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Friday, October 31, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility completes initial assessment after Orbital launch mishap

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 08:09 PM PDT

The Wallops Incident Response Team completed today an initial assessment of Wallops Island, Virginia, following the catastrophic failure of Orbital Science Corp.'s Antares rocket shortly after liftoff at 6:22 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 28, from Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Same votes, different voting districts would alter election results in NC: Math study bolsters call for non-partisan redistricting reform

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 05:43 PM PDT

Researchers have developed a mathematical model that shows how changes in congressional voting districts affect election outcomes. Focusing on the last election, they show the outcome of the 2012 US House of Representatives elections in North Carolina would have been very different had the state's congressional districts been drawn with only the legal requirements of redistricting in mind. The researchers hope the study will bolster calls for redistricting reform in 2016.

Urban seismic network detects human sounds

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 05:39 PM PDT

When listening to the Earth, what clues can seismic data reveal about the impact of urban life? Although naturally occurring vibrations have proven useful to seismologists, until now the vibrations caused by humans haven't been explored in any real depth. Researchers have described their efforts to tap into an urban seismic network to monitor the traffic of trains, planes, automobiles and other modes of human transport.

Testing of filters to contain radioactive materials

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 05:39 PM PDT

If released in significant quantities, radioactive materials pose a potential threat to people and the environment. Now, new research is helping the nuclear industry ensure that radioactive materials continue to be safely contained and that standards of safety are continuously improved.

Novel ultrasound technology to screen for heart conditions developed by engineers

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 11:56 AM PDT

Engineers have determined, for the first time, the impact of a ring-shaped vortex on transporting blood flow in normal and abnormal ventricles within the human heart, and have developed a novel ultrasound technology that makes screening cheaper and much easier, making it possible to reach a large number of people and even infants.

Tiny carbon nanotube pores make big impact

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 11:56 AM PDT

Scientists have created a new kind of ion channel based on short carbon nanotubes, which can be inserted into synthetic bilayers and live cell membranes to form tiny pores that transport water, protons, small ions and DNA. These carbon nanotube "porins" have significant implications for future health care and bioengineering applications.

Combing the atmosphere to measure greenhouse gases

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 11:12 AM PDT

By remotely 'combing' the atmosphere with a custom laser-based instrument, researchers have developed a new technique that can accurately measure -- over a sizeable distance -- amounts of several of the major 'greenhouse' gases implicated in climate change.

Clean smell doesn't always mean clean air

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 11:12 AM PDT

Scientists are taking a closer look at aerosol formation involving an organic compound -- called limonene -- that provides the pleasant smell of cleaning products and air fresheners. This research will help to determine what byproducts these sweet-smelling compounds are adding to the air while we are using them to remove germs and odors.

Planet-forming lifeline discovered in a binary star system

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 11:12 AM PDT

Scientists have detected a streamer of dust and gas flowing from a massive outer disk toward the inner reaches of a binary star system. This never-before-seen feature may be responsible for sustaining a second, smaller disk of planet-forming material that otherwise would have disappeared long ago.

Supersonic laser-propelled rockets: Hybrid approach may help power rockets, launch satellites, push future aircraft past Mach 10

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 10:34 AM PDT

Researchers have described a new system that integrates a laser-ablation propulsion system with the gas blasting nozzles of a spacecraft which can increase the speed of the gas flow out of the system to supersonic speeds while reducing the amount of burned fuel.

Projecting a robot's intentions: New spin on virtual reality helps engineers read robots' minds

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 09:45 AM PDT

In a darkened, hangar-like space inside MIT's Building 41, a small, Roomba-like robot is trying to make up its mind. Standing in its path is an obstacle — a human pedestrian who's pacing back and forth. To get to the other side of the room, the robot has to first determine where the pedestrian is, then choose the optimal route to avoid a close encounter. As the robot considers its options, its "thoughts" are projected on the ground: A large pink dot appears to follow the pedestrian — a symbol of the robot's perception of the pedestrian's position in space.

Nanosafety research: The quest for the gold standard

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 09:45 AM PDT

Toxicologists have evaluated several thousand studies on the risks associated with nanoparticles and discovered no end of shortcomings: poorly prepared experiments and results that don't carry any clout. Scientists are now developing new standards for such experiments within an international network.

Thousands of substances ranked according to potential exposure level

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 09:45 AM PDT

An overwhelming number of chemicals from household and industrial products are in the environment -- and hundreds are in our bodies. But for most of them, scientists have yet to determine whether they cause health problems. Now they've taken the first step toward doing that by estimating which substances people are exposed to the most.

