June 30, 2012

'Birkin' Bentley breaks world record to sell for £5 million at Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale

'Birkin' Bentley breaks world record to sell for £5 million at Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale

A record-breaking British car from the 'tween-war years has broken another record at the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed sale this Friday 29 June. It is now the most expensive Bentley ever sold at public auction.

The ex-Sir Henry 'Tim' Birkin 1929 4 ½-litre supercharged 'Blower' Bentley single-seater, which when new raised the Brooklands Outer Circuit record to 137mph, sold for £5,042,000.

The Bentley was sold as part of a collection once owned by famed watchmaker George Daniels of seven cars, two motorcycles and assorted automobilia.

Daniels was a huge fan of Birkin, and also on sale at the Bonhams Goodwood FOS sale was another Birkin car. The 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Long Chassis Touring Spider which formed part of Birkin's

1932 Le Mans 24-Hour Endurance Race entry with his friend Earl Howe, sold for more than £2.5 million.

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Make me an offer, say online shoppers

Make me an offer, say online shoppers

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Online shoppers would rather receive an offer for a product or service than make their own offer, according to a study led by a Michigan State University scholar that has implications for the fast-growing e-commerce industry.

The findings may come as a surprise given that shopping online is an anonymous process that seemingly can give consumers more confidence to drive a hard bargain, said Don Conlon, Eli Broad Professor of Management in MSU’s Broad College of Business.

But the study found that participants who made their own offers were less successful in sealing the deal and, when they were successful, worried they overpaid. Many shoppers found the process of researching an offer to be a hassle.

“Americans are very busy, and it’s less time consuming to be the one receiving the offer rather than the one proposing the offer,” Conlon said. “People tend to be happier when they’re in the receiver role.”

Online spending in the United States is expected to jump 45 percent in the next four years, from $226 billion this year to $327 billion in 2016, according to Forrester Research Inc.

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Despite efforts for change, Bangladeshi women prefer to use pollution-causing cookstoves

Despite efforts for change, Bangladeshi women prefer to use pollution-causing cookstoves

June 29, 2012
Women in rural Bangladesh prefer inexpensive, traditional stoves for cooking over modern ones — despite significant health risks, according to a Yale study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A large majority of respondents (94%) believed that indoor smoke from the traditional stoves is harmful. Still, Bangladeshi women opted for traditional cookstove technology so they could afford basic needs.

“Non-traditional cookstoves might be more successful if they were designed with features valued more highly by users, such as reducing operating costs even if they might not reduce environmental impact,” said Mushfiq Mobarak, a co-author and associate professor of economics at the Yale School of Management.

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Cambridge success in Wellcome Image Awards

Cambridge success in Wellcome Image Awards

University of Cambridge researchers created four out of the 16 winning images in the recent Wellcome Image Awards 2012.

The Wellcome Image Awards celebrate the best images acquired by the Wellcome Images picture library over the past 18 months. Sixteen winning images were recently selected by a judging panel, based not only on their visual appeal but also their technical excellence and ability to convey the fascination of science.

University of Cambridge researchers were responsible for a quarter of the winning images. Showing bacteria, biofilms, seedlings and chicken embryos, the images created by the researchers display the beauty that can be harnessed using modern technology to magnify the insignificant and undetectable to a microscopic scale, creating an array of surprisingly stunning images.

Now in their 15th year, the Wellcome Image Awards were established to reward contributors to the collection for their outstanding work.

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Clothing the body electric: Fabric in modified T-shirt can store electrical charge

(June 30, 2015)  Over the years, the telephone has gone mobile, from the house to the car to the pocket. The University of South Carolina's Xiaodong Li envisions even further integration of the cell phone – and just about every electronic gadget, for that matter – into our lives.

He sees a future where electronics are part of our wardrobe.

"We wear fabric every day," said Li, a professor of mechanical engineering at USC. "One day our cotton T-shirts could have more functions; for example, a flexible energy storage device that could charge your cell phone or your iPad."

Li is helping make the vision a reality. He and post-doctoral associate Lihong Bao have just reported in the journal Advanced Materials how to turn the material in a cotton T-shirt into a source of electrical power.

