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Cornell Chronicle: Carbon nanotubes could make efficient solar cells

Researchers at Cornell University have created a photodiode that is able to convert light into electricity with little or no waste heat. The system consists of a carbon nanotube between two electrical contacts and near a positive and negative gate. Electrons move through the tube are excited by laser light and create new electrons that join the flow. The device is highly experimental so possible commercialization of the device is not expected for some time, if the technical problems of going from lab-to-plant can even be surmounted in a cost-effective manner.
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All your movies on a single DVD: study

Australian researchers have developed a new type of DVD with a storage capacity 10,000 times that of current systems. The DVD is coated with gold nanorods, allowing them to encode information not only spatially but also using different optical wavelengths and polarization angles. They are currently working out issues with the speed at which data can be written and expect that a commercial version of the system will not be seen for more than 5 years.
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New memory material may hold data for one billion years

The Doomsday Book survived more than 900 years but today's digital memory devices have lifespans of only a few decades. Researchers, though, have developed a new type of memory system that is expected to have a lifespan of almost 1 billion years with a theoretical maximum recording density of 1 terabyte per square inch. Each bit in the system consists of an iron nanoparticle, trapped in a carbon nanotube, that can be moved from one end of the tube to the other using electricity. A one or zero is read by determining in which end of the tube the iron nanoparticle resides.

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Philips - Design Probes - Projects - SKIN: Tattoo

Very cool video exploring a possible application for nano-ink tattoos. May or may not be considered worksafe depending on your workplace (the people are nude, but nothing is showing).

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The Phoenix Lander's days are numbered, according to a recent Nature article. The plucky spacecraft has been assigned a few more low-energy tasks but NASA scientists doubt that it has enough in it to accomplish them.

A controversial study says that more than 700 observable galactic clusters are moving at 2 million kilometers per hour in the same direction, what has been dubbed "dark flow". The authors suggest that this means the universe may be far larger, and far more complex, than what we originally thought, and that the flow of matter is being influenced by massive structures outside the observable universe.

MIT researchers have created tiny polymer "backpacks" that can be attached to cells, allowing them to ferry cargoes. Each "backpack" is a polymer patch that is attached to the surface of the cell, yet is small enough not to adversely affect the cell's normal function.

Obama hasn't yet been sworn in, but several Facebook groups have already emerged calling for his impeachment over things like his stance on banning assault rifles, providing universal health care, and redistribution of wealth from haves to have-nots. Bear in mind, however, that outgoing President Bush currently enjoys more than 95 groups calling for his impeachment.

