11-03-2012   -   Biology

12 Mar 2012 Planarian genes that control stem cell biology identified. A novel approach to identify and study the genes that control stem cell behavior in planarians has been reported. Intriguingly, at least one class of these genes has a counterpart in human embryonic stem cells. "This is a huge step forward in establishing planarians as an in vivo system for which the roles of stem cell regulators can be dissected" . Planarians (Schmidtea mediterranea) are tiny freshwater flatworms with the ability to reproduce through fission. After literally tearing themselves in half, the worms use stem cells, called cNeoblasts, to regrow any missing tissues and organs, ultimately forming two complete planarians in about a week. Unlike muscle, nerve, or skin cells that are fully differentiated, certain stem cells, such as cNeoblasts and embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, having the ability to become almost cell type in the body. Researchers have long been interested in harnessing this capability to regrow damaged, diseased, or missing tissues in humans, such as insulin-producing cells for diabetics or nerve cells for patients with spinal cord injuries. more

  11-03-2012   -   Chemistry

12 Mar 2012 Liquid water diffusion at molecular level. Researchers have described for the first time the diffusion of liquid water through nanochannels in molecular terms. Nanochannels are extremely tiny channels with a diameter of 1-100 nanometers that scientists use to study the behavior of molecules. This might have an important impact on water desalinization and filtration methods. The introduction of graphene membranes and carbon nanolayers will revolutionize water desalinization and filtration processes, as water diffuses rapidly through these materials when their pores are 1nm in diameter.more

  11-03-2012   -   Nuclear

11 Mar 2012 Low Levels of Fallout from Fukushima. Fallout from the March 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power facility in Japan was measured in minimal amounts in precipitation in the United States in about 20 percent of 167 sites sampled in a new nationwide study. The U.S. Geological Survey led the study as part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP). Levels measured were similar to measurements made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the days and weeks immediately following the March 2011 incidents, which were determined to be well below any level of public health concern.more

  11-03-2012   -   Physics

Sat 10 Mar 2012 Single-atom transistor is end of Moore's Law; may be beginning of quantum computing. The smallest transistor ever built - in fact, the smallest transistor that can be built - has been created using a single phosphorous atom by an international team of researchers. The single-atom device is less about improving current technology than building future technology.more

  22-12-2011   -   Chemistry

Thu 22 Dec 2011 Chemicals and biofuel from wood biomass. A new method makes it possible to use microbes to produce butanol suitable for biofuel and other industrial chemicals from wood biomass. Butanol or butyl alcohol can refer to any of the four isomeric alcohols of formula C4H9OH. Butanol is particularly suited as a transport fuel because it is not water soluble and has higher energy content than ethanol. more

  22-12-2011   -   Physics

Wed 21 Dec 2011 Researchers One Step Closer to Realizing Future Nanoscale MRI Instrument. The new advancements aims at developing a nanoscale magnetic imager consisting of individual electrons enclosed in a diamond crystal. The major challenge in realizing such a tool is the difficulty in accurately measuring a magnetic field utilizing the resonance of the individual electrons inside the diamond crystal. Magnetic imaging allows researchers to determine a limited scope of fields from molecules close to the resonant frequency of the sensor, which in turn complicates the imaging process. Dutt stated that to achieve this, highly advanced image processing and other methods are required. The research team employed quantum computing processes to eliminate the limitations of the hardware to see the whole magnetic field. By expanding the field, the team has increased the ratio between the optimum measurable field strength and field accuracy by a factor of 10 when compared to the earlier standard methods, paving the way for realizing a future nanoscale MRI tool that is capable of identifying locations of atoms without damaging them and analyzing properties of cells, materials and molecules in a noninvasive manner.more

  05-12-2011   -   Energy

Tue 6 Dec 2011 Thinner thermal insulation. Vacuum insulation panels, VIPs for short, insulate ten times better than conventional insulation of the same thickness. At present these high-end products are built into energy-saving refrigerators. Innovative components and production techniques are now set to sink the costs so that private home-builders can also benefit from the new technology.more

  05-12-2011   -   Chemistry

Mon 5 Dec 2011 New revolutionary material can be worked like glass. A common feature of sailboards, aircraft and electronic circuits is that they all contain resins used for their lightness, strength and resistance. However, once cured, these resins can no longer be reshaped. Only certain inorganic compounds, including glass, offered this possibility until now. Combining such properties in a single material seemed impossible until now with the developement of a new class of compounds capable of this remarkable feat. Repairable and recyclable, this novel material can be shaped at will and in a reversible manner at high temperature. And, quite surprisingly, it also retains certain properties specific to organic resins and rubbers: it is light, insoluble and difficult to break. Inexpensive and easy to produce, this material could be used in numerous industrial applications, particularly in the automobile, aeronautics, building, electronics and leisure sectors. more

  05-12-2011   -   Physics

Sun 4 Dec 2011 Light created from vacuum shows empty space a myth. An international research team says that its experiment in which tiny parcels of light, or photons, are produced out of empty space has confirmed that a vacuum contains quantum fluctuations of energy. In fact, the scientists have demonstrated for the first time a strange phenomenon known as the dynamical Casimir effect, or DCE for short. The DCE involves stimulating the vacuum to shed some of the myriad "virtual" particles that fleet in and out of existence, making them real and detectable. Moreover, the real photons produced by the DCE in their experiment collectively retain a peculiar quantum signature that ordinary light lacks. The DCE was predicted over 40 years ago, but had not yet been observed experimentally due to the difficulty of creating the required experimental conditions.

  30-10-2011   -   Biology

Sun 30 Oct 2011 Researchers have built a map that shows how thousands of proteins in a fruit fly cell communicate with each other. This is the largest and most detailed protein interaction map of a multicellular organism, demonstrating how approximately 5,000, or one-third, of the proteins cooperate to keep life going. For researchers studying protein interactions, this map is a dream come true. While genes are a cell’s data repository, containing all the instructions necessary for life, proteins are its labor force, talking to each other constantly and channeling vital information through vast and complicated networks to keep life stable and healthy. Humans and fruit flies are both descended from a common ancestor, and in most cases, both species still rely on the same ancient cellular machinery for survival. In that respect, the fruit fly’s map serves as sort of a blueprint, a useful guide into the cellular activity of many higher organisms. more

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