Researchers from the Universitat Jaume I in Castelló, the São Paulo State Univ. and the Aix-Marseille Univ. have developed a more effective ozone sensor than the ones currently available. The new sensor detects this gas faster and in lower amounts. Ozone is present in the atmosphere and it plays a significant role in the protection of living beings because it absorbs the ultraviolet radiation from the sun. However, the exposure to certain concentrations of this gas may cause health problems, such as headache, burning and irritation of the eyes and respiratory system problems; that is why it is relevant to detect its presence effectively.
Observatories Confirm First Earth-sized Potentially Habitable Planet
The first Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting within the habitable zone of another star has been confirmed by observations with both the W. M. Keck Observatory and the Gemini Observatory. The initial discovery, made by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, is one of a handful of smaller planets found by Kepler and verified using large ground-based telescopes.
"What makes this finding particularly compelling is that this Earth-sized planet, one of five orbiting this star, which is cooler than the Sun, resides in a temperate region where water could exist in liquid form," says Elisa Quintana of the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center who led a paper published in the current issue of the journal Science. The region in which this planet orbits its star is called the habitable zone, as it is thought that life would most likely form on planets with liquid water.
If you’ve ever bitten into a strawberry and wondered why it doesn’t taste as sweet or as good as others in the punnet, you could blame the fruit’s genetics.
Two studies, published in BMC Genomics, found that the distinct flavor of strawberry has been linked to a specific gene, present in some varieties of the fruit – but not in others. The gene, FaFAD1, controls a key flavor volatile compound in strawberries called gamma-decalactone, which is described as fruity, sweet or peachy and contributes to fruit aroma.
A Purdue Univ. researcher is collaborating with partners around the globe for a special Earth Day experience on Tuesday, April 22, designed to capture up to 1 million natural sound recordings and upload them for preservation.
Global Soundscapes Day, led by Purdue ecologist Bryan Pijanowski, will shine the spotlight on the importance of natural soundscapes and the potential for growing research and encouraging middle school and high school students about the career potentials in this field.
Forensic Genomics Solves Case of the Red Abalone Die-off
In August 2011, thousands of dead red abalone washed up on the beaches of Sonoma County in Northern California. At the time, the cause was unknown. Now, scientists, including a biologist from UC Davis, have learned that a harmful algal bloom was to blame: the causative agent Yessotoxin.
While discovery of the cause itself is noteworthy, the method by which it was determined could have a profound effect on how wildlife mortality events are investigated in the future. Described in a study published in Nature Communications, the researchers call this new approach “forensic genomics.” It involves a combination of field surveys, toxin testing and genomic scans.
Submarine Search is Successful, Yet Yields No Results
Investigators have been analyzing data collected by a robotic submarine that completed its first successful scan of the seabed Thursday in the hunt for the missing Malaysian plane, but say tests have ruled out that a nearby oil slick came from the aircraft.
The unmanned sub’s first two missions were cut short by technical problems and deep water, but the Bluefin 21 finally managed to complete a full 16-hour scan of the silt-covered seabed far off Australia’s west coast, the search coordination center says. While data collected during the mission, which ended overnight, were still being analyzed, nothing of note had yet been discovered, the center says. The sub has now covered 90 square kilometers (35 square miles) of seafloor.
These days, Hugh Herr, an associate professor of media arts and sciences at MIT, gets about 100 emails daily from people across the world interested in his bionic limbs. Messages pour in from amputees seeking prostheses and from media outlets pursuing interviews. Then there are students looking to join Herr’s research group. “The technology inspires young people to get into the field, which is wonderful,” Herr says.
It’s a mark of the groundbreaking work Herr has done at the MIT Media Lab over the past two decades. An amputee himself, Herr has been designing — and wearing — bionic leg prostheses that, he says, “emulate nature,” by mimicking the functions and power of biological knees, ankles and calves.
In the midst of the diabetes epidemic, a glimmer of good news: heart attacks, strokes and other complications from the disease are plummeting.
Over the last two decades, the rates of heart attacks and strokes among diabetics fell by more than 60 percent, a new federal study shows. The research also confirms earlier reports of drastic declines in diabetes-related kidney failure and amputations.
With California experiencing one of its worst droughts on record, grocery shoppers across the country can expect to see a short supply of certain fruits and vegetables in stores, and to pay higher prices for those items. Prof. Timothy Richards of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State Univ. recently completed research on which crops will likely be most affected and what the price boosts might be.
“You’re probably going to see the biggest produce price increases on avocados, berries, broccoli, grapes, lettuce, melons, peppers, tomatoes and packaged salads,” says Richards, the Morrison Chair at the Morrison School of Agribusiness. “We can expect to see the biggest percentage jumps in prices for avocados and lettuce – 28 percent and 34 percent, respectively. People are the least price-sensitive when it comes to those items, and they’re more willing to pay what it takes to get them.”
Reservoir to Flush Millions of Gallons Because of Urine
Call it the Big Flush 2, and this time the sequel promises to be much bigger than the original.
Portland officials say they are flushing away millions of gallons of treated water, for the second time in less than three years, because someone urinated into a city reservoir. In June 2011, the city drained a 7.5 million-gallon reservoir at Mount Tabor in southeast Portland. This time, 38 million gallons from a different reservoir at the same location will be discarded after a 19-year-old was videotaped in the act.
It has been reported that new archeological finds have pushed back the age of Rome. A team of archeologists discovered the remains of a wall built to channel water, which dates back to the ninth century BC.
Media attention has focused on the fact that the dating is significantly earlier than the traditional idea that Rome was founded on April 21, 753 BC by the twins Romulus and Remus. With Rome due to celebrate its 2,767th birthday, the timing makes for a particularly good story.
Today in Lab History: April 17, 1930- Synthetic Rubber
On April 17, 1930, the discovery of a new rubber-like compound was recorded by Arnold Collins in his laboratory notebook. He had noticed that a mixture that had stood from some weeks before, had solidified, “to white, somewhat rubber-like masses,” from polymerization of monovinylacetylene mixed with concentrated HCl. He theorized the new compound was 2-chloro-1,3-butadiene.
LabChat: Automation System Use Expected to Skyrocket
Today on LabChat, we are traveling five years down the road to what labs will look like in 2019. To get an accurate description of what the lab of the future is expected to entail, Laboratory Equipment recently surveyed its readership and analyzed the results.
Every Thursday, Laboratory Equipment features a Scientist of the Week, chosen from the science industry’s latest headlines. This week’s scientist is Thiago Verano-Braga from the Univ. of Southern Denmark. He and a team discovered that nanosilver can penetrate our cells and cause damage.