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Researchers have developed the darkest surface known to man, using an array of carbon nanotubes, designed to minimize the amount of light reflected. The new substance has a reflectivity of 0.045 percent, far better than the previous standard (glassy carbon: 1.4 percent). More than just a laboratory curiosity, the material could be used solar cells, astronomy, and thermalphotovoltaic cells.
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Researchers in Isreal, in an attempt to make increase young people's interest in science, inscribed the entire 300,000-word Hebrew Bible onto a 0.5 square millimetre silicon chip (shown here). The surface had been coated with gold, and a focused ion beam was used to remove gold atoms to reveal the silicon surface.
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Quantum-dot LEDs (QDLEDs) could potentially lead to brighter, cheaper displays with a wider range of colours.  Standard LCD monitors can generate no more than 500 cd/m2 of light energy, while QDLEDs are less energy-efficient but cna generate as much as 9000 cd/m2. The colour of  QDLED depends on its size, making it relatively easy to make QDLEDs of different colours (such as the Red, Yellow and Green of a typical display), and they are relatively easy to produce. Current research is focused on two limitations: they have a relatively short operating life (about 300 hours), and use cadmium which is highly toxic.
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University of California researchers have discovered bacteria that produce semiconducting nanotubes. They hope to turn this into a cheaper and more energy-efficient way to produce nanoscale electrical devices.
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University of California researchers have discovered a way to convert evanescent (near-field) light waves into "normal" light waves so that they can be detected by standard microscopes. A recently-developed silver-film "superlens" is placed  within 35 nanometres of the surface, and corrugations in the film's surface diffract the evanescent waves, converting them into  normal light waves that can be captured using a conventional microscope. As a result, the system was able to distinguish two nanowires placed within 70 nanometres of each other, more than three times closer than is possible using conventional methods.
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Researchers at the University of Manchester in England have developed a transistor using a graphene ribbon 0.1 nanometers thick and 10 nanometers long. The material holds the promise of faster electronics that require far less power to operate, as well as being relatively simple to produce. The researchers believe that this approach could eventually replace silicon-based transistors.
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Among the stories in today's post: extra time dimensions, keeping our troops cool, sticky brain chemicals, volcanoes on Mars, nanotech solar cells, phantom phone buzz, the genetics of supermuscles and mental resilience.
Suggested by [livejournal.com profile] ancalagon_tb
A Two-Time Universe? Physicist Explores How Second Dimension of Time Could Unify Physics Laws - USC College theoretical physicist Itzhak Bars has pioneered efforts to discern how a second dimension of time could help physicists better explain the laws of nature. With two times, Bars believes, many of the mysteries of today’s laws of physics may disappear. Of course, it’s not as simple as that. An extra dimension of time is not enough. You also need an additional dimension of space.
National Research Council of Canada - News Highlights
Troops beat the heat in Kandahar - No matter what their views on the war in Afghanistan, Canadians agree that protecting the health and wellness of troops overseas is a top priority. The crews of Canada's Leopard tanks in Kandahar got some relief from the searing desert heat this summer thanks to cooling vests that were tested in a giant oven at NRC.
National Geographic News
Mussels' Mighty Grip Inspires Dopamine-Based Glue - The uncanny stickiness of mussels has inspired a brainy new approach to creating a universal adhesive coating, researchers say. Mussels secrete a complex cocktail of proteins to latch on to just about any surface, explained study co-author Phillip Messersmith, a biomedical engineer at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Messersmith and colleagues found that the two most prominent ingredients in this cocktail are the same as those in dopamine, a chemical messenger in the brain.
Martian Volcanoes May Not be Extinct - New research on Hawaiian volcanoes, combined with satellite imagery of Mars, suggests that three Martian volcanoes may only be dormant—not extinct. Instead of Mars' crust moving over stationary magma "hot spots," as occurs on Earth, researchers think the plumes travel.
Physics Org
First Analysis of the Water Requirements of a Hydrogen Economy - One of the touted benefits of the futuristic US hydrogen economy is that the hydrogen supply—in the form of water—is virtually limitless. This assumption is taken for granted so much that no major study has fully considered just how much water a sustainable hydrogen economy would need.
Technology Review Feed
Microscopic Solar Cells - Researchers at Harvard University have made solar cells that are a small fraction of the width of a human hair. The cells, each made from a single nanowire just 300 nanometers wide, could be useful for powering tiny sensors or robots for environmental monitoring or military applications. What's more, the basic design of the solar cells could be useful in large-scale power production, potentially lowering the cost of generating electricity from the sun.
Mimicking the Massively Muscular - Scattered throughout the mammalian menagerie are a few supermuscular freaks: double-muscled cows more ripped than any bodybuilder; racing dogs too burly to run; sheep praised for their massively muscled buttocks; and even one small German boy, born in 2000 with muscles twice the size of those of a normal newborn. All these Herculean creatures share one thing: naturally occurring mutations in a gene that produces myostatin, a protein that blocks growth of skeletal muscle. Disable that gene, and viola--spectacular muscle growth results.
BBC News
Ships' CO2 'twice that of planes' - Global emissions of carbon dioxide from shipping are twice the level of aviation, one of the maritime industry's key bodies has said.
Key to mental 'resilience' found - US scientists have pinpointed a difference in brain chemistry which may explain why some people cope better than others in the face of adversity. They found a key pathway in mice differs in those who cope well with stress, and those who do not. In the mice who did not cope well with stress, nerve cells fired signals at a faster rate in two areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, releasing a substance called BDNF, which has previously been linked to poor coping. Blocking BDNF in the timid mice caused them to become more resistant to stress.
ABC News: Technology & Science
'Phantom' Phone Buzz Making You Crazy? - Neurologists say "phantom" BlackBerry and cell phone sensations could represent your brain's attempts to treat these gadgets as body parts.
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Among the stories in today's post: Energy-harvesting mechanical fish, the world's smallest radio, the benefits of swearing at work, and soy's affects on sperm count.
New Scientist - Energy and Fuels
Mechanical 'fish' could tap turbulence for energy - Devices that harvest energy from swirling wakes surrounding buildings are being developed by US researchers. Their novel designs – inspired by fish – could generate electricity using eddies, something that conventional turbines cannot do.
Multi-touch display can 'see' objects too - A computer screen that also acts as a two-handed touch interface and a crude infrared camera has been developed by researchers at Microsoft's labs in the UK. The technology – dubbed ThinSight – was developed by adding an extra layer of electronics behind a normal laptop screen. This adds a couple of centimetres to the overall thickness, but completely transforms its abilities. The screen "sees" by using a grid of paired infrared sensors and transmitters that sit just behind the backlight of the laptop's LCD panel. The sensors can form crude images when infrared light bounces off an object (see images, right). This could allow the screen to identify hand gestures or to see objects, and let them interact with onscreen images.
Physics Org
