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+ - Smart battery tells you when it's about to explode->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Material scientists have found a clever way to alert users of damaged batteries before any hazard occurs. A typical lithium-ion cell consists of a lithium oxide cathode and a graphite anode, separated by a thin, porous polymer sheet that allows ions to travel between the electrodes. When the cell is overcharged, microscopic chains of lithium, called “dendrites,” sprout from the anode and pierce through the polymer separator until they touch the cathode. An electrical current passing through the dendrites to the cathode can short-circuit the cell, which causes overheating and, in some cases, fire. Attempts to stop dendrite formation have met with limited success, so the researchers tried something different. They built a “smart” separator by sandwiching a 50-nanometer thin copper layer between two polymer sheets and connecting the copper layer to a third electrode for voltage measurement. When the dendrites reach the separator, the voltage between the anode and the copper layer drops to zero, alerting users that they should change the damaged battery while it is still operating safely—disaster averted."
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+ - Study finds evidence for ancient icebergs off Miami->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "As the last ice age waned and climate warmed, immense lakes of glacial meltwater that accumulated behind natural ice dams occasionally burst forth from the mouth of Canada’s Hudson Bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. When those iceberg-laden outburst floods—some of them carrying more than 1 million cubic meters of water per second and lasting several months—reached the open sea, they took a right turn and flowed south along the coast as far as the Florida Keys, a new study suggests. The torrent-driven icebergs, some of them hundreds of meters thick, plowed troughs in the sea floor all along the continental shelf . Sea levels have risen more than 100 meters since most of these troughs were formed, which has helped preserve them from surface waves that could roil and smooth seafloor sediments. Some of the iceberg scours off Miami Beach, probably created by icebergs the size of those setting sail from Greenland today, lie less than 12 kilometers offshore."
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+ - Moon home to recent "burps" of volcanic activity->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The moon, thought to be cold and dead, is still alive and kicking—barely. Scientists have found evidence for dozens of burps of volcanic activity, all within the past 100 million years—a mere blip on the geologic timescale. And they think that future eruptions are likely—although probably not within a human lifetime. For a world thought to have gone cold long ago, the discovery points to a place that still releases internal heat in fits and starts, says Mark Robinson, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University, Tempe, and a co-author on the new study. “The big story is that the moon is warmer than we thought,” he says."
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+ - Feces-filled capsules treat bacterial infection->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Clostridium difficile infections kill approximately 14,000 Americans every year, often because the diarrhea-causing bacteria are highly resistant to standard antibiotics. Now, scientists have found an unusual way to combat the bugs: human feces in pill form. In the new study, researchers show that frozen fecal matter encapsulated in clear, 1.6 g synthetic pills was just as safe and effective as traditional fecal transplant techniques at treating C. difficile. Within 8 weeks or less, 18 out of 20 participants saw a complete resolution of diarrhea after consuming 30 or 60 of the feces-filled capsules. “It’s probably not the best experience of your life,” says team leader Ilan Youngster, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at Harvard University. “But it beats getting a tube stuck down your throat or a colonoscopy or having C. diff.”"
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+ - Z machine makes progress toward nuclear fusion->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Scientists are reporting a significant advance in the quest to develop an alternative approach to nuclear fusion. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, using the lab’s Z machine, a colossal electric pulse generator capable of producing currents of tens of millions of amperes, say they have detected significant numbers of neutrons—byproducts of fusion reactions—coming from the experiment. This, they say, demonstrates the viability of their approach and marks progress toward the ultimate goal of producing more energy than the fusion device takes in."
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+ - Ship noise makes cuttlefish change color->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The boom of a ship’s engine makes common cuttlefish change the complex swirls of skin hues, stripes, and spots that they use for camouflage and communication. Like other cephalopods such as octopus and squid, cuttlefish rely on visual and tactile signals to communicate; there’s been little evidence so far to suggest they perceive—or respond to—sound. But when researchers placed a loudspeaker near cuttlefish tanks and played the sound of an underwater engine, the animals swam more and changed colors more often. The fast color changes could hinder camouflage when ships are near, increasing the animals’ chances of being spotted by predators."
