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Extreme pressure reveals new phenomenon in atomic nuclei

By - August 27, 2015 2 Pictures

Scientists have long believed that while an atom's outer electrons are highly mobile and often behave somewhat chaotically, the inner electrons close to the nucleus are stable. They move steadily around the nucleus and stay out of each other's way. But new research reveals that if the pressure is really extreme, like double that found at the center of the Earth, the innermost electrons of an atom change their behavior.

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3D-printed microscopic fish could be forerunners to smart "microbots"

By - August 26, 2015 3 Pictures

Tiny 3D-printed robotic fish smaller than the width of a human hair may one day deliver drugs to specific places in our bodies and sense and remove toxins, thanks to research at the University of California, San Diego. The so-called microfish are self-propelled, magnetically steered, and powered by hydrogen peroxide nanoparticles. And they might be just the first chip off the block for a future filled with "smart" microbots inspired by other biological organisms such as birds, each with its own specialized functionality.

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"Voltaglue" sticks in the wet and hardens when voltage is applied

By - August 26, 2015 2 Pictures

A glue that performs at a high-level in wet environments could bring about all sorts of possibilities in areas like surgical care and ship maintenance. A somewhat common approach to this problem has been trying to replicate the freakish ability of mussels to bind themselves to boats and jetties, but a team from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University is coming at it from a slightly different angle by developing a glue that hardens when an electrical charge is applied.

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Hybrid artificial photosynthesis technique produces hydrogen and methane

By - August 25, 2015 2 Pictures

Not content with using hybrid artificial photosynthesis to turn CO2 emissions into plastics and biofuel, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) now claim to have produced an enhanced system that uses water and solar energy to generate hydrogen, which is in turn used to produce methane, the main element of natural gas, from carbon dioxide. Generating such gases from a renewable resource may one day help bolster, or even replace, fossil fuel resources extracted from dwindling sub-surface deposits.

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New record set for high-temperature superconductivity

By - August 24, 2015

With their zero electrical resistance and remarkable magnetic and thermal conductive properties, superconductors have the potential to revolutionize numerous technologies. The trouble is, they work best at cryogenic temperatures in the neighborhood of absolute zero (-273° C, -459° F). As part of the quest to come up with a room temperature superconductor, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz have developed a new record-high-temperature superconductor – and it smells like rotten eggs.

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Super-low loss quantum energy transport could revolutionize sunlight to energy conversion

By - August 24, 2015

The use of sunlight as an energy source is achieved in a number of ways, from conversion to electricity via photovoltaic (PV) panels, concentrated heat to drive steam turbines, and even hydrogen generation via artificial photosynthesis. Unfortunately, much of the light energy in PV and photosynthesis systems is lost as heat due to the thermodynamic inefficiencies inherent in the process of converting the incoming energy from one form to another. Now scientists working at the University of Bayreuth claim to have created a super-efficient light-energy transport conduit that exhibits almost zero loss, and shows promise as the missing link in the sunlight to energy conversion process.

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We may not be running out of helium after all

By - August 23, 2015

Helium is the second most abundant element in the Universe, but it's relatively rare on Earth – so much so that some have called for a ban on party balloons to ward off a worldwide shortage. However, a team of scientists led by Diveena Danabalan of Durham University conducted a new study that indicates that there may be vast new sources of the gas in the western mountain regions of North America.

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Tomatoes taste better after a nice hot bath

By - August 23, 2015

Store bought tomatoes are notorious for having an insipid taste, so a team of scientists led by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working on new methods to ensure that future supermarket tomatoes have more flavor. The research suggests this can be achieved by a simple, inexpensive alteration to conventional processing – a hot bath.

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