Researchers Create Highly Conductive and Elastic Conductors Using Silver Nanowires
|1:07:53 AM, Monday, July 16, 2012|
"(phys.org July 12, 2012) Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed highly conductive and elastic conductors made from silver nanoscale wires (nanowires). These elastic conductors could be used to develop stretchable electronic devices.
Stretchable circuitry would be able to do many things that its rigid counterpart cannot. For example, an electronic "skin" could help robots pick up delicate objects without breaking them, and stretchable displays and antennas could make cell phones and other electronic devices stretch and compress without affecting their performance. However, the first step toward making such applications possible is to produce conductors that are elastic and able to effectively and reliably transmit electric signals regardless of whether they are deformed.
Dr. Yong Zhu, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State, and Feng Xu, a Ph.D. student in Zhu's lab have developed such elastic conductors using silver nanowires.
Silver has very high electric conductivity, meaning that it can transfer electricity efficiently. And the new technique developed at NC State embeds highly conductive silver nanowires in a polymer that can withstand significant stretching without adversely affecting the material's conductivity. This makes it attractive as a component for use in stretchable electronic devices..."
Early Human Ancestor, Australopithecus Sediba, Fossils Discovered in Rock
|10:57:23 PM, Saturday, July 14, 2012|
"(ScienceDaily July 12, 2012) - Scientists from the Wits Institute for Human Evolution based at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg have just announced the discovery of a large rock containing significant parts of a skeleton of an early human ancestor. The skeleton is believed to be the remains of 'Karabo', the type skeleton of Australopithecus sediba, discovered at the Malapa Site in the Cradle of Humankind in 2009.
Professor Lee Berger, a Reader in Palaeoanthropology and the Public Understanding of Science at the Wits Institute for Human Evolution, will make the announcement at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum in Shanghai, China on 13 July 2012.
"We have discovered parts of a jaw and critical aspects of the body including what appear to be a complete femur (thigh bone), ribs, vertebrae and other important limb elements, some never before seen in such completeness in the human fossil record," says Berger. "This discovery will almost certainly make Karabo the most complete early human ancestor skeleton ever discovered. We are obviously quite excited as it appears that we now have some of the most critical and complete remains of the skeleton, albeit encased in solid rock. It's a big day for us as a team and for our field as a whole...""
Skinny Searchers Keep Fat Ants Full
|10:27:45 PM, Saturday, July 14, 2012|
"(sciencenews.org July 12th, 2012) Using tiny key cards glued to ants’ backs, researchers have figured out how colonies manage their food stores: A body weight–based strategy determines who’s doing the hunting and when.
To test the relevance of body weight and experience in foraging, researchers saddled ants (Temnothorax albipennis) with electronic tags smaller than a pinhead and installed a mini automatic door in the colony’s nest to control who could leave.
“It’s like if you didn’t want your teenage son to drive the car, you could disable his garage-door opener so he couldn’t get out,” says biologist Elva Robinson of the University of York in England.
Blocking lean ants from leaving forced stay-at-home tubby ants to gain experience foraging. But the insects switched back to their normal jobs when researchers reopened the doors, Robinson and colleagues report online July 12 in the Journal of Experimental Biology..."
Lost Viking Military Town Unearthed in Germany?
|10:15:46 PM, Saturday, July 14, 2012|
"(Nat. Geo. July 11, 2012) A battle-scarred, eighth-century town unearthed in northern Germany may be the earliest Viking settlement in the historical record, archaeologists announced recently.
Ongoing excavations at Füsing (map), near the Danish border, link the site to the "lost" Viking town of Sliasthorp—first recorded in A.D. 804 by royal scribes of the powerful Frankish ruler Charlemagne.
Used as a military base by the earliest Scandinavian kings, Sliasthorp's location was unknown until now, said dig leader Andres Dobat, of Aarhus University in Denmark.
Whether it proves to be the historic town or not, the site offers valuable insights into military organization and town planning in the early Viking era, according to the study team.
Some 30 buildings have been uncovered since excavations began in 2010. Aerial photographs and geomagnetic surveys indicate about 200 buildings in total..."
