September 12, 2012

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“Habitable Zone” Might Help Extreme Life Forms Survive on Exoplanets

Life Forms Might be Able to Survive on Exoplanets

A newly published study examines the “habitable zone” that scientists believe might play a role in the survival of extreme life forms, like lichens and bacteria, on exoplanets. Astronomers have discovered a veritable rogues’ gallery of odd exoplanets — from scorching hot worlds with molten surfaces to frigid ice balls. And while the hunt continues […]

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September 11, 2012

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Robotic Tentacles Have a Soft Enough Touch to Pick Up Flowers

air-channels-roboti-tentacle

Typically, robotic hands have had trouble being dexterous enough and delicate enough to perform certain tasks, but robotics experts from Harvard University have been developing a series of soft robots, capable of accomplishing much more than previously. The scientists published their findings in the journal Advanced Materials. George Whitesides and his colleagues created a robotic […]

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September 11, 2012

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New Mathematical Proof of the ABC Conjecture

mapping-of-primes

A new claim could imply that a proof of one of the most important conjectures in number theory has been solved, which would be an astounding achievement. Mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki of Kyoto University in Japan has released a 500-page proof of the abc conjecture that proposes a relationship between whole numbers (related to the Diophantine […]

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September 11, 2012

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HIV Vaccine Trial Identifies Target That Could Improve Effectiveness

HIV-cell

A new vaccine trial has revealed a weak spot in HIV, which could lead to an effective vaccine against AIDS. The vaccine turns the immune system against the virus, and offers more protection from infections. The scientists published their findings in the journal Nature. The results were also presented at the AIDS Vaccine 2012 Conference […]

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September 11, 2012

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African Fruit Gets Iridescent Hue from Cell Structure, Stays Intense for Years

pollia-condensata-fruit

The fruits of Pollia condensata, which are found predominantly in Africa, have an iridescent hue that stays intense for years after the parent plant has perished. The fruit’s metallic blue hue is produced by specialized structures in its cells. Researchers at the University of Cambridge, UK, found that the cells of P. condensata had walls […]

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September 11, 2012

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Fossil Discovery Captures a Previously Unseen Stage in the Evolution of Ancient Arthropods

horseshoe crab history

A new fossil discovery captures a previously unseen stage in the evolution of ancient arthropods, providing confirmation of the loss of a limb branch during horseshoe crab evolution. Horseshoe crabs, including the iconic Limulus we know today, have existed for more than 450 million years. Over that long history, evolutionary change has particularly affected the […]

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September 11, 2012

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How Aerosol Particles form in the Amazon

how aerosol particles form in the Amazon

To better understand how aerosol particles form in the Amazon, an international team of scientists analyzed samples of naturally formed aerosols collected deep in the rainforest, finding that the growth of organic aerosol particles can be initiated by potassium-salt–rich particles emitted by biota in the rainforest. It’s morning, deep in the Amazon jungle. In the […]

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September 11, 2012

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Cancer Genome Atlas Finds Potential Drug Targets for Squamous Cell Lung Cancers

Squamous cell lung cancer

A newly published study shows that squamous cell carcinoma is a cancer with diverse genomic causes, many of which are potentially susceptible to drug inhibition, and provides many new therapeutic opportunities for squamous cell carcinoma that would be suitable for clinical trials. Squamous cell lung cancer kills more people each year than breast, colorectal or […]

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September 11, 2012

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Galaxy Zoo Maps Out an A to Z of Galaxies

penguin-shaped galaxy

While helping to classifying galaxies seen in hundreds of thousands of telescope images as spiral or elliptical, Galaxy Zoo project volunteers came across galaxies that resemble letters of the alphabet. The international team behind Galaxy Zoo, including astronomers from Oxford University, are inviting people to be involved in more discoveries as they launch a new […]

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September 10, 2012

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Air Pockets in Bristled Feet Allow Beetles to Walk Underwater

green-dock-beetle-leaf

Beetles are often observed being able to tenaciously cling to smooth surfaces, like leaves, hanging on even when those surfaces are bordering on the vertical. A new study reveals that beetles can even keep their footing underwater thanks to tiny bubbles of air trapped between the hair-like structures on their feet. The scientists published their […]

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September 10, 2012

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Survey of Brazil’s Atlantic Forests Reveals Loss of Key Species

white-lipped-peccary

According to a new survey of Brazil’s Atlantic forests, mammal extinctions are occurring at least twice as fast as previous estimates suggested. Jaguars, lowland tapirs, woolly spider-monkeys, and giant anteaters are almost absent from Brazil’s northeastern forests, which are among the most ancient and threatened tropical ecosystems on Earth. The white-lipped peccary, a species related […]

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September 10, 2012

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Rabbit Pain Can Be Assessed Through Grimace Scale

rabbits-in-cage

Rabbits are able to express pain through grimaces. Rabbits have become the latest focus of scientists trying to measure animal discomfort by monitoring facial expressions. Traditionally, researchers had to rely on after-the-fact measurements involving weight loss or food and water consumption, as well as subjective judgments done by the researchers themselves. Scientists have been able […]

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September 10, 2012

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Sandia’s Robot Hand Can Replace Battery in Flashlight

sandia-hand-darpa-apple

While the dream of fully autonomous cybernetic prosthetics might still be some time away, Sandia scientists have developed a robotic hand that has enough engineered dexterity to replace a battery in a small flashlight. It’s one of the intricacies of the human body and Sandia has approached the problem with a modular viewpoint. Sandia National […]

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September 10, 2012

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Video and Sound Help Turn Astronomical Data into Art

video and sound turn astronomical data into art

Alex Parker, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics’ Institute for Theory and Computation, incorporated sound and audio to astronomical images to create two short videos, Supernova Sonata and Worlds: The Kepler Planet Candidates. It started with an offhand remark, an unusual characterization for astronomers talking about stars: “They’re going off like popcorn.” […]

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September 10, 2012

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The First All-optical Nanowire Switch

First All-optical Nanowire Switch

Building on their earlier research, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have made the first all-optical photonic switch out of cadmium sulfide nanowires, an important advance in photonics. Computers may be getting faster every year, but those advances in computer speed could be dwarfed if their 1’s and 0’s were represented by bursts of light, […]

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September 10, 2012

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Little Significant Difference in Organic Foods vs. Conventional Alternatives

Little evidence of health benefits from organic foods

A new study from Stanford researchers examined whether organic foods are safer or healthier than conventional alternatives, finding little significant difference in health benefits between organic and conventional foods and scant evidence that conventional foods posed greater health risks than organic products. You’re in the supermarket eyeing a basket of sweet, juicy plums. You reach […]

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September 10, 2012

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Brain Scans Help Predict Whether Patients Will Respond to Therapy

Brain scans could help doctors find treatments for people with social anxiety disorder

Newly published research details how a team of scientists discovered that the effectiveness of social anxiety therapy could be predicted by measuring patients’ brain activity as they looked at photos of faces, before the therapy sessions began. A new study led by MIT neuroscientists has found that brain scans of patients with social anxiety disorder […]

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