BGI Demonstrated Genomic Data Transfer at Nearly 10 Gigabits per Second Between US and China

(June 30, 2012) Data transferred in 30 seconds while public Internet took over a day.

BGI, the world’s largest genomics organization, announced today that a group of scientists and researchers successfully demonstrated genomic data transfer at a sustained rate of almost 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps) over a new link connecting US and China research and education networks.  This data rate is equivalent to moving more than 100 million megabytes -- over 5,400 full Blu-ray discs -- in a single day. 

The data transfer demonstration was part of a June 22nd event in Beijing celebrating a new 10 Gigabit US – China network connection supported by Internet2, the China Education and Research Network (CERNET), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Indiana University. Three centers and their representatives participated in the demonstration – BGI, Dr. Xing Xu, Director of Cloud Computing Product; University of California, Davis, Dr. Dawei Lin, Director of Bioinformatics Core of Genome Center; and National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Dr. Don Preuss, Head of Systems Group. Aspera Inc., the creator of the technology that moves the world’s data at maximum speed, provided software to support the data transfers.

Escaping bullying: The simultaneous impact of individual and unit-level bullying on turnover intentions

Escaping bullying: The simultaneous impact of individual and unit-level bullying on turnover intentions


In this study, we investigate the simultaneous impact of, and interaction between, being the direct target of bullying and working in an environment characterized by bullying upon employees’ turnover intentions. Hierarchical linear modeling analysis of a sample of 41 hospital units and 357 nurses demonstrates that working in an environment characterized by bullying increases individual employees’ turnover intentions. Importantly, employees report similarly high turnover intentions when they are either the direct target of bullying or when they work in work units characterized by high bullying. Results also suggest that the impact of unit-level bullying is stronger on those who are not often directly bullied themselves.

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New fuel cell keeps going after the hydrogen runs out

(June 30, 2012)  Materials scientists demonstrate first SOFC capable of battery-like storage

Imagine a kerosene lamp that continued to shine after the fuel was spent, or an electric stove that could remain hot during a power outage.

Materials scientists at Harvard have demonstrated an equivalent feat in clean energy generation with a solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that converts hydrogen into electricity but can also store electrochemical energy like a battery. This fuel cell can continue to produce power for a short time after its fuel has run out.

"This thin-film SOFC takes advantage of recent advances in low-temperature operation to incorporate a new and more versatile material," explains principal investigator Shriram Ramanathan, Associate Professor of Materials Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). "Vanadium oxide (VOx) at the anode behaves as a multifunctional material, allowing the fuel cell to both generate and store energy."

The finding, which appears online in the journal Nano Letters, will be most important for small-scale, portable energy applications, where a very compact and lightweight power supply is essential and the fuel supply may be interrupted.

June 29, 2012

Bee research sheds light on human sweet perception, metabolic disorders

Bee research sheds light on human sweet perception, metabolic disorders

Scientists at Arizona State University have discovered that honey bees may teach us about basic connections between taste perception and metabolic disorders in humans.

By experimenting with honey bee genetics, researchers have identified connections between sugar sensitivity, diabetic physiology and carbohydrate metabolism. Bees and humans may partially share these connections.

In a study published in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics (Public Library of Science), Gro Amdam, an associate professor, and Ying Wang, a research scientist, in the School of Life Sciences in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, explain how for the first time, they’ve successfully inactivated two genes in the bees’ “master regulator” module that controls food-related behaviors. By doing so, researchers discovered a possible molecular link between sweet taste perception and the state of internal energy.

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Absence Does Make the Heart Grow Fonder:

Absence Does Make the Heart Grow Fonder: Surprising Things that Couples Do Apart To Boost Their Relationship

Surprisingly, sleeping in separate bedrooms, among other things, might just give your relationship that extra boost, according to new UK statistics.

New research found that more than one in 10 UK couples sleep in separate bedrooms at least once a week to strengthen their relationship.

