The analyses of an international team of researchers led by Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, show that the genetic variation of Denisovans was extremely low, suggesting that although they were present in large parts of Asia, their population was never large for long periods of time. In addition, a comprehensive list documents the genetic changes that set apart modern humans from their archaic relatives. Some of these changes concern genes that are associated with brain function or nervous system development.
August 31, 2012
Proficiency in Calculation Requires Efficient Neural Signals Between Separate Cortex Areas
A new study by researchers at UT Dallas’ Center for Vital Longevity, Duke University, and the University of Michigan has found that the strength of communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain predicts performance on basic arithmetic problems. The findings shed light on the neural basis of human math abilities and suggest a possible route to aiding those who suffer from dyscalculia— an inability to understand and manipulate numbers.
In a surprising finding, North Carolina State University researchers have shown that certain underground organisms thought to promote chemical interactions that make the soil a carbon sink actually play a more complex, dual role when atmospheric carbon levels rise.
In a paper published in the Aug. 31 edition of Science, North Carolina State University researchers show that important and common soil microscopic organisms, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), play a role in sequestering carbon below ground, trapping it from escaping into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.
Fungi found in plants may not be the answer to mitigating climate change by storing additional carbon in soils as some previously thought, according to an international team of plant biologists.
The researchers found that increased carbon dioxide stimulates the growth of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) -- a type of fungus that is often found in the roots of most land plants -- which then leads to higher decomposition rates of organic materials, said Lei Cheng, post doctorate fellow in plant science, Penn State. This decomposition releases more carbon dioxide back into the air, which means that terrestrial ecosystems may have limited capacity to halt climate change by cleaning up excessive greenhouse gases, according to the researchers.
By measuring the unique properties of light on the scale of a single atom, researchers from Duke University and Imperial College, London, believe that they have characterized the limits of the ability of metals to be used in devices that rely on the enhancement of light.
This field is known as plasmonics because scientists are trying to take advantage of plasmons, electrons that have been “excited” by light in a phenomenon that produces electromagnetic field enhancement. The enhancement achieved by means of metals at the nanoscale is significantly higher than that achievable with any other material.
Overwhelmed by instant access to news and information? Most Americans like it
“Information overload” may be an exaggerated way to describe today’s always-on media environment. Actually, very few Americans seem to feel bogged down or overwhelmed by the volume of news and information at their fingertips and on their screens, according to a new Northwestern University study.
The study was published in the journal The Information Society.
“Little research has focused on information overload and media consumption, yet it’s a concept used in public discussions to describe today’s 24/7 media environment,” said Eszter Hargittai, an associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern and lead author of the study.
Researchers have learned how to mass produce tiny mechanical devices that could help cell phone users avoid the nuisance of dropped calls and slow downloads. The devices are designed to ease congestion over the airwaves to improve the performance of cell phones and other portable devices.
August 29, 2012
In the past two decades, the Chinese economy has undergone many drastic reforms in an effort to compete more effectively on the international market. These reforms included allowing foreign banks to offer credit cards to Chinese citizens. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found about 30 percent of Chinese urban households now own at least one credit card and the growth rate of credit card adoption has been an average of 40 percent per year between 2004 and 2009.
New finding may help explain the gender difference in happiness
A new study has found a gene that appears to make women happy, but it doesn’t work for men. The finding may help explain why women are often happier than men, the research team said.
Scientists at the University of South Florida (USF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute reported that the low-expression form of the gene monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) is associated with higher self-reported happiness in women. No such association was found in men.
The findings appear online in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry.
Pretend play can be fun for preschool children, but a new University of Virginia study, published in the current online edition of the journal Psychological Bulletin, finds that it is not as crucial to a child's development as currently believed. Pretend play is any play a child engages in, alone, with playmates, or with adults, that involves uses of the imagination to create a fantasy world or situation, such as making toy cars go “vrrooooom” or making dolls talk.
