news 2014



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Physics - 26.12.2014
Simple model explains complex problems in an ageing heart
Simple model explains complex problems in an ageing heart
Scientists at Imperial College London have developed a model that helps explain why we are more likely to develop an abnormal heartbeat with age. The simple mathematical model also suggests why current treatments for the condition are not always successful. The model mimics how heart muscle tissue changes as we get older, focusing on how the muscle cells in the heart link together to pass electrical signals that create the heartbeat.

Life Sciences - Physics - 24.12.2014
Scientists Identify Patterns of RNA Regulation in the Nuclei of Plants
Scientists Identify Patterns of RNA Regulation in the Nuclei of Plants
When the human genome was first sequenced, experts predicted they would find about 100,000 genes. The actual number has turned out to be closer to 20,000, just a few thousand more than fruit flies have. The question logically arose: how can a relatively small number of genes lay the blueprint for the complexities of the human body? The explanation is that genes are subject to many and varied forms of regulation that can alter the form of that protein and can determine whether and how much of a gene product is made.

Physics - Chemistry - 23.12.2014
World's most complex crystal simulated at U-Michigan
World’s most complex crystal simulated at U-Michigan
ANN ARBOR-The most complicated crystal structure ever produced in a computer simulation has been achieved by researchers at the University of Michigan. They say the findings help demonstrate how complexity can emerge from simple rules. Their "icosahedral quasicrystal" (eye-KO-suh-HE-druhl QUAZ-eye-cris-tahl) looks ordered to the eye, but has no repeating pattern.

Physics - Astronomy / Space - 19.12.2014
Origin of polar auroras revealed
Origin of polar auroras revealed
Researchers from UCL, University of Southampton and Cambridge University together with ESA and NASA have uncovered the origin of a colourful display in the night sky called 'theta aurora', explaining for the first time how auroras at high-latitudes form. Auroras are the most visible manifestation of the sun's effect on Earth, but many aspects of these spectacular displays are still poorly understood.

Chemistry - Physics - 19.12.2014
Making a Good Thing Better: Berkeley Lab Researchers Open a Possible Avenue to Better Electrolyte for Lithium Ion Batteries
Making a Good Thing Better: Berkeley Lab Researchers Open a Possible Avenue to Better Electrolyte for Lithium Ion Batteries
The lithium-ion batteries that mobilize our electronic devices need to be improved if they are to power electric vehicles or store electrical energy for the grid. Berkeley Lab researchers looking for a better understanding of liquid electrolyte may have found a pathway forward.

Physics - 19.12.2014
Unraveling the light of fireflies
Unraveling the light of fireflies
How do fireflies produce those mesmerizing light flashes? Using cuttingedge imaging techniques, scientists from Switzerland and Taiwan have unraveled the firefly's intricate light-producing system for the first time. Fireflies used rapid light flashes to communicate. This "bioluminescence" is an intriguing phenomenon that has many potential applications, from drug testing and monitoring water contamination, and even lighting up streets using glow-in-dark trees and plants.

Chemistry - Physics - 17.12.2014
Ancient, hydrogen-rich waters discovered deep underground at locations around the world
Finding represents "a quantum change in our understanding" of how much of Earth's crust may be habitable, says world-renowned researcher A team of scientists led by the University of Toronto's Barbara Sherwood Lollar has mapped the location of hydrogen-rich waters found trapped kilometres beneath Earth's surface in rock fractures in Canada, South Africa and Scandinavia.

Physics - Electroengineering - 16.12.2014
New law for superconductors
MIT researchers have discovered a new mathematical relationship - between material thickness, temperature, and electrical resistance - that appears to hold in all superconductors. They describe their findings in the latest issue of Physical Review B . The result could shed light on the nature of superconductivity and could also lead to better-engineered superconducting circuits for applications like quantum computing and ultralow-power computing.

Environment - Physics - 15.12.2014
CryoSat extends its reach on the Arctic
15 December 2014 CryoSat has delivered this year's map of autumn sea-ice thickness in the Arctic, revealing a small decrease in ice volume. In a new phase for ESA's ice mission, the measurements can now also be used to help vessels navigate through the north coastal waters of Alaska, for example. Measurements made during October and November show that the volume of Arctic sea ice now stands at about 10 200 cubic km - a small drop compared to last year's 10 900 cubic km.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 12.12.2014
Researchers use real data rather than theory to measure the cosmos
Researchers use real data rather than theory to measure the cosmos
For the first time researchers have measured large distances in the Universe using data, rather than calculations related to general relativity. A research team from Imperial College London and the University of Barcelona has used data from astronomical surveys to measure a standard distance that is central to our understanding of the expansion of the universe.