Look, Ma, no batteries: Powering nanoelectronics with light - Scientists have developed solar cells 200 hundred times thinner than a human hair that they believe will power the nanoscale gadgetry of tomorrow, according to a study released Wednesday. Virtually invisible to the naked eye, a single strand can crank out up to 200 picowatts. Two hundred billionths of a watt may not seem much, but at nanoscale it is enough to provide a steady output of electricity to run ultralow power electronics, including some that could be worn on -- or even inside -- the body.
Toward world's smallest radio: nano-sized detector turns radio waves into music - Researchers in California today report development of the world’s first working radio system that receives radio waves wirelessly and converts them to sound signals through a nano-sized detector made of carbon nanotubes. The “carbon nanotube radio” device is thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. The development marks an important step in the evolution of nano-electronics and could lead to the production of the world’s smallest radio, the scientists say.
National Geographic News
Gene-Altered Plant, Tree Can Suck Up Toxins - Two types of genetically modified plants can remove toxic compounds from the environment, according to research by a pair of independent groups. One group developed Arabidopsis plants—small plants related to cabbage and mustard—that can clean up soil contaminated with cyclonite, or RDX. The widely used explosive is highly toxic and carcinogenic. The other team modified a poplar tree to soak up a host of cancer-causing compounds from soil, groundwater, and air.
Swearing at Work is Bleeping Good For You - This is the kind of news that your HR folks don't want to hear, but researchers today said letting workers swear at will in the workplace can benefit employees and employers. The study found regular use of profanity to express and reinforce solidarity among staff, enabling them to express their feelings, such as frustration, and develop social relationships, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia (UES).
How the U.S. Became Switchboard to the World - A lucky coincidence of economics is responsible for routing much of the world's internet and telephone traffic through switching points in the United States, where, under legislation introduced this week, the U.S. National Security Agency will be free to continue tapping it. ...International phone and internet traffic flows through the United States largely because of pricing models established more than 100 years ago... The United States, where the internet was invented, was also home to the first internet backbone. Combine that architectural advantage with the pricing disparity inherited from the phone networks, and the United States quickly became the center of cyberspace as the internet gained international penetration in the 1990s.
Purpose of Appendix Believed Found - Some scientists think they have figured out the real job of the troublesome and seemingly useless appendix: It produces and protects good germs for your gut. That's the theory from surgeons and immunologists at Duke University Medical School, published online in a scientific journal this week.
ABC News: Technology & Science
Study: Eating Soy May Slash Sperm Count - Men who eat just half a serving of soya a day have drastically fewer sperm than those who do not consume such foods, according to a small, preliminary study. The study's researchers say larger trials are needed to determine whether men hoping to conceive a child should try to avoid soya foods, such as tofu, tempeh and soya milk. However, soya industry representatives caution that the new findings contradict earlier studies that have shown no impact on sperm count from soya-based products.
BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
Gene-block birth control 'on way' - An American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference was told a technique called "RNA interference" could stop sperm entering the egg. However, the new "Pill" is at least a decade away - and may have its own side-effects.
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USATODAY.com Tech - Top Stories
Device can remotely halt auto chases - General Motors (GM) plans to equip 1.7 million of its 2009-model vehicles with the system that allows pursuing officers to request that engines of stolen cars be remotely slowed to idle speed through the OnStar mobile communications system. The system, scheduled to be demonstrated today in Washington, D.C., is a big move toward reducing what GM says are as many as 30,000 pursuits around the country every year.
Technology Review Feed - Nanotech Top Stories
Weaving Batteries into Clothes - A novel machine that makes nanostructured fibers could be the key to a new generation of military uniforms that take on active functions such as generating and storing energy.
Reuters: Science
World moves into the ecological red - The world moved into "ecological overdraft" on Saturday, the point at which human consumption exceeds the ability of the earth to sustain it in any year and goes into the red, the New Economics Foundation think-tank said. If everyone in the world had the same consumption rates as in the United States it would take 5.3 planet earths to support them, NEF said, noting that the figure was 3.1 for France and Britain, 3.0 for Spain, 2.5 for Germany and 2.4 for Japan. But if everyone emulated China, which is building a coal-fired power station every five days to feed its booming economy, it would take only 0.9 of a planet.
ABC News: Technology & Science
Will I Have to Pay $222,000? - A collective shiver went up the spines of a generation of digital music users when a woman was ordered Thursday to pay more than $200,000 for sharing music files on a peer-to-peer network, but legal experts disagree about how the verdict could affect the average consumer.
News at Nature
Amber can make a watery grave - Researchers have long scratched their heads over how some aquatic bugs and microorganisms come to be enclosed in amber. Now, Alexander Schmidt from the Museum of Natural History in Berlin, in Germany and David Dilcher of the University of Florida in Gainsville have knocked these ideas out of the water by proving a simpler theory. For trees standing in water, they show, resin dropping into the water stays firm enough to retain its shape and act as a trap, but soft enough for an insect to wander wander through the shell of the hydrophobic resin blob.
Memory shuts down as you doze off - Next time you whisper sweet nothings to the object of your affections as they peacefully doze off, don't be surprised if they can't remember a word of it the next morning. Neuroscientists have shown that the brain's pathways for deciphering speech, and forming memories of it, switch off as anaesthetized patients begin to nod off. They suspect the same holds true for normal, non-drug-induced sleep.
Physics Org
Researchers create system to build transplant tissue - One day soon, laboratories may grow synthetically engineered tissues such as muscle or cartilage needed for transplants. In a major step forward, Cornell engineers describe in the journal Nature Materials a microvascular system they have developed that can nourish growing tissues.
Human urine as a safe, inexpensive fertilizer for food crops - Researchers in Finland are reporting successful use of an unlikely fertilizer for farm fields that is inexpensive, abundantly available, and undeniably organic -- human urine.
Focus images instantly with Adobe`s computational photography - Adobe has recently unveiled some novel photo editing abilities with a new technology known as computational photography. With a combination of a special lens and computer software, the technique can divide up a camera image in different views and reassemble them with a computer. This means that, after the photo is taken and transferred to a computer, people can edit certain layers of the photo within seconds. If a user wants to eliminate the background, the new software can simply erase everything in the image that appears at or beyond a certain distance.
The Doctr Is In - Back in the day, when you were sick, you would call the doctor, and they make a house call to diagnose your condition and provide care. In this modern age of managed care, where doctors are evaluated on the volume of patients that they are able to process, house calls are now but a distant memory. Now, Dr. Jay Parkinson, a Brooklyn doctor, brought the house call back -- but it's been updated for the times. Parkinson has started a new medical practice that centers around instant messenger, email and house calls. (see also: Brooklyn Doctor Opens IM Practice: OMG! You've Got Cancer :()
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Peru Links Illness to Supposed Meteorite - A supposed meteorite that crashed in southern Peru over the weekend has caused hundreds of people to suffer headaches, nausea and respiratory problems, a health official said Tuesday. But meteor expert Ursula Marvin, cast doubt on that theory, saying, "It wouldn't be the meteorite itself, but the dust it raises."