New Pluto Moon Found 'Fringe Benefit' of Search for Risky Rings
|9:45:12 PM, Saturday, July 14, 2012|
"(Nat. Geo. July 12, 2012) Only a year after Hubble Space Telescope scientists discovered Pluto's still unnamed fourth moon, they've found a fifth.
Finding the new moon this summer was a "fringe benefit" of a monthlong program to scan Pluto for rocky rings that could endanger NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, said planetary astronomer Mark Showalter, who's leading the Hubble scanning project. The probe is to fly by the dwarf planet in July 2015.
Even in the Hubble's best images, the new moon—some 3.7 billion miles (5.9 billion) miles from the sun—is visible only as a speck of light.
Based on its brightness, the temporarily named P5 is probably 6 to 15 miles (10 to 25 kilometers) in diameter—about two-thirds the size of P4, the Plutonian moon discovered in 2011.
The new moon adds one more level to the complexity of the Pluto system, which was already surprisingly complex for a world that's only two-thirds the width of Earth's moon, the team says.
Pluto's "Russian Doll" Moons
At about 29,000 miles (47,000 kilometers) from Pluto, the new moon orbits in a 1:3 resonance with the dwarf planet's largest moon, Charon—meaning the newfound natural satellite takes about three times longer than Charon to circle Pluto.
Intriguingly, all of the other moons also lie in orbital resonances with Charon. Nix, discovered in 2005, lies in the 1:4 resonance. P4 lies in the 1:5 resonance. And Hydra, also discovered in 2005, is in the 1:6 resonance..."
Slugs' Tunnels Shed Light on Early Bilateral Animals
|2:41:58 AM, Wednesday, July 11, 2012|
"(nytimes.com, July 7, 2012) Bilateral animals, or bilaterians - so called because unlike, say, jellyfish, they have left, right, back and front sides - are probably the first animals that could move on their own. Until now, the oldest fossil evidence for bilaterians dated back 555 million years.
However, scientists have found fossil burrows of a segmented slug that are about 30 million years older.
The burrows, found in northeastern Uruguay, have fine details that offer hints about the appearance and behavior of the animals that made them. The slugs were less than four-tenths of an inch long, and apparently moved in search of food, grazing on various kinds of organic material found on the sea bottom in shallow water. They had primitive "feet" that they could extend into the mud to help them slide along.
The researchers dated the fossils by measuring uranium decay over time, which allows them to estimate their age quite accurately, geologically speaking: within six million years..."
Century-Old Whiskey Bottles Found in Missouri Man's Attic
|2:33:19 AM, Wednesday, July 11, 2012|
(ALON HARISH, Good Morning America, July 5, 2012) To save money on the installation of central air-conditioning in his St. Joseph, Mo., home, Bryan Fite began replacing the wires in his attic, prying up the floor boards on the rafters. Along with possible savings, he found a treasure beneath the floorboards: 13 bottles of century-old whiskey.
Fite, 40, grew up in St. Joseph, and after working in Kansas City for several years, he returned to settle in his hometown in September 2011. The house he and his wife Emily Fite chose was built in the 1850s and needed work, Fite said.
The cost of installing central A/C and heat was prohibitive, he said, so he got to work in his attic. What first appeared to Fite as a set of strangely shaped insulated pipes turned out to be the secret whiskey stash of one of the house's former owners — or so goes Fite's main theory of how the liquor ended up there..."
New Study Sheds New Light on Planet Formation
|2:07:04 AM, Wednesday, July 11, 2012|
"(Phys.org, July 4, 2012) A study published in the July 5 edition of the journal Nature is challenging scientists' understanding of planet formation, suggesting that planets might form much faster than previously thought or, alternatively, that stars harboring planets could be far more numerous.
The study—a collaboration between scientists at the University of Georgia; the University of California, San Diego; the University of California, Los Angeles; California State Polytechnic University and the Australian National University—began with a curious and unexpected finding: Within three years, the cloud of dust circling a young star in the Scorpius-Centaurus stellar nursery simply disappeared.
