October 31, 2012

Exhaustive family tree for birds shows recent, rapid diversification

A Yale-led scientific team has produced the most comprehensive family tree for birds to date, connecting all living bird species — nearly 10,000 in total — and revealing surprising new details about their evolutionary history and its geographic context.

Analysis of the family tree shows when and where birds diversified — and that birds’ diversification rate has increased over the last 50 million years, challenging the conventional wisdom of biodiversity experts.

Genomics: The single life

Sequencing DNA from individual cells is changing the way that researchers think of humans as a whole.

All Nicholas Navin needed was one cell — the issue was how to get it. It was 2010, and the postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York was exploring the genetic changes that drive breast cancer. Most of the cancer-genome studies before then had ground up bits of tumour tissue and sequenced the DNA en masse, giving a consensus picture of the cancer’s genome. But Navin wanted to work out the sequence from individual cells to see how they had mutated and diverged as the cancer grew.

Look beyond city limits

Sustainable cities must also account for imported goods and services

Cities aspiring to transform their cities into models of sustainability must look beyond city limits and include in their calculation the global flow of goods and materials into their realm, argue researchers in a recent article published in Ambio.

Many cities are now developing sustainable strategies to reduce pollution and congestion, improve the quality of life of their citizens, and respond to growing concern about human impact on climate and the environment.

Stanford scientists build the first all-carbon solar cell

Researchers have developed a solar cell made entirely of carbon, an inexpensive substitute for the pricey materials used in conventional solar panels.

Stanford University scientists have built the first solar cell made entirely of carbon, a promising alternative to the expensive materials used in photovoltaic devices today. The results are published in today's online edition of the journal ACS Nano.

"Carbon has the potential to deliver high performance at a low cost," said study senior author Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford.  "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a working solar cell that has all of the components made of carbon. This study builds on previous work done in our lab."

journal reference (abstract free): acsNANO >>

Green tea found to reduce rate of some GI cancers

Women who drink green tea may lower their risk of developing some digestive system cancers, especially cancers of the stomach/esophagus and colorectum, according to a study led by researchers from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

The study by lead author Sarah Nechuta, Ph.D., MPH, assistant professor of Medicine, was published online in advance of the Nov. 1 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  Wei Zheng, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, professor of Medicine, chief of the Division of Epidemiology and director of the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, was the principal investigator for the study.

Inspiration from Mother Nature leads to improved wood

Using the legendary properties of heartwood from the black locust tree as their inspiration, scientists have discovered a way to improve the performance of softwoods widely used in construction. The method, reported in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, involves addition of similar kinds of flavonoid compounds that boost the health of humans.

Ingo Burgert and colleagues explain that wood’s position as a mainstay building material over the centuries results from a combination of desirable factors, including surprising strength for a material so light in weight. Wood is renewable and sustainable, making it even more attractive in the 21st century. Wood, however, has a major drawback that limits its use: It collects moisture easily — warping, bending, twisting and rotting in ways that can undermine wooden structures. Some trees, like the black locust, deposit substances termed flavonoids into their less durable “sapwood.” It changes sapwood into darker “heartwood” that reduces water collection and resists rot. The scientists used this process as an inspiration for trying an improved softwood that is more stable than natural wood.

journal reference (abstract free): acs >>

Testosterone regulates solo song of tropical birds

Experiment in females uncovers male hormonal mechanism

In male songbirds of the temperate zone, the concentration of sex hormones is rising in spring, which leads to an increase in song activity during the breeding season. In the tropics, there has been little evidence so far about such a clear relationship between hormonal action and behaviour, which is partly due to a lower degree of seasonal changes of the environment. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen have now discovered that in duetting African white-browed sparrow weavers, the solo song of dominant males is linked to elevated levels of testosterone.

Biofuel breakthrough: Quick cook method turns algae into oil

It looks like Mother Nature was wasting her time with a multimillion-year process to produce crude oil. Michigan Engineering researchers can "pressure-cook" algae for as little as a minute and transform an unprecedented 65 percent of the green slime into biocrude.

