January 31, 2014

How to get ants to solve a chess problem

Take a set of chess pieces and throw them all away except for one knight. Place the knight on any one of the 64 squares of a chess board.

Can you make 63 legal moves so that you visit every square on the chess board exactly once? As a reminder, a knight can move two squares in a straight line, followed by a ninety degree turn and a move of one further square. It might seem like a hard task, but this set of moves, called the knight’s tour, can be achieved in too many ways to count.

Google's strength in advertising to drive growth: analysts

Google Inc looks set to extend its leadership in online advertising as it sharpens its focus on its core business, analysts said after strong ad sales helped the No. 1 search company report stronger-than-expected quarterly revenue.

Google's shares, which closed at $1,135 ahead of the results announcement on Thursday, opened about 3 percent higher after at least 12 brokerages raised their price targets on the stock to as much as $1,400.

Making Color: When two red photons make a blue photon

Color is strange, mainly due to perception. Setting aside complex brain processes, what we see is the result of light absorption, emission, and reflection. Trees appear green because atoms inside the leaves are emitting and/or reflecting green photons. Semiconductor LED brake lights emit single color light when electrical current passes through the devices.

Here’s a question: Can scientists generate any color of light? The answer is not really, but the invention of the laser in 1960 opened new doors for this endeavor. An early experiment injected high-power laser light through quartz and out popped a different color. This sparked the field of nonlinear optics and with it, a new method of color generation became possible: frequency conversion.

What's behind a #1 ranking?

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Behind every “Top 100” list is a generous sprinkling of personal bias and subjective decisions. Lacking the tools to calculate how factors like median home prices and crime rates actually affect the “best places to live,” the public must take experts’ analysis at face value.

To shed light on the trustworthiness of rankings, Harvard researchers have created LineUp, an open-source application that empowers ordinary citizens to make quick, easy judgments about rankings based on multiple attributes.

Teaching young wolves new tricks

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Although wolves and dogs are closely related, they show some striking differences. Scientists from the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna have undertaken experiments that suggest that wolves observe one another more closely than dogs and so are better at learning from one another. The scientists believe that cooperation among wolves is the basis of the understanding between dogs and humans. Their findings have been published in the online journal PLOS ONE.

Top Pharmaceutical Company Stops Chimpanzee Use in Research

Merck & Co, Inc., will stop conducting or financially supporting biomedical research on chimpanzees into the foreseeable future. The availability of alternatives has led to the policy change by one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. The Humane Society of the United States welcomes the company’s decision.

The announcement follows years of dialogue between The HSUS and Merck about concerns for the company’s use of chimpanzees in invasive experiments, and follows major recent actions by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Congress to facilitate the retirement of hundreds of government-owned chimps from laboratories to sanctuaries.

Ballard to Supply Fuel Cell Modules to Solaris for Zero Emission Bus Deployments in Europe

Ballard Power Systems (NASDAQ: BLDP)(TSX: BLD) has announced the signing of an equipment supply agreement with Solaris Bus and Coach (Solaris) for delivery of two zero emission fuel cell power modules to be used in buses planned for deployment in Hamburg, Germany. Delivery of Ballard’s next-generation FCvelocity®-HD7 power modules to Solaris is planned for later this year.

Solaris Bus & Coach, based in Poland, is one of the leading players in the European bus industry. The Company manufactures intracity, intercity and special-purpose buses as well as low-floor trams. Since starting production in 1996, over 10,000 Solaris vehicles have been deployed in 28 countries, including Poland, Germany, Norway, France, Sweden, Switzerland and United Arab Emirates.

Panasonic Awarded RobecoSAM Gold Class and Industry Leader Distinctions in Sustainability

Panasonic was awarded the Gold Class distinction, as well as the Industry Leader of the Leisure Equipment & Products and Consumer Electronics Industry in the CSR category by RobecoSAM, one of the most highly recognized asset management companies for sustainability investments.

Each year RobecoSAM evaluates about 3,000 of the world's leading companies and rates their sustainability in the areas of economics, environment, and society, selecting the top CSR companies and awarding the best of these with Gold, Silver, or Bronze commendations. Of the 460 top-ranking CSR companies this fiscal year, 70 were given a Gold commendation.

First monkeys with customized mutations born

Milestone for targeted gene-editing technology promises better models for human diseases.