Based on a number of key studies over four decades, pretend play is widely considered by psychologists – and teachers and parents – to be a vital contributor to the healthy development of children's intellect.
If experts thought they knew anything about individual investors, it was this: their emotions lead them to sell winning stocks too soon and hold on to losers too long.
But new research casts doubt on this widely held theory that individual investors’ decisions are driven mainly by their feelings toward losses and gains. In an innovative study, researchers found evidence that individual investors’ decisions are primarily motivated by their beliefs about a stock’s future.
Scientists measured a key effect of electron spin essential to engineering the next generation of high-performing digital devices
The evolution of digital electronics is a story of miniaturization – each generation of circuitry requires less space and energy to perform the same tasks. But even as high-speed processors move into handheld smart phones, current data storage technology has a functional limit: magnetically stored digital information becomes unstable when too tightly packed. The answer to maintaining the breath-taking pace of our ongoing computer revolution may be the denser, faster, and smarter technology of spintronics.
August 28, 2012
Japan Mega Solar Co, a company created by Japanese home renovator West Holdings, plan to invest 100 billion yen (USD1.27-billion) in developing 250 small-scale solar plants with a combined capacity of 500-MW. The projects are to be developed over five years.
West Holdings is not the only major Japanese company moving into large-scale photovoltaic development, Noriaki Yamashita, a senior researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies told PV magazine. He reported that in July more than 40 big companies announced plans to do so, representing "a very big tide for the renewable energy industry."
So-called LTE networks promise to dramatically speed up the mobile Internet. Too bad patent squabbles may muck things up.
FORTUNE -- As dramatically shown in Apple and Samsung's epic legal conflict, patents have become the new currency among tech giants. Dull-sounding legal instruments have become all-important, not necessarily because of their financial worth but for their strategic and marketing value. Simply put, patents are a means to gaining a competitive advantage.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
It sounds simple. It’s not.
Just ask Bill Caesar, who runs the recycling and organic growth units of Waste Management (WM), America’s biggest trash company, which has $13.3 billion in revenues last year.
It’s hard to get many cities and towns to embrace recycling.
It’s hard to get homeowners to figure out which plastics go into which bin.
It’s expensive to build out the infrastructure needed to separate materials, and ship them to customers.
Acta unveils new electrolyzers
Italy’s Acta S.p.A, a developer of hydrogen generation systems, has developed a new alkaline membrane electrolyzer that is not reliant on a catalyst made of platinum or iridium. The company suggests that this new electrolyzer could cost only a third as much as more conventional models that rely on catalysts using expensive materials. Acta notes that it has developed the only other electrolyzer that currently exists in the hydrogen market, putting the company in a strong position to have a profound impact on the fuel cell industry as a whole.
Figures show almost half of the major car companies' fleets already have average emissions below the 2015 limit of 130g of CO2 per km
Car manufacturers continue to make progress towards EU carbon emissions targets, with almost half already achieving the 2015 benchmark.
Figures from analysts Redspy published last week show that by July this year the fleets of 15 of the 31 major European manufacturers already had average emissions below the 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre mark that will become compulsory by 2015
However, manufacturers are still a way short of the 2020 target, which will require average emissions to have fallen to 95g/km.
Initial Phase of World’s First Green Crude Farm Completed On Time and On Budget
COLUMBUS, NM, (August 27, 2012) – Sapphire Energy, Inc., one of the world leaders in algae-based green crude oil production, today announced the first phase of its Green Crude Farm, the world’s first commercial demonstration algae-to-energy facility, is now operational. Construction of this first phase, which began on June 1, 2011, was completed on time and on budget. When completed, the facility will produce 1.5 million gallons per year of crude oil and consist of approximately 300 acres of algae cultivation ponds and processing facilities. By reaching this key milestone, Sapphire Energy is on target to make algae-based Green Crude a viable alternative fuel solution capable of significantly reducing the nation’s need for foreign crude oil, which will serve as the blueprint for scalable algae biofuel facilities globally.