"We're trying to mimic the process in nature that forms crude oil with marine organisms," said Phil Savage, an Arthur F. Thurnau professor and a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Michigan.

The findings will be presented Nov. 1 at the 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh.

Social factors trump genetic forces in forging friendships, CU-Boulder-led study finds

“Nature teaches beasts to know their friends,” wrote Shakespeare. In humans, nature may be less than half of the story, a team led by University of Colorado Boulder researchers has found.

In the first study of its kind, the team found that genetic similarities may help to explain why human birds of a feather flock together, but the full story of why people become friends “is contingent upon the social environment in which individuals interact with one another,” the researchers write.

journal reference (abstract free): pnas >>


Stanford researchers in physics and engineering have demonstrated a device that produces a synthetic magnetism to exert virtual force on photons similar to the effect of magnets on electrons. The advance could yield a new class of nanoscale applications that use light instead of electricity.

journal reference (abstract free): nature Photonics >>

Animals learn to fine-tune their sniffs

Animals use their noses to focus their sense of smell, much the same way that humans focus their eyes, new research at the University of Chicago shows.

A research team studying rats found that animals adjust their sense of smell through sniffing techniques that bring scents to receptors in different parts of the nose. The sniffing patterns changed according to what kind of substance the rats were attempting to detect.

The sense of smell is particularly important for many animals, as they need it to detect predators and to search out food. “Dogs, for instance, are quite dependent on their sense of smell,” said study author Leslie Kay, associate professor of psychology and director of the Institute for Mind & Biology at the University of Chicago. “But there are many chemicals in the smells they detect, so detecting the one that might be from a predator or an explosive, for instance, is a complex process.”

October 30, 2012

Empathy Represses Analytic Thought, and Vice Versa

Empathy Represses Analytic Thought, and Vice Versa: Brain Physiology Limits Simultaneous Use of Both Networks

New research shows a simple reason why even the most intelligent, complex brains can be taken by a swindler's story -- one that upon a second look offers clues it was false.

When the brain fires up the network of neurons that allows us to empathize, it suppresses the network used for analysis, a pivotal study led by a Case Western Reserve University researcher shows.

How could a CEO be so blind to the public relations fiasco his cost-cutting decision has made?

October 29, 2012

Lessons from the end of the dinosaurs: Resource exploitation 'puts humans at greater peril' from extinction level event

Food chains already under strain before asteroid hit, study shows

Man's exploitation of resources and reliance on monocrops could place humans in similar danger

The mass extinction of dinosaurs by a massive asteroid was made worse because it destroyed the fragile food chain, lessons that modern man should learn, a study warned.

More than 65million years ago a mountain-sized asteroid plunged into the earth in Mexico wiping out many species including the dinosaurs and ending the Cretaceous Period of Earth history.

The study found the food chain was already under strain before the asteroid hit and could not cope with the cataclysm as plant life died off.

journal reference (abstract free): pnas >>

Taking the sting out of medical tape

New adhesive comes off quickly, sparing infants’ delicate skin from damage.

Ripping off a Band-Aid may sting for a few seconds, but the pain is usually quickly forgotten. However, for newborns’ sensitive skin, tearing off any kind of adhesive can pose a serious risk.

Newborns lack an epidermis — the tough outermost layer of skin — so medical tape used to secure respirators or monitoring devices critical for the survival of premature babies can wreak havoc: Every year, more than 1.5 million people suffer scarring and skin irritation from medical tape, and the majority of those are infants or elderly people, who also have fragile skin.

journal reference (abstract free): pnas >>

New study sheds light on how and when vision evolved

Opsins, the light-sensitive proteins key to vision, may have evolved earlier and undergone fewer genetic changes than previously believed, according to a new study from the National University of Ireland Maynooth and the University of Bristol published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) .

The study, which used computer modelling to provide a detailed picture of how and when opsins evolved, sheds light on the origin of sight in animals, including humans.  The evolutionary origins of vision remain hotly debated, partly due to inconsistent reports of phylogenetic relationships among the earliest opsin-possessing animals.