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+ - 'Swiss cheese' galaxy resembles those that changed the youthful universe->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Astronomers have identified a galaxy 2.9 billion light-years away that's vigorously pumping out ultraviolet radiation and resembles the ones that transformed the entire universe shortly after its birth. The finding could help scientists deepen their understanding of how, a few hundred million years after the big bang, similar galaxies busted up hydrogen atoms throughout intergalactic space. The findings could also shed light on just what our universe looked like in its earliest days."
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+ - Sidewinder robots slither like snakes->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Researchers have created robot snakes in the past, but they've never been able to slither up steep inclines like real snakes do. Now, a scientists has found a way to climb that mountain. By teaming up with researchers studying how live snakes move, he and his colleagues have determined what it takes to make snake robots go uphill, even on slippery, sandy slopes. These reptiles, real and robotic, are sidewinders—they move forward not by slithering, but rather by wriggling their bodies perpendicular to the direction of travel in a undulating S-shaped wave. These attributes may lead to robots that can snake their way through rubble in disaster zones to find trapped people or that can inspect nuclear power plants."
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+ - Decline of bees and other pollinators could worsen global malnutrition->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Although bees, butterflies, and other winged creatures serve as natural pollinators for many of the world’s plants, they contribute only modestly to the world’s agricultural production—accounting for between 5% and 10% of the production of food crops. However, such natural pollinators may play a disproportionately large role in human nutrition and health, according to a new study. That's because pollinators support crops that deliver essential nutrients to malnourished regions of the world, the data show, suggesting that regions already facing food shortages and nutritional deficiencies may be especially hard hit by the global decline of bees and other pollinators."
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+ - For diabetes, stem cell recipe offers new hope->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Douglas Melton is as impatient as anyone for a cure for diabetes. His son developed the disease as an infant, and his daughter was diagnosed at age 14. For most of the past 2 decades, the developmental biologist at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute has focused his research on finding a cure. This week, he and his colleagues report a potentially significant step toward that goal: a recipe that can turn human stem cells into functional pancreatic cells—the cells that are destroyed by the body’s own immune system in type 1 diabetes patients such as Melton’s son and daughter. The cells the researchers produced respond to glucose by producing insulin, just as normal cells do. And when implanted into mice with a form of diabetes, the cells can cure the disorder."
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+ - Better smelling beer, thanks to fruit flies->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The next time you see a fruit fly hovering around your pint of beer, don’t swat it—appreciate it. You’re witnessing a unique relationship between yeast and insect. A new study reveals that the single-celled organisms have evolved to secrete a fruity scent that attracts fruit flies, which they hitch a ride on for greener pastures. The findings may also explain the sweet aroma of some craft beers."
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+ - Indonesian cave art may be world's oldest->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The world's oldest cave art may not lie in Europe but rather halfway around the globe in Indonesia, according to a new study. The images date to around 40,000 years ago, making them a similar age to cave paintings from Western Europe that represent the world’s oldest known cave art. The findings suggest that humans were producing figurative art by around 40,000 years ago at opposite ends of the Pleistocene Eurasian world. Further research is needed to investigate whether rock art was an integral part of the cultural repertoire of the first modern human populations to reach Southeast Asia from Africa, or whether these practices developed independently in different regions."
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+ - Chimpanzee "personhood" is back in court->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Chimpanzees are back in court. Today, judges in New York State heard the first in a series of appeals attempting to grant “legal personhood” to the animals. The case is part of a larger effort by an animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) to free a variety of creatures—from research chimps to aquarium dolphins—from captivity. If the case is successful, it could grant personhood to chimps throughout the state."
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+ - Prosthetic hands bestowed with a sense of touch->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Four years ago, Igor Spetic lost his right arm in an industrial accident. Doctors outfitted him with a prosthetic arm that restored some function, but they couldn't restore his sense of touch. Without it, simple tasks like picking up a glass or shaking hands became hit-or-miss propositions. The lack of touch also robs Spetic of basic pleasures. “I would love to feel my wife’s hand,” he says. In time, he may regain that pleasure: Two independent research teams have now equipped artificial hands with sensors that send signals to the wearer’s nerves to recreate this missing sense."
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+ - Chimpanzee "personhood" goes back to court->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Chimpanzees are back in court. Today, judges in New York State heard the first in a series of appeals attempting to grant “legal personhood” to the animals. The case is part of a larger effort by an animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) to free a variety of creatures—from research chimps to aquarium dolphins—from captivity. If the case is successful, it could grant legal personhood to chimps throughout the state."
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