The ultimate potential of precision gene-editing techniques is beginning to be realised. Today, researchers in China report the first monkeys engineered with targeted mutations1, an achievement that could be a stepping stone to making more realistic research models of human diseases.

Xingxu Huang, a geneticist at the Model Animal Research Center of Nanjing University in China, and his colleagues successfully engineered twin cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) with two targeted mutations using the CRISPR/Cas9 system — a technology that has taken the field of genetic engineering by storm in the past year. Researchers have leveraged the technique to disrupt genes in mice and rats2, 3, but until now none had succeeded in primates.

With Motorola sold, Google can focus on robots, Glass and smart homes

With Moto sale to Lenovo, Google looks to the future

Now that Google has gotten rid of Motorola Mobility, the company can focus on its newest projects, like the smart home, wearable computers and robotics.

"Selling off Motorola frees Google to focus on new areas of growth and they are focused on quite a few," said Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst. "GoogleX is the part of the company that focuses on the future. Some of the most recent ideas range from the Nest system for home automation to robotics, driverless cars, elevators to space, pharmaceuticals, cancer treatments and other medical and health-related business."

January 30, 2014

Rice lab clocks ‘hot’ electrons

Researchers time plasmon-generated electrons moving from nanorods to graphene

Plasmonic nanoparticles developed at Rice University are becoming known for their ability to turn light into heat, but how to use them to generate electricity is not nearly as well understood.

Scientists at Rice are working on that, too. They suggest that the extraction of electrons generated by surface plasmons in metal nanoparticles may be optimized.

World premiere of the new Mercedes-Benz V-Class

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*  New full-size MPV from Mercedes-Benz sets benchmarks in the segment for design, comfort, and safety
*  V-Class meets customer requirements of families, people with active hobbies, and shuttle bus operators
*  Market launch to take place in Germany in late May 2014
*  Daimler to invest about €190 million in production plant in Vitoria, Spain

The Mercedes among MPVs is being launched today. At the world premiere of the new Mercedes-Benz V-Class at the Munich Olympics complex, Mercedes-Benz will present the youngest and largest member of the automobile family from Stuttgart to more than 450 international guests. With the new V-Class, Mercedes-Benz is completely redefining the MPV and setting benchmarks for the segment with regard to design, appearance, comfort, versatility, efficiency, and safety. In Germany, customers will be able to order the V-Class beginning on March 6, 2014; the market launch will begin in late May.

5 TV web trends to watch in 2014

More content and more relevance hit Smart TV this year

TV has gotten a whole lot smarter, as Smart TVs take over living rooms across the globe. Plugging your TV into the internet seeks to meet all your home entertainment needs on one screen, whether it’s apps, surfing the web, or checking out new videos and music. Today’s TV viewers can unlock it all with their remote controls – and the future holds even more possibilities for web content and interaction. Aneesh Rajaram, Head of TV at web company Opera Software, shares his five top predictions for what to watch in Smart TV trends this year.

Scientists Create Electronic Tongue That Can Identify Brands Of Beer With 82 Percent Accuracy

Researchers have managed to create an electronic tongue that can distinguish between different varieties of beer, the oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic drink in the world.

Scientists at the Autonomous University of Barcelona have created an electronic tongue with 82 percent accuracy that can analyze several brands of beer.  The idea for the electronic organ is based on the human sense of taste, researchers said in a press release.

Quantum Engineers make a major step towards a quantum computer

An international research group of scientists and engineers led by the University of Bristol, UK, has made an important advance towards a quantum computer by shrinking down key components and integrating them onto a silicon microchip.

Scientists and engineers from an international collaboration led by Dr Mark Thompson from the University of Bristol have, for the first time, generated and manipulated single particles of light (photons) on a silicon chip – a major step forward in the race to build a quantum computer.

Antibiotic ‘Smart Bomb’ Can Target Specific Strains of Bacteria

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a de facto antibiotic “smart bomb” that can identify specific strains of bacteria and sever their DNA, eliminating the infection. The technique offers a potential approach to treat infections by multi-drug resistant bacteria.

“Conventional antibiotic treatments kill both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria, leading to unintended consequences, such as opportunistic infections,” says Dr. Chase Beisel, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper describing the work. “What we’ve shown in this new work is that it is possible to selectively remove specific strains of bacteria without affecting populations of good bacteria.”