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UM. discovery to improve efficiencies in fuel, chemical and pharmaceutical industries

University of Minnesota discovery to improve efficiencies in fuel, chemical and pharmaceutical industries

Breakthrough could reduce costs for the consumer

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (06/28/2012) —University of Minnesota engineering researchers are leading an international team that has made a major breakthrough in developing a catalyst used during chemical reactions in the production of gasoline, plastics, biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and other chemicals. The discovery could lead to major efficiencies and cost-savings in these multibillion-dollar industries.

The research is to be published in the June 29, 2012 issue of the leading scientific journal Science.

“The impact of this new discovery is enormous,” said the team’s lead researcher Michael Tsapatsis, a chemical engineering and materials science professor in the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering. “Every drop of gasoline we use needs a catalyst to change the oil molecules into usable gasoline during the refining process.”

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Probing the secrets of unmagnetized magnets

Probing the secrets of unmagnetized magnets

29.06.12 - EPFL physicists studying magnetic materials have discovered that they have some unexpected properties. Their research could lead to the development of even tinier magnets in the future.

Magnets are everywhere; stuck to our fridges, used in electric motors, built into the hard disks on our computers. Scientists have studied them for centuries, but it’s only recently that a team from EPFL’s Laboratory for Quantum Magnetism has probed the details of their innermost structure. This fundamental discovery will pave the way for both new research and a host of promising applications, particularly in the area of miniaturized hard disks.

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Researchers create “Huntington’s disease in a dish” to enable search for treatment

(June 29, 2015)  Johns Hopkins researchers, working with an international consortium, say they have generated stem cells from skin cells from a person with a severe, early-onset form of Huntington’s disease (HD), and turned them into neurons that degenerate just like those affected by the fatal inherited disorder.

By creating “HD in a dish,” the researchers say they have taken a major step forward in efforts to better understand what disables and kills the cells in people with HD, and to test the effects of potential drug therapies on cells that are otherwise locked deep in the brain.

Although the autosomal dominant gene mutation responsible for HD was identified in 1993, there is no cure. No treatments are available even to slow its progression.

The research, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is the work of a Huntington’s Disease iPSC Consortium, including scientists from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and the University of California, Irvine, as well as six other groups. The consortium studied several other HD cell lines and control cell lines in order to make sure results were consistent and reproducible in different labs.

Discovery may lead to tomatoes with vintage taste

Discovery may lead to tomatoes with vintage taste

A new discovery could make more tomatoes taste like heirlooms, reports an international research team headed by a University of California, Davis, plant scientist.

The finding, which will be reported in the June 29 issue of the journal Science, has significant implications for the U.S. tomato industry, which annually harvests more than 15 million tons of the fruit for processing and fresh-market sales.

“This information about the gene responsible for the trait in wild and traditional varieties provides a strategy to recapture quality characteristics that had been unknowingly bred out of modern cultivated tomatoes,” said Ann Powell, a biochemist in UC Davis’ Department of Plant Sciences and one of the lead authors of the study.

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Stanford professor oversees development of asteroid early-detection system

Stanford professor oversees development of asteroid early-detection system

The Sentinel Space Telescope will map the approximately half million large asteroids that populate the inner solar system. The observations could be used to identify threats decades in advance of an impending collision.

A large asteroid colliding with Earth may seem like a science fiction scenario, but there's reason to take it seriously. Hundreds of thousands of these bodies cross Earth's orbit – and the consequences of a direct hit by even one could be devastating.

But a new telescope, whose development is being overseen by Stanford Professor Scott Hubbard, promises to provide an early-detection system that could predict a devastating impact.

"We should be able to establish orbits well enough that we can predict where the asteroids will be in 50 to 100 years," said Hubbard, an aeronautics and astronautics professor.

The mission to launch the telescope was announced Thursday in San Francisco at the California Academy of Sciences by the nonprofit foundation funding it. It was hailed as the first privately funded deep space mission.

With NASA support, the B612 Foundation will send the infrared telescope, called Sentinel, into orbit around the sun, where it will map the swarms of large asteroids that populate the inner solar system. The telescope is expected to be ready for launch on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in five to six years.

