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Science

+ - Trick Polymer Generates Electricity As It Flops Around->

Submitted by
MTorrice
MTorrice writes "Scientists dream of materials that could someday allow people to charge cell phones simply through the energy created as they walk around. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a polymeric sheet that curls and flips when set on a moist surface. The team hopes the material’s somersaults will someday power personal electronics. In a video, the scientists show off how the material rolls around."
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Science

+ - Sniffing Out Signs of Life After Disasters->

Submitted by
MTorrice
MTorrice writes "With every breath, people exhale a plume of chemicals. Now German researchers have developed a method to quickly and easily detect this chemical signature of life with a portable device. The team hopes that the approach can help firefighters and other first responders find people trapped inside rubble after earthquakes, terrorist attacks, or other calamities."
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Biotech

+ - Bio Labs Could Contaminate Rivers With Antibiotic Resistance Genes->

Submitted by LilaG
LilaG (2576095) writes "Antibiotic resistance genes are cheap, powerful tools for biologists. But now researchers have found evidence that those very genes used in molecular biology and genetic engineering experiments may have reached the environment. In six Chinese rivers, researchers found bacterial DNA carrying these synthetic genes.

Still, other experts call for more studies to confirm the results and pinpoint specific sources of the genes."

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+ - Some Scientists Are Questioning Sex Lubes' Safety->

Submitted by
carmendrahl
carmendrahl writes "Some personal lubricants, like KY Warming Jelly, kill cells in lab tests or increase transmission of herpes in lab rodents compared to no lube. Now scientists are trying to figure out whether sex lubes are safe, or just smoothing the way for STDs. Lubricants could be a key part of anti-HIV gels, so the answer is important. It's complicated, because researchers must translate results from the lab to real life."
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+ - Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself (with a bad trip)->

Submitted by
carmendrahl
carmendrahl writes "In Austria, people can submit their street drugs to a lab-on-a-bus to ensure they got what they paid for. The government is using the bus to track emergence of new variants of bath salts and other drugs. Now, researchers have developed a test they'd like to add to the bus's offerings: it assesses drug action instead of just reporting chemical structure."
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Science

+ - Nanosized probe tickles ear hair cells to mimic sound waves->

Submitted by LilaG
LilaG (2576095) writes "A tiny probe simulates sound waves by tickling microscopic hairlike projections on inner ear cells. The device could help researchers understand how the cochlear cells' ion channels convert sound waves into electrical signals the brain can interpret, say the probe’s developers, who are from Stanford University."
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Science

+ - Artificial Tongue Tastes Bitter Compounds->

Submitted by
MTorrice
MTorrice writes "By coating polymer nanotubes with proteins found in human taste buds, researchers have made an electronic tongue that can taste bitter compounds, including two chemicals found in veggies such as kale. The device senses two other chemicals at femtomolar levels, making it 100,000 times more sensitive at detecting flavor molecules than previous devices."
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Science

+ - Gold nanoparticles dye hair gold

Submitted by LilaG
LilaG (2576095) writes "Forget gold-plated teeth. Gold-nanoparticled hair may just be the next cool thing. Researchers in Paris have discovered that they can produce gold nanoparticles within strands of hair that will dye white hair gold. Added bonus: the hair glows red when blue light shines on it.

Alas, don't expect to see gold nanoparticle dye coming to your hair salon anytime soon. The process takes days of treatment to produce the full effect. Another downside: the process uses a very strong base, with pH 12.5, making it far more caustic than a perm."
Science

+ - Good news about Deepwater Horizon: oysters didn't eat oil->

Submitted by LilaG
LilaG (2576095) writes "BP is about to shell out billions in the criminal case the U.S. brought against it for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. Some good news has also just come out about the spill's effects on the Gulf: oysters didn't consume much oil from the spill.

That's the conclusion of a study by researchers in Alabama who were already studying the region's oysters before the spill happened — giving them before, during, and after samples to test. Using isotopic ratios, the researchers found little evidence of oil in the oyster's flesh or shells."