CU-Boulder researchers sequence world’s first butterfly bacteria, find surprises

For the first time ever, a team led by the University of Colorado Boulder has sequenced the internal bacterial makeup of the three major life stages of a butterfly species, a project that showed some surprising events occur during metamorphosis.

The team, led by CU-Boulder doctoral student Tobin Hammer, used powerful DNA sequencing methods to characterize bacterial communities inhabiting caterpillars, pupae and adults of Heliconius erato, commonly known as the red postman butterfly. The red postman is an abundant tropical butterfly found in Central and South America.

Zebra fish fins help Oregon researchers gain insight into bone regeneration

University of Oregon biologists say they have opened the window on the natural process of bone regeneration in zebra fish, and that the insights they gained could be used to advance therapies for bone fractures and disease.

In a paper placed online  in advance of print in the Feb. 13 issue of the journal Cell Reports, the UO team shows that two molecular pathways work in concert to allow adult zebra fish to perfectly replace bones lost upon fin amputation.

Nearly Everyone Uses Piezoelectrics. Be Nice to Know How They Work.

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Piezoelectrics—materials that can change mechanical stress to electricity and back again—are everywhere in modern life. Computer hard drives. Loud speakers. Medical ultrasound. Sonar. Though piezoelectrics are a widely used technology, there are major gaps in our understanding of how they work. Now researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Canada's Simon Fraser University believe they've learned why one of the main classes of these materials, known as relaxors, behaves in distinctly different ways from the rest and exhibit the largest piezoelectric effect. And the discovery comes in the shape of a butterfly.*

Nissan Installs Europe's 1,000th 30-Minute Electric Car Charger

*  1,000th CHAdeMO standard quick charger installed in the UK
*  UK has 18% of Europe's electric vehicle quick chargers
*  Charger provides free, zero carbon electricity from Ecotricity
*  Chargers recharge electric cars from 0-80% in 30 minutes

Nissan has announced 1,000 CHAdeMO quick chargers have now been installed in Europe with the commissioning of the charger at the Roadchef Clacket Lane Services in Surrey, UK. The fast charging unit can recharge the batteries of compatible* electric vehicles - including the 100% electric Nissan LEAF - from zero to 80 percent charge in just 30 minutes, and at zero cost.

Geranium extracts inhibit HIV-1

Extracts of the geranium plant Pelargonium sidoides inactivate human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and prevent the virus from invading human cells. In the current issue of "PLOS ONE”, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum München report that these extracts represent a potential new class of anti-HIV-1 agents for the treatment of AIDS.

Engineer brings new twist to sodium ion battery technology with discovery of flexible molybdenum disulfide electrodes

A Kansas State University engineer has made a breakthrough in rechargeable battery applications.

Gurpreet Singh, assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering, and his student researchers are the first to demonstrate that a composite paper -- made of interleaved molybdenum disulfide and graphene nanosheets -- can be both an active material to efficiently store sodium atoms and a flexible current collector. The newly developed composite paper can be used as a negative electrode in sodium-ion batteries.

Photon recoil provides new insight into matter

QUEST researchers have demonstrated: New method of precision spectroscopy allows unprecedented accuracy

Quantum logic spectroscopy - which is closely linked with the name of the 2012 Nobel prize laureate, David J. Wineland - has been significantly extended: this new method is called "photon-recoil spectroscopy" (PRS). The potential of this method has been demonstrated by the research group led by Piet Schmidt from the QUEST Institute, which is based at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, together with colleagues from Leibniz University Hannover. In contrast to the original quantum logic technique, the new method enables the investigation of very fast transitions in atoms or molecules. The results have been published in the current edition of Nature Communications. With this new method, spectroscopic investigations will be possible on nearly any kind of particles. The only condition is that they absorb just a few photons from a laser beam. This not only allows extremely accurate frequency measurements, but also increases the chances of finding discrepancies in observations of a possible change in the fine-structure constant. Furthermore, numerous other applications will arise, for instance in astronomy or chemistry.

January 29, 2014

New Theory May Lead to More Efficient Solar Cells

A new theoretical model developed by professors at the University of Houston (UH) and Université de Montréal may hold the key to methods for developing better materials for solar cells. Eric Bittner, a John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Chemistry and Physics in UH's College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Carlos Silva, an associate professor at the Université de Montréal and Canada Research Chair in Organic Semiconductor Materials, say the model could lead to new solar cell materials made from improved blends of semiconducting polymers and fullerenes.

