• Microbes Churn Out Hydrogen at Record Rate

    In new table-top reactor, bacteria from wastewater produce abundant, clean hydrogen from cellulose, or even vinegar, and a little electricity

    By adding a few modifications to their successful wastewater fuel cell, researchers have coaxed common bacteria to produce hydrogen in a new, efficient way. Bruce Logan and colleagues at Penn State University had already shown success at using microbes to produce electricity. Now, using starter material that could theoretically be sourced from a salad bar, the researchers have coaxed those same microbes to generate hydrogen.

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  • Tool-wielding chimps provide a glimpse of early human behavior

    Madison, Wis. - Chimpanzees inhabiting a harsh savanna environment and using bark and stick tools to exploit an underground food resource are giving scientists new insights to the behaviors of the earliest hominids who, millions of years ago, left the African forests to range the same kinds of environments and possibly utilize the same foods.

    Writing today (Nov. 12) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a team of researchers including University of Wisconsin-Madison anthropologist Travis R. Pickering reports evidence of tool use among rare savanna chimps to harvest edible tubers, roots and bulbs.

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  • Computer scientist fights threat of ‘botnets’

    Madison, Wisconsin - Computer scientist Paul Barford has watched malicious traffic on the Internet evolve from childish pranks to a billion-dollar “shadow industry” in the last decade, and his profession has largely been one step behind the bad guys. Viruses, phishing scams, worms and spyware are only the beginning, he says.

    “Some of the most worrisome threats today are things called ‘botnets’ — computers that are taken over by an outside party and are beyond the user’s control,” says Barford of UW–Madison. “They can do all sorts of nasty things: steal passwords, credit card numbers and personal information, and use the infected machine to forward spam and attack other machines.

    “Botnets represent a convergence of all of the other threats that have existed for some time,” he adds.

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  • Congressional Hearing on Asteroid Threat

    Davis, California - UC Davis physics professor J. Anthony Tyson will testify before Congress on Thursday, Nov. 8, on near-Earth asteroids. Tyson will talk about the potential role of the proposed Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) in surveying the sky for objects that might eventually strike our planet. The hearing of the House Committee on Science and Technology will begin at 10 a.m. in room 2318 of the Rayburn Office Building. >> Read the Full Article
  • Energy From Hot Rocks

    Two UC Davis geologists are taking part in the Iceland Deep Drilling Project, an international effort to learn more about the potential of geothermal energy, or extracting heat from rocks.

    Professors Peter Schiffman and Robert Zierenberg are working with Wilfred Elders, professor emeritus at UC Riverside, Dennis Bird at Stanford University and Mark Reed at the University of Oregon to study the chemistry that occurs at high pressures and temperatures two miles below Iceland.

    "We hope to understand the process of heat transfer when water reacts with hot volcanic rocks and how that changes the chemistry of fluids circulating at depth," Zierenberg said. "We know very little about materials under these conditions."

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  • Drug injecting triggers most Mauritius HIV cases

    ROCHE BOIS, Mauritius (Reuters) - Drug abuse accounts for 92 percent of new HIV infections in Mauritius, up from just 14 percent in 2002, the government said on Monday.

    The Indian Ocean island nation has an estimated HIV prevalence rate of 1.8 percent, which is low for the region. On the African mainland, HIV infection rates stand at 16.1 percent in Mozambique and 18.8 percent in South Africa, for example.

    But officials say risky practices like sharing needles used for injecting drugs are causing many more infections. Mauritius suffers the second highest rate of heroin and opiate use in the world, according to U.N. figures.

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  • Make Way for the Real Nanopod

    BERKELEY, CA — Make way for the real nanopod and make room in the Guinness World Records. A team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California at Berkeley have created the first fully functional radio from a single carbon nanotube, which makes it by several orders of magnitude the smallest radio ever made. >> Read the Full Article
  • Researchers build a better leaf

    CHAMPAIGN, IL.  - University of Illinois researchers have built a better plant, one that produces more leaves and fruit without needing extra fertilizer. The researchers accomplished the feat using a computer model that mimics the process of evolution. Theirs is the first model to simulate every step of the photosynthetic process. >> Read the Full Article
  • Prehistoric women had passion for fashion

    If the figurines found in an ancient European settlement are any guide, women have been dressing to impress for at least 7,500 years.

    Recent excavations at the site -- part of the Vinca culture which was Europe's biggest prehistoric civilization -- point to a metropolis with a great degree of sophistication and a taste for art and fashion, archaeologists say.

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  • J-PAL course in Nigeria promotes science-based approach in poverty fight

    MIT's Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is technically located in Building E60 on the edge of east campus. But J-PAL's real laboratory is a primary school in a sub-Saharan African town, a household kitchen in a home in rural India, an unemployment line in a suburb of Paris-anywhere antipoverty programs are necessary to improve a population's health and well-being.

    J-PAL is dedicated to fighting poverty by ensuring that policy decisions are based on scientific evidence. As part of that effort, J-PAL undertakes, promotes the use of and disseminates the results of randomized evaluations of poverty-alleviating programs.

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