UT Dallas Researchers Hope Software Helps Develop Defenses Against New Kinds of Attacks
UT Dallas computer scientists are trying to stay one step ahead of cyberattackers by creating their own monster. Their monster can cloak itself as it steals and reconfigures information in a computer program.
In part because of the potentially destructive nature of their technology, creators have named this software system Frankenstein, after the monster-creating scientist in author Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.
August 27, 2012
Depending on How Much and How Long, Light from Self-Luminous Tablet Computers Can Affect Evening Melatonin, Delaying Sleep
New LRC research can aid in the development of “circadian-friendly” electronic devices
A new study from the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows that a two-hour exposure to electronic devices with self-luminous “backlit” displays causes melatonin suppression, which might lead to delayed bedtimes, especially in teens.
Is sleep learning possible? A new Weizmann Institute study appearing today in Nature Neuroscience online has found that if certain odors are presented after tones during sleep, people will start sniffing when they hear the tones alone – even when no odor is present – both during sleep and, later, when awake. In other words, people can learn new information while they sleep, and this can unconsciously modify their waking behavior.
New tissue scaffold could be used for drug development and implantable therapeutic devices.
To control the three-dimensional shape of engineered tissue, researchers grow cells on tiny, sponge-like scaffolds. These devices can be implanted into patients or used in the lab to study tissue responses to potential drugs.
An Information Statement of the American Meteorological Society
The following is an AMS Information Statement intended to provide a trustworthy, objective, and scientifically up-to-date explanation of scientific issues of concern to the public at large.
This statement provides a brief overview of how and why global climate has changed over the past century and will continue to change in the future. It is based on the peer-reviewed scientific literature and is consistent with the vast weight of current scientific understanding as expressed in assessments and reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Although the statement has been drafted in the context of concerns in the United States, the underlying issues are inherently global in nature.
How is climate changing?
TAU researcher discovers that a ray of light could lead to the next generation of superconductors
A superconductor, which can move electrical energy with no wasteful resistance, is the holy grail of cost-effective, efficient, and "green" power production. Unlike traditional conductors such as copper or silver, which waste power resources and lose energy when they heat up, an ideal superconductor would continuously carry electrical current without losing any power.
Refrigerating coal-plant emissions would reduce levels of dangerous chemicals that pour into the air — including carbon dioxide by more than 90 percent — at a cost of 25 percent efficiency, according to a simple math-driven formula designed by a team of University of Oregon physicists.
The computations for such a system, prepared on an electronic spreadsheet, appeared in Physical Review E, a journal of the American Physical Society.
With laser beams, molecules can be fixed at exactly the right position in a three dimensional material. The new method developed at the Vienna University of Technology can be used to grow biological tissue or to create micro sensors.
There are many ways to create three dimensional objects on a micrometer scale. But how can the chemical properties of a material be tuned at micrometer precision? Scientists at the Vienna University of Technology developed a method to attach molecules at exactly the right place. When biological tissue is grown, this method can allow the positioning of chemical signals, telling living cells where to attach. The new technique also holds promise for sensor technology: A tiny three dimensional “lab on a chip” could be created, in which accurately positioned molecules react with substances from the environment.
Methane produced at the bottom of our lakes provides nutrition for microorganisms and eventually becomes an indirect food source for fish. These findings were presented in a one of a kind study that contradicts previous perceptions of lakebed sediment methane stores being lost in the food chain.
Methane is an organic carbon compound containing the fundamental building block of nearly all living material: carbon. It provides an important source of energy and nutrients for bacteria. Methane is produced in oxygen-free environments and is found in abundance at the bottom of lakes.