NYU Researchers Take Magnetic Waves for a Spin

Researchers at New York University have developed a method for creating and directing fast moving waves in magnetic fields that have the potential to enhance communication and information processing in computer chips and other consumer products.

Their method, reported in the most recent issue of the journal Nanotechnology, employs “spin waves,” which are waves that move in magnetic materials. Physically, these spin waves are much like water waves—like those that propagate on the surface of an ocean. However, with a purpose akin to that of electromagnetic waves (i.e., light and radio waves), spin waves can efficiently transfer energy and information from place to place.

Scientists discover long-awaited synthetic particle

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Our achievement opens up amazing avenues for quantum research, says a delighted Dr. Mikko Möttönen from Aalto University.

Researchers at Aalto University and Amherst College have now created and photographed synthetic magnetic monopoles under laboratory conditions. These observations lay the foundation for the underlying structure of the natural magnetic monopole – the detection of which would be a revolutionary event comparable to the discovery of the electron. The results were recently published in Nature magazine.

Single gene separates queen from workers

Scientists have identified how a single gene in honey bees separates the queens from the workers.
A team of scientists from Michigan State University and Wayne State University unraveled the gene’s inner workings and published the results in the current issue of Biology Letters. The gene, which is responsible for leg and wing development, plays a crucial role in the evolution of bees’ ability to carry pollen.

“This gene is critical in making the hind legs of workers distinct so they have the physical features necessary to carry pollen,” said Zachary Huang, MSU entomologist. “Other studies have shed some light on this gene’s role in this realm, but our team examined in great detail how the modifications take place.”

A Digital Test for Toxic Genes

TAU researchers develop a computer algorithm that identifies genes whose activation is lethal to bacteria

Like little factories, cells metabolize raw materials and convert them into chemical compounds. Biotechnologists take advantage of this ability, using microorganisms to produce pharmaceuticals and biofuels. To boost output to an industrial scale and create new types of chemicals, biotechnologists manipulate the microorganisms' natural metabolism, often by "overexpressing" certain genes in the cell. But such metabolic engineering is hampered by the fact that many genes become toxic to the cell when overexpressed.

Glass that bends but doesn’t break

Natural forms inspire McGill researchers to develop a technique to make glass less brittle

Normally when you drop a drinking glass on the floor it shatters. But, in future, thanks to a technique developed in McGill’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, when the same thing happens the glass is likely to simply bend and become slightly deformed. That’s because Prof. François Barthelat and his team have successfully taken inspiration from the mechanics of natural structures like seashells in order to significantly increase the toughness of glass.

Don’t forget the customers after mergers

Merging companies that focus on a dual-goal emphasis of simultaneously enhancing efficiency and customer satisfaction show the highest increase in long-term financial performance, according to a new study from Rice University, Kent State University and the University of Pittsburgh.

“However, achieving a dual emphasis is very difficult,” the study’s authors said. “Managers need to be prepared with a realistic timetable and implementation plan.”


 600 RUSH® PRO-R

Polaris Terrain Domination® was on full display at the 2014 Winter X Games, where Colten Moore delivered an emotional performance to earn a gold medal in snowmobile freestyle, Levi LaVallee won gold in snowmobile long jump, and Kody Kamm and Justin Broberg both medaled in snocross racing. The 2014 X Games took place Jan. 23-26 in Aspen, Colo.

Colten Moore Honors Brother in Snowmobile Freestyle

Colten Moore, a 24-year-old ATV freestyle star who began competing on Polaris snowmobiles at the 2010 X Games, won the 2014 gold medal in snowmobile freestyle while competing in honor of his late brother Caleb. Caleb, who was also an ATV and snowmobile freestyle star, died as the result of injuries suffered while competing in the 2013 X Games.

Nissan IDx Freeflow and IDx NISMO Concepts to Storm West Coast this Weekend

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The acclaimed Nissan IDx Freeflow and IDx NISMO concepts will be on display in Southern California in a whirlwind, three-day tour starting on Friday, Jan. 31 through Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014.  The revolutionary concept vehicles, stars of the recent auto shows in Tokyo and Detroit, will be showcased in a variety of classic California locales, from the streets of Venice to Irvine's Cars & Coffee, and a special event at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

Iowa State engineers upgrade pilot plant for better studies of advanced biofuels

Lysle Whitmer, giving a quick tour of the technical upgrades to an Iowa State University biofuels pilot plant, pointed to a long series of stainless steel pipes and cylinders. They’re called cyclones, condensers and precipitators, he said, and there’s an art to getting them to work together.