Technology Review Feed - Tech Review Top Stories
Solar-Powered Laser - A new kind of efficient, solar-powered laser has been developed by researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in Japan. They hope to use the laser to help them realize their goal of developing a magnesium combustion engine. The idea, says Takashi Yabe, a professor of mechanical engineering and science at the Tokyo Institute, is to make a powerful laser capable of combusting the magnesium content of seawater. In the process, large amounts of heat and hydrogen are given off.

New Scientist Tech - Technology
'Pulp-based computing' makes normal paper smart - Boxes that sense the weight of their contents and books that talk back when pages are turned could be developed using technology being tested by researchers at MIT in the US. They are making paper with wires, sensors, and computer chips embedded, a technology dubbed 'Pulp-based' computing.

The Globe and Mail - Science News
Men may have personal stem-cell trove - It is an idea that may make many men cross their legs. But researchers in the United States say stem cells harvested from a man's testicles could one day be used to repair his damaged heart, kidneys or even his brain. The scientists have found a way to easily identify stem cells in the testicles of adult mice, and to coax them to become brain cells, muscle cells, heart cells, blood cells and even blood vessels. The next step is to see if they can do the same thing in humans.

BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
Northwest Passage opens - The most direct shipping route from Europe to Asia is fully clear of ice for the first time since records began, the European Space Agency (Esa) says.

Physics Org
Artists 'draw on air' to create 3D illustrations - By putting on a virtual reality mask, holding a stylus in one hand and a tracking device in the other, an artist can draw 3D objects in the air with unprecedented precision. This new system is called “Drawing on Air,” and researchers have designed the interface to be intuitive and provide the necessary control for artists to illustrate complicated artistic, scientific, and medical subjects.
Can't Take My Eyes Off You: New Study Shows The Power Of Attraction - Whether we are seeking a mate or sizing up a potential rival, good-looking people capture our attention nearly instantaneously and render us temporarily helpless to turn our eyes away from them, according to a new Florida State University study.
Chronic fatigue syndrome linked to stomach virus - Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as ME (myalgic encephalitis), is linked to a stomach virus, suggests research published ahead of print in Journal of Clinical Pathology.
Micro-dust could tame hurricanes: study - Seeding a hurricane with microscopic dust could sharply reduce its force, according to a study which calculated that the technique might have spared New Orleans from the devastating power of Katrina in 2005.