Airborne Laboratory Presented to Research Community / New Horizons for Earth System Science / DFG Priority Programme Broadens University Research Capacities
The airborne research platform “High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft” (HALO), co-funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), is ready for takeoff. The German Federal Minister of Research, Professor Annette Schavan, presented the research platform to the science community in Oberpfaffenhofen on Monday, 20 August 2012. Since 2007, the DFG has provided approximately 15 million euros in funding to the project through its Priority Programme “Atmospheric and Earth System Research with the High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft”.
A nanoparticle developed at Rice University and tested in collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) may bring great benefits to the emergency treatment of brain-injury victims, even those with mild injuries.
Combined polyethylene glycol-hydrophilic carbon clusters (PEG-HCC), already being tested to enhance cancer treatment, are also adept antioxidants. In animal studies, injections of PEG-HCC during initial treatment after an injury helped restore balance to the brain’s vascular system.
The results were reported this month in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano.
Researchers grow cyborg tissues with embedded nanoelectronics
Harvard scientists have created a type of “cyborg” tissue for the first time by embedding a three-dimensional network of functional, biocompatible, nanoscale wires into engineered human tissues.
As described in a paper published Aug. 26 in the journal Nature Materials, a research team led by Charles M. Lieber, the Mark Hyman Jr. Professor of Chemistry at Harvard, and Daniel Kohane, a Harvard Medical School professor in the Department of Anesthesia at Children’s Hospital Boston, developed a system for creating nanoscale “scaffolds” that can be seeded with cells that grow into tissue.
Some people have inherited conditions that leave them unable to process vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is essential to human health. However, some people have inherited conditions that leave them unable to process vitamin B12. As a result they are prone to serious health problems, including developmental delay, psychosis, stroke and dementia. An international research team recently discovered a new genetic disease related to vitamin B12 deficiency by identifying a gene that is vital to the transport of vitamin into the cells of the body.
A collaboration between a Stanford ant biologist and a computer scientist has revealed that the behavior of harvester ants as they forage for food mirrors the protocols that control traffic on the Internet.
On the surface, ants and the Internet don't seem to have much in common. But two Stanford researchers have discovered that a species of harvester ants determine how many foragers to send out of the nest in much the same way that Internet protocols discover how much bandwidth is available for the transfer of data. The researchers are calling it the "anternet."
A revolutionary tool created by scientists at the University of Sheffield has enabled researchers to analyse nanometer-sized devices without destroying them for the first time, opening the door to a new wave of technologies.
The nuclear magnetic resonance apparatus – developed by the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy – will allow for further developments and new applications for nanotechnology which is increasingly used in harvesting solar energy, computing, communication developments and also in the medical field.
click here to read the entire press release
Caltech-led physicists create first-ever mechanical device that measures the mass of a single molecule
A team led by scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have made the first-ever mechanical device that can measure the mass of individual molecules one at a time.
This new technology, the researchers say, will eventually help doctors diagnose diseases, enable biologists to study viruses and probe the molecular machinery of cells, and even allow scientists to better measure nanoparticles and air pollution.
August 26, 2012
Technology from spacecraft, Formula One and fighter jets helps Team GB athletes reach their peak
In three days Britain’s Paralympians take the spotlight. And London 2012’s second blast of sporting glory will showcase not only the finest athletic talent... but the best of British engineering too.
Science and technology have become vital training partners for the Games’ 4,200 competitors.
The UK is leading the field. Technology from spacecraft, Formula One and fighter jets helps athletes reach their peak. This innovative equipment is a long way from gear at the Paralympics’ 1948 forerunner, the Stoke Mandeville Games, when wheelchairs weighed up to 23kg (nearly four stone). Modern carbon-fibre chairs weigh just 2kg.
Platoon Kunsthalle is an epic cargotecture complex in Berlin made from 34 recycled shipping containers! The cultural center opened on July 19, and it will host a program of art events and exhibitions curated by PLATOON for the next two years. We recently had a chance to check out the art complex, which welcomes visitors to a bevy of events, workshops and lectures within its sturdy shipping container walls - read on for a closer look!