The machinery is all about quickly heating biomass (including corn stalks, switchgrass or wood chips) without oxygen to produce solid biochar and liquid bio-oil. The former can fertilize crops; the latter can power the economy.

New NASA Laser Technology Reveals How Ice Measures Up

New results from NASA's MABEL campaign demonstrated that a photon-counting technique will allow researchers to track the melt or growth of Earth’s frozen regions.

When a high-altitude aircraft flew over the icy Arctic Ocean and the snow-covered terrain of Greenland in April 2012, it was the first polar test of a new laser-based technology to measure the height of Earth from space.

January 28, 2014

Panasonic Develops Ballast Water Management System to Help Protect Marine Ecosystems

The first ballast water management system using in-line electrolysis in Japan is filter-less and designed to help save costs and space.

Panasonic Environmental Systems & Engineering Co., Ltd., a Panasonic group company, today announced that it has developed an on-board ballast water management system using an in-line electrolysis method to disinfect ballast water.

"Nanoe" effectively breaks down PM2.5 components and inhibits growth of fungi attached to Yellow Sand

PM2.5 particles are a type of air pollutant with a diameter of 2.5μm or smaller, that remain suspended in the air.  Because they are so small, they travel deeper into our lungs, making it very difficult for us to get rid of them once inhaled, thereby causing health problems such as asthma and bronchitis.  It is also said that these particles may cause cancer. 

Apple patents solar-powered MacBook with two-sided display and rear touch inputs

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple a patent for a laptop with a unique display unit that not only serves as a solar power supply, but also an external screen and secondary means of touch input.

Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,638,549 for an "Electronic device display module" describes a two-sided glass laptop display housing which carries the usual screen on its front face. On the rear, however, the module holds photovoltaic cells for solar charging, a secondary display and sensors for touch input.

Microwires as mobile phone sensors

Microwires were created in the former Soviet Union for military purposes. They formed the basis of the camouflage of a model of spy plane used by the Soviet army, but for a long time the scientific community has been studying them for other purposes. A study by the UPV/EHU’s Magnetism Group is making progress in furthering understanding of the surface magnetic behaviour of glass-coated microwires and has concluded that they are the major candidates for use as high sensitivity sensors, in mobile phones, for example. The study has been published in the journal Physica B: Condensed Matter.

Computing with Silicon Neurons

Scientists from Berlin and Heidelberg use artificial nerve cells to classify different types of data

Scientists from Berlin and Heidelberg use artificial nerve cells to classify different types of data. Thus, they may recognize handwritten numbers, or distinguish plant species based on their flowers. A bakery assistant who takes the bread from the shelf just to give it to his boss who then hands it over to the customer? Rather unlikely. Instead, both work at the same time to sell the baked goods. Similarly, computer programs are more efficient if they process data in parallel rather than to calculate them one after the other. However, most programs that are applied still work in a serial manner. Scientists from Freie Universität Berlin, the Bernstein Center Berlin, and Heidelberg University have now refined a new technology that is based on parallel data processing.

New molecule protects the brain

The new new molecule created by HUJ researchers could potentially lower diabetic patients’ higher risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at the Hebrew university of Jerusalem have created a molecule that could potentially lower diabetic patients’ higher risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Developing new methods to assess resistance to disease in young oilseed rape plants

Being able to measure resistance to disease in young oilseed rape plants is vital in the battle to breed new disease resistant varieties of the crop, and is the focus of a study by a team of researchers led by the University of Hertfordshire.

The battle against phoma stem canker

Oilseed rape is prone to phoma stem canker, also known as blackleg disease, which is responsible for losses worth more than £1,200 million in oilseed rape crops across the world.  With the fragile state of the world's economy and concern over food shortages, there is a need to protect arable crops from disease.

