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Thursday, October 30, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News

NASA statement regarding Oct. 28 Orbital Sciences Corp. Launch mishap

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 08:05 PM PDT

The following statement is from William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, regarding the mishap that occurred at Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia during the attempted launch of Orbital Sciences Corp's Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft at 6:22 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28.

NASA Wallops preparations on track for tonight’s Orbital Sciences launch to International Space Station

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 08:03 PM PDT

Ahead of the third U.S. commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station by Orbital Sciences Corp., NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia continues to enable successful launches from the Eastern Shore. Orbital's Antares rocket carrying 5,000 pounds of NASA cargo aboard the company's Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to liftoff at 6:22 p.m. EDT, Oct. 28, 2014.

Can the wave function of an electron be divided and trapped?

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 06:41 PM PDT

Electrons are elementary particles -- indivisible, unbreakable. But new research suggests the electron's quantum state -- the electron wave function -- can be separated into many parts. That has some strange implications for the theory of quantum mechanics.

Identifying 'stance taking' cues to enable sophisticated voice recognition

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 11:54 AM PDT

In the future, computers may be capable of talking to us during meetings just like a remote teleconference participant. But to help move this science-fiction-sounding goal a step closer to reality, it's first necessary to teach computers to recognize not only the words we use but also the myriad meanings, subtleties and attitudes they can convey.

Postcards from the plasma edge: How lithium conditions the volatile edge of fusion plasmas

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 09:26 AM PDT

For magnetic fusion energy to fuel future power plants, scientists must find ways to control the interactions that take place between the volatile edge of the plasma and the walls that surround it in fusion facilities. Such interactions can profoundly affect conditions at the superhot core of the plasma in ways that include kicking up impurities that cool down the core and halt fusion reactions.

Laser experiments mimic cosmic explosions and planetary cores

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 09:26 AM PDT

Researchers are finding ways to understand some of the mysteries of space without leaving earth. Using high-intensity lasers focused on targets smaller than a pencil's eraser, they conducted experiments to create colliding jets of plasma knotted by plasma filaments and self-generated magnetic fields, reaching pressures a billion times higher than seen on earth.

Helping upgrade the U.S. power grid: Advanced power-conversion switch

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 09:26 AM PDT

When researchers at General Electric Co. sought help in designing a plasma-based power switch, they turned to the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The proposed switch could contribute to a more advanced and reliable electric grid and help to lower utility bills.

Using radio waves to control the density in a fusion plasma

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 09:26 AM PDT

Experiments show how heating the electrons in the center of a hot fusion plasma with high power microwaves can increase turbulence, reducing the density in the inner core.

Lithium injections show promise for optimizing the performance of fusion plasmas

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 08:48 AM PDT

Experiments have now demonstrated the ability of lithium injections to transiently double the temperature and pressure at the edge of the plasma and delay the onset of instabilities and other transients.

Do financial experts make better investments?

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 08:48 AM PDT

Financial experts do not make higher returns on their own investments than untrained investors, according to new research. The first-of-its-kind study analyzed the private portfolios of mutual fund managers and found the managers were surprisingly unsuccessful at outperforming nonprofessional investors.

'Reverse engineering' materials for more efficient heating and cooling

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 08:47 AM PDT

If you've gone for a spin in a luxury car and felt your back being warmed or cooled by a seat-based climate control system, then you've likely experienced the benefits of a class of materials called thermoelectrics. Thermoelectric materials convert heat into electricity, and vice versa, and have many advantages over traditional heating and cooling systems. Recently, researchers have observed that the performance of some thermoelectric materials can be improved by combining different solid phases.

Ancient auditory illusions reflected in prehistoric art?

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 08:47 AM PDT

Some of humankind's earliest and most mysterious artistic achievements -- including prehistoric cave paintings, canyon petroglyphs and megalithic structures such as Stonehenge -- may have been inspired by the behaviors of sound waves being misinterpreted as "supernatural."

Co-opting bacterial immune system to turn off specific genes

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:48 AM PDT

A technique that co-opts an immune system already present in bacteria and archaea to turn off specific genes or sets of genes -- creating a powerful tool for future research on genetics and related fields -- has been developed by researchers. "This should not only expedite scientific discovery, but help us better engineer microbial organisms to further biotechnology and medicine," says a senior author of a paper on the work. "For example, this could help us develop bacterial strains that are more efficient at converting plant biomass into liquid fuels."