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Wind plants: How loud is too loud?

Wind plants: How loud is too loud?

Barely has the ink dried on a Public Service Commission order dismissing a complaint about noise from the Pinnacle wind plant at Keyser than another complaint has been filed.

Gary Ray Braithwaite filed a complaint June 27 seeking to have the Pinnacle Wind Farm at New Page shut down until the noise from it can be stopped.

It was just June 1 when the commission dismissed the case in which Richard Braithwaite — Gary's brother — complained about noise from the plant.

The 55.2-megawatt Pinnacle wind plant, 23 turbines stretched in a line on several miles of Green Mountain ridge alongside Keyser, was commissioned in January 2012.

In February, Richard Braithwaite filed his complaint with the PSC.

Richard's complaint

"The constant noise of the wind turbines makes it impossible to rest or sleep," according to the complaint filed by Richard Braithwaite, who lives about three-quarters of a mile from the plant.

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June 28, 2012

GE Aviation biofuel plan could be economic engine

GE Aviation biofuel plan could be economic engine

A proposal by GE Aviation  to produce renewable jet fuel from raw materials in Ohio will help revitalize the country’s rural economy, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday.

Vilsack was visiting Evendale for a briefing on the proposed joint venture, which was detailed here in last week’s Business Courier. In an interview after his briefing, Vilsack tied the biofuels effort to the Obama administration’s program to rebuild the farm economy through innovation, increased exports, renewable energy, and outdoor recreation.

“It’s an extraordinary opportunity to increase farm income and jobs in rural areas,” Vilsack said of various biofuels initiatives that are under way across the state.

Because the raw materials for biofuels are scattered across the region, the refineries for converting them will need to be smaller than oil refineries, only about 150 miles or so apart, Vilsack said, rather than concentrated in large centralized facilities. That will increase job opportunities, he said.

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Researchers convert 'beer' into a better-than-ethanol biofuel

At Cornell, researchers are turning beer into biofuel.

(June 28, 2012)  It's not the beer that's good to drink -- but fermentation broth, which is chemically identical to the imbibing beer, from which the fuel ethanol is produced.

Using a mixed bag of microbes for specific chemical reactions, biological engineers have designed a process for upgrading ethanol into something even better -- caproic acid, a carboxylic acid that's a versatile fuel precursor. If scaled up, their process could integrate seamlessly into already-established ethanol production lines.

Green future for algae bio-fuel plant

(June 28, 2015)  The clear sunny days and ready access to water offered by Karratha in Western Australia make it an ideal place to grow algae, it's such a good spot that Aurora Algae has just tripled the amount of money it wants to spend on a commercial algae bio-diesel plant in the town.

The company announced a $100 million commercial expansion of its demonstration facility at the start of the year, but because the site has been performing so well, investment plans have now been upped to $300 million.

The development footprint has increased too, the company isn't planning just 100 hectares of algae ponds now, it's going for 400 hectares.

Algae is grown in ponds on the site; it's then skimmed off, dried and the bio-fuel is made by extracting oil from a dried algae powder.

Acoustic Tweezers Capture Tiny Creatures with Ultrasound

(June 28, 2012)  A team of bioengineers and biochemists from Penn State University has demonstrated a device about the size of a dime that is capable of manipulating objects, including living materials such as blood cells and entire small organisms, using sound waves. Their research is published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The device, called acoustic tweezers, is the first technology capable of touchlessly trapping and manipulating Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), a one millimeter long roundworm that is an important model system for studying diseases and development in humans. Acoustic tweezers are also capable of precisely manipulating cellular-scale objects that are essential to many areas of fundamental biomedical research.

World's Oldest Purse Found—Studded With a Hundred Dog Teeth?

"It seems to have been very fashionable at the time."

(June 28, 2012)  The world's oldest purse may have been found in Germany—and its owner apparently had a sharp sense of Stone Age style.

Excavators at a site near Leipzig (map) uncovered more than a hundred dog teeth arranged close together in a grave dated to between 2,500 and 2,200 B.C.

According to archaeologist Susanne Friederich, the teeth were likely decorations for the outer flap of a handbag.

