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Polar bear fur could hold secret to ultrathin insulation

By - February 2, 2014 2 Pictures
Put a polar bear and a biophotonics expert together in a chilly room and what do you get? Potentially, better insulation. When looking to uncover the secrets of the impressive insulation properties of polar bear fur, researchers at the University of Namur in Belgium and the University of Hassan I in Morocco found that radiation plays a larger role than conduction in the insulation of polar animals, such as penguins and polar bears, than previously believed. Read More
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The M82 supernova is at peak brightness: How to see it

By - January 31, 2014 5 Pictures
A cloudy night in London led to the discovery of the 21st Century's brightest supernova to date. The new supernova 2014J, the brightest since 1993, is located in the galaxy M82. This Type-Ia supernova has just reached its peak brightness of magnitude 10.6. M82 lies at a distance of only about 12 million light years, which explains the brightness of 2014J in our skies. 2014J is bright enough to be seen in small telescopes or perhaps in (very) large binoculars. We'll tell you how to find it. Read More
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Scientists use fruit flies to detect cancer

By - January 30, 2014 1 Picture
Scientists from the University of Konstanz, Germany, are the first to demonstrate that fruit flies can distinguish cancerous cells from healthy ones via their sense of smell. The team has genetically modified fruit flies so that their antennae glow when they detect a cancerous odor. In an experiment, scientists directed smells at fruit flies. The fruit flies' appearance was monitored via a microscope. Read More
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Distant quasar lights up cosmic web like a neon sign

By - January 29, 2014 9 Pictures
That the Universe is largely composed of a cosmic web consisting of narrow filaments upon which galaxies and intergalactic gas and dust are concentrated has been known for more than a decade. While a great deal of evidence for this has accumulated, visual evidence has been difficult to find. Astronomers have now photographed what appears to be a segment of a cosmic filament stimulated into fluorescence by irradiation from a nearby quasar. Read More
— Science

Super-tough glass based on mollusk shells

By - January 29, 2014 1 Picture
In the future, if you drop a glass on the floor and it doesn't break, thank a mollusk. Inspired by shellfish, scientists at Montreal's McGill University have devised a new process that drastically increases the toughness of glass. When dropped, items made using the technology would be more likely to deform than to shatter. Read More
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Gamers outshine computers in crowdsourced RNA modeling

By - January 28, 2014 2 Pictures
Results from the crowdsourced game and experiment, EteRNA, which combines RNA folding puzzles with laboratory synthesis, show that human gamers are able to develop better models of RNA folding than previous computer algorithms. Design rules formulated by the online community have even been used to construct a new algorithm, EteRNABot, and in some cases represent completely new understandings about RNA folding that have yet to be explained mechanically. Read More
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Smart holograms can test for and monitor diseases

By - January 27, 2014 3 Pictures
A team of interdisciplinary researchers have created "smart" holograms that can monitor health conditions or diagnose diseases, by changing color in the presence of disease indicators in a person's breath or bodily fluids. When developed into a portable medical test, these responsive holograms could make testing for medical conditions and monitoring one's health very easy, the scientists claim. Read More
— Science

World's most precise clock only a second out every five billion years

By - January 22, 2014 3 Pictures
Not satisfied with the accuracy of the "quantum logic clock" (which only gains or loses one second every 3.7 billion years), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and JILA have unveiled an even more precise timekeeper. The strontium lattice clock sets new standards for precision and stability, only gaining or losing one second about every five billion years. Read More
— Science

Toxin-detection system inspired by turkeys

By - January 22, 2014 2 Pictures
Turkeys may not be everyone's idea of beautiful birds, but they certainly have colorful skin on their heads. What's more, that skin changes color with the animal's mood. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have now copied the process by which those color changes occur, and used it to create a biosensor that could be used to detect airborne toxins. Read More
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