientists fine-tune their carbon nanotubes and graphene sheets for faster, smaller electronics. In addition, the results could have implications for the burgeoning field of astrochemistry, potentially establishing the chemical process for how gaseous outflows from stars turn into carbon-based matter in space.

Enlightening cancer cells with optogenetics

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 07:13 AM PDT

The first application of optogenetics to cancer research has been conducted on engineered cell surface receptors activated by light, researchers report. Small algal protein domains serve as synthetic light sensors in human cells.

Computing paths to asteroids helps find future exploration opportunities

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 06:35 AM PDT

As left over building blocks of the solar system's formation, asteroids are of significant interest to scientists. Resources, especially water, embedded within asteroids could be of use to astronauts traveling through deep space. Likewise, asteroids could continue to be destinations for robotic and human missions as NASA pioneers deeper into the solar system, to Mars and beyond.

Cassini names final mission phase its 'grand finale'

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 06:32 AM PDT

With input from more than 2,000 members of the public, team members on NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn have chosen a name for the final phase of the mission: the Cassini Grand Fi-nale. Starting in late 2016, the Cassini spacecraft will begin a daring set of orbits that is, in some ways, like a whole new mission. The spacecraft will repeatedly climb high above Saturn's north pole, flying just outside its narrow F ring. Cassini will probe the water-rich plume of the active geysers on the planet's intriguing moon Enceladus, and then will hop the rings and dive between the plan-et and innermost ring 22 times.

Rosetta's comet target 'releases' plentiful water

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 06:30 AM PDT

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is releasing the Earthly equivalent of two glasses of water into space every second. The observations were made by the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO), aboard the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft on June 6, 2014. The detection of water vapor has implications not only for cometary science, but also for mission planning, as the Rosetta team prepares the spacecraft to become the first ever to orbit a comet (planned for August), and the first to deploy a lander to its surface (planned for November 11).

Weave a cell phone into your shirt? Engineers envision an electronic switch just three atoms thick

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 06:20 AM PDT

Researchers believe they've discovered a crystal that can form a monolayer three atoms thick. Computer simulations show that this crystal, molybdenum ditelluride, can act like a switch: its crystal lattice can be mechanically pulled and pushed, back and forth, between two different atomic structures -- one that conducts electricity well, the other that does not. The team hopes experimental scientists will make this semiconductor crystal and use it to fashion flexible electronics.

Scientists discover how 'plastic' solar panels work

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 06:20 AM PDT

Scientists don't fully understand how 'plastic' solar panels work, which complicates the improvement of their cost efficiency, thereby blocking the wider use of the technology. However, researchers have determined how light beams excite the chemicals in solar panels, enabling them to produce charge.

Biology labs: Managing the data jungle

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 05:54 AM PDT

Many biology labs fight with a glut of measurement data. New software aims to make this a thing of the past: it simplifies laboratory experiment evaluation and unifies how data is saved. It even identifies measurement errors on the spot.

3-D printed wrist splints for arthritis sufferers

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 05:53 AM PDT

A computer software concept has been developed that will enable clinicians with no experience in Computer Aided Design (CAD) to design and make custom-made 3D printed wrist splints for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. The 3D printed splints are not only more comfortable and attractive but potentially cheaper than the current ones that are 'ugly, bulky, and can make a patients arm sweat'.

'Molecular movies' will enable extraordinary gains in bioimaging, health research

Posted: 30 Jun 2014 01:41 PM PDT

An imaging technology more powerful than anything that has existed before, and is fast enough to observe life processes as they actually happen at the molecular level, has been created by scientists. This technology will allow creation of improved biosensors to study everything from nerve impulses to cancer metastasis as it occurs.

'Microbe sniffer' could point way to next-generation bio-refining

Posted: 30 Jun 2014 01:40 PM PDT

A new biosensor could help optimize bio-refining processes that produce fuels, fine chemicals and advanced materials. It works by sniffing out naturally occurring bacterial networks that are genetically wired to break down wood polymer. "Nature has already invented microbial processes to degrade lignin--the tough polymer in wood and plant biomass that currently stymies industrial bio-refining," says a microbiologist researcher.

Growth of metallic silver on surface of silver tungstate crystals as a result of electrosynthesis

Posted: 30 Jun 2014 06:45 AM PDT

The growth of metallic silver on the surface of silver tungstate crystals (Ag2WO4) using high resolution and hign transmission scanning microscopes has been reported by researchers. This phenomenon has not been observed before, and results from the interaction of the electrons generated by the microscope with the silver ions, that are reduced to metallic silver.

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