Sci/tech

Particle zoo in a quantum computer
June 22, 2016 04:02 PM - University of Innsbruck Via EurekAlert!

Elementary particles are the fundamental buildings blocks of matter, and their properties are described by the Standard Model of particle physics. The discovery of the Higgs boson at the CERN in 2012 constitutes a further step towards the confirmation of the Standard Model. However, many aspects of this theory are still not understood because their complexity makes it hard to investigate them with classical computers. Quantum computers may provide a way to overcome this obstacle as they can simulate certain aspects of elementary particle physics in a well-controlled quantum system. Physicists from the University of Innsbruck and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences have now done exactly that: In an international first, Rainer Blatt's and Peter Zoller's research teams have simulated lattice gauge theories in a quantum computer. They describe their work in the journal Nature.

Researchers find better way to 'herd' electrons in solar fuel devices
June 20, 2016 02:23 PM - University of British Columbia via EurekAlert!

Researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have discovered a new way to optimize electron transfer in semi-conductors used in solar fuel solutions.

The finding, published today in Nature Chemistry, could have a big impact on devices that convert sunlight into electricity and fuel.

Improving poor soil with burned up biomass
June 20, 2016 07:15 AM - RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Japan have shown that torrefied biomass can improve the quality of poor soil found in arid regions. Published in Scientific Reports, the study showed that adding torrefied biomass to poor soil from Botswana increased water retention in the soil as well as —the amount of plant growth.

A Plan to Mute Ocean Noise for Marine Life
June 15, 2016 06:37 AM - Laura Goldman, Care2

Imagine trying to relax in your home while being bombarded with the explosive sounds of shotgun blasts as well as freight trains rumbling by. For many whales, dolphins and other marine life that depend on their hearing to survive, there is no way to escape the loud, human-made noises in their ocean home. The main culprits are vessels like cargo ships, along with sonar guns used by the U.S. Navy and air guns used in seismic oil and gas exploration. Their blasts are so loud that they are known to change the behavior of blue whales. But now, in what Michael Jasny, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Marine Mammal Protection Project, Land & Wildlife Program, referred to as “a sea change in the way we manage ocean noise off our shores,” NOAA has announced it plans to take action to reduce the noise in entire marine ecosystems.

New material has potential to cut costs and make nuclear fuel recycling cleaner
June 13, 2016 11:00 AM - Mary Beckman via PNNL

Researchers are investigating a new material that might help in nuclear fuel recycling and waste reduction by capturing certain gases released during reprocessing. Conventional technologies to remove these radioactive gases operate at extremely low, energy-intensive temperatures. By working at ambient temperature, the new material has the potential to save energy, make reprocessing cleaner and less expensive. The reclaimed materials can also be reused commercially.

New material has potential to cut costs and make nuclear fuel recycling cleaner
June 13, 2016 11:00 AM - Mary Beckman via PNNL

Researchers are investigating a new material that might help in nuclear fuel recycling and waste reduction by capturing certain gases released during reprocessing. Conventional technologies to remove these radioactive gases operate at extremely low, energy-intensive temperatures. By working at ambient temperature, the new material has the potential to save energy, make reprocessing cleaner and less expensive. The reclaimed materials can also be reused commercially.

Provisional names announced for super heavy elements 113, 115, 117, and 118
June 8, 2016 02:45 PM - DOE/OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LABORATORY via EurekAlert!

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) Inorganic Chemistry Division has published a Provisional Recommendation for the names and symbols of the recently discovered superheavy elements 113, 115, 117, and 118.

The provisional names for 115, 117 and 118 -- originally proposed by the discovering team from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna, Russia; the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California; and Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee -- will now undergo a statutory period for public review before the names and symbols can be finally approved by the IUPAC Council.

Provisional names announced for super heavy elements 113, 115, 117, and 118
June 8, 2016 02:45 PM - DOE/OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LABORATORY via EurekAlert!

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) Inorganic Chemistry Division has published a Provisional Recommendation for the names and symbols of the recently discovered superheavy elements 113, 115, 117, and 118.

The provisional names for 115, 117 and 118 -- originally proposed by the discovering team from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna, Russia; the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California; and Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee -- will now undergo a statutory period for public review before the names and symbols can be finally approved by the IUPAC Council.

How did the giraffe get its long neck?
May 27, 2016 06:09 AM - Penn State University

For the first time, the genomes of the giraffe and its closest living relative, the reclusive okapi of the African rainforest, have been sequenced — revealing the first clues about the genetic changes that led to the evolution of the giraffe’s exceptionally long neck and its record-holding ranking as the world’s tallest land species. The research will be published in the scientific journal Nature Communications on May 17, 2016.

“The giraffe’s stature, dominated by its long neck and legs and an overall height that can reach 19 feet (~ 6 m), is an extraordinary feat of evolution that has inspired awe and wonder for at least 8,000 years — as far back as the famous rock carvings at Dabous in the Republic of Niger,” said Douglas Cavener of Penn State, who led the research team with Morris Agaba of the Nelson Mandela African Institute for Science and Technology in Tanzania.

How did the giraffe get its long neck? Clues now are revealed by new genome sequencing. 

Antarctic fossils show creatures wiped out by asteroid
May 27, 2016 06:03 AM - British Antarctic Survey

A study of more than 6,000 marine fossils from the Antarctic shows that the mass extinction event that killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago was sudden and just as deadly to life in the Polar Regions.

Previously, scientists had thought that creatures living in the southernmost regions of the planet would have been in a less perilous position during the mass extinction event than those elsewhere on Earth.

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