Microrockets fueled by water neutralize chemical and biological warfare agents

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 09:45 AM PDT

With fears growing over chemical and biological weapons falling into the wrong hands, scientists are developing microrockets to fight back against these dangerous agents, should the need arise. They have developed new spherical micromotors that rapidly neutralize chemical and biological agents and use water as fuel.

Can social media help stop the spread of HIV?

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 09:45 AM PDT

In addition to providing other potential benefits to public health, all of those tweets and Facebook posts could help curb the spread of HIV. Although public health researchers have focused early applications of social media on reliably monitoring the spread of diseases such as the flu, a new article tells of a future in which social media might predict and even change biomedical outcomes.

EEG test to help understand, treat schizophrenia

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 09:43 AM PDT

An EEG test to study and treat schizophrenia has been validated by researchers. The findings offer a clinical test that could be used to help diagnose persons at risk for developing mental illness later in life, as well as an approach for measuring the efficacies of different treatment options.

Cinema-like environment helps audiences become immersed in movies even when shown on cell phones

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 07:26 AM PDT

If the surroundings are designed to be sufficiently stimulating, even a simple computer screen is enough to generate an intense cinematic experience. After observing some 300 study subjects, researchers concluded that the angle of viewing does not play a vital role in the cinematic experience, thus disproving various hypotheses. According to the results of their study, the presence of so-called contextual visual cues plays a greater role in actually drawing viewers into a movie.

New solar power material converts 90 percent of captured light into heat

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 06:54 AM PDT

A multidisciplinary engineering team developed a new nanoparticle-based material for concentrating solar power plants designed to absorb and convert to heat more than 90 percent of the sunlight it captures. The new material can also withstand temperatures greater than 700 degrees Celsius and survive many years outdoors in spite of exposure to air and humidity.

Upgrading infrastructure could reduce flood damage

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 06:54 AM PDT

The severe flooding that devastated a wide swath of Colorado last year might have been less destructive if the bridges, roads and other infrastructure had been upgraded or modernized, according to a new study.

Saving lots of computing capacity with a new algorithm

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 05:40 AM PDT

The control of modern infrastructure such as intelligent power grids needs lots of computing capacity. Scientists have developed an algorithm that might revolutionize these processes. With their new software researchers are able to forego the use of considerable amounts of computing capacity, enabling what they call micro mining.

Gold nanoparticle chains confine light to the nanoscale

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 05:36 AM PDT

Physicists and chemists have shown that crystalline gold nanoparticles aligned and then fused into long chains can be used to confine light energy down to the nanometer scale while allowing its long-range propagation. Light can be used to transmit information. This property is, for instance, used in fiber optics, and provides an interesting alternative to microelectronics.

5g networks: Futuristic communications for today's users

Posted: 29 Oct 2014 05:36 AM PDT

Devices that learn from our habits and help us to "think better", connect us to a friend just by thinking about them, or ensure continuing medical monitoring, will be a reality in 2020, thanks to the 5G technology.

Moon mission: Images of LADEE's impact crater captured

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 06:41 PM PDT

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft has spied a new crater on the lunar surface; one made from the impact of NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer mission.

Bringing offshore wind energy on shore to power industry, homes and businesses

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 06:38 PM PDT

Feeding the world's energy appetite may take innovative approaches in the future. A new book examines methods to bring offshore wind energy on shore to power industry, homes and businesses.

New technology shows promise for delivery of therapeutics to the brain

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 11:54 AM PDT

Researchers have created "a tool for blood-barrier-brain disruption that uses bursts of sub-microsecond bipolar pulses to enhance the transfer of large molecules to the brain." According to the authors, the current medical use of chemotherapy to treat brain cancer can be inefficient because of the blood-brain-barrier that impedes the delivery of drugs out of blood vessels and into the tumor.

First observation of electronic structure in Ag-Rh alloy nanoparticles having hydrogen absorbing/storage property

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 07:11 AM PDT

Chemists have made the first observation of the electronic structure in silver-rhodium (Ag-Rh) alloy nanoparticles to investigate why the alloy possesses a hydrogen absorbing/storage property like palladium (Pd) does, given that bulk Ag and Rh do not form an alloy, and that neither element alone is a hydrogen absorbing/storage metal. It is expected that these results will further promote the creation of novel functional materials through the fusion of different elements, a technique likened to 'modern-day alchemy.'

Scientists' new analysis of plant proteins advances our understanding of photosynthesis

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:28 PM PDT

A world without plants would be a world without oxygen, uninhabitable for us and for many creatures. We know plants release oxygen by absorbing carbon dioxide and breaking down water using sunlight through the process of photosynthesis. However, we know little about the mechanics of how plants create oxygen during photosynthesis. A breakthrough that will help advance our understanding of this critical ecological process was made recently by scientists.

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