"The most commonly accepted time scale for the removal of this much dust is in the hundreds of thousands of years, sometimes millions," said study co-author Inseok Song, assistant professor of physics and astronomy in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "What we saw was far more rapid and has never been observed or even predicted. It tells us that we have a lot more to learn about planet formation."
Lead author Carl Melis, a postdoctoral fellow at UC San Diego, said, "It's like the classic magician's trick: Now you see it, now you don't. Only in this case we're talking about enough dust to fill an inner solar system, and it really is gone."
The scientists first identified their star of interest by examining data from the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, or IRAS, which surveyed more than 96 percent of the sky in 1983. The star, known as TYC 8241 2652 1, was surrounded by a cloud of dust that was identifiable by its distinctive radiation of infrared energy. Like a skillet absorbing heat and then radiating it, the dust cloud was absorbing energy from the central star and radiating it in the infrared range. This warm dust is thought to be the raw material from which planets form, but scientists don't have a clear understanding of how long the process takes..."
Women Infected with Toxoplasma Gondii Have Increased Risk of Attempting Suicide: Study
|1:53:48 AM, Wednesday, July 11, 2012|
"(medicalxpress.com, July 2, 2012) Women infected with the Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) parasite, which is spread through contact with cat feces or eating undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables, are at increased risk of attempting suicide, according to a new study of more than 45,000 women in Denmark. A University of Maryland School of Medicine psychiatrist with expertise in suicide neuroimmunology is the senior author of the study, which is being published online today in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
"We can't say with certainty that T. gondii caused the women to try to kill themselves, but we did find a predictive association between the infection and suicide attempts later in life that warrants additional studies. We plan to continue our research into this possible connection," says Teodor T. Postolache, M.D., the senior author and an associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Mood and Anxiety Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He also serves as research faculty at the University of Maryland Child and Adolescent Mental Health Innovations Center and is a senior consultant on suicide prevention for the Baltimore VA Medical Center.
About one-third of the world's population is infected with the parasite, which hides in cells in the brain and muscles, often without producing symptoms. The infection, which is called toxoplasmosis, has been linked to mental illness, such as schizophrenia, and changes in behavior..."
World's Fastest Camera Used to Detect Rogue Cancer Cells
|1:55:51 AM, Saturday, July 07, 2012|
"(Phys.org July 6, 2012) The ability to distinguish and isolate rare cells from among a large population of assorted cells has become increasingly important for the early detection of disease and for monitoring disease treatments.
Circulating cancer tumor cells are a perfect example. Typically, there are only a handful of them among a billion healthy cells, yet they are precursors to metastasis, the spread of cancer that causes about 90 percent of cancer mortalities. Such "rogue" cells are not limited to cancer — they also include stem cells used for regenerative medicine and other cell types.
Unfortunately, detecting such cells is difficult. Achieving good statistical accuracy requires an automated, high-throughput instrument that can examine millions of cells in a reasonably short time. Microscopes equipped with digital cameras are currently the gold standard for analyzing cells, but they are too slow to be useful for this application.
Now, a new optical microscope developed by UCLA engineers could make the tough task a whole lot easier..."
New Type of Black Hole Found - Relic of Early Universe?
|1:37:29 AM, Saturday, July 07, 2012|
"(Nat. Geo. July 5, 2012) There's a strange new brute on the celestial block—the middleweight black hole, a new study says.
After nearly three years of spying a superbright object nearly 300 million light-years away, astronomers with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and SWIFT telescope recently announced the discovery of HLX-1, the first representative of a new type of black hole.
Until recently, black holes were thought to come in only two sizes: Small stellar varieties that are several times heavier than our sun, and supermassive black holes that pack the gravitational punch of many million suns—large enough to swallow our entire solar system.
Notorious for ripping apart and swallowing stars, extra-large black holes live exclusively in the hearts of most galaxies, including our own Milky Way.
The new middleweight black hole is between these two types—equal to the matter of about 90,000 suns..."