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Science

+ - Nanowires Improve Graphene Conductance->

Submitted by
MTorrice
MTorrice writes "Researchers may have found a way to turn one-atom-thick sheets of graphene into a promising material for making transparent electrodes needed in solar cells and displays. Transparent electrodes in today’s devices are made of indium tin oxide films. These films are typically 90% transparent and have a resistance of less than 100 ohms. But they are expensive and brittle. Graphene could be a stronger, lower-cost, and more bendable alternative. However, the resistance of a typical graphene sheet is usually more than 500 ohms. By integrating metal nanowires into conventionally grown graphene films, researchers lowered the films’ resistance. The resulting material is 94% transparent and has a resistance of 64 ohms."
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Science

+ - Flexible Circuits By The Slice->

Submitted by
MTorrice
MTorrice writes "Researchers have demonstrated a way to make high performance, flexible integrated circuits using almost exclusively standard equipment and materials already needed to make conventional chips. Such a method could allow electronics manufacturers to build new devices, such as smart medical implants and flexible displays, without needing to significantly overhaul current production protocols. The method, developed by researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, started with researchers patterning integrated circuits on silicon wafers using a standard production line. They then cut off the top 20 to 30 micrometers of the wafer using a thin wire—like slicing a block of cheese—to produce a thin, flexible platter of circuits."
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Science

+ - Electronic Tweezers Grab Nanoparticles->

Submitted by
MTorrice
MTorrice writes "A beam of electrons can pick up and carry nanoparticles, according to a new study. The so-called electronic tweezers could help scientists in diverse tasks, such as building up new materials nanoparticle by nanoparticle, and measuring the forces between nanoparticles and living cells, the researchers say. In the past, scientists have manipulated microsized particles, including single cells, using a beam of laser light called optical tweezers. But the force required to trap a particle with optical tweezers increases as the particle gets smaller, making grappling with nanoparticles difficult. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory developed an alternative to optical tweezers by modifying a transmission electron microscope, which produces images by passing a stream of electrons through a sample."
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Biotech

+ - Writing with Pen and (Bacterial) Ink->

Submitted by LilaG
LilaG (2576095) writes "You may choose blue or black ink, but some scientists want to "write" with bacterial ink. Now they can, thanks to researchers in South Korea.

An article in Chemical and Engineering News describes the researchers' adaptation of dip-pen nanolithography, allowing the researchers to write dots of E. coli with control over placement of the dots and over the number of organisms in each dot."

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Science

+ - Biodiesel From Sewage Sludge-> 1

Submitted by
MTorrice
MTorrice writes "Scientists have developed a way to convert lipids from sewage sludge into biodiesel. The low cost and high yield of the sludge process may make it economically feasible as a source of biofuel, the researchers say. Today, biofuel producers use lipids in vegetable oils to derive biodiesel, a mixture of fatty-acid-like molecules. Biodiesel is compatible with existing diesel engines, burns with less pollution than petroleum-derived diesel does, and comes from renewable resources. But current biodiesel feedstocks are expensive, limiting the fuel’s widespread use. The researchers from South Korea found that sewage sludge, the semisolid material left over from wastewater treatment, can yield 2,200 times more lipids than soybeans and costs 96% less to process. To turn the sludge lipids into biodiesel, the researchers heated them with methanol."
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Science

+ - Micromotors Race About by Turning Water into Hydrogen Gas->

Submitted by
MTorrice
MTorrice writes "Microscopic particles of aluminum and gallium rocket around using water as their fuel. The particles, which are 20 m in diameter, are asymmetric: A chemical reaction on the back side of the particle forms hydrogen gas bubbles that propel the motor forward. Over the past several years, bioengineers have built micro- and nanosized rockets that zip through liquids, fueled by chemical reactions between the materials that make up the rockets and their environments. The engineers hope someday these tiny motors could help deliver cargo, such as drugs, in people. Unfortunately, many of these motors require toxic hydrogen peroxide as fuel source, limiting their use in the body. To overcome that constraint, the new micromotors harness a well-known reaction between aluminum and water to produce hydrogen gas."
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