Physics - Environment - 12.12.2014
Composite plane life cycle assessment shows lighter planes are the future
Composite plane life cycle assessment shows lighter planes are the future
A global fleet of composite planes could reduce carbon emissions by up to 15 per cent, but the lighter planes alone will not enable the aviation industry to meet its emissions targets, according to new research. The study, by the Universities of Sheffield, Cambridge and University College London, is the first to carry out a comprehensive life cycle assessment (LCA) of a composite plane, such as the Boeing Dreamliner 787 or Airbus 350, and extrapolate the results to the global fleet.

Physics - Chemistry - 11.12.2014
Scientists measure speedy electrons in silicon
The entire semiconductor industry, not to mention Silicon Valley, is built on the propensity of electrons in silicon to get kicked out of their atomic shells and become free. These mobile electrons are routed and switched though transistors, carrying the digital information that characterizes our age.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 10.12.2014
First Rosetta results raise questions on origin of Earth’s oceans
ANN ARBOR-Earth's oceans may not have come mostly from comets smashing into the planet and melting billions of years ago. That's according to the Rosetta mission's first results, which poke holes in the prevailing theory of how we got our water. An instrument designed and built, in part, at the University of Michigan took the measurements that led to the findings.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 08.12.2014
Is There Intelligent Life in the Universe? 5 Questions with Astrobiologist Caleb Scharf
Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th century Polish astronomer and mathematician, wasn't the first to suggest that the Earth wasn't the center of the universe—the idea originated with the ancient Greeks—but he was the first to prove it with a mathematical theorem. By doing so he upended the notion that Earth is unique, giving rise to the idea that there might be life on other planets.

Physics - 05.12.2014
45-year physics mystery shows a path to quantum transistors
45-year physics mystery shows a path to quantum transistors
ANN ARBOR-An odd, iridescent material that's puzzled physicists for decades turns out to be an exotic state of matter that could open a new path to quantum computers and other next-generation electronics. Physicists at the University of Michigan have discovered or confirmed several properties of the compound samarium hexaboride that raise hopes for finding the silicon of the quantum era.

Physics - 04.12.2014
Research could improve nuclear power plant safety - and stop your kettle furring up
Taking inspiration from nature, researchers have created a versatile model to predict how stalagmite-like structures form in nuclear processing plants - as well as how lime scale builds up in kettles. “It’s a wonderful example of how complex mathematical models can have everyday applications,” said Dr Duncan Borman, from the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Leeds, a co-author of the study.

Chemistry - Physics - 01.12.2014
New chemical sponge has potential to lessen the carbon footprint of oil industry
UK scientists have discovered a ground-breaking technique with the potential to dramatically reduce the amount of energy used in the refinement of crude oil. Professor Martin Schröder and Dr Sihai Yang from The University of Nottingham have led a multi-disciplinary team of scientists from Nottingham, the Science and Technology Facilities Council's (STFC) ISIS Neutron Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Diamond Light Source, to discover a porous material that works like a chemical sponge to separate a number of important gases from mixtures generated during crude oil refinement.

Physics - 01.12.2014
Most of Earth's carbon may be hidden in the planet's inner core, new model suggests
Most of Earth’s carbon may be hidden in the planet’s inner core, new model suggests
ANN ARBOR-As much as two-thirds of Earth's carbon may be hidden in the inner core, making it the planet's largest carbon reservoir, according to a new model that even its backers acknowledge is "provocative and speculative." In a paper scheduled for online publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, University of Michigan researchers and their colleagues suggest that iron carbide, Fe7C3, provides a good match for the density and sound velocities of Earth's inner core under the relevant conditions.

Physics - Astronomy / Space - 26.11.2014
Plasma shield
High above Earth's atmosphere, electrons whiz past at close to the speed of light. Such ultrarelativistic electrons, which make up the outer band of the Van Allen radiation belt, can streak around the planet in a mere five minutes, bombarding anything in their path. Exposure to such high-energy radiation can wreak havoc on satellite electronics, and pose serious health risks to astronauts.

Chemistry - Physics - 26.11.2014
Protons fuel graphene prospects
Our structure (research) Impact of our research Postgraduate research 26 Nov 2014 Graphene, impermeable to all gases and liquids, can easily allow protons to pass through it, University of Manchester researchers have found. Published in the journal Nature , the discovery could revolutionise fuel cells and other hydrogen-based technologies as they require a barrier that only allow protons – hydrogen atoms stripped off their electrons – to pass through.
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