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Scientists create world's first molecular transistor

Scientists at Liverpool University have demonstrated the first transistor constructed from a single molecule, in this case a benzene molecule between gold contacts. They were able to control the current passing through the molecule by using voltage applied across the molecule to change its energy state. The researchers stress that this simply proves that it can be done and is not viable for constructing a "molecular computer".
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Monster Waves on the Sun are Real (w/ Video)

The STEREO spacecraft confirmed the existence of solar tsunamis, waves of plasma more than 100,000 km high and traveling 250 km/hr in a circular pattern away from a sunspot eruption. The site has a short video clip showing the event from 90 degrees apart.
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Man-Made (But Very Tiny) Black Holes Possible : Discovery News

According to astrophysicist Ian O'Neill, if you wanted to destroy the Earth using a black hole of the size expected to be created by the Large Hadron Collider you would need a LOT of patience. After 13.7 billion years it would have consumed the mass of a single virus, a long way from consuming the entire Earth.

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Technology Review: Blogs: arXiv blog: Could All Particles Be Mini Black Holes?

Two physicists in California suggest that if gravity is strong at the Plank scale then, according to string theory, all particles may actually be different types of stabilized black holes.
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Technology Review: Blogs: arXiv blog: Quantum setback for warp drives

Some may recall the work of Mexican physicist Michael Alcubierre who proved that faster-than-light travel could be possible if you were able to make a warp bubble. His work, however, was based on classical physics so Italian physicist Stefano Finazzi augmented the theory to include quantum mechanics. What he found was that the warp bubble would be filled with Hawking radiation, and that the leading edge of the bubble would become unstable.

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Technology Review: Blogs: arXiv blog: If superconducting sheets reflected gravitational waves...

University of California researchers claim that superconducting sheets can reflect gravitational waves, which might provide an alternative explanation for the anomalous Gravity Probe B measurements. The only other explanation, other than mechanical error, has been that the probe is detecting the fundamental graininess of time; although, technically, the graininess explanation has only been applied to measurement noise from the Geo600 which is being constructed for use with the Gravity Probe B.
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Our world may be a giant hologram - space - 15 January 2009 - New Scientist

I've had a few people send this article to me so I thought I should comment on it. The idea is not new, having bounced around for the past few years. This article adds a new wrinkle: the GEO600 gravity-wave detection experiment has encountered significant noise that might, if interpreted properly, indicate that space-time continuum is grainy, not smooth. This, by extension, could lead credence to the theory that our universe is a projection of a distant 2D surface. In essence, a hologram

Previously it was theorized that space-time could be thought of as being quantized at a scale represented by the Plank length. At that size, our smooth space-time continuum breaks down into a foamy quantum sea. But if the universe is a holographic projection then the Plank-length quantization applies to some distant 2D surface. Like a distended balloon, the quantization projected from the surface could be far larger than the Plank length, possibly large enough to perceive with sufficiently delicate instruments like the GEO600. Or, it could be noise from somewhere in the experimental system. Only independent verification will answer this question and, as yet, the GEO600 is the only detector capable of resolving this noise. Even the Craig Hogan, the physicist who discovered the effect, for the GEO600 urges caution, stating that the noise could arise from other more mundane sources.

The long and short of it is that the jury is still very much out on the idea of the universe as a hologram. Meanwhile, Hogan says improvements are being implemented to increase the sensitivity of the GEO600 and either eliminate the noise or better resolve it. Even then, instruments designed specifically to probe this effect would be needed to better understand what is happening.

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Genetically modified bugs extract ethanol more efficiently than natural ones - according to Dartmouth College researchers. The team developed a set of genetically modified bacteria that could operate at 50 Celsius, and as a result were able to convert all five sugars present in wood-based cellulose, produced a product free of organic acids, and required 2.5 times less cellulase, an expensive component in the process.

Water bears survive rigours of space - Tardigrades, also known as "water bears" are tiny microscopic animals that are known to survive high pressure, intense radiation, and long periods of being dried out. A recent experiment exposed two species of tardigrades to space for 10 days, then were retrieved, returned to Earth, and rehydrated to find out how well they faired. 68% of those shielded from the sun recovered and reproduced normally. Only a few of those also exposed to the sun's rays survived to reproduce. See also this article.