The Army has deployed several tethered aerostats, including the Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS) and the JLENS Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment (RAID) system. A new hybrid airship weapons system, just larger than the length of a football field, will take to the skies to provide an unblinking, persistent eye for more than three weeks at a time to aid US Army troops in Afghanistan. Northrop Grumman Corporation was awarded on June 14, 2010 a $517 million agreement to develop up to three Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) systems for the US Army. Northrop Grumman has designed a system with plug-and-play capability to readily integrate into the Army's existing common ground station command centers and ground troops in forward operating bases - the main objective to provide US warfighters with persistent ISR capability to increase awareness of the ever changing battlefield.
Electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, Telsa, and Chevy Volt, Ford Focus Electric, Honda Fit EV and the Toyota Prius Plugin are growing in popularity and the numbers on the street are increasing daily. Many other automobile manufacturers plan to produce pure electrics or plugin hybrids. Electric car owners will prefer to visit locations that provide recharging capability. The easiest way to add that capability is with the new SunStation from Princeton Satellite Systems.
As far as sports and GT cars are concerned, the British and the Italians are best. However, while the Italians may have the likes of Ferrari and the rest, Britain has a myriad of small ‘shed-based’ manufacturers which make unique cars for people looking for a very specific kind of car.
Take the £75,000 (€94,880 / $119,160) Trident Iceni, a hand-built car which is very British and truly interesting. It is a two-seater GT cruiser, with its big 6.6-liter V8 engine mid-mounted behind the front axle. It produces 430 hp and 1290 Nm (950 lb-ft), yet those figures can be boosted to 660 hp and 1420 Nm (1050 lb-ft) with an available engine upgrade.
This monster of an engine allows the Iceni to sprint from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in under 4 seconds and on to a top speed of around 320 km/h (200 mph). Furthermore, if a constant speed of 110 km/h (70 mph) is maintained, the engine will only turn over at some 980 rpm, allowing the car to achieve an incredible efficiency figure for such a big engine - 4.1 l/100km or 68.9 UK mpg, allowing it to travel as much as 3,200 km (2000 miles) on a tankfull of regular diesel, mineral diesel, bio diesel, palm oil or linseed oil.
Trident Sports Cars managing director, Phillip Bevan, says: “We are very pleased to be at Salon Privé which this year is a great celebration of all things British and home grown talent - something we feel very strongly about at Trident. It is also a place where sports cars and super cars of this calibre are sold, and we look forward to taking new orders for the Iceni at Syon Park this September.”
Two designers are attempting to bring hovercrafts into the 21st century with a sleek, sports car-inspired creation.
Produced in the 1950s, hovercrafts never took off but cousins Michael Mercier and Chris Jones are eager to change that.
The Mercier-Jones Hovercraft will employ state-of-the-art materials and components from the marine, automotive, and aerospace industries but will be marketed as a vehicle that the general public can purchase and enjoy.
August 25, 2012
Greenpeace activists board Kremlin state-owned oil platform in Arctic in protest at rate of ice melting
Greenpeace has signalled its determination to try to halt the Kremlin's march into the Arctic with activists led by its executive director boarding an oil platform belonging to state-owned Gazprom.
It is the first time that the green group has taken "direct action" against the Russian drilling and comes amid alarming new evidence about the speed with which Arctic sea ice is melting.
Study says manufactured nanomaterials may be harmful to agricultural production
Researchers contend that manufactured nanomaterials--now popular in consumer products such as shampoos, gels, hair dyes and sunscreens--may be detrimental to the quality and yield of food crops, as reported in a paper in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Manufactured nanomaterials are man-made materials produced by manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Their effects on human health and the environment are the subject of much scientific study.
Johns Hopkins scientists have developed a reliable method to turn the clock back on blood cells, restoring them to a primitive stem cell state from which they can then develop into any other type of cell in the body.