"Over the years the leather or fabric disappeared, and all that's left is the teeth. They're all pointing in the same direction, so it looks a lot like a modern handbag flap," said Friederich, of the Sachsen-Anhalt State Archaeology and Preservation Office.

Ancient treasure found in Azerbaijan’s Aghsu region

(June 28, 2012)  Chief of Aghsu archeological expedition of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences Gafar Jabiyev told APA that a treasure consisting of gold coin examples were found during digging work on June 22. Total number of coins is 37. One of them was minted in 1781, one – in 1786, three – in 1787, one – in 1796, 31 – in 1800. All coins are in good condition.

The coins are gold ducats of Dutch production. Alloy of the coins is 986, diameter – 21.8mm, thickness – 1.3mm, legal weight -3.49gr, shape – round, edge – milled. Obverse: Within ornamental square tablet the Latin legend - MO:ORD PROVIN FOEDER BELG.AD LEG.IMP expands to MOneta ORDinum PROVINciarum FOEDERatorum BELGicarum AD LEGem IMPerii which translates as "Coin of government of the provincial federation of Belgium Conforming with the law of the Imperial".

Plasma startup creates high-energy light to make smaller microchips

(June 28, 2012)  A University of Washington lab has been working for more than a decade on fusion energy, harnessing the energy-generating mechanism of the sun. But in one of the twists of scientific discovery, on the way the researchers found a potential solution to a looming problem in the electronics industry.

To bring their solution to market two UW engineers have launched a startup, Zplasma, that aims to produce the high-energy light needed to etch the next generation of microchips.

"In order to get smaller feature sizes on silicon, the industry has to go to shorter wavelength light," said Uri Shumlak, a UW professor of aeronautics and astronautics. “We’re able to produce that light with enough power that it can be used to manufacture microchips.”

Rice researchers develop paintable battery

Technique could turn any surface into a lithium-ion battery; may be combined with solar cells

(June 28, 2012)  Researchers at Rice University have developed a lithium-ion battery that can be painted on virtually any surface.

The rechargeable battery created in the lab of Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan consists of spray-painted layers, each representing the components in a traditional battery. The research appears today in Nature’s online, open-access journal Scientific Reports.

“This means traditional packaging for batteries has given way to a much more flexible approach that allows all kinds of new design and integration possibilities for storage devices,” said Ajayan, Rice’s Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and of chemistry. “There has been lot of interest in recent times in creating power sources with an improved form factor, and this is a big step forward in that direction.”

Penn Researchers Show ‘Neural Fingerprints’ of Memory Associations

(June 28, 2012)  Researchers have long been interested in discovering the ways that human brains represent thoughts through a complex interplay of electrical signals.  Recent improvements in brain recording and statistical methods have given researchers unprecedented insight into the physical processes underlying thoughts.  For example, researchers have begun to show that it is possible to use brain recordings to reconstruct aspects of an image or movie clip someone is viewing, a sound someone is hearing or even the text someone is reading.

Going gluten-free: Is the diet a good fit for everyone?

(June 28, 2012)  One of the latest trends in the food market and among celebrities is going gluten-free. Snack giant Frito-Lay has announced it will introduce new gluten-free labels and products, and Miley Cyrus has credited her recent weight loss to a gluten-free diet.

Experts at Kansas State University say going gluten-free may be a good choice for some individuals, but that just because a product's label says it's gluten-free doesn't means that it's healthy.

Going gluten-free was an obvious choice for Kathryn Deschenes, a Kansas State University master's student in food science from Ellsworth. She has celiac disease, which runs in her family. The disease is a digestive disorder triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Those with celiac disease often experience symptoms like nausea and diarrhea.

Probing the roots of depression by tracking serotonin regulation at a new level

Probing the roots of depression by tracking serotonin regulation at a new level

(June 28, 2012)  In a process akin to belling an infinitesimal cat, scientists have managed to tag a protein that regulates the neurotransmitter serotonin with tiny fluorescent beads, allowing them to track the movements of single molecules for the first time.