NASA Building Massively Heat-Resistant Chips - Silicon Carbide (SiC) chips can operate in 600 degrees Celsius or 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit where conventional silicon-based electronics -- limited to about 350 C -- would fail.In the past, integrated circuit chips could not withstand more than a few hours of high temperatures before degrading or failing. This chip exceeded 1,700 hours of continuous operation at 500 degrees Celsius - a breakthrough that represents a 100-fold increase in what has previously been achieved, NASA said.
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Air pollution causes bigger, more destructive hail - Air pollution hugely increases the size of hail, and thus the amount of damage it can cause to crops and property, according to a study presented Wednesday at the European Conference on Severe Storms.
A glass of wine can help find new mineral deposits - The key to finding new mineral deposits in Australia could be to start looking with a glass of wine or a soft drink. In a fascinating piece of spare-time research, CSIRO Exploration & Mining scientist Dr Ryan Noble has found that chemical ingredients in these drinks, including weak organic acids, have the ability to dissolve weakly-bound metals into solution.
Security, life threatened by space junk, weapons: report - Human security and technologies from cell phones to weather forecasts are more at risk than ever from anti-satellite weapons and space junk, said a Space Security Index research report released Friday.
Nanomaterials with a Bright Future - A new fabrication technique, known as soft interference lithography (SIL), makes it possible to inexpensively produce large sheets of gold films with virtually infinite arrays of perforations and microscale "patches" of nanoscale holes. A combination of interference lithography and soft lithography, SIL offers many significant advantages over existing techniques. It can be used to scale-up the nanomanufacturing process to produce plasmonic metamaterials and devices in large quantities. Devices such as films of nanoholes can also serve as templates to make their inverse structures, such as nanoparticles. (Legend: Si=silicon; Cr=chromium; PEEL=electron spectroscopy method called parallel electron energy loss spectroscopy.)
Nanotech could make solar energy as easy and cheap as growing grass - Scientists are working to produce cheap, sustainable solar energy by imitating nature. Nanotechnology researchers like California Institute of Technology professor Nate Lewis are exploring nanoscale materials that mimic the architecture of grass and photosynthesis to capture and store the sun’s energy.
Nanoscale computer memory retrieves data 1,000 times faster - Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania have developed nanowires capable of storing computer data for 100,000 years and retrieving that data a thousand times faster than existing portable memory devices such as Flash memory and micro-drives, all using less power and space than current memory technologies.
Working hard or hardly working? Researcher studies effects of job simplification on employee productivity - Outsourcing. Offshoring. Compartmentalizing. More than corporate buzzwords, these trends are redefining the nature of work for millions of Americans, as well as their counterparts all over the world. But what are the ramifications of these trends for the people who actually do the work? Titled “Integrating Motivational, Social, and Contextual Work Design Features: A Meta-Analytic Summary and Theoretical Extension of the Work Design Literature,” the study indicates that various efforts to increase efficiency by simplifying workers’ job responsibilities may in fact be leading to lower employee job satisfaction and productivity over time.
Leaderless movement proves illusive - Ask the FBI, and they will contend that a dangerous wave of “ecoterrorism” has swept North America in the past decade. Ski resorts, new condominium developments and corporate logging headquarters have all been the target of arson attacks, pushing the damage tally of a shadowy organization called the Earth Liberation Front past the $100 million mark. The FBI’s concern has reached such a fervor, in fact, that it labeled environmental terrorism as the number one domestic terrorism threat in 2005.
Backpack straps harvest energy to power electronics - All that rubbing of your backpack straps on your shoulders may be put to good use, now that researchers have designed a novel type of energy harvesting backpack. The pack has straps made of a piezoelectric material that can convert the mechanical strain on the straps into electrical energy that may power or recharge portable electronics.
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Physics Org
Researcher Presents Origin-Of-Life Theory for Young Earth - Some of the elements necessary to support life on Earth are widely known - oxygen, carbon and water, to name a few. Just as important in the existence of life as any other component is the presence of adenine, an essential organic molecule. Without it, the basic building blocks of life would not come together. Scientists have been trying to find the origin of Earth's adenine and where else it might exist in the solar system. University of Missouri-Columbia researcher Rainer Glaser may have the answer. Using a theoretical model, Glaser is hypothesizing the existence of adenine in interstellar dust clouds.
New imaging detectors could take snapshots from deep space - An imaging detector under development by a team of scientists from Rochester Institute of Technology and University of Rochester promises to revolutionize future NASA planetary missions with technology that could withstand the harsh radiation environments in space. The lightweight device will be smaller and consume less power than technology currently in use. The novel readout circuitry design will give the device a radiation tolerance not possible in standard optical detectors.
Beyond batteries: Storing power in a sheet of nanocomposite paper - A sample of the new nanocomposite paper developed by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Infused with carbon nanotubes, the paper can be used to create ultra-thin, flexible batteries and energy storage devices for next-generation electronics and implantable medical equipment.
UK firm: Don't burn bodies, boil them - A British company says it has an eco-friendly alternative to cremation: boiling bodies into dust. In the process, called resomation, the body is encased in a silk coffin and submerged in water mixed with potassium hydroxide. It is then heated to 302 degrees Fahrenheit, which rapidly turns it into a white dust, The Mail on Sunday reported.
Israeli Researcher Develops New Theoretical Model of Time Machine - Technion Israel Institute of Technology researchers have developed a theoretical model of a time machine that, in the distant future, could possibly enable future generations to travel into the past. “In order to travel back in time, the spacetime structure must be engineered appropriately,” explains Prof. Amos Ori of the Technion’s Faculty of Physics. Prof. Ori is proposing a theoretical model for spacetime that could develop into a time machine. The model overcomes some of the questions, which, until now, scientists have not succeeded in solving. Prof. Ori emphasizes that we still do not have the technology to control gravitational fields at will, despite the fact that the theoretical principles of how to do this exist.