Made in IBM Labs: Researchers Demonstrate Initial Steps toward Commercial Fabrication of Carbon Nanotubes as a Successor to Silicon

For the first time, scientists precisely place and test more than ten thousand carbon nanotube devices in a single chip using mainstream manufacturing processes

Novel processing method helps pave the way for carbon technology as a viable alternative to silicon in future computing

IBM  scientists have demonstrated a new approach to carbon nanotechnology that opens up the path for commercial fabrication of dramatically smaller, faster and more powerful computer chips. For the first time, more than ten thousand working transistors made of nano-sized tubes of carbon have been precisely placed and tested in a single chip using standard semiconductor processes. These carbon devices are poised to replace and outperform silicon technology allowing further miniaturization of computing components and leading the way for future microelectronics.

Aided by rapid innovation over four decades, silicon microprocessor technology has continually shrunk in size and improved in performance, thereby driving the information technology revolution. Silicon transistors, tiny switches that carry information on a chip, have been made smaller year after year, but they are approaching a point of physical limitation.

journal reference (abstract free): nature nanotechnology >>

October 28, 2012

The 007 guide to the City of Spies: Follow in James Bond's footsteps in Istanbul

Ali Akdeniz had marked the spot on a map with a cross. It was close to the Carsikapi Gate of the Grand Bazaar. I would need to pass through a clothes shop, climb a flight of stairs and knock on a door. Ilker was expecting me. At the far end of Ilker's office, I would see another door. This was the only entrance to the roof of the bazaar.

Not many people bother about the rooftops of the Grand Bazaar and few ever see them. But following the release of Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, this chaotic red tile landscape has become part of Bond iconography because the spectacular opening scene, filmed earlier this year, features 007 pursuing his nemesis Patrice (Ola Rapace) across it in a dramatic motorcycle chase.

Filming the chase became the talk of Istanbul. Mobile phone footage of the action appeared on YouTube and Turkish TV. Local headlines were created when a stunt rider came off the roof and cracked open the window of the famous Bobeyi jewellery store.

For three weeks the Eminonu Square area between the New Mosque and the Spice Bazaar was transformed into a market with 250 dressed stalls to add to the thrill of the chase. 

Influenza vaccine may reduce risk of heart disease and death

Flu shot may reduce risk of cardiac event by 50 per cent, cardiac deaths by 40 per cent

Toronto - Getting a flu shot may not only protect you from getting sick, it might also prevent heart disease.

Two Toronto-based researchers presented studies at the 2012 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress which found that the influenza vaccine could be an important treatment for maintaining heart health and warding off cardiovascular events like strokes and heart attacks.

Dr. Jacob Udell, a cardiologist at Women’s College Hospital and the University of Toronto, and his team from the TIMI Study Group and Network for Innovation in Clinical Research looked at published clinical trials on this subject, dating back to the 1960s.

Canadian scientists discover cause of high cholesterol

Discovery could improve prevention and treatment of heart disease

Toronto - Canadian scientists have discovered that a protein called resistin, secreted by fat tissue, causes high levels of “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL), increasing the risk of heart disease.

The research, presented today at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, proves that resistin increases the production of LDL in human liver cells and also degrades LDL receptors in the liver. As a result, the liver is less able to clear “bad” cholesterol from the body. Resistin accelerates the accumulation of LDL in arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease.

October 27, 2012

BMW i4 Concept Electric Coupe To Appear At LA Show: Report

BMW could be set to unveil a new, sporty electric car at the upcoming 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Likely to be based on the BMW i3 electric city car, the new BMW 'i4' would be a more "fasionable and sporty" model to complement the i3 in BMW's increasing electric range.

According to French magazine l'Automobile, the new car could be unveiled at the L.A. Auto Show later next month.

World Wide Web Expert Jim Hendler Receives Inaugural Strata "Big Data" Award

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Professor Honored for Contributions to Open Data

Jim Hendler, head of the Department of Computer Science and senior constellation professor in the Tetherless World Constellation at Rensselaer, has been honored with an inaugural Strata Data Innovation Award, given to individuals who have made significant innovations in the data field.