Spaceflight May Extend the Lifespan of Microscopic Worm
|1:23:03 AM, Saturday, July 07, 2012|
"(Phys.org July 6, 2012) The effect of spaceflight on a microscopic worm — Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) — could help it to live longer.
The discovery was made by an international group of scientists studying the loss of bone and muscle mass experienced by astronauts after extended flights in space. The results of this research have been published today, July 5 2012, in the online journal Scientific Reports.
Dr. Nathaniel Szewczyk, from The University of Nottingham, was part of the ICE-FIRST project which involved scientists from Japan, France, the US, and Canada. They discovered that spaceflight suppressed accumulation of toxic proteins that normally accumulate within aging muscle. They also discovered a group of genes that are expressed at lower levels during spaceflight. When the expression of these same genes were lowered in worms back on Earth the worms lived longer..."
LHC Claims New Particle Discovery
|5:08:38 AM, Wednesday, July 04, 2012|
"(BBC July 4 2012) Cern scientists reporting at conferences in the UK and Geneva claim the discovery of a new particle consistent with the Higgs boson.
The particle has been the subject of a 45-year hunt to explain how matter attains its mass.
Both of the two Higgs-hunting experiments at the Large Hadron Collider have reached a level of certainty worthy of a "discovery".
More work will be needed to be certain that what they see is a Higgs, however.
The CMS team claimed they had seen a "bump" in their data corresponding to a particle weighing in at 125.3 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) - about 133 times heavier than the proton at the heart of every atom.
Indications are strong, but it remains to be seen whether the particle the team reports is in fact the Higgs - those answers will certainly not come on Wednesday.
The result announced at Cern, home of the LHC in Geneva, was met with applause.
The CMS team claimed that by combining two of its data sets, they had attained a confidence level just at the "five-sigma" point - about a one-in-3.5 million chance that the signal they see would appear if there were no Higgs particle.
However, a full combination of the CMS data brings that number just back to 4.9 sigma - a one-in-2 million chance..."
New Way to Grow, Isolate Cancer Cells May Add Weapon Against Disease
|1:58:21 AM, Tuesday, July 03, 2012|
"(phys.org July 2, 2012) A new method to isolate and grow the most dangerous cancer cells could enable new research into how cancer spreads and, ultimately, how to fight it. University of Illinois researchers and collaborators in China found that while a traditional culture of cancer cells has only a few capable of starting new tumors, a soft gel is capable of isolating tumor-repopulating cells and promoting the growth and multiplication of these cells in culture. The new culture technique could allow researchers to better study metastatic cancers.
The news a cancer patient most fears is that the disease has spread and become much more difficult to treat. A new method to isolate and grow the most dangerous cancer cells could enable new research into how cancer spreads and, ultimately, how to fight it.
University of Illinois researchers, in collaboration with scientists at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, published their results in the journal Nature Materials.
"This may open the door for understanding and blocking metastatic colonization, the most devastating step in cancer progression," said Ning Wang, a professor of mechanical science and engineering who co-led the study..."
Hidden Portals in Earth's Magnetic Field
|1:06:34 AM, Tuesday, July 03, 2012|
"(Phys.org, July 2 2012) A favorite theme of science fiction is "the portal" -- an extraordinary opening in space or time that connects travelers to distant realms. A good portal is a shortcut, a guide, a door into the unknown. If only they actually existed...
It turns out that they do, sort of, and a NASA-funded researcher at the University of Iowa has figured out how to find them.
"We call them X-points or electron diffusion regions," explains plasma physicist Jack Scudder of the University of Iowa. "They're places where the magnetic field of Earth connects to the magnetic field of the Sun, creating an uninterrupted path leading from our own planet to the sun's atmosphere 93 million miles away."
Observations by NASA's THEMIS spacecraft and Europe's Cluster probes suggest that these magnetic portals open and close dozens of times each day. They're typically located a few tens of thousands of kilometers from Earth where the geomagnetic field meets the onrushing solar wind. Most portals are small and short-lived; others are yawning, vast, and sustained. Tons of energetic particles can flow through the openings, heating Earth's upper atmosphere, sparking geomagnetic storms, and igniting bright polar auroras..."
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