Technology Review Feed - Nanotech Top Stories
Levitating Nanomachines - As mechanical devices shrink down to the nanoscale, they fall victim to a strange quantum effect that makes their moving parts stick together. But theoretical physicists at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, have found a way to turn that effect against itself, producing completely frictionless nanomachines. St. Andrews researchers Ulf Leonhardt and Thomas Philbin have calculated that a specially engineered material called a perfect lens can reverse the direction of the Casimir effect.

National Geographic News
'Lunar Ark' Proposed in Case of Deadly Impact on Earth - The moon should be developed as a sanctuary for civilization in case of a cataclysmic cosmic impact, according to an international team of experts. NASA already has blueprints to create a permanent lunar outpost by the 2020s. But that plan should be expanded to include a way to preserve humanity's learning, culture, and technology if Earth is hit by a doomsday asteroid or comet, said Jim Burke, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
Photo in the News: Dancing Robot to Preserve Japan's Folk Arts - The mighty Transformer Optimus Prime might be able to save the universe, but who's going to teach the Autobots to do the Hustle? Enter HRP-2, a humanoid robot designed by Japanese researchers that is programmed to reproduce dance steps with the practiced grace of an electronic geisha. To teach HRP-2 its groove, the researchers devised a new approach that transforms motion-capture video of a human dancer into data for the robot's sequence of limb motions. A report on the work appears in this month's issue of the International Journal of Robotics Research.

Genetic popsicle - Microbes frozen in the oldest ice on Earth have been thawed out and brought back to life in the laboratory, providing new insights into how long living creatures can be frozen. However the poor health of the thawed-out microbes has led their discoverers to cast doubt on a notion long cherished by some — that life on Earth arrived here on comets from outside our solar system.
Not just a bunch of bones - The traditional view of the skeleton as an inert frame is challenged by a new study showing that it also plays an important part in the body's hormonal system. Cells in the bone produce a hormone that influences blood sugar levels and fat deposition. The study could in time lead to new approaches to the treatment of diabetes, and is being heralded by others in the field as a landmark.
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I tried to post this last night before the power went down on LJ's servers.

New Scientist Tech - Nanotechnology
Nanotubes strengthen artificial muscles - BEST known as the ultra-strong material that might one day form the cables of a "space elevator" capable of raising people into Earth orbit, carbon nanotubes also have a springy side. The discovery that nanotubes keep bouncing back after being compressed repeatedly means this exotic form of carbon may be just the thing to give artificial muscles some extra strength

New Scientist - Energy and Fuels
Exfoliation produces lighter, cheaper solar cells - An ultra-thin solar cell that could provide a cheaper, lighter alternative to existing devices has been created by researchers in the US. James Zahler from Aonex Technologies, together with colleagues from Harry Atwater's group at the California Institute of Technology and researchers at EMCORE PhotoVoltaics made the device by replacing the relatively thick semiconductor substrate normally used in solar cells with a thin "wafer-bonded" substrate. This means the new device is considerable cheaper and lighter than conventional solar cells.

New Scientist - Genetics
Genetic variation may lower HIV load by 90% - A small genetic mutation in the section of human DNA that codes for immune proteins appears able to reduce the amount of HIV in the body by an average of 90%, new research suggests. Scientists say the finding points to new ways in which vaccines might one day help boost immune protection against the virus

Technology Review Feed - Biotech Top Stories
A Better Brain Scanner - New brain scanners promise to deliver images of higher resolution than any now available from a commercial instrument. By using multiple sensors placed close to the head, the device can generate accurate images in less time, which could ultimately aid in the diagnosis of diseases such as Alzheimer's and epilepsy. Medical imaging giant Siemens is developing a commercial version of the technology.
Saving Neurons and Memories - Scientists have shown that a gene called SIRT1 and a plant compound found in red wine called resveratrol can protect against neuron degeneration in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The researchers demonstrated that activating SIRT1 and injecting resveratrol, which have both been previously associated with life-span extension in lower organisms, can also prevent cognitive problems in the mice.