The award, given as part of the O’Reilly Strata Conference taking place this week in New York City, was created to “recognize disruptive, innovative technologies in big data and data science, highlight data science as an increasing importance for companies, and showcase the highlights of the growing data community,” according to the conference website.

Solving Stem Cell Mysteries

Baltimore, MD— The ability of embryonic stem cells to differentiate into different types of cells with different functions is regulated and maintained by a complex series of chemical interactions, which are not well understood. Learning more about this process could prove useful for stem cell-based therapies down the road. New research from a team led by Carnegie’s Yixian Zheng zeroes in on the process by which stem cells maintain their proper undifferentiated state. Their results are published in Cell October 26.

Embryonic stem cells go through a process called self-renewal, wherein they undergo multiple cycles of division while not differentiating into any other type of cells. This process is dependent on three protein networks, which guide both self-renewal and eventual differentiation. But the integration of these three networks has remained a mystery.

journal reference (summary free): Cell  >>

New clues to how the brain and body communicate to regulate weight

Maintaining a healthy body weight may be difficult for many people, but it's reassuring to know that our brains and bodies are wired to work together to do just that—in essence, to achieve a phenomenon known as energy balance, a tight matching between the number of calories consumed versus those expended. This careful balance results from a complex interchange of neurobiological crosstalk within regions of the brain's hypothalamus, and when this "conversation" goes awry, obesity or anorexia can result.

Given the seriousness of these conditions, it's unfortunate that little is known about the details of this complex interchange. Now research led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) provides new insights that help bring order to this complexity. Described in the October 26 issue of the journal Cell, the findings demonstrate how the GABA neurotransmitter selectively drives energy expenditure, and importantly, also help explain the neurocircuitry underlying the fat-burning properties of brown fat.

journal reference (abstract free): Cell >>

October 26, 2012

geometric food art by sakir gökçebag

turkish artist sakir gökçebag has skillfully re-imagined the idea of food through his series of artworks, where he arranges and organizes various fruits and vegetables into patterns to create striking visual displays. the pieces are not interfered with the use of digital manipulation - however combine meticulous orchestration of the organic forms with photography to create straight lines and perfect circles - geometry not found in the natural world. from watermelons to the humble green bean, gökçebag has designed structure with an unlikely medium.

Soundtrack to history: 1878 Edison audio unveiled

It's scratchy, lasts only 78 seconds and features the world's first recorded blooper.
The modern masses can now listen to what experts say is the oldest playable recording of an American voice and the first-ever capturing of a musical performance, thanks to digital advances that allowed the sound to be transferred from flimsy tinfoil to computer.

The recording was originally made on a Thomas Edison-invented phonograph in St. Louis in 1878.

Building a Better Battery for Renewable Energy Storage

Solar, wind and other renewable energy sources reduce consumption of fossil fuels but also pose challenges to the electrical grid because their power generation fluctuates, heightening the need for better battery technology to store their energy until it's needed to feed the grid.

Existing energy storage technologies for the electrical grid, including more conventional lead-acid batteries and pumped hydropower – in which water is pumped to a higher elevation and later released to flow down through turbines to generate electricity – are not very efficient.

1st Place Winner for LAGI 2012: Scene Sensor // Crossing Social and Ecological Flows

1st Place Winner for LAGI 2012: Scene Sensor // Crossing Social and Ecological Flows

Artist Team...................: James Murray, Shota Vashakmadze
Artist Location...............: Atlanta, USA
Energy Technologies..: Piezoelectric Generators (Thin Film and Embedded Wire)
Annual Capacity............: 5,500 MWh

Key interactions of human and ecological energies, above and below the surface of Freshkills, drive complex environmental flows, allowing us to question how to sense, channel, and harness their energies in a productive tension, revealing their interconnected fluctuations in beneficial ways.

Scene-Sensor situates itself at the intersection of flows joining and separating opposing landforms: as a channel screen, harnessing the flows of wind through the tidal artery, and as vantage points, staging crosswise pedestrian flows through the park, the two acting in combination as a mirror-window, reflecting and revealing the scene of Freshkills’ fluctuating landscape back to itself.

