Kamis, 03 Februari 2011

ScienceDaily Technology Headlines

for Thursday, February 3, 2011

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Giant virus, tiny protein crystals show X-ray laser's power and potential (February 3, 2011) -- Two new studies demonstrate how the unique capabilities of the world's first hard X-ray free-electron laser could revolutionize the study of life. In one study, researchers used the laser to demonstrate a shortcut for determining the 3-D structures of proteins. In a separate paper, the same team reported making the first single-shot images of intact viruses, paving the way for snapshots and movies of molecules, viruses and live microbes in action. ... > full story

Picture-perfect pure-disc galaxy (February 3, 2011) -- The bright galaxy NGC 3621, captured in a new image using the Wide Field Imager on the 2.2-meter telescope at the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Observatory in Chile, appears to be a fine example of a classical spiral. But it is in fact rather unusual: it does not have a central bulge and is therefore described as a pure-disc galaxy. ... > full story

Ice dome made using novel construction method (February 3, 2011) -- Civil engineers have built an ice dome 10 meters in diameter in Obergurgl, in the Austrian Alps, using an ingenious construction method. ... > full story

Exploring an 'island of inversion,' physicists find new clues to element synthesis in supernovae (February 3, 2011) -- A new discovery, and the questions is raises, could help explain in greater detail how elements are synthesized in the explosion of stars. Although theory predicted a spherical arrangement in the nucleus of magnesium-32, experiments had only revealed a configuration shaped like an American football. Now, through experiments at CERN, physicists have confirmed the existence of a spherical magnesium-32 nucleus, formed at a much lower than predicted energy level. ... > full story

Tuning graphene film so it sheds water (February 2, 2011) -- Windshields that shed water so effectively that they don't need wipers. Ship hulls so slippery that they glide through the water more efficiently than ordinary hulls. These are some of the potential applications for graphene, one of the hottest new materials in the field of nanotechnology. ... > full story

Cassini sends back postcards of Saturn's moons (February 2, 2011) -- On Jan. 31, 2011, NASA's Cassini spacecraft passed by several of Saturn's intriguing moons, snapping images along the way. Cassini passed within about 60,000 kilometers (37,282 miles) of Enceladus and 28,000 kilometers (17,398 miles) of Helene. It also caught a glimpse of Mimas in front of Saturn's rings. In one of the images, Cassini is looking at the famous jets erupting from the south polar terrain of Enceladus. ... > full story

Crowd workers are not online Shakespeares, but research shows they can write (February 2, 2011) -- Writing can be a solitary, intellectual pursuit, but researchers have shown that the task of writing an informational article also can be accomplished by dozens of people working independently online. ... > full story

New nanoparticles make blood clots visible (February 2, 2011) -- For almost two decades, cardiologists have searched for ways to see dangerous blood clots before they cause heart attacks. Now, researchers report that they have designed nanoparticles that find clots and make them visible to a new kind of X-ray technology. ... > full story

New tumor-tracking technique for radiotherapy spares healthy tissue, could improve cancer treatment (February 2, 2011) -- Medical physicists have demonstrated a new real-time tumor-tracking technique that can help minimize the amount of radiation delivered to surrounding healthy tissue in a patient -- up to 50 percent less in some cases -- and maximize the dose the tumor receives. ... > full story

Possible path to creating next-generation computer chips (February 2, 2011) -- Researchers have made a breakthrough in the use of visible light for making tiny integrated circuits. Though their advance is probably at least a decade from commercial use, they say it could make it possible to continue the decades long tread of making ever smaller, faster and cheaper computer chips. ... > full story

NASA finds Earth-size planet candidates in habitable zone, six planet system (February 2, 2011) -- NASA's Kepler mission has discovered its first Earth-size planet candidates and its first candidates in the habitable zone, a region where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. Five of the potential planets are near Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of smaller, cooler stars than our sun. ... > full story

'Air laser' may sniff bombs, pollutants from a distance (February 2, 2011) -- Engineers have developed a new laser sensing technology that may allow soldiers to detect hidden bombs from a distance and scientists to better measure airborne environmental pollutants and greenhouse gasses. ... > full story

NASA's NEOWISE completes scan for asteroids and comets a family portrait (February 2, 2011) -- NASA's NEOWISE mission has completed its survey of small bodies, asteroids and comets, in our solar system. The mission's discoveries of previously unknown objects include 20 comets, more than 33,000 asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, and 134 near-Earth objects (NEOs). The NEOs are asteroids and comets with orbits that come within 45 million kilometers (28 million miles) of Earth's path around the sun. ... > full story