The capability, which took nearly a decade to achieve, makes it possible to study the dynamics of serotonin regulation at a new level of detail, which is important because of the key role that serotonin plays in the regulation of mood, appetite and sleep.

Stanford researchers synthesize printable, electrically conductive gel

Stanford researchers synthesize printable, electrically conductive gel

(June 28, 2012)  The Jell-O-like material, from the labs of Stanford professors Yi Cui and Zhenan Bao, may have applications in areas as widespread as energy storage, medical sensors and biofuel cells.

Stanford researchers have invented an electrically conductive gel that is quick and easy to make, can be patterned onto surfaces with an inkjet printer and demonstrates unprecedented electrical performance.

The material, created by Stanford chemical engineering Associate Professor Zhenan Bao, materials science and engineering Associate Professor Yi Cui and members of their labs, is a kind of conducting hydrogel – a jelly that feels and behaves like biological tissues, but conducts electricity like a metal or semiconductor.

Space tornadoes power the atmosphere of the Sun

(June 28, 2015)  Mathematicians at the University of Sheffield, as part of an international team, have discovered tornadoes in space which could hold the key to power the atmosphere of the Sun to millions of kelvin.

The super tornadoes - which are thousands of times larger and more powerful than their earthly counterparts but which have a magnetic skeleton - spin at speeds of more than 6,000 mph at temperatures in millions of centigrade in the Sun’s atmosphere.

They are more than 1,000 miles wide – hundreds of miles longer than the total distance between Land’s End to John O’Groats. It is estimated that there are as many as 11,000 of these swirling events above the Sun’s surface at any time.

Applied mathematicians from the University of Sheffield (Professor Robertus Erdélyi –senior author, and Dr Viktor Fedun) collaborating with the University of Oslo in Norway (Drs Sven Wedemeyer-Böhm – first author, Eamon Scullion – a Sheffield ex-postgraduate, Luc Rouppe van de Voort), Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics of Freiburg, Germany (Dr Oskar Steiner), and Uppsala University in Sweden (Jaime de la Cruz Rodriguez), say the solar tornadoes carry the energy from the energy reservoir below the Sun’s surface, called the convection zone, to the outer atmosphere in the form of magnetic waves.

Evidence of oceanic ‘green rust’ offers hope for the future

Evidence of oceanic ‘green rust’ offers hope for the future

(June 28, 2012)  A rare kind of mineral which scientists hope could be used to remove toxic metals and radioactive species from the environment played a similar, crucial role early in Earth’s history.
Research carried out by an international team of leading biogeochemists suggests for the first time that ‘green rust’ was likely widespread in ancient oceans and may have played a vital role in the creation of our early atmosphere.

Led by Newcastle University, UK, the study shows that during the Precambrian period, green rust ‘scavenged’ heavy metals such as nickel out of the water. Nickel availability is linked to the production of methane by anaerobic organisms, which is a major sink for oxygen produced during photosynthesis, and thus green rust played a crucial role in the oxygenation of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Palladium beats iron for TCE cleanup

Palladium-gold nanoparticles clean TCE a billion times faster than iron filings

(June 28, 2012)  In the first side-by-side tests of a half-dozen palladium- and iron-based catalysts for cleaning up the carcinogen TCE, Rice University scientists have found that palladium destroys TCE far faster than iron — up to a billion times faster in some cases.

The results will appear in a new study in the August issue of the journal Applied Catalysis B: Environmental.

TCE, or trichloroethene, is a widely used chemical degreaser and solvent that’s found its way into groundwater supplies the world over. The TCE molecule, which contains two carbon atoms and three chlorine atoms, is very stable. That stability is a boon for industrial users, but it’s a bane for environmental engineers.

“It’s difficult to break those bonds between chlorine and carbon,” said study author Michael Wong, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and of chemistry at Rice. “Breaking some of the bonds, instead of breaking all the carbon-chlorine bonds, is a huge problem with some TCE treatment methods. Why? Because you make byproducts that are more dangerous than TCE, like vinyl chloride. 