Tower of Ring by EASTERN Design Office

EASTERN Design Office have completed the Tower of Ring in Tianjin, China.

Project description from EASTERN Design Office

This tower is lucid. The visibility of this tower differs in accordance with the very motion of the atmosphere and every change of sky and light. No doubt this tower forgets that it is a tower. Building such a lucid tower in the middle of a big square, which is covered just by stones, can be referred to build a “void” in an empty space. This square is the center of downtown Tianjin.  Accordingly it is a very important place. We dare to design a void space and emptiness, which has no sense of presence.  This way of thinking is based on oriental ideas. This tower is very oriental.

People forget which one they look up to: the tower or the sky. It has an eye-opening shape, its beginning and ending is invisible. It is designed like a flow of stream, yet the form is very simple.

GM testing industry-first thermal-forming process for lightweight magnesium sheet metal

General Motors is testing an industry-first thermal-forming process and proprietary corrosion resistance treatment for lightweight magnesium sheet metal that will allow increased use of the high-strength alternative to steel and aluminum. Magnesium weighs 33% less than aluminum, 60% less than titanium, and 75% less than steel.

GM wants to expand its use of low-mass parts on vehicles around the world and will pursue licensing opportunities related to this novel technology. The goal is for suppliers to be able to use the process to provide significant amounts of magnesium sheet that will trim pounds from vehicle mass.

BP cancels plans for cellulosic ethanol plant in Florida

BP announced Oct. 25 it is cancelling plans to build a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Highlands County, Florida, and refocusing its U.S. biofuels strategy on research and development as well as licensing its industry–leading biofuels technology.

“Given the large and growing portfolio of investment opportunities available to BP globally, we believe it is in the best interest of our shareholders to redeploy the considerable capital required to build this facility into other more attractive projects,” said Geoff Morrell, BP vice president of communications.

Al-Futtaim’s Trading Enterprises Launches Fisker Luxury Hybrid Cars In The Middle East

Fisker, the world’s first environmentally-responsible luxury car made its official Middle East appearance last night as Trading Enterprises and Fisker Automotive leadership unveiled the award-winning Karma sedan in front of global and regional media at Al Badia Golf Club, Dubai Festival City.

Senior management from Al-Futtaim and Fisker Automotive pulled the wraps off the world’s first high performance electric luxury vehicle, making the privately held Dubai-based business group exclusive partner in the GCC and MENA regions.

USF Researchers Identify Gene Linked to Old Age Hearing Loss

Discovery will help aid prevention measures for ailment that affects 30 million Americans.

University of South Florida researchers have identified a genetic biomarker for age-related hearing loss, a major breakthrough in understanding and preventing a condition of aging that affects 30 million Americans and greatly diminishes their quality of life.

In a nine-year study that was a collaboration between USF’s Global Center for Hearing & Speech Research and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology, researchers were able to identify the first genetic biomarker for presbycusis. The genetic mutation carried by those who ultimately suffer from age-related hearing loss is linked to speech processing abilities in older people.

journal reference (abstract free): ScienceDirect >>

Small organisms could dramatically impact world’s climate

Warmer oceans in the future could significantly alter populations of phytoplankton, tiny organisms that could have a major impact on climate change.

In the current issue of Science Express, Michigan State University researchers show that by the end of the 21st century, warmer oceans will cause populations of these marine microorganisms to thrive near the poles and may shrink in equatorial waters. Since phytoplankton play a key role in the food chain and the world’s cycles of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous and other elements, a drastic drop could have measurable consequences.


Identifying Preferences for Robotic Assistance

Robots have the potential to help older adults with daily activities that can become more challenging with age. But are people willing to use and accept the new technology? A study by the Georgia Institute of Technology indicates the answer is yes, unless the tasks involve personal care or social activities.

After showing adults (ages 65 to 93 years) a video of a robot’s capabilities, researchers interviewed them about their willingness for assistance with 48 common household tasks.

Academia Should Fulfill Social Contract by Supporting Bioscience Startups

Universities not only provide the ideal petri dish for cultivating bioscience with commercial potential, but have a moral obligation to do so, given the opportunity to translate public funding into health and jobs, according to a new case study by UCSF researchers.

