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Science

Biology

Tomato growth boosted with a spray of nanoparticles

Fans of The Simpsons may recall Lisa using genetic engineering to create a super tomato that she hoped would cure world hunger. Now researchers at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) have come close to the real thing, not through genetic engineering, but with the use of nanoparticles. Although the individual fruit aren't as large as Lisa's creation, the team's approach has resulted in tomato plants that produced almost 82 percent more fruit by weight, with the fruit also boasting higher antioxidant content.Read More

Space

Mars Express sheds light on rare Martian auroras

Auroras are common spectacles in Earth's Arctic and Antarctic regions, but on Mars they're rare and not nearly as attention grabbing. Visible only in the ultraviolet, they may not be as entertaining as their earthly counterparts, but after a decade of measurements by ESA’s unmanned Mars Express orbiter, the rare Martian auroras are telling scientists a lot about the local vestigial magnetic fields of the Red Planet.Read More

Space

Solar winds are stealing the Martian atmosphere

What turned Mars from the warm, wet planet that space scientists believe it was in the distant past into the cold, dessicated world of today? NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) is providing part of the answer, as it measures how fast the Martian atmosphere is being lost today. According to the space agency, the culprit is the solar winds, which are slowly stripping away the atmosphere of the Red Planet atom by atom at a rate of roughly 100 gm (3.5 oz) per second and even more during solar storms.Read More

Electronics

Are sound waves a better way to move data?

Researchers from the University of Leeds and Sheffield University have created a way to move data through magnetic nanowires by using surface acoustic waves as the motivating force. Being developed for use in so-called racetrack solid-state memory, the researchers claim that using sound waves for data transfer should markedly increase computer processing speeds while vastly reducing power consumption.Read More

Biology

"Magic" native Australian tobacco plant could be key to space-based food production

Scientists at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia have discovered a gene in an ancient Australian native tobacco plant that they say is the key to growing crops in space. The plant, Nicotiana benthamiana, has long been used in labs around the world to test viruses and vaccines due to the fact it has no immune system. Surprisingly, this trait has also led to the plant being extremely resilient, which is where space-based food production comes in.Read More

Energy

Energy storage advance readies concentrated solar power for the smart grid

The intermittent nature of renewable energy sources is a huge burden on the power grid, making flexible and economical energy storage an essential step to a greener future. Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) and the University of Florida have now devised a way to conveniently store and release energy harvested through concentrated solar power (CSP) plants, improving on the cost and energy density of previous systems and preparing this technology for the smart grid.Read More

Biology

Secret to jellyfish propulsion could be applied to human tech

Until now, scientists weren’t entirely sure how marine life like jellyfish and eels are able to move so effortlessly from point A to point B, using less energy than it takes any other moving life form ever measured. But researchers at the University of South Florida (USF) believe they may have now found the answer. Rather than propel themselves forward by pushing against the water, jellyfish and eels actually suck the water toward them.Read More

Space

First observations made with deep-space water-hunting instrument

A team of astronomers has made the first observations with a cutting-edge water-hunting instrument. The instrument, known as the Swedish–ESO PI receiver for APEX (SEPIA), is not only suited for identifying signatures of water and other molecules in the Milky Way but also in other galaxies, and it may even be capable of detecting ancient water dating back to the early Universe.Read More

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