Company claims to have made unclonable RFID - Verayo announced this month that they have developed an RFID chip that uses a form of electronic fingerprinting to make the chip unclonable. The idea is new so we'll see how long the claim stands.

LH Supercollider powers up tomorrow - Heads up for those of you thinking this is the end of the world. Of course, if you're right then nobody will around to say "I told you so".

Preschool bilingual children at increased risk of stuttering - but their recover rate is also higher than for unilingual children. This is based on a study of 317 children in Britain referred for stuttering.

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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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suggested by [livejournal.com profile] ancalagon_tb
Neutrons not so neutral after all, study says - Among atomic particles, the neutron seems the most aptly named: Unlike the positively charged proton or the negatively charged electron, neutrons have a charge of zero. But new experiments conducted in three particle accelerators suggest the neutron is more like an onion when it comes to electromagnetism: with a negatively charged exterior and interior and a positively charged middle sandwiched between them.

Physics Org
Scientists model a cornucopia of Earth-sized planets - Sara Seager, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.; Marc Kuchner, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; Catherine Hier-Majumder, Carnegie Institution of Washington, (deceased); and Burkhard Militzer, Carnegie, have created models for 14 different types of solid planets that might exist in our galaxy. The 14 types have various compositions, and the team calculated how large each planet would be for a given mass. Some are pure water ice, carbon, iron, silicate, carbon monoxide, and silicon carbide; others are mixtures of these various compounds.
'Historic' deal reached on cutting ozone threats - Nearly 200 countries have agreed to accelerate the elimination of chemicals that threaten the ozone and exacerbate global warming, the United Nations Environmental Program announced Saturday. Under the deal reached at the UN-sponsored conference, developed countries will phase out the production of HCFCs by 2020 and developing states have until 2030 -- 10 years earlier than previously promised.
Printing with enzymes instead of ink - Scientists in North Carolina are reporting development and testing of a method for printing finely-detailed microscopic images with an enzyme, rather than ink. The new technology, termed biocatalytic microcontact printing, involves coating a nano-“stamp” with an enzyme — a protein that speeds up chemical reactions. The enzyme then digests away a layer on the surface, leaving behind an imprint almost like an old-fashioned rubber stamp. Because no diffusion of ink is involved in the process, the resolution of microcontact printed images is about one hundredfold greater than possible with conventional technology.
Researchers say lack of sleep doubles risk of death... but so can too much sleep - Researchers from the University of Warwick, and University College London, have found that lack of sleep can more than double the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. However they have also found that point comes when too much sleep can also more than double the risk of death.

ABC News: Technology & Science
Farmers Take Another Look at Wind Energy - Squeezed by high energy prices and more overhead costs, some small farms are exploring ways to increase their energy efficiency and lower costs. By erecting wind turbines, making biodiesel fuel and adopting more efficient tilling practices, farmers have cut costs and reduced their environmental impact.

National Geographic News
Russia's Arctic Claim Backed By Rocks, Officials Say - Rock samples retrieved last month from beneath the Arctic Ocean indicate that the North Pole is part of Mother Russia, the Russian government announced yesterday. Under international law, Russia could lay claim to the potentially oil-rich seabed under the Arctic ice if it can prove that the ridge is part of the country's continental shelf.
Jurassic Park" Raptors Had Feathers, Fossil Suggests - Bumps on the forearm bone of a velociraptor fossil suggest the predators were adorned with fluffy feathers, a new study says.

Science Blog
If you want more babies, find a man with a deep voice - Men who have lower-pitched voices have more children than do men with high-pitched voices, researchers have found. And their study suggests that for reproductive-minded women, mate selection favours men with low-pitched voices.

Mysterious Peruvian Meteor Disease Solved - Technician writes "The meteor that crashed in Peru caused a mystery illnesses. The cause of the illness has been found. The meteor was not toxic. The ground water it contacted contains arsenic. The resulting steam cloud is what caused the mystery illness. "

January 2010

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