In an analysis published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine, researchers at the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) assessed the impact of the institute’s efforts over the past eight years in supporting entrepreneurs on the three UC campuses in which it operates: UCSF, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz.

Sharing space: Proximity breeds collaboration

A new University of Michigan study shows that when researchers share a building, and especially a floor, the likelihood of forming new collaborations and obtaining funding increases dramatically.

 The findings have wide relevance to corporations, as well.

"Our analyses clearly show that there are benefits to co-location," said Jason Owen-Smith, an associate professor of sociology and organizational studies.

October 25, 2012

Natcore Scientists Build World's First Black Silicon Solar Cell Using Scalable Production Process

Scientists at Natcore Technology Inc. (TSX-V: NXT; NTCXF.PK) have created the world's first black silicon solar cell using processes amenable to low-cost mass production.
After recently treating a wafer to make it the "blackest" silicon solar cell surface ever recorded, Natcore's technicians used their scalable liquid phase deposition (LPD) process to create the black silicon solar cell, from wafer to finished cell, in their R&D Center in Rochester, NY.

Pro-smoking apps for smartphones: the latest vehicle for the tobacco industry?

Smartphone use is growing exponentially and will soon become the only mobile phone handset for about 6 billion users. Smartphones are ideal marketing targets as consumers can be reached anytime, anywhere. Smartphone application (app) stores are global shops that sell apps to users all around the world. Although smartphone stores have a wide collection of health-related apps they also have a wide set of harmful apps. In this study, the availability of ‘pro-smoking’ apps in two of the largest smartphone app stores (Apple App store and Android Market) was examined.

journal reference (abstract free): bmj.Tobacco Control >>

Gene That's Usually Bad News Loses Its Punch If You Live to Your 90s

Gene That's Usually Bad News Loses Its Punch If You Live to Your 90s, Mayo Study Finds

A gene linked to the risk of developing Alzheimer's, heart disease and diabetes becomes less important to quality of life once people hit their 90s, a Mayo Clinic study shows. At that point, good friends and a positive attitude have a bigger impact, the researchers say. The findings are published this month in the Journal of American Medical Directors Association.

A Chitosan Based, Laser Activated Thin Film Surgical Adhesive, 'SurgiLux': Preparation and Demonstration

Sutures are a 4,000 year old technology that remain the 'gold-standard' for wound closure by virtue of their repair strength (~100 KPa). However, sutures can act as a nidus for infection and in many procedures are unable to effect wound repair or interfere with functional tissue regeneration.1 Surgical glues and adhesives, such as those based on fibrin and cyanoacrylates, have been developed as alternatives to sutures for the repair of such wounds. However, current commercial adhesives also have significant disadvantages, ranging from viral and prion transfer and a lack of repair strength as with the fibrin glues, to tissue toxicity and a lack of biocompatibility for the cyanoacrylate based adhesives.

journal reference: JoVE >>

Effects of spaceflight and ground recovery on mesenteric artery and vein constrictor properties in mice

Following exposure to microgravity, there is a reduced ability of astronauts to augment peripheral vascular resistance, often resulting in orthostatic hypotension. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that mesenteric arteries and veins will exhibit diminished vasoconstrictor responses after spaceflight. Mesenteric arteries and veins from female mice flown on the Space Transportation System (STS)-131 (n=11), STS-133 (n=6), and STS-135 (n=3) shuttle missions and respective ground-based control mice (n=30) were isolated for in vitro experimentation. Vasoconstrictor responses were evoked in arteries via norepinephrine (NE), potassium chloride (KCl), and caffeine, and in veins through NE across a range of intraluminal pressures (2–12 cmH2O).

RM Auctions London 2012 – Auction Preview

The RM Auctions London 2012 sale will be held 31st October at Battersea Evolution in central London.

The 6th annual London auction will see more than 90 automobiles and motorcycles go under the hammer during the single-day sale, headlined by the 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Tour de France; alloy-bodied 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing; 1930 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Testa Fissa; 1937 Bugatti Type 57C Stelvio Cabriolet by Gangloff; 1970 Lamborghini Miura P400S; 1948 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 S Cabriolet and 1967 Aston Martin DB6 Shooting Brake; among others.