Physicists' simple solution for quantum technology challenge

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:48 AM PDT

A solution to one of the key challenges in the development of quantum technologies has been proposed by physicists. Scientists show how to make a new type of flexibly-designed microscopic trap for atoms.

Through the Google Glass

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:47 AM PDT

Instruction librarians are incorporating Google Glass into class as a catalyst to research, discuss and explore information-related themes, such as privacy and social responsibility.

Lights out: Urgent need to address instability of world's power supplies

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:13 AM PDT

A new study reveals the urgent need to address instabilities in the supply of electrical power to counteract an increase in the frequency and severity of urban power outages.

Tomosynthesis improves cancer detection in women with dense breast tissue

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:12 AM PDT

As of October 2014, 19 states have enacted laws requiring women to be directly informed if they have dense breasts and would benefit from supplemental screening. However, the recommended type of supplemental screening for women with dense breasts remains unclear. With 15 additional states considering similar laws and federal legislation introduced, physician scientists investigated the potential impact of supplemental screening for women with dense breast tissue.

Tracking heat-driven decay in leading electric vehicle batteries

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:12 AM PDT

In a new study, scientists reveal the atomic-scale structural and electronic degradations that plague some rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and make them vulnerable during high-temperature operations.

Robotically assisted bypass surgery reduces complications after surgery, cuts recovery

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:26 AM PDT

Robotically assisted coronary artery bypass grafting surgery is a rapidly evolving technology that shortens hospital stays and reduces the need for blood products, while decreasing recovery times, making the procedure safer and less risky, experts say.

More energy efficient propellors for large ships

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:25 AM PDT

A Norwegian invention is reducing by a third the energy that foundries need to manufacture ship propeller blades.  Some of the propeller blades being manufactured are so big that if the complete propeller stood on end, it would reach up to the roof of a three-story building.

Lack of A level maths leading to fewer female economists in England

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:25 AM PDT

A study has found there are far fewer women studying economics than men, with women accounting for just 27 per cent of economics students, despite them making up 57 per cent of the undergraduate population in UK universities. The findings suggest less than half as many girls (1.2 per cent) as boys (3..8 percent) apply to study economics at university, while only 10 per cent of females enroll at university with an A level in maths, compared to 19 per cent of males.

Accuracy of mobile phone population mapping demonstrated

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:24 AM PDT

Population maps based on anonymous mobile phone call record data can be as accurate as those based on censuses, an international team of researcher has demonstrated. Their findings show maps made using mobile records are detailed, reliable and flexible enough to help inform infrastructure and emergency planners; particularly in low income countries, where recent population density information is often scarce.

Radiation exposure linked to aggressive thyroid cancers, researchers confirm for the first time

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 05:21 AM PDT

Exposure to radioactive iodine is associated with more aggressive forms of thyroid cancer, according to a careful study of nearly 12,000 people in Belarus who were exposed when they were children or adolescents to fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident.

When hearing aid users listen to music, less is more

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:50 AM PDT

The type of sound processing that modern hearings aids provide to make speech more understandable for wearers may also make music enjoyment more difficult, according to a new study. The findings suggest that less sophisticated hearing aids might actually be more compatible with listening to music, especially recorded music that has itself been processed to change the way it sounds.

'Sticky' ends start synthetic collagen growth

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:48 AM PDT

Researchers detail how synthetic collagen helices self-assemble into fibers and gels. The discovery could lead to better synthetic materials for medical applications, they say. Collagen is the most common protein in mammals, a major component of bone and the fibrous tissues that support cells and hold organs together. Discovering its secrets may lead to better synthetic collagen for tissue engineering and cosmetic and reconstructive medicine.

Taxi GPS data helps researchers study Hurricane Sandy's effect on NYC traffic

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 09:04 AM PDT

The largest Atlantic hurricane on record, Hurricane Sandy, offered a chance for researchers to try out a new computational method they developed that promises to help municipalities quantify the resilience of their transportation systems to extreme events using only GPS data from taxis.

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