Nissan Unveils Revolutionary Petrol Engine To Complement Electric ZEOD RC Powerplant

*  1.5 liter three-cylinder turbo produces 400 horsepower from a 40kg engine
*  More power per kilo than a Formula 1 engine
*  New technical partnership with Total lubricants revealed

Nissan will not only break new ground with the unique electric power plant aboard the Nissan ZEOD RC at Le Mans this year, but the accompanying internal combustion engine is set to revolutionize standards of performance and efficiency.

The Nissan ZEOD RC will become the first entry at Le Mans to complete a lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe under nothing but electric power in June. A single lap of each stint (a fuel "stint" lasts approximately one hour) will be electric powered, then the new Nissan DIG-T R 1.5 liter three-cylinder turbo engine will take over.

Stratasys Redefines Product Design and Manufacturing with World's First Color Multi-material 3D Printer

The new Objet500 Connex3 is the world's most versatile 3D printer, delivering unparalleled color product realism

New 3D Printer allows better decision making, improves design & manufacturing efficiencies and produces better products, faster

Stratasys Ltd. (NASDAQ: SSYS), a manufacturer of 3D printers and materials for personal use, prototyping, and production, today announced the launch of the ground-breaking Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer, the first and only 3D printer to combine colors with multi-material 3D printing.

Coral Can Thrive In Acidified Seawater

Some coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean can not only survive but thrive in waters that have high levels of acidification, according to a Texas A&M University researcher.

Oceanographer Katie Shamberger and colleagues from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) examined coral reefs around the islands of Palau in the western Pacific Ocean.  Her findings have been published in Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.

New boron nanomaterial may be possible

Graphene, a sheet of carbon one atom thick, may soon have a new nanomaterial partner. In the lab and on supercomputers, chemical engineers have determined that a unique arrangement of 36 boron atoms in a flat disc with a hexagonal hole in the middle may be the preferred building blocks for “borophene.” Findings are reported in Nature Communications.

January 27, 2014

DNA-built nanoparticles safely target cancer tumours

A team of researchers at the University of Toronto has discovered a method of assembling “building blocks” of gold nanoparticles as the vehicle to deliver cancer medications or cancer-identifying markers directly into cancerous tumors.

The study, led by Professor Warren Chan, of U of T's Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) and the Donnelly Centre for Cellular & Biomolecular Research, appears in an article in Nature Nanotechnology this week.

River of Hydrogen Flowing through Space Seen with Green Bank Telescope

Using the National Science Foundation’s Robert C. Byrd GreenBank Telescope (GBT), astronomer D.J. Pisano from West Virginia University has discovered what could be a never-before-seen river of hydrogen flowing through space. This very faint, very tenuous filament of gas is streaming into the nearby galaxy NGC 6946 and may help explain how certain spiral galaxies keep up their steady pace of star formation.

ORNL study advances quest for better superconducting materials

Nearly 30 years after the discovery of high-temperature superconductivity, many questions remain, but an Oak Ridge National Laboratory team is providing insight that could lead to better superconductors.

Their work, published in Physical Review Letters, examines the role of chemical dopants, which are essential to creating high-temperature superconductors – materials that conduct electricity without resistance. The role of dopants in superconductors is particularly mysterious as they introduce non-uniformity and disorder into the crystal structure, which increases resistivity in non-superconducting materials.

January 26, 2014

Monet's striking cliff by the sea beckons Texas State's 'Celestial Sleuths'

Famed French Impressionist Claude Monet created a striking scene of the Normandy coast in his 1883 painting, Étretat: Sunset. Now, a team of Texas State University researchers, led by astronomer and physics professor Donald Olson, has applied its distinctive brand of forensic astronomy to Monet's masterpiece, uncovering previously unknown details about the painting's origins.

Olson, along with Texas State physics faculty member Russell Doescher and Texas State Honors College students Hannah Reynolds, Ava Pope and Laura Bright, publish their findings in the Feb. 2014 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine, on newsstands now.

Stephen Hawking: 'There are no black holes'

Notion of an 'event horizon', from which nothing can escape, is incompatible with quantum theory, physicist claims.

Most physicists foolhardy enough to write a paper claiming that “there are no black holes” — at least not in the sense we usually imagine — would probably be dismissed as cranks. But when the call to redefine these cosmic crunchers comes from Stephen Hawking, it’s worth taking notice. In a paper posted online, the physicist, based at the University of Cambridge, UK, and one of the creators of modern black-hole theory, does away with the notion of an event horizon, the invisible boundary thought to shroud every black hole, beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape.