Kamis, 23 Desember 2010

ScienceDaily Technology Headlines

for Thursday, December 23, 2010

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Cassini finishes sleigh ride by Saturn's icy moons (December 23, 2010) -- On the heels of a successful close flyby of Saturn's moon Enceladus, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is returning images of Enceladus and the nearby moon Dione. ... > full story

New annotated database sifts through mountains of sequencing data to find gene promoters (December 23, 2010) -- Researchers announce the release of an online tool that will help scientists find "gene promoters" -- regions along a DNA strand that tell a cell's transcription machinery where to start reading in order to create a particular protein. The Mammalian Promoter Database (MPromDb) integrates sequencing data generated at Wistar with publicly available data on human and mouse genomics. MPromDb pinpoints known promoters and predicts where new ones are likely to be found. ... > full story

New single-pixel photo camera developed (December 22, 2010) -- Researchers have developed a new tool for the field of scientific imaging. A sensor of just one pixel can record high-quality images and distribute them securely, that is, without allowing unauthorized people access to information. ... > full story

Muscle filaments make mechanical strain visible (December 22, 2010) -- Plastics manufacturers face a serious hurdle in their quest for new developments: Substantial influences of the microscopic material structure on mechanical material properties cannot be observed directly. Synthetic polymer molecules are too small for microscopic observation in mechanical experiments. Physicists have now developed a method that allows just these kinds of measurements. ... > full story

A robot with finger-tip sensitivity (December 22, 2010) -- Two arms, three cameras, finger-tip sensitivity and a variety of facial expressions -- these are the distinguishing features of the pi4-workerbot. Similar in size to a human being, it can be employed at any modern workstation in an industrial manufacturing environment. Its purpose is to help keep European production competitive. ... > full story

New ideas enhance efficiency of wind turbines (December 22, 2010) -- One issue confronting the efficiency of wind as a promising renewable energy source is the wind itself -- specifically, its changeability. While the aerodynamic performance of a wind turbine is best under steady wind flow, the efficiency of the blades degrades when exposed to conditions such as wind gusts, turbulent flow, upstream turbine wakes and wind shear. Now, a new type of air-flow technology may soon increase the efficiency of large wind turbines under many different wind conditions. ... > full story

Discovery of new molecule could lead to more efficient rocket fuel (December 22, 2010) -- Trinitramid is the name of the new molecule that may be a component in future rocket fuel. This fuel could be 20 to 30 percent more efficient in comparison with the best rocket fuels available today, according to researchers in Sweden. ... > full story

Laser twinkles in rare color (December 22, 2010) -- December is a time for twinkling lights, and scientists are delivering. They've just produced a long-sought, rare color of laser light 100 times brighter than that generated anywhere else. The Free-Electron Laser delivered vacuum ultraviolet light in the form of 10 eV photons (124 nanometers). This color is called vacuum ultraviolet because it's absorbed by molecules in air, requiring its use in a vacuum. ... > full story

Pen to measure and reduce stress (December 22, 2010) -- In the future, more and more products will be able to interpret what users are feeling and use that information in a smart way. To illustrate the power of this theory, researchers have developed a pen which can measure the stress levels of the person using it, and can actually help to reduce that stress. In experiments, the heart rate of people who used the anti-stress pen fell by an average of five percent. ... > full story

Universe's most massive stars can form in near isolation, new study finds (December 22, 2010) -- New observations by astronomers add weight to the theory that the most massive stars in the universe could form essentially anywhere, including in near isolation; they don't need a large stellar cluster nursery. ... > full story

New Miscanthus hybrid discovery in Japan could open doors for biofuel industry (December 22, 2010) -- In the minds of many, Miscanthus x giganteus is the forerunner in the race of viable feedstock options for lignocellulosic bioenergy production. But researchers believe "putting all their eggs in one basket" could be a big mistake. Scientists recently reported the first natural occurrence in several decades of Miscanthus hybrid plants in Japan. ... > full story

Smarter systems help busy doctors remember (December 22, 2010) -- Busy doctors can miss important details about a patient's care during an office exam. To prevent that, researchers have created a whip smart-assistant for physicians -- a new system using electronic health records that alerts doctors during an exam when a patient's care is amiss. A yellow light on their computer alerts them to problems. The new system, tied to doctor performance reviews, improved patient care and boosted preventive screenings. ... > full story

Biomagnification of nanomaterials in simple food chain demonstrated (December 21, 2010) -- Researchers have produced a groundbreaking study of how nanoparticles are able to biomagnify in a simple microbial food chain. ... > full story

Engineers take plasmon lasers out of deep freeze (December 21, 2010) -- Researchers have developed a new technique that allows plasmon lasers to operate at room temperature, overcoming a major barrier to practical utilization of the technology. Previous plasmon lasers required temperatures as low as minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit to function properly. ... > full story

New collage of nearby galaxies from WISE space telescope (December 21, 2010) -- A new collage of galaxies from NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, showcases the many "flavors" that galaxies come in, from star-studded spirals to bulging ellipticals to those paired with other companion galaxies. ... > full story

Electric current moves magnetic vortices: With the help of neutrons, physicists discover new ways to save data (December 21, 2010) -- One of the requirements to keep trends in computer technology on track -- to be ever faster, smaller, and more energy-efficient -- is faster writing and processing of data. New results could point the way to a solution. Physicists set a lattice of magnetic vortices in a material in motion using electric current almost a million times weaker than in earlier studies. ... > full story

Motion sickness reality in virtual world, too (December 21, 2010) -- Psychologists see motion sickness as potential fallout from high-end technology that once was limited to the commercial marketplace moving to consumer use in gaming devices. ... > full story

Strange new twist: Researchers discover Möbius symmetry in metamaterials (December 21, 2010) -- Researchers have discovered Möbius symmetry in metamaterials -- materials engineered from artificial "atoms" and "molecules." This phenomenon, never observed in natural materials, could open new avenues for unique applications in quantum electronics and optics. ... > full story

Electronic nose detects cancer (December 21, 2010) -- Researchers have been able to confirm in tests that ovarian cancer tissue and healthy tissue smell different. ... > full story

NASA spacecraft provides travel tips for Mars rover (December 21, 2010) -- NASA's Mars Opportunity rover is getting important tips from an orbiting spacecraft as it explores areas that might hold clues about past Martian environments. ... > full story

Samples of vital human tumor tissue irradiated with ions for the first time (December 21, 2010) -- Scientists have for the first time irradiated samples of vital human tumor tissue in the scope of their systematical and fundamental research. Their long-term goal is to enhance the already highly effective ion beam therapy in a way that allows the optimization of the irradiation dose based on the specific tumor of the individual patient. Such a treatment would constitute a novel approach, as radiation treatment so far only considered the type and position of the tumor. ... > full story

Comprehensive wind info collected to improve renewable energy (December 21, 2010) -- Scientists are researching how radar weather instruments can help improve predictions on when and how strongly winds will blow. They're testing the instruments from a working wind farm in southeastern Washington State with the goal of helping power grid operators better manage the intermittent stress that spinning wind turbines put on the electrical grid. ... > full story

Urban planning: Better spaces for older people (December 21, 2010) -- Urban planning needs to consider how older people use walking routes as well as public areas, concludes a new study. Planning should include a smooth transition between walking, driving and using public transport and should take account of how older people navigate between these. ... > full story

Scientists identify a spontaneously chain-reacting molecule (December 20, 2010) -- A new paper describes, for the first time, a simple molecule that each time it chemically reacts with a surface prepares a hospitable neighboring site at which the next incoming molecule reacts. Accordingly, these molecules, when simply dosed (blindly) on the surface, spontaneously grow durable "molecular-chains." These molecular chains are the desired prototypes of nano-wires. ... > full story

A 'spin ratchet' paves the way for spin computers: New electronic structure for generating spin current (December 20, 2010) -- Scientists have proposed and experimentally demonstrated a ratchet concept to control the spin motion. In analogy to a ratchet wrench, which provides uniform rotation from oscillatory motion, such ratchets achieve directed spin transport in one direction, in the presence of an oscillating signal. Most important, this signal could be an oscillatory current that results from environmental charge noise; thus future devices based on this concept could function by gathering energy from the environment. ... > full story

Organic electronic ratchets doing work (December 20, 2010) -- Researchers have succeeded in causing electron transport using an electronic ‘ratchet’. This is the first time that usable powers have been generated at room temperature with a device of this kind. The finding opens the possibility of a new kind of wireless drive for microelectronic circuits. ... > full story

Construction of the world's largest neutrino observatory completed: Antarctica's IceCube (December 19, 2010) -- Culminating a decade of planning, innovation and testing, construction of the world's largest neutrino observatory, installed in the ice of the Antarctic plateau at the geographic South Pole, was successfully completed Dec. 18, 2010, New Zealand time. The last of 86 holes had been drilled and a total of 5,160 optical sensors are now installed to form the main detector -- a cubic kilometer of instrumented ice -- of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, located at the National Science Foundation's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. From its vantage point at the end of the world, IceCube provides an innovative means to investigate the properties of fundamental particles that originate in some of the most spectacular phenomena in the universe. ... > full story

Which methods of heating are most efficient? (December 19, 2010) -- Supplying energy is in the process of metamorphosis because people want to know what is the most intelligent and efficient way to utilize all types of energy carriers. Researchers put the most common ideas for heating under the microscope and come up with major potential. ... > full story

Unprecedented topographic map of the Moon (December 19, 2010) -- Researchers are creating the most precise and complete map to date of the moon's complex, heavily cratered landscape. ... > full story

How do you cut a nanotube? Lots of compression (December 19, 2010) -- Researchers have described the dynamics behind cutting single-walled carbon nanotubes, cylindrical structures just 1/50,000th the width of a human hair. The tubes are compressed by potent sonic booms, causing them to buckle at certain points at helical, 90-degree angles. The finding could lead to better-quality nanotubes for potential use in automotive, electronics, optics and other fields. ... > full story

You only live once: Our flawed understanding of risk helps drive financial market instability (December 19, 2010) -- Our flawed understanding of how decisions in the present restrict our options in the future means that we may underestimate the risk associated with investment decisions, according to new research. The research suggests how policy makers might reshape financial risk controls to reduce market instability and the risk of market collapse. ... > full story

Does fluoride really fight cavities by 'the skin of the teeth?' (December 18, 2010) -- In a study that the authors describe as lending credence to the idiom, "by the skin of your teeth," scientists are reporting that the protective shield fluoride forms on teeth is up to 100 times thinner than previously believed. It raises questions about how this renowned cavity-fighter really works and could lead to better ways of protecting teeth from decay, the scientists suggest. ... > full story

Using digitized books as 'cultural genome,' researchers unveil quantitative approach to humanities (December 18, 2010) -- Researchers have created a powerful new approach to scholarship, using approximately 4 percent of all books ever published as a digital "fossil record" of human culture. By tracking the frequency with which words appear in books over time, scholars can now precisely quantify a wide variety of cultural and historical trends. ... > full story

As earthquakes take their toll, engineers look at enhancing building designs (December 18, 2010) -- A next generation of design criteria for buildings located in geographic regions where earthquakes are known to occur, either rarely or frequently, is under development. ... > full story

Total lunar eclipse and winter solstice coincide on Dec. 21 (December 17, 2010) -- With frigid temperatures already blanketing much of the United States, the arrival of the winter solstice on Dec. 21 may not be an occasion many people feel like celebrating. But a dazzling total lunar eclipse to start the day might just raise a few chilled spirits. ... > full story

The birth of time: Quantum loops describe the evolution of the Universe (December 17, 2010) -- What was the Big Bang and what happened before it? Scientists have attempted to answer the question. Within the framework of loop quantum gravity they have put forward a new theoretical model, which might prove useful for validating hypotheses about events prior to the Big Bang. This achievement is one of the few models describing the full Einstein's theory and not merely its greatly simplified version. ... > full story

Online access with a fingerprint (December 17, 2010) -- A new service makes it possible for users to maintain multiple online accounts using a scan of their fingerprint as a password. ... > full story