Caltech Scientists Find New Primitive Mineral in Meteorite

(June 28, 2012)  In 1969, an exploding fireball tore through the sky over Mexico, scattering thousands of pieces of meteorite across the state of Chihuahua. More than 40 years later, the Allende meteorite is still serving the scientific community as a rich source of information about the early stages of our solar system's evolution. Recently, scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) discovered a new mineral embedded in the space rock—one they believe to be among the oldest minerals formed in the solar system.

June 26, 2012

Scientists Twist Light to Send Data

(June 26, 2012)  USC-led team demonstrates that beams of light can be twisted and combined to transmit data at dramatically increased speeds

A multi-national team led by USC with researchers hailing from the U.S., China, Pakistan and Israel has developed a system of transmitting data using twisted beams of light at ultra-high speeds – up to 2.56 terabits per second.

To put that in perspective, broadband cable (which you probably used to download this) supports up to about 30 megabits per second. The twisted-light system transmits more than 85,000 times more data per second. 

Their work might be used to build high-speed satellite communication links, short free-space terrestrial links, or potentially be adapted for use in the fiber optic cables that are used by some Internet service providers.

Economist Shows the Value of Moving Back with Mom and Dad

(June 26, 2012)  Though many may dread the idea, young adults who move back home with mom and dad after a job loss may benefit from it more than they realize. Research published in the Journal of Political Economy finds that returning to the nest can be valuable insurance in a tough labor market, serving as a short-term safety net while also keeping long-term earnings from being stunted by a job loss.

“Intuitively, it makes sense that people move home after an employment shock,” said Greg Kaplan, an economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the study’s author. “We’ve seen a lot of anecdotal evidence of this during the latest recession, but there hadn’t been much hard data on how common it is or what the effects might be. This study demonstrates that the option to move home is potentially very important.”

June 25, 2012

South African daffodils may be a future cure for depression

(June 25, 2012)  PHARMACEUTICAL RESEARCH Scientists have discovered that plant compounds from a South African flower may in time be used to treat diseases originating in the brain – including depression. At the University of Copenhagen, a number of these substances have now been tested in a laboratory model of the blood-brain barrier. The promising results have been published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology.

Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have previously documented that substances from the South African plant species Crinum and Cyrtanthus – akin to snowdrops and daffodils – have an effect on the mechanisms in the brain that are involved in depression. This research has now yielded further results, since a team based at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences has recently shown how several South African daffodils contain plant compounds whose characteristics enable them to negotiate the defensive blood-brain barrier that is a key challenge in all new drug development.

June 24, 2012

Your smart phone can predict where you’re going next

Mobile Data Challenge 2012: Unlocking the secrets of smartphone data


(June 24, 2012)  An important aspect of the MDC, says Juha, was using the data for predictive purposes.

“If the device is going to know in advance what the user is going to do next, then the phone can recommend something that you might need next or it can give you some options, which are most likely highly relevant for you,” he says.

This predictive capability was key to one of the winning MDC papers, Interdependence and Predictability of Human Mobility and Social Interactions, announced at the Pervasive Conference in Newcastle, UK, yesterday.

This paper, from the University of Birmingham, found that you could improve the predictive accuracy of where someone was going next if you also looked at the mobility information of his or her social group.

Bringing down the cost of fuel cells

(June 24, 2012) Engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) have identified a  catalyst that provides the same level of efficiency in microbial fuel cells (MFCs) as the currently used platinum catalyst, but at 5% of the cost.

Since more than 60% of the investment in making microbial fuel cells is the cost of platinum, the discovery may lead to much more affordable energy conversion and storage devices.

The material – nitrogen-enriched iron-carbon nanorods – also has the potential to replace the platinum catalyst used in hydrogen-producing microbial electrolysis cells (MECs), which use organic matter to generate a possible alternative to fossil fuels.

“Fuel cells are capable of directly converting fuel into electricity,” says UWM Professor Junhong Chen, who created the nanorods and is testing them with Assistant Professor Zhen (Jason) He. “With fuel cells, electrical power from renewable energy sources can be delivered where and when required, cleanly, efficiently and sustainably.”

