Top Stories

Research Accelerates Quest for Quicker, Longer-lasting Electronics
June 23, 2017 04:38 PM - University of California – Riverside

In the world of electronics, where the quest is always for smaller and faster units with infinite battery life, topological insulators (TI) have tantalizing potential.

In a paper published today in “Science Advances,” Jing Shi, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Riverside, and colleagues at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Arizona State University report they have created a TI film just 25 atoms thick that adheres to an insulating magnetic film, creating a “heterostructure.” This heterostructure makes TI surfaces magnetic at room temperatures and higher, to above 400 Kelvin or more than 720 degrees Fahrenheit.

New 3D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
June 23, 2017 03:59 PM - Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

As farmers survey their fields this summer, several questions come to mind: How many plants germinated per acre? How does altering row spacing affect my yields? Does it make a difference if I plant my rows north to south or east to west? Now a computer model can answer these questions by comparing billions of virtual fields with different planting densities, row spacings, and orientations.

Genes, Ozone, and Autism: Increased risk for autism when genetic variation and air pollution meet
June 23, 2017 03:53 PM - Penn State

A new analysis shows that individuals with high levels of genetic variation and elevated exposure to ozone in the environment are at an even higher risk for developing autism than would be expected by adding the two risk factors together. The study is the first to look at the combined effects of genome-wide genetic change and environmental risk factors for autism, and the first to identify an interaction between genes and environment that leads to an emergent increase in risk that would not be found by studying these factors independently. A paper describing the research appears online in the journal Autism Research.

“Autism, like most human diseases, is complex,” said Scott B. Selleck, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State and one of the leaders of the research team. “There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of genes involved and up until now -- with very few exceptions -- these have been studied independently of the environmental contributors to autism, which are real. Our team of researchers represents a merger of people with genetic expertise and environmental epidemiologists, allowing us for the first time to answer questions about how genetic and environmental risk factors for autism interact.”

NIST/CU Team Launches 'Comb and Copter' System to Map Atmospheric Gases
June 23, 2017 01:49 PM - National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder have demonstrated a new mobile, ground-based system that could scan and map atmospheric gas plumes over kilometer distances.

The system uses an eye-safe laser instrument to send light that “combs” the air to a flying multi-copter and analyzes the colors of light absorbed along the way to identify gas signatures in near-real time.

The “comb and copter” system may be useful to scan for leaks in oil and gas fields, study the mixing of auto emissions and other gases in the boundary between the Earth’s surface and the next layer of the atmosphere, or, with planned upgrades, detect pollutants or chemical threats and their sources.

Seismic Oil Exploration Kills Krill at Far Higher Rate, Study Finds
June 23, 2017 01:36 PM - Yale Environment 360

Seismic air guns commonly used in the search for undersea oil kill off far more zooplankton than once thought, according to a new study that raises questions about the effect of such seismic surveys on the health of ocean ecosystems.

Invention could slash energy consumption
June 23, 2017 11:39 AM - , SciDevNet

An Egyptian inventor has successfully tested a safe electricity system for homes that eliminates the risk of electric shocks and reduces energy consumption significantly.

A Unique Amino Acid for Brain Cancer Therapy
June 23, 2017 11:35 AM - Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

Photodynamic therapy is often used to treat brain tumors because of its specificity—it can target very small regions containing cancerous cells while sparing the normal cells around it from damage. It works by injecting a drug called a photosensitizer into the bloodstream, where it gathers in cells, and then exposing the drug-filled cells to light. When the photosensitizer is exposed to this light, it emits what is known as a reactive oxygen species (ROS) that causes the cells to die. The method is precise because photosensitizers preferentially gather in cancerous cells over normal cells. As such, when they are exposed to the light, the normal cells will be spared from damage.

Extraordinary storms caused massive Antarctic sea ice loss in 2016
June 23, 2017 11:29 AM - British Antarctic Survey

A series of unprecedented storms over the Southern Ocean likely caused the most dramatic decline in Antarctic sea ice seen to date, a new study finds.

Crops' sweet bribes for ants help them bear fruit
June 23, 2017 11:24 AM - University of Edinburgh

Flowering crops such as beans and cotton offer their sweetest nectar to recruit colonising ants.

This strategy balances their need for defence and to reproduce, research suggests.  

So-called ant-plants carefully manage the amount and sweetness of nectar produced on their flowers and leaves, a study shows.

This enables them to attract ants – which aggressively deter herbivores – while also luring insects that will spread pollen.

How the climate can rapidly change at tipping points
June 23, 2017 11:18 AM - Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research

During the last glacial period, within only a few decades the influence of atmospheric CO2 on the North Atlantic circulation resulted in temperature increases of up to 10 degrees Celsius in Greenland – as indicated by new climate calculations from researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute and the University of Cardiff. Their study is the first to confirm that there have been situations in our planet’s history in which gradually rising CO2 concentrations have set off abrupt changes in ocean circulation and climate at “tipping points”. These sudden changes, referred to as Dansgaard-Oeschger events, have been observed in ice cores collected in Greenland. The results of the study have just been released in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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