Sunday, August 19, 2007

Science Sunday: Wrap-up of recent advancements in science from EurekAlert!

Light seems to defy its own speed limit:
It's a speed record that is supposed to be impossible to break. Yet two physicists are now claiming they have propelled photons faster than the speed of light. This would be in direct violation of Einstein's special theory of relativity, which states that nothing, under any circumstance, can exceed the speed of light. Researchers from the University of Koblenz, German, say they have tunnelled photons "instantaneously" across a barrier of various sizes up to a meter wide.

Structure of 450 million year old protein reveals evolution's steps:
A detailed map that pinpoints the location of every atom in a 450-million-year-old resurrected protein reveals the precise evolutionary steps needed to create the molecule's modern version, according to researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Oregon.

Beyond batteries: Storing power in a sheet of paper:
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers have developed a new energy storage device that could be mistaken for a simple sheet of paper. The nanoengineered battery is lightweight, flexible and geared toward meeting the design requirements of tomorrow's electronics and implantable medical equipment. The device withstands extreme temperatures, is completely integrated, can be printed like paper, and can function as both a battery and a supercapacitor. It can also be partly powered by human blood or sweat.

Tightly packed molecules lend unexpected strength to nanothin sheet of material:
Scientists at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, have discovered the surprising strength of a sheet of nanoparticles that measures just 50 atoms in thickness. "It's an amazing little marvel," said Heinrich Jaeger, Professor in Physics at the University of Chicago. "This is not a very fragile layer, but rather a robust, resilient membrane."

Nanoscale blasting adjusts resistance in magnetic sensors:
A new NIST process for adjusting the resistance of semiconductor devices by blanketing a layer of the device with tiny pits may be the key to a new class of magnetic sensors, enabling new, ultra-dense data storage devices.

All change at the Earth's core:
It is hard to know what is going on over 3000 kilometers beneath our feet, but until recently scientists were fairly confident that they understood the way the iron atoms in the Earth's core packed together. However, new research has overturned conventional thinking and revealed that the structure of the core is not as straightforward as was once thought.

Self-fertility in fungi -- the secrets of 'DIY reproduction':
Research from the University of Nottingham sheds new light on a fascinating phenomenon of the natural world -- the ability of some species to reproduce sexually without a partner.

'String' theory offers insight into catastrophic failure:
Kent State researchers test model to predict catastrophic failure with simple string experiment.

University of Cincinnati researchers design humorous 'bot':
University of Cincinnati researchers Julia Taylor and Larry Mazlack recently unveiled a "bot" -- more accurately a software program -- that recognizes jokes. They reported the development at the American Association for Artificial Intelligence conference in Vancouver, Canada. All bad jokes aside, their research represents a step forward in computers reaching the capability of a human mind.

Uncertainty drives the evolution of 'cooperative breeding' in birds:
Rather than striking out to start a family of their own, members of some bird species will stick around longer to help a relative raise their young. Now, researchers report evidence that in African starlings such altruistic tendencies are most common among species that live in savannas, where the rainfall in any given year is virtually impossible to predict.

Computing breakthrough could elevate security to unprecedented levels:
By using pulses of light to dramatically accelerate quantum computers, University of Michigan researchers have made strides in technology that could foil national and personal security threats.

Memory machine:
Are memories recorded in a stable physical change, like writing permanently on a clay tablet? Professor Yadin Dudai, head of the Weizmann Institute's neurobiology department, and his colleagues recently discovered that the process of storing long-term memories might involve a miniature molecular machine that must run constantly to keep memories going. When they "jammed" this machine -- a protein -- in mouse brains, they succeeded in erasing specific memories.

Reactivating a critical gene lost in kidney cancer reduces tumor growth:
Researchers at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, have found that a key gene is often "silenced" in clear cell renal cell carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer, and when they restored that gene in human kidney cancer cells in culture and animal experiments, tumors stopped growing and many disappeared.

Plain soap as effective as antibacterial but without the risk:
Antibacterial soaps show no health benefits over plain soaps and, in fact, may render some common antibiotics less effective, says a University of Michigan public health professor.

'It might be life, Jim...', physicists discover inorganic dust with lifelike qualities:
Intriguing new evidence of lifelike structures that form from inorganic substances in space are revealed today in the New Journal of Physics. The findings hint at the possibility that life beyond earth may not necessarily use carbon-based molecules as its building blocks. They also point to a possible new explanation for the origin of life on earth.



Post a Comment

<< Home