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Submission + - New spectroscope perfect for asteroid mining, planetary research (vanderbilt.edu)

Science_afficionado writes: Scientists at Fisk and Vanderbilt Universities are developing a new generation of gamma-ray spectroscope that is light weight, compact and don't require much power but have the capability for detecting veins of gold, platinum, rare earths and other valuable materials hidden within asteroids, comets, moons and other airless objects floating about the solar system.

Submission + - Want to boost battery performance? Add quantum dots made from fool's gold!

Science_afficionado writes: A lot of attempts have been made to use nanocrystals to improve battery performance, but the results have been disappointing. The problem is that when the size of the crystals drop below a certain size they begin to react chemically with the electrolytes which prevents them from recharging. Now, however, a team of engineers from Vanderbilt University report in an article published in the journal ACS Nano that they can overcome this problem by making the nanocrystals out of iron pyrite, commonly known as fool's gold. The link to the paper is http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.... The link to the university news story is http://news.vanderbilt.edu/201...

Submission + - 'Geospeedometer' confirms super-eruptions have surprisingly short fuses (vanderbilt.edu)

Science_afficionado writes: Super-eruptions – you know, those gigantic prehistoric volcanic outbursts that throw 100 times more superheated gas, ash and rock into the atmosphere than run-of-the-mill eruptions like Mt. St. Helens — tend to pop-off within a few hundred years after their underground body of magma reaches a high enough proportion of molten rock and low enough proportion of crystallization to become explosive. That's a much shorter time than geologists had thought. That means if the hot spot under Yellowstone, for example, were to turn explosive, then we would only have couple hundred years to prepare for an eruption that could blanket the entire continent with up to 3,600 cubic miles of ash and rock!

Submission + - World's largest atom smashers create world's smallest droplets (vanderbilt.edu)

Science_afficionado writes: An average sized drop of water contains about one hundred trillion trillion water molecules. But two of the world's most powerful particle colliders — the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in Brookhaven — have managed to create droplets that are smaller than the nucleus of a single oxygen atom. The liquid they are made of is one of the most exotic forms of matter, called quark-gluon plasma, that only exists at temperatures higher that a trillion degrees.

Submission + - Creating bacterial 'fight clubs' to discover new drugs (vanderbilt.edu)

Science_afficionado writes: Vanderbilt chemists have shown that creating bacterial "fight clubs" is an effective way to discover natural biomolecules with the properties required for new drugs. They have demonstrated the method by using it to discover a new class of antibiotic with anti-cancer properties.

Comment Robot workers should pay FICA/ Social Security (Score 1) 628

If robot workers are required to pay FICA/Social Security taxes then they can support me and a lot of other people in our retirement. Seriously, the extent to which robots will displace human workers will depend primarily on the economic and legal structures that we put in place. Nothing is preordained. It is clear that robots will have an increasing capability of adding value/creating wealth. The real question we should all be concerned with is how this wealth will be distributed.

Submission + - Electric eel shocks like a Taser (vanderbilt.edu)

Science_afficionado writes: After a nine month study, a Vanderbilt biologist has determined that the electric eel emits series of millisecond, high-voltage pulses to paralyze its prey just before it attacks. The high-voltage pulses cause the motor neurons in its target to violently contract, leaving it temporarily immobilized in the same fashion as the high-voltage pulses produced by a Taser. He documented this effect using high-speed video. The eel, which is nocturnal and has very poor eyesight, also uses closely spaced pairs of high-voltage pulses when hunting for hidden prey. He determined that the pulses cause the prey's body to twitch which produces water movements that the eel uses to locate its position even when it's hidden from view.

Submission + - Are the world's religions ready for ET? (vanderbilt.edu) 2

Science_afficionado writes: At the current rate of discovery, astronomers will have identified more than a million exoplanets by the year 2045. That means, if life is at all common in the Milky Way, astronomers will soon detect it. Realization that the nature of the debate about life on other worlds is about to fundamentally change lead Vanderbilt astronomer David Weintraub to begin thinking seriously about how people will react to such a discovery. He realized that people's reactions will be heavily influenced by their religious beliefs, so he decided to find out what theologians and leaders from the world's major religions have to say about the matter. The result is a book titled "Religions and Extraterrestrial Life" published by Springer this month. http://www.springer.com/social... He discovered that from Baptists to Buddhists, from Catholics to Mormons, from Islam to the Anglican Communion religious views differ widely.