Internet addresses: An inevitable shortage, but an uneven one (February 2, 2011) -- As Internet authorities prepare to announce that they have handed over all of the available addresses, a research group that monitors address usage has completed the latest in its series of Internet censuses, mapping and analyzing the dimensions of usage and shortage. ... > full story

Video games are good for girls, if parents play along (February 2, 2011) -- Researchers have conducted a study on video games and children between 11 and 16 years old. They found that girls who played video games with a parent enjoyed a number of advantages. Those girls behaved better, felt more connected to their families and had stronger mental health. ... > full story

Forensic breakthrough: Recovering fingerprints on fabrics could turn clothes into silent witnesses (February 2, 2011) -- Forensic experts in Scotland are leading the way in the research of new ground-breaking forensic techniques within the field of fingerprints. The new research seeks to recover fingerprint ridge detail and impressions from fabrics -- a technique that has up until now proved difficult. It is the first time in more than 30 years that fingerprints on fabrics have been a major focus for research and the team have already had a number of successes. ... > full story

First mission to Mercury (February 2, 2011) -- As the team of scientists behind NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft eagerly awaits the craft’s entry into Mercury’s orbit on 17 March, we could soon get answers to questions about the origin, composition, interior structure and geological history of this mysterious planet. ... > full story

Scientists customize a magnet's performance by strategically replacing key atoms (February 2, 2011) -- Scientists have strategically replaced key atoms in a gadolinium-germanium compound, causing changes in the resulting alloy's ferromagnetism. The discovery may eventually help as materials scientists search for new, exotic substances for use in today's and future generations of high-tech products. ... > full story

Computer-assisted diagnosis tools to aid pathologists (February 2, 2011) -- Researchers are leveraging powerful Ohio Supercomputer Center resources to develop computer-assisted diagnosis tools for diagnosing Follicular Lymphoma. Accurate grading of the pathological samples generally leads to a promising prognosis, but diagnosis depends solely upon a labor-intensive process that can be affected by fatigue, reader variation and bias. These computer-assisted procedures will provide pathologists grading cancerous Follicular Lymphoma samples with quicker, more consistently accurate diagnoses. ... > full story

Exotic phases on an atom chip (February 2, 2011) -- The development of modern technologies relies on the exquisite knowledge of transport properties. Electronic devices and computers are indeed based on the possibility to generate and control currents of electrons, elementary particles which abound in materials. By exploiting their electric charge and their response to electromagnetic fields, these particles are minutely guided along circuits composed of fine conducting materials. Thus, the information transport from which we benefit daily is associated to an intrinsic property of the electron: its charge. ... > full story

NASA's Kepler spacecraft discovers extraordinary new planetary system (February 2, 2011) -- Scientists using NASA's Kepler, a space telescope, recently discovered six planets made of a mix of rock and gases orbiting a single sun-like star, known as Kepler-11, which is located approximately 2,000 light years from Earth. "The Kepler-11 planetary system is amazing," said Jack Lissauer, a planetary scientist and a Kepler science team member at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. "It's amazingly compact, it's amazingly flat, there's an amazingly large number of big planets orbiting close to their star -- we didn't know such systems could even exist." ... > full story

Kepler finds evidence of habitable Earth-size planets in Milky Way (February 2, 2011) -- Is our Milky Way galaxy home to other planets the size of Earth? Are Earth-sized planets common or rare? NASA scientists seeking answers to those questions recently revealed their discovery. "We went from zero to 68 Earth-sized planet candidates and zero to 54 candidates in the habitable zone -- a region where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. Some candidates could even have moons with liquid water," said William Borucki of NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and the Kepler Mission's science principal investigator. "Five of the planetary candidates are both near Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their parent stars." ... > full story

NASA's Stardust adjusts flight path for comet meetup (February 2, 2011) -- Just over two weeks before its flyby of comet Tempel 1, NASA's Stardust spacecraft fired its thrusters to help refine its flight path toward the comet. The Stardust-NExT mission will fly past comet Tempel 1 on Valentine's Day (Feb. 14, 2011). ... > full story

