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— 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
— Science

First optical spectrum taken of ball lightning

By - January 22, 2014 2 Pictures
A scientific team in China fortuitously recorded the first optical spectrum of an example of ball lightning. The ball lightning, which was accompanied by a cloud to ground lightning strike, appears to have consisted at least partially of vaporized soil from the location of the strike. While ball lightning may result from a variety of sources, this observation provides considerable evidence that the vaporized silicon explanation is valid, although possibly not unique. Read More
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Nanomaterial thermophotovoltaic system increases efficiency and portability of solar power

By - January 21, 2014 2 Pictures
It’s not a new idea to improve upon traditional solar cells by first converting light into heat, then reemitting the energy at specific wavelengths optimally tuned to the requirements of the solar cell, but this method has suffered from low efficiencies. However, new research at MIT using nanoscale materials finally shows how thermophotovoltaics could become competitive with their traditional cousins, and grant benefits such as storing solar energy in the form of heat to postpone conversion into electricity. Read More
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Scientists turn table salt into forbidden compounds that violate textbook rules

By - January 20, 2014 2 Pictures
In the field of exotic new materials, we've examined one of the strongest ones and another declared to be impossible; scientists now report creating "forbidden" materials, out of ordinary table salt, that violate classical rules of chemistry. Not only does the development challenge the theoretical foundation of known chemistry, but it is also expected to lead to the discovery of new exotic chemical compounds with practical uses and shed light on the composition of early planetary cores. Read More
— Science

DNA clamps could stop cancer in its tracks

By - January 17, 2014 1 Picture
Scientists have developed a special DNA clamp to act as a diagnostic nano machine. It's capable of detecting genetic mutations responsible for causing cancers, hemophilia, sickle cell anemia and other diseases, more efficiently than existing techniques. Not only can the clamp be used to develop more advanced screening tests, but it could also help create more efficient DNA-based nano machines for targeted drug delivery. Read More
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Facial recognition is in (the reflection of) the eye of the beholder

By - January 16, 2014 6 Pictures
The worst has happened. You receive an emailed kidnap demand with a picture of your loved one in dire straits. You contact the authorities, and in a flash (relatively speaking), they have identified the kidnapper and possibly some accomplices, and are well on their way toward recovering the victim. How did this happen? By identifying the faces of the kidnappers caught in the reflection of your loved one's eyes. Read More
— Science

Carbon nanotubes used to create a flame-retardant coating for furniture

By - January 16, 2014 1 Picture
Your furniture could kill you. According to the US National Fire Protection Association, nearly 20 percent of home fire deaths between 2006 and 2010 occurred in fires where upholstered furniture was the first item to ignite. It's actually not so much the exterior fabric that burns, as it is the foam beneath it. With that in mind, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have used carbon nanotubes to create a coating for that foam, that reduces its flammability by 35 percent. Read More
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