Looking back in time to see stars bursting into life (December 17, 2010) -- Astronomers have presented the first conclusive evidence for a dramatic surge in star birth in a newly discovered population of massive galaxies in the early universe. Their measurements confirm the idea that stars formed most rapidly about 11 billion years ago, or about three billion years after the Big Bang, and that the rate of star formation is much faster than was thought. ... > full story

An answer to green energy could be in the air (December 17, 2010) -- In Mark Moore's world, long nanotubes reach into the clouds, serving at once to tether a turbine-vehicle flying at 2,000 feet, or 10,000 feet, or 30,000 feet (610, 3,050 and 9,150 meters); and also to conduct the power that vehicle can harvest from the wind back to Earth. Aloft might be a funnel-shaped blimp with a turbine at its back; or a balloon with vanes that rotate; a truss-braced wing; a parachute; a kite. Any and all of them are ideas being considered by nascent renewable energy industry that is flexing its imagination. ... > full story

Nanotechnology: Tiny channels carry big information (December 17, 2010) -- Researchers have been able to fabricate nanochannels that are only two nanometers in size, using standard semiconductor manufacturing processes. Already they've discovered that fluid mechanics for passages this small are significantly different not only from bulk-sized channels, but even from channels that are merely 10 nanometers in size. ... > full story

Science's breakthrough of the year: The first quantum machine (December 17, 2010) -- Back in March, a group of researchers designed a gadget that moves in ways that can only be described by quantum mechanics -- the set of rules that governs the behavior of tiny things like molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles. In recognition of the conceptual ground their experiment breaks, the ingenuity behind it and its many potential applications, Science has called this discovery the most significant scientific advance of 2010. ... > full story

Cyclone lasting more than five years is detected on Saturn (December 17, 2010) -- Researchers have been monitoring a cyclone on Saturn for more than five years. This makes it the longest-lasting cyclone detected to date on any of the giant planets of the Solar System. Images from the Cassini probe were used to carry out this study. ... > full story

Holography with electrons (December 17, 2010) -- The principle of holography was discovered in 1947 by the Hungarian scientist Dennis Gábor, in connection with attempts to improve the resolution of electron microscopes. The experimental realization of the concept of holography had to wait, however, until the mid-60s. Holograms were then made using newly-discovered laser light sources, rather than with electrons. Physicists have now returned to the use of electrons in holography. A special element in their approach is that the electrons that image the object are made from the object itself using a strong laser. ... > full story

Imaging of Alfvén waves and fast ions in a fusion plasma (December 17, 2010) -- Fusion plasmas in the laboratory typically reach 100 million degrees. These high temperatures are required to ignite the hydrogen plasma and maintain the fusion burn by the production of high-energy alpha particles. One challenge for a fusion reactor is how to contain the alpha particles in the vessel long enough for the particles to efficiently heat the hydrogen plasma. One way that these alpha particles can escape the fusion chamber prematurely is by exciting high frequency Alfvén waves and riding these waves to the vessel walls, like a surfer rides a wave to the beach. ... > full story

Tennis star's hospitalization for altitude sickness (December 17, 2010) -- Former tennis champion Martina Navratilova was hospitalized for pulmonary edema -- fluid build-up in the lungs -- while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, drawing attention to the high risk of acute mountain sickness (AMS) and high altitude pulmonary edema. ... > full story

Single quantum dot nanowire photodetectors (December 16, 2010) -- Moving a step closer toward quantum computing, researchers recently fabricated a photodetector based on a single nanowire, in which the active element is a single quantum dot with a volume of a mere 7,000 cubic nanometers. ... > full story

Physicist developing, improving designer optical materials (December 16, 2010) -- Advancements in fabrication technologies may lead to superlenses and other designer optical materials, according to physicists. ... > full story

Computer memory takes a spin: Physicists read data after storing them in atomic nuclei for 112 seconds (December 16, 2010) -- Physicists have stored information for 112 seconds in what may become the world's tiniest computer memory: magnetic "spins" in the centers or nuclei of atoms. Then the physicists retrieved and read the data electronically -- a big step toward using the new kind of memory for both faster conventional and superfast "quantum" computers. ... > full story

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