Early tests find nanoshell therapy effective against brain cancer (February 1, 2011) -- Researchers have successfully destroyed tumors of human brain cancer cells in the first animal tests of a minimally invasive treatment that zaps glioma tumors with heat. The researchers reported that four of seven mice that received the new treatment for glioma tumors had no signs of cancer more than three months after treatment. ... > full story

Giant radio telescope goes multi-national: First images from LOFAR (February 1, 2011) -- In the quest to discover more about our Universe and the birth of stars and galaxies, a new UK telescope connected for the first time to others across Europe has delivered its first 'radio pictures'. The images of the 3C196 quasar (a black hole in a distant galaxy) were taken in January 2011 by the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT). LOFAR (Low Frequency Array), which is co-ordinated by ASTRON in the Netherlands, is a network of radio telescopes designed to study the sky at the lowest radio frequencies accessible from the surface of the Earth with unprecedented resolution. ... > full story

Cluster encounters 'natural particle accelerator' above Earth's atmosphere: How northern and southern lights are generated (February 1, 2011) -- The European Space Agency's Cluster satellites have flown through a natural particle accelerator just above Earth's atmosphere. The data they collected are unlocking how most of the dramatic displays of the northern and southern lights are generated. ... > full story

Scientists model tiny rotors, key to future nanomachines (February 1, 2011) -- Researchers have created a molecular midway where atoms dip, dive and soar. Through molecular dynamics simulations, they have now defined the ground rules for the rotor motion of molecules attached to a gold surface. ... > full story

Clean streets and intact road surfaces help to keep the air clean (February 1, 2011) -- Road traffic is one of the main sources of fine particulate matter in the atmosphere, above all when the weather situation favors the creation of winter smog. Vehicle tailpipe emissions are responsible for just less than half of the fine particles, however. The majority of this pollutant is produced by mechanical wear and resuspension of dust due to air turbulence from passing vehicles, as a study by atmospheric scientists has shown. ... > full story

Metamaterials approach makes better satellite antennas (February 1, 2011) -- Cheaper, lighter and more energy-efficient broadband devices on communications satellites may be possible using metamaterials to modify horn antennas, according to engineers. ... > full story

Smart lasers could make cancer biopsies painless, help speed new drugs to market (February 1, 2011) -- Biopsies in the future may be painless and noninvasive, thanks to smart laser technology. To test for skin cancer, patients today must endure doctors cutting away a sliver of skin, sending the biopsy to a lab and anxiously awaiting the results. Using laser microscopes that deploy rapid, ultra-short pulses to identify molecules, doctors may soon have the tools to painlessly scan a patient's troublesome mole and review the results on the spot, new research suggests. ... > full story

Tracking the origins of speedy space particles (February 1, 2011) -- NASA's Time History of Events and Macroscale Interaction during Substorms (THEMIS) spacecraft combined with computer models have helped track the origin of the energetic particles in Earth's magnetic atmosphere that appear during a kind of space weather called a substorm. Understanding the source of such particles and how they are shuttled through Earth's atmosphere is crucial to better understanding the Sun's complex space weather system and thus protect satellites or even humans in space. ... > full story

Hunt for dark matter closes in at Large Hadron Collider (February 1, 2011) -- Physicists are closer than ever to finding the source of the Universe's mysterious dark matter, following a better than expected year of research at the Compact Muon Solenoid particle detector, part of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva. ... > full story

Nanotechnology: Detecting lethal diseases with rust and sand (February 1, 2011) -- The next big thing in medical diagnostics could be minutes particles of rust, iron oxide, coated with the material from which sand is formed, silicon dioxide. These magnetic nanoparticles, a mere 29 to 230 nanometers across, can be used to trap antibodies to the virus that causes cervical cancer and to the bacteria that causes potentially lethal diarrhea. ... > full story

Single molecule controlled at room temperature: Tiny magnetic switch discovered (February 1, 2011) -- Chemists have succeeded for the first time in directly controlling the magnetic state of a single molecule at room temperature. The switchable molecule could be used both in the construction of tiny electromagnetic storage units and in the medical imaging. ... > full story

Low-energy remediation with patented microbes: Naturally occurring microbes break down chlorinated solvents (February 1, 2011) -- Scientists have patented a consortium of microbes that have an appetite for chlorinated volatile organic compounds, similar to dry-cleaning fluid. ... > full story

