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World's smallest neutron generator – it's not just for nukes anymore

By - August 24, 2012 3 Pictures
Neutron generators provide materials analysis and non-destructive testing tools to many industries, including oilfield operations, heavy mechanical construction, art conservancy, detective work, and medicine. Many of these applications have been limited by the rather large size of current industrial and medical neutron sources. Now Sandia National Laboratories, the lab that develops and supports the non-nuclear parts (including neutron generators) of nuclear weapons, has developed a new approach toward building tiny neutron generators. Read More
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Harvard geneticist stores 70 billion copies of his book in DNA

By - August 23, 2012 1 Picture
George Church is a professor of genetics at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and also co-author of the book Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves in DNA. With a title like that, it’s only fitting that the book was used to break the record that it recently did – Church led a team that encoded 70 billion html copies of the book in DNA. That’s 1,000 times more data than the previous record. Read More
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Oak Ridge develops improved way of extracting uranium from seawater

By - August 22, 2012 1 Picture
The world’s estimated reserves of uranium are only 6 million tons and with the growing demand for reliable energy free of greenhouse emissions leading to more and more nuclear plants being built, that supply may not last very long. Some estimates place the time before all the uranium is gone at between 50 and 200 years. However, the oceans of the world contain 4.5 billion tons of uranium dissolved in seawater. That’s enough to last something on the order of 6,500 years. The tricky bit is getting it out, but a team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee has come a step closer to economically extracting uranium from seawater with a new material that is much more efficient than previous methods. Read More
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Neurological discovery could lead to machines that speak for the speechless

By - August 22, 2012 1 Picture
Recently, scientists unlocked the code used by neurons in the retina for sending visual data to the brain. This allowed them to create a device that restored almost-normal vision to blind mice. Now, another group of scientists has announced that they have determined the brain’s code for pronouncing vowels, and they believe that their discovery could lead to machines that speak for people who are physically unable to do so. Read More
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Simulated universe spawns the whole array of galaxies

By - August 22, 2012 9 Pictures
A new approach for simulating the birth and evolution of galaxies and cosmic filaments within the Universe has been developed by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics together with their colleagues at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies. It's called AREPO, and has been used to simulate the evolution of our Universe from only 380,000 years after the Big Bang to the present. The full variety of spiral, elliptical, peculiar, and dwarf galaxies appear in the simulated Universe. Read More
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Researchers demonstrate first backdoor "hack" into the human brain

By - August 22, 2012 3 Pictures
Once the preserve of science fiction, brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) have advanced to the point where they can even be found in novelty headwear, which only makes an achievement of an international team of scientists more frightening. Using an off-the-shelf Emotiv BCI costing only a few hundred dollars, the team has shown that it's possible to "hack" a human brain and pull things like bank details straight out of your skull. Read More
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Scientists develop material that's harder than diamonds

By - August 21, 2012 2 Pictures
Diamonds may be forever, but they aren’t what they were. True, they shine just as brightly and they’re as hard as ever, but scientists from the Carnegie Institution of Washington are giving them some competition. An international team led by Carnegie’s Lin Wang have discovered a new substance that is not quite crystalline and not quite non-crystalline, yet is hard enough to dent diamonds. Read More
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Wave Glider ocean robots to track sharks in northern California

By - August 20, 2012 17 Pictures
If you’ve ever sat in a beach-side coffee house wondered if there was a white shark in the vicinity, then wonder no more because now there’s an app for that. A team of Stanford University researchers lead by Prof. Barbara Block is deploying a fleet of static buoys and Wave Glider robots to turn the waters off the coast of San Francisco into a huge Wi-Fi network to track tagged fish and animals. This will allow scientists to better understand sea life movements, but the project also includes offering a free app to the public that will allow them to track northern California white sharks on their tablets and smartphones. Read More
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Room-temperature solid state maser may be the laser of tomorrow

By - August 17, 2012 2 Pictures
Everyone has heard of lasers, but hardly anyone outside of a physics lab or a science fiction novel has heard of a maser. Despite the fact that it was the precursor of the laser, the maser has been something of a technological backwater because masers are difficult to build and expensive to operate. That, however, may be changing. In the August 16 issue of Nature, a team of scientists from Britain’s National Physics Laboratory and Imperial College, London led by Dr. Mark Oxborrow report that they have created the first solid state maser that operates at room temperature, paving the way toward the widespread practical application of the technology. Read More
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The science of cute

By - August 15, 2012 1 Picture
Why do small helpless things – babies, kittens, puppies, pandas in baby form – turn even the most cynical human into a helpless wreck? Why don’t we have the same reaction to a baby lizard or fish or bird? What, in short, is this cuteness thing all about? It turns out that the science of cute is far more interesting than you’d think. Read More
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