National Geographic News
Queen Bees "Brainwash" Workers With Chemicals - A new study suggests the domineering matriarch regulates her daughters' brain activity to ensure her own survival. One of the parts of the pheromone is homovanillyl alcohol (HVA). It interacts with a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is found in the brains of insects and animals. In a mechanism that's still not understood, the pheromone may be able to block dopamine and prevent the young worker bees from avoiding negative stimuli. Worker bees - which surround and dote on the queen - are all female, and drone bees are male.

ABC News: Technology
Parents Steal Children's Identities - On paper, Randy Waldron Jr. was $2.5 million in debt and a convicted felon. He owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to credit card companies, owed back taxes to the state of Florida, and had liens and civil actions against him. In reality, Waldron was a 17-year-old high school junior living in New Hampshire, who in 1998 couldn't get a student loan for college or a credit card because his Social Security number had been stolen when he was just 1 year old. Making matters worse, the man who stole Waldron's identity was his father.
Jetson-Like Flying Car in Production - Moller International, a company founded by a UC Davis professor devoted to developing a flying car, announced in a statement recently that it has begun production for its "Jetsons-like M200G Volantor, a small airborne, two passenger, saucer-shaped vehicle that is designed to take off and land vertically."

Physics Org
Scientists work to create nanogenerator - U.S. scientists are developing a nanogenerator -- a tiny device that produces electricity from flowing blood, pulsating blood vessels, or a beating heart.

BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
Antique engines inspire nano chip - The blueprint for a tiny, ultra-robust mechanical computer has been outlined by US researchers. The energy-efficient nano computer is inspired by ideas about computing first put forward nearly 200 years ago. Chips based on the design could be used in places, such as car engines, where silicon can be too delicate.
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Physics Org
Automated tailgating cuts pollution - An automated way of allowing cars to drive much closer to each other in heavy moving traffic, so-called platooning, could cut congestion, save fuel and cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to research published in Inderscience's International Journal of the Environment and Pollution.
Chameleon for Optoelectronics - research team headed by Yadong Yin at the University of California, Riverside (USA) has now shared the secret of their wonderful liquid with the journal Angewandte Chemie: Nanoscopic particles made of tiny magnetic crystals coated with a plastic shell self-assemble in solution to form photonic crystals semiconductors for light. When a magnetic field is applied, the optical properties of the crystals change, allowing their color to be very precisely adjusted through variation of the strength of the field.
New lens device will shrink huge light waves to pinpoints - Scientists at the University of Michigan have developed a way to make a lens-like device that focuses electromagnetic waves down to the tiniest of points. The breakthrough opens the door to the next generation of technology, said Roberto Merlin, professor of physics at U-M. His research on the discovery will be published online July 12 in Science Express.
New Way to Target and Kill Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Found - Antibiotic resistance propagates in bacteria by moving DNA strands containing the resistance genes to neighboring cells. An enzyme called relaxase is essential for this process. Bisphosphonates, already approved to treat bone loss, have now been shown to potently disrupt the relaxase function. Some bisphosphonates prevent the transfer of antibiotic resistance genes and selectively kill bacterial cells that harbor resistance.
'Walking With Dinosaurs' Opens in Wash. - Are you brave enough to share an evening in the forest with a bunch of life-size dinosaurs with 6-inch teeth? How about spending time with a walking, growling 45-foot tall, 75-foot long Brachiosaurus that seems to be looking around for its next meal - perhaps among the spectators at "Walking With Dinosaurs," which opens its North American tour on July 11 in Tacoma. After five days in Tacoma, the show moves to Spokane, Wash., and then on to Edmonton, Alberta, St. Louis, Toronto, Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio.
More muscle for the argument to give up smoking - Researchers at The University of Nottingham have got more bad news for smokers. Not only does it cause cancer, heart attacks and strokes but smokers will also lose more muscle mass in old age than a non-smoker. The effect of this predisposes smokers to an accelerated decline in physical function and loss of independence.
Scientists study how to make humanoid robots more graceful - Infants learn how to move by recognizing which movements and positions cause them physical discomfort and learning to avoid them. Computer science Professor Oussama Khatib and his research group at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory are using the same principle to endow robots with the ability to perform multiple tasks simultaneously and smoothly.

BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
Robot tackles mystery of walking - Roboticists are using the lessons of a 1930s human physiologist to build the world's fastest walking robot.

Reuters: Science
Burned jogger shows lightning, headphones don't mix - Doctors at Vancouver General Hospital in Canada said a 37-year-old jogger wearing an iPod was burned on his chest, neck and face after the man and a nearby tree were struck by lightning in 2005. The burns traced the path of the earphones, they said.