Submission + - Guarding against 'Carmageddon' cyberattacks (vanderbilt.edu)

Science_afficionado writes: One of the research projects featured at the SmartAmerica Challenge EXPO in DC was a collaboration between engineers at Vandebilt University and UC Berkeley to develop methods for detecting cyberattacks on smart road systems that use computers, a network of sensors and computer-controlled traffic signals to reduce traffic congestion on heavily traveled stretches of freeway. The goal is to give operators the tools they need to identify such attacks when they occur and, ultimately, create sofware tools that can automatically detect and take measures to block such attacks.

Submission + - Astronomers identify signature of Earth-eating stars (vanderbilt.edu)

Science_afficionado writes: Fortunately for us, the Sun doesn't appear to have had much of an appetite for its rocky planets. That isn't the case for other G-class stars with exoplanets. So Vanderbilt astronomers have developed a model that estimates the effect that ingesting large amounts of the rocky material from which ‘terrestrial’ planets like Earth, Mars and Venus are made has on a star’s chemical composition and has used the model to analyze a pair of twin stars which both have their own planets.

Submission + - Step toward liberating electronic devices from their power cords (vanderbilt.edu)

Science_afficionado writes: A new type of supercapacitor that can hold a charge when it takes a lickin’ has been developed by engineers at Vanderbilt University. It is the first “multi-functional” energy storage device that can operate while subject to realistic static and dynamic loads – advancing the day when everything from cell phones to electric vehicles will no longer need separate batteries. These devices could make it possible to design electrical devices that are not limited by plugs and external power sources.

Submission + - Grad student makes nanowires just three atoms thick (vanderbilt.edu)

Science_afficionado writes: A Vanderbilt University graduate student, working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has discovered a way to create nanowires capable of linking transistors and other components made out of the monolayer material TMDC. His accomplishment is an important step toward creating monolayer microelectronic devices, which could be as thin and flexible as paper and extremely tough.

Submission + - Progress reported in creating "homo minutus" -- a benchtop human to test drugs (vanderbilt.edu)

Science_afficionado writes: Vanderbilt University scientists reported significant progress toward creating "homo minutus" — a benchtop human — at the Society of Toxicology meeting on Mar. 26 in Phoenix. The advance is the successful development and analysis of a human liver construct//organ-on-a-chip that responds to exposure to a toxic chemical much like a real liver. The achievement is the first result from a five-year, $19 million multi-institutional effort led by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), to develop four interconnected human organ constructs — liver, heart, lung and kidney — that are based on a highly miniaturized platform nicknamed ATHENA (Advanced Tissue-engineered Human Ectypal Network Analyzer). The project is supported by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Similar programs to create smaller-scale organs-on-chips are underway at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Institutes of Health.

Submission + - Nanoscale terahertz optical switch breaks miniaturization barrier (vanderbilt.edu) 1

Science_afficionado writes: There is a general consensus that ultimately photons will replace electrons running through wires in most of our microelectronic devices. One of the current technical barriers to the spread of optoelectronics has been the difficulty in miniaturizing the ultrafast optical switches required. Now a team of physicists at Vanderbilt has made terahertz optical switches out of nanoparticles of vanadium dioxide, a material long known for its ability to rapidly change phase between metallic to semiconducting states. They report in the Mar. 12 issue of Nano Letters that they have created individually addressable switches that are 200 nm in diameter and can switch between transparent and opaque states at terahertz rates.

Submission + - New class of "hypervelocity stars" discovered escaping the galaxy (vanderbilt.edu)

Science_afficionado writes: Astronomers have discovered a surprising new class of “hypervelocity stars” that are moving at more than a million miles per hour, fast enough to escape the gravitational grasp of the Milky Way galaxy. The 20 hyper stars are about the same size as the sun and, other than their extreme speed, have the same composition as the stars in the galactic disk. The big surprise is that they don't seem to come from the galaxy's center. The generally accepted mechanism for producing hypervelocity stars relies on the extreme gravitational field of the supermassive black hole that resides in the galaxy's core. So the discovery means that astrophysicists must come up with an entirely new method for speeding stars to hypervelocities.

"If I do not want others to quote me, I do not speak." -- Phil Wayne