Some of the landscape underlying the massive Greenland ice sheet may have been undisturbed for 2.7 million years, ever since the island became completely ice-covered, according to researchers funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Basing their discovery on an analysis of the chemical composition of silts recovered from the bottom of an ice core more than 3,000 meters long, the researchers argue that the find suggests “pre-glacial landscapes can remain preserved for long periods under continental ice sheets.”
Sodium channels are implicated in many serious conditions such as heart disease, epilepsy and pain, making them an important potential target for drug therapies. Unfortunately, there is still much scientists do not know about the molecules. New Univ. of Cambridge research provides fresh and unexpected insights into the structure of sodium channels and, specifically, one of its components - β-subunit molecules - which are responsible for “fine-tuning” the activity of the channel.
The first study that combines different scales — cloud-sized and earth-sized — into one model to simulate the effects of Asian pollution on the Pacific storm track has shown that the pollution can influence weather over much of the world. These results show that using multiple scales in one model greatly improves the accuracy of climate simulations.
The ability to stick objects to a wide range of surfaces such as drywall, wood, metal and glass with a single adhesive has been the elusive goal of many research teams across the world, but now a team of Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst inventors has created a new, more versatile version of their creation, Geckskin, which can adhere strongly to a wider range of surfaces, yet releases easily, like a gecko’s feet.
“Imagine sticking your tablet on a wall to watch your favorite movie and then moving it to a new location when you want, without the need for pesky holes in your painted wall,” says polymer science and engineering professor Al Crosby. Geckskin is a “gecko-like,” reusable adhesive device that they had previously demonstrated can hold heavy loads on smooth surfaces such as glass.
The adage, “Everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it,” may one day be obsolete if researchers at the Univ. of Central Florida’s College of Optics & Photonics and the Univ. of Arizona further develop a new technique to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning.
The solution? Surround the beam with a second beam to act as an energy reservoir, sustaining the central beam to greater distances than previously possible. The secondary “dress” beam refuels and helps prevent the dissipation of the high-intensity primary beam, which on its own would break down quickly.
Credit Card-sized Anthrax Detector Aids Agriculture
A credit card-sized anthrax detection cartridge developed at Sandia National Laboratories and recently licensed to a small business makes testing safer, easier, faster and cheaper.
Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax, is commonly found in soils all over the world and can cause serious, often fatal, illness in both humans and animals. The bacteria can survive in harsh conditions for decades. In humans, exposure to B. anthracis may occur through skin contact, inhalation of spores or eating contaminated meat.
Predicting when a volcano will blow its top takes constant monitoring. Researchers are now looking to satellites as a valuable eye in the sky, since they can observe the ground around volcanoes for signs of deformation.
Ground deformation can indicate that molten rock, or magma, is flowing. This sometimes hints at an eruption to come — but it’s not a sure sign. To clarify the link between deformation and eruption, researchers looked at 18 years’ worth of satellite data.
The new book, “Science Beneath the Surface: A Very Short Guide to the Marcellus Shale,” attempts to offer a reader-friendly, unbiased, scientific guide needed to make well-informed decisions regarding energy use and, more specifically, hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale.
The 252-page book was published recently by the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI), a Cornell affiliate. It was co-authored by Robert Ross, paleobiologist and associate director of outreach at PRI; Don Duggan-Haas, PRI educational researcher; and Warren Allmon, Cornell professor of paleontology and executive director of PRI/Museum of the Earth. It includes contributions by educators Kelly Cronin, Trisha Smrecak and Sara Perry.
Sometimes engineers invent something before they fully comprehend why it works. To understand the “why,” they must often create new tools and techniques in a virtuous cycle that improves the original invention while also advancing basic scientific knowledge.
Such was the case about two years ago, when Stanford School of Engineering scientists discovered how to make a more efficient type of thin, crystalline organic semiconductors. Their so-called “strained organic semiconductors” carried current faster than comparable systems, a big step toward producing flexible electronic devices that couldn’t be built using rigid silicon chips.
Electrically Controlled Polymer Changes its Properties
Electrically controlled glasses with continuously adjustable transparency, new polarization filters and even chemosensors capable of detecting single molecules of specific chemicals could be fabricated thanks to a new polymer that unprecedentedly combines optical and electrical properties.
An international team of chemists from Italy, Germany and Poland developed a polymer with unique optical and electric properties. Components of this polymer change their spatial configuration depending on the electric potential applied. In turn, the polarization of transmitted light is affected. The material can be used, for instance, in polarization filters and window glasses with continuously adjustable transparency. Due to its mechanical properties, the polymer is also perfectly suitable for fabrication of chemical sensors for selective detection and determination of optically active (chiral) forms of an analyte.
Researchers at the Penn State Materials Research Institute and the Univ. of Texas at Dallas have shown the ability to grow high quality, single-layer materials one on top of the other using chemical vapor deposition. This highly scalable technique can produce new materials with unique properties that could be applied to solar cells, ultracapacitors for energy storage or advanced transistors for energy efficient electronics, among many other applications.
“People have been trying to stack these layered materials using the scotch tape method [an exfoliation method developed by Nobel laureates Novoselov and Geim to produce graphene], but that leaves residue on the layers and is not scalable,” explains Joshua Robinson of Penn State, corresponding author on a recent article published online in ACS Nano.
The Food and Drug Administration is warning women that a surgical procedure to remove noncancerous growths from the uterus could inadvertently spread cancer to other parts of the body.
The agency is discouraging doctors from performing the procedure, which uses an electronically powered device to grind and shred uterine tissue so it can be removed through a small incision in the abdomen. Known as laparoscopic power morcellation, the technique is widely used to treat painful fibroids, either by removing the growths themselves or the entire uterus.
As Cyclone Ita hit northern Australia last weekend, a much slower collision occurred in the world’s longest-running lab project, The Univ. of Queensland’s Pitch Drop Experiment.
After a wait of more than 13 years, the ninth drop of pitch collided ever so slowly with the eighth drop in the bottom of the beaker. The experiment was set up in 1927 to demonstrate that solid materials — pitch shatters if hit with a hammer — can flow like liquids.