Technology Review Feed - Nanotech Top Stories
Semipermanent Tattoos - Getting inked is a big commitment. Whether you carefully choose a meaningful design or get one on a drunken whim, tattoos are meant to be permanent. Successfully removing one involves thousands of dollars in laser surgery, often with multiple procedures. In light of these costs, many people resign themselves to living with a tattoo they've outgrown, or they choose not to get one in the first place. Now scientists at Harvard Medical School, Brown University, and Duke University have engineered safe, permanent, and easily removable tattoo inks, made from tiny microcapsules of natural pigments. Researchers say these inks are designed to be removed with just one laser treatment, and they may also help reduce allergic reactions and other health problems commonly experienced with traditional inks.
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Physics Org
Texas Begins Desalinating Sea Water - On a one-acre site alongside a string of shrimp boats docked on the Brownsville ship channel stands a $2.2 million assembly of pipes, sheds, and humming machinery - Texas' entree into global efforts to make sea water suitable to drink. The plant is a pilot project for the state's $150 million, full-scale sea water desalination plant slated for construction in 2010.
Bright future for nanowire light source - A bio-friendly nano-sized light source capable of emitting coherent light across the visible spectrum, has been invented by a team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the University of California at Berkeley. Among the many potential applications of this nano-sized light source, once the technology is refined, are single cell endoscopy and other forms of subwavelength bio-imaging, integrated circuitry for nanophotonic technology, and new advanced methods of cyber cryptography.
New, invisible nano-fibers conduct electricity, repel dirt - Tiny plastic fibers could be the key to some diverse technologies in the future -- including self-cleaning surfaces, transparent electronics, and biomedical tools that manipulate strands of DNA. In the June issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology, Ohio State University researchers describe how they created surfaces that, seen with the eye, look as flat and transparent as a sheet of glass. But seen up close, the surfaces are actually carpeted with tiny fibers.
Nanosoccer debuts at RoboCup 2007 - Imagine a mechanical Pelé or David Beckham six times smaller than an amoeba playing with a “soccer ball” no wider than a human hair on a field that can fit on a grain of rice. Purely science fiction? Not anymore. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) organizes the first nanoscale soccer games at the 2007 RoboCup in Atlanta, Ga., on July 7-8, 2007. The glass microchip on the left measures 3 centimeters across - more than the diameter of a quarter on the right - and is divided into sixteen 2.5 millimeter by 2.5 millimeter nanosoccer playing fields.

Flight Log: The First Private Expedition to the Moon - You don't have to pack your bags quite yet, but passenger travel to the Moon is on the flight manifest of a space tourist company. The price per seat will slap your wallet or purse for a swift $100 million - but you'll have to get in line as the first voyage is already booked. Space Adventures, headquartered in Vienna, Virginia, is in negotiations with the customers who will fly the first private expedition to circumnavigate the Moon.
Oceans from Space - Water. It's essential for life as best we know it. Almost three-fourths of the Earth is covered with water. We live on the pale blue dot, and our lives depend fundamentally on water. Yet, just after Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago, the surface was mostly dry. "So, where did the water come from?" (Bonus science experiment: how to make your own comet)

Backlight Images - Backlight Images are three-dimensional solid-surface topographies created from digital images. Developed and manufactured by the R. D. Wing Company, the Backlight Image process transforms user-provided images into reliefs within the surface of 1/4-inch-thick, translucent DuPont Corian. The images are first converted to grayscale mode with 256 shades, and each shade effectively becomes a different height of contour.

Europe burns its wine lake - The European Commission is putting out to tender the opportunity to turn its excess wine into bioethanol. But if the commission gets its way, this will be the last time the European Union subsidizes such a move. The European Union currently spends 1.3 billion euros (US$1.75 billion) a year supporting the wine industry. Up to 7% of this, or 90 million euros, goes towards 'crisis distillation', where as much as 45 million litres of EU wine, often of undrinkably poor quality, is bought and distilled into ethanol for use as fuel.
Teams trail genes for human 'stemness' - A Japanese team led by the Kyoto University's Shinya Yamanaka first unveiled the technique last year (Cell 126, 663–676; 2006), using retroviruses to insert genes into the DNA of mouse fibroblasts. To the field's surprise—and initial skepticism—the team found that only four genes can, in combination, trigger a series of events that shunts cells back into an embryonic state, from which they are able to differentiate into any cell type in the body—an ability dubbed 'pluripotency'. Yamanaka dubbed the cells "induced pluripotent stem" (iPS) cells. But even elsewhere in the world, researchers are scrambling to improve upon the technique, which skirts the controversial use of human eggs and embryos.
Urine grows better fish food - Human urine could nourish the plankton used as food on fish farms. Plankton grown in diluted urine do better than those given other nitrogen-rich materials, ecological engineers have found.

January 2010

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