New hardware boosts communication speed on multi-core chips (February 1, 2011) -- Computer engineers have developed hardware that allows programs to operate more efficiently by significantly boosting the speed at which the "cores" on a computer chip communicate with each other. ... > full story

Plasma stability made to measure (January 31, 2011) -- Researchers are working to develop a power plant that, like the sun, derives energy from fusion of atomic nuclei, but first they must overcome several obstacles. The compensation of edge instabilities in the ASDEX Upgrade are now successfully pointing the way for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). Eight magnetic control coils on the wall of the plasma vessel of the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device have now succeeded in reducing perturbing instabilities of the plasma, so-called ELMs, to the level required. ... > full story

Physicists challenge classical world with quantum-mechanical implementation of 'shell game' (January 31, 2011) -- Inspired by the popular confidence trick known as "shell game," researchers have demonstrated the ability to hide and shuffle "quantum-mechanical peas" -- microwave single photons -- under and between three microwave resonators, or "quantized shells." ... > full story

Surf's up: New research provides precise way to monitor ocean wave behavior, shore impacts (January 31, 2011) -- Engineers have created a new type of "stereo vision" to use in studying ocean waves as they pound against the shore, providing a better way to understand and monitor this violent, ever-changing environment. ... > full story

Mussel power: Universal solvent no match for new self-healing sticky gel (January 31, 2011) -- Scientists can now manufacture a synthetic version of the self-healing sticky substance that mussels use to anchor themselves to rocks in pounding ocean surf and surging tidal basins. Potential applications include use as an adhesive or coating for underwater machinery or in biomedical settings as a surgical adhesive or bonding agent for implants. ... > full story

New transistors: An alternative to silicon and better than graphene (January 31, 2011) -- Smaller and more energy-efficient electronic chips could be made using molybdenite. This material has distinct advantages over traditional silicon or graphene for use in electronics applications. ... > full story

Asteroid deflection: What if a huge asteroid was going to slam into Earth? (January 31, 2011) -- What could happen if a 25-million-ton chunk of rock slammed into Earth? When something similar happened 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs and other forms of life were wiped out. Lasers aimed from a space probe positioned near an NEO could help determine its surface composition. Using that information, solar sail technology could more accurately focus the sun's rays to penetrate the asteroid's surface to the proper depth, heating it to the correct degree for generating a jet stream that would redirect the asteroid. ... > full story

Cheap, clean ways to produce hydrogen for use in fuel cells? A dash of disorder yields a very efficient photocatalyst (January 30, 2011) -- A little disorder goes a long way, especially when it comes to harnessing the sun's energy. Scientists have jumbled the atomic structure of the surface layer of titanium dioxide nanocrystals, creating a catalyst that is both long lasting and more efficient than all other materials in using the sun's energy to extract hydrogen from water. ... > full story

GRIN plasmonics: A practical path to superfast computing, ultrapowerful optical microscopy and invisibility carpet-cloaking devices (January 30, 2011) -- Researchers have carried out the first experimental demonstration of GRIN plasmonics, a hybrid technology that opens the door to a wide range of exotic applications in optics, including superfast photonic computers, ultra-powerful optical microscopes and "invisibility" carpet-cloaking devices. ... > full story

New glasses change lens color on the fly (January 29, 2011) -- New protective eyewear will eliminate the need for warfighters to stop to change out colored lenses to accommodate differences in light levels. ... > full story

Global eruption rocks the Sun: Scientists re-evaluate ideas about solar storms (January 28, 2011) -- On August 1, 2010, an entire hemisphere of the sun erupted. Filaments of magnetism snapped and exploded, shock waves raced across the stellar surface, billion-ton clouds of hot gas billowed into space. Astronomers knew they had witnessed something big. It was so big, it may have shattered old ideas about solar activity. ... > full story

Cow rumen enzymes for better biofuels (January 28, 2011) -- When it comes to breaking down plant matter and converting it to energy, the cow has it all figured out. Its digestive system allows it to eat more than 150 pounds of plant matter every day. Now researchers report that they have found dozens of previously unknown microbial enzymes in the bovine rumen -- the cow's primary grass-digestion chamber -- that contribute to the breakdown of switchgrass, a renewable biofuel energy source. ... > full story

Unlocking the secrets of DNA (January 28, 2011) -- Neutron scattering has provided the first experimental data showing how DNA structure changes as it 'melts'. This knowledge is a step towards technological applications of DNA, such as computer components. ... > full story

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