Green Buildings with Eco-Friendly Foams

Materials Scientist Marie-Pierre Laborie Receives Distinction “German High Tech Champion”

Developing hard foams from bark extract to serve as insulating material for homes: That is the goal of the project “Biofoambark” at the Freiburg Materials Research Center, initiated by Prof. Dr. Marie-Pierre Laborie from the Faculty of Forest and Environmental Sciences of the University of Freiburg in February 2012. The Fraunhofer Association has now selected her research for the distinction “German High Tech Champion” in the category “Green Buildings.” She will receive a tandem prize worth 15,000 euros together with her colleagues Prof. Dr. Antonio Pizzi and Prof. Dr. Alain Celzard from the French Université de Lorraine. The prize will be awarded at POLLUTEC 2012, an international trade fair for environmental equipment, technology, and services to be held from 27 to 30 November 2012 in Lyon, France.


Everyone feels refreshed after a good night's sleep, but sleep does more than just rejuvenate, it can also consolidate memories. ‘The rapid eye movement form of sleep and slow wave sleep are involved in cognitive forms of memory such as learning motor skills and consciously accessible memory’, explains Randolf Mezel from the Freie Universtät Berlin, Germany. According to Menzel, the concept that something during sleep reactivates a memory for consolidation is a basic theory in sleep research. However, the human brain is far too complex to begin dissecting the intricate neurocircuits that underpin our memories, which is why Menzel has spent the last four decades working with honey bees: they are easy to train, well motivated and it is possible to identify the miniaturised circuits that control specific behaviours in their tiny brains. Intrigued by the role of sleep in memory consolidation and knowing that a bee is sleeping well when its antennae are relaxed and collapsed down, Menzel decided to focus on the role of sleep in one key memory characteristic: relearning (p. 3981). The challenge that Menzel set the bees was to learn a new route home after being displaced from a familiar path.

journal reference (summary): Experimental Biology >>

When she says, 'It's not you, it's me,' it really might be you, UCLA study suggests

Women with stable but not-so-sexy mates become more distant, critical during periods of high fertility

Long after women have chosen Mr. Stable over Mr. Sexy, they struggle unconsciously with the decision, according to a new study by UCLA researchers who look at subtle changes in behavior during ovulation.

At their most fertile period, these women are less likely to feel close to their mates and more likely to find fault with them than women mated to more sexually desirable men, the research shows.

"A woman evaluates her relationship differently at different times in her cycle, and her evaluation seems to be colored by how sexually attractive she perceives her partner to be," said Martie Haselton, a professor of psychology and communication studies at UCLA and senior author of the study.

Australian-based Carbon Revolution launches world’s first one-piece carbon fiber wheel


CR New Ground-Breaking Chassis Technology Improves World’s Fastest and Most Efficient Cars — Outstanding Results beyond Wheel Rigidity Gained through Blend of Performance, Efficiency & Style

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif., October 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — After nearly a decade of research and development, Australian-based Carbon Revolution has taken the advantages of carbon fiber and exceeded all performance requirements and industry standards, to create and produce the world’s first one-piece carbon fiber wheel. With unparalleled weight savings and all associated benefits determined through its own testing regime, as well as with major premium OEMs throughout Europe, Carbon Revolution has set its trajectory on a global playing field and will be showcasing these efforts for the first time in the United States during the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, October 30 – November 2, 2012.

Harley-Davidson motorcycle that survived Japan tsunami unveiled at Milwaukee museum

Ikuo Yokoyama’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle drifted for more than a year across the Pacific Ocean after the devastating tsunami that hit parts of northern Japan last year. It has now come to rest in Milwaukee at the Harley-Davidson Museum.

The museum on Wednesday unveiled the 2004 Harley-Davidson FXSTB Softail Night Train, recovered off the coast of British Columbia by Peter Mark. Yokoyama requested the motorcycle be displayed and preserved in its current condition as a memorial to those who died or whose lives were turned upside down by the tsunami.