The scientists also found that the nanorod catalyst outperformed a graphene-based alternative being developed elsewhere. In fact, the pair tested the material against two other contenders to replace platinum and found the nanorods’ performance consistently superior over a six-month period.

China's deep-sea submersible makes its 4th dive

(Xinhua, June 24, 2012)  China's manned deep-sea submersible Jiaolong prepares to be put into water to make a fourth dive into the sea at the Mariana Trench on June 24, 2012. China's manned submersible, Jiaolong, made its fourth dive in the Mariana Trench on Sunday morning to attempt the world's first 7,000-meter dive below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. [Xinhua]

June 23, 2012

Celebrity endorsements not always a good bet, CU-Boulder study shows

(June 23, 2012)  Companies paying celebrities big money to endorse their products may not realize that negative perceptions about a celebrity are more likely to transfer to an endorsed brand than are positive ones, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study.

Celebrity endorsements are widely used to increase brand visibility and connect brands with celebrities’ personality traits, but do not always work in the positive manner marketers envision, according to Margaret C. Campbell of CU-Boulder’s Leeds School of Business, who led the study.

“In three different studies, negative celebrity associations always transferred to an endorsed brand, even under conditions when positive associations did not,” said Campbell, an associate professor of marketing. “The overall message to marketers is be careful, because all of us, celebrities or not, have positives and negatives to our personalities and those negatives can easily transfer to a brand.”

Selenium controls staph on implant material

(June 23, 2012)  A coating of selenium nanoparticles significantly reduces the growth of Staphylococcus aureus on polycarbonate, a material common in implanted devices such as catheters and endotracheal tubes, engineers at Brown University report in a new study.

Selenium is an inexpensive element that naturally belongs in the body. It is also known to combat bacteria. Still, it had not been tried as an antibiotic coating on a medical device material. In a new study, Brown University engineers report that when they used selenium nanoparticles to coat polycarbonate, the material of catheters and endotracheal tubes, the results were significant reductions in cultured populations of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, sometimes by as much as 90 percent.

The Sound of a Fermi Gamma-ray Burst

(June 21, 2012)  What does the universe look like at high energies? Thanks to the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT), we can extend our sense of sight to "see" the universe in gamma rays. But humans not only have a sense of sight, we also have a sense of sound. If we could listen to the high-energy universe, what would we hear? What does the universe sound like?

A gamma-ray burst, the most energetic explosions in the universe, converted to music. Made by Sylvia Zhu (music) and Judy Racusin (animation)

Every photon has its own energy and frequency; the higher the energy, the higher the frequency. Some photons have just the right frequencies for us to see them as different colors, while others -- such as the gamma rays studied by the Fermi LAT -- are much too energetic to be seen with our eyes. Sound waves have frequencies too, and similarly, we can hear some of them as musical notes. So what happens if we convert high-energy photons into musical notes?

Green banana pasta's good taste serves as alternative for gluten-free diets

(June 23, 2012)  Sacramento health food store consumers are hoping they will soon be able to find green banana flour and/or green banana pasta locally. Pasta made from green banana flour is healthier than bleached, processed wheat flour, according to a new study published in theJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Listen to the podcast: Green Banana Pasta: An Alternative for Gluten-Free Diets. In the podcast presentation, Raquel Braz Assunção Botelho, PhD, discusses the potential benefits of green banana flour-based pasta for people with celiac disease.The title of the study is "Green Banana Pasta: An Alternative for Gluten-Free Diets."In the podcast presentation, Raquel Braz Assunção Botelho, PhD, nutritionist and professor at the University of Brasilia, discusses how she and her colleagues have developed and tested a gluten-free pasta made from green banana flour. This pasta alternative was well accepted and could provide a tasty and healthful alternative for people with celiac disease and contributes to a more diverse diet. Check out the podcast about the study published July 2012 (Vol. 112, Issue 7, Pages 1068-1072 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Gluten-free pasta from green banana flour not from grains

People with celiac disease struggle with limited food choices, as their condition makes them unable to tolerate gluten, found in wheat and other grains.