Las Vegas is also known as Sin City for its over the top glitz, the way it appears to promote glamour over everything else and its promotion of the indulgence of one’s senses to the point of being gluttonous. By its apparent promotion of vices, being eco-friendly is perhaps the last thing on the minds of builders which is exactly why the Morrow Royal Pavilion stands out as a beacon of eco-righteousness in Las Vegas.
Used as a manufacturing facility, the building is made entirely from recycled beer bottles. All the bottles used in the structure were collected by Realm of Design from hotels located near the Las Vegas Strip. The project was commissioned by Scott McCombs, an entrepreneur, and was inspired by England’s Swarkestone Hall Pavilion. With a 30,000-square-foot of floor space inside, the structure is already being dubbed the largest building in the world constructed from recycled bottled.
Montreal is growing and developing fast, and so is the need for urban public transportation systems that are light on the environment but could manage the growing needs. Industrial designer Frederic Laurin-Lalonde from the University of Montreal has come up with a concept electric monorail, which is perfectly suited for the city.
Christened the UbiCiT, the electric monorail is proposed for the first phase of Quebec network of monorail that extends from Montreal to its southern suburbs. The electric monorail, which is designed to be suspended either meters above the ground, will be highly energy efficient and can easily carry 300 people, while still allowing access to people with reduced mobility and those who come to the station riding their bikes.
Since the concept has been designed to be suspended directly above existing roads and highways, local people will still be able to use the space below, while admiring the monorail passing right over their heads. The design has been made as aerodynamic as possible, so that only a small percentage of electricity is consumed to overcome drag and the monorail can zip past as fast as possible.
Sydney is the departure point of the world's first flight using a fuel made from “end of life” plastic. Later this year British pilot Jeremy Rowsell plans to fly back home from Australia in a single engine Cessna, which normally runs on diesel, according to a report by Business Green.
The experimental fuel used during the journey is made by melting plastic waste in an oxygen-free environment; a process known as pyrolysis. The distillate can be separated different fuels, such as gasoline, diesel and kerosene, which have low sulfur and high cetane qualities.
It is being produced by an Irish company Cynar Plc, which believes that with the quantity of waste plastic available, there is a ready market for its “End of Life Plastic to Diesel” (ELPD) process. It points out that US dumps 26 million tonnes of plastics into landfill each year and Europe throws away another 15 million tonnes.
The company claims that at the present level of development its process can produce up to 19,000 liters of fuel from 20 tonnes of waste, with the balance of material being turned into carbon char.
Cynar is actively seeking partners with experience in the waste and fuel industries to work together in rapidly commercializing it technology.
The first full scale ELPD is operating in Ireland and Cynar a £70m (USD111 million) contract with SITA/SuezEnvironment to build 10 more, the first of which has received planning permission in the UK.
Engineering students and staff at the University of Birmingham have designed and built a prototype hydrogen powered locomotive, the first of its kind to operate in the UK.
This narrow gauge locomotive is a hybrid design, combining a hydrogen fuel cell and lead acid batteries similar to the ones used in cars. The fuel cell is used both to power the permanent magnet electric motors and to charge the batteries, with the batteries helping to meet the peak power demands when accelerating under load.
August 24, 2012
Western Boxelder bugs (WBB), found largely in B.C. interior regions, are known to group together in sunlit patches and while there, release monoterpenes, strong-smelling chemical compounds that help protect the bugs by killing germs on their bodies.
Researchers previously thought the compounds had a role in reproduction or defending the bugs against predators. But their latest study found that the compounds were emitted when the bugs were in sunshine – in effect, sunbathing – and weren’t used for communication or other purposes.
When it comes to applications like standoff sensing — using lasers to detect gas, explosives, or other materials from a safe distance — the laser’s strength is of the utmost importance. A stronger and purer beam means devices can sense danger more accurately from a greater distance, which translates into safer workers, soldiers, and police officers.