QuoteThese are the plants and animals, rocks and minerals that make up our world.
All it takes is a (very) close look to appreciate the significance of science.
In this slide show, we take a look at the top 25 images from Nikon's 2010 International Small World Competition.
QuoteIt’s 30 micrometers long - that’s 30 millionths of a meter - eight micrometers high and has a wavelength of 200 micrometers. This makes the laser considerably smaller than the wavelength of the light it emits - a scientific first.
QuoteNow Tie Jun Cui and Qiang Cheng at the Southeast University in Nanjing, China, have turned Narimanov and Kildishev's theory into practice, and built a "black hole" for microwave frequencies. It is made of 60 annular strips of so-called "meta-materials", which have previously been used to make invisibility cloaks. Each strip takes the form of a circuit board etched with intricate structures whose characteristics change progressively from one strip to the next, so that the permittivity varies smoothly. The outer 40 strips make up the shell and the inner 20 strips make up the absorber. "When the incident electromagnetic wave hits the device, the wave will be trapped and guided in the shell region towards the core of the black hole, and will then be absorbed by the core," says Cui. "The wave will not come out from the black hole." In their device, the core converts the absorbed light into heat.
QuoteIf components are to continue shrinking, physicists must eventually code bits of information onto ever smaller particles. Smaller means faster in the microelectronic world, but physicists Lev Levitin and Tommaso Toffoli at Boston University in Massachusetts, have slapped a speed limit on computing, no matter how small the components get. "If we believe in Moore's laW ... then it would take about 75 to 80 years to achieve this quantum limit," Levitin said. "No system can overcome that limit. It doesn't depend on the physical nature of the system or how it's implemented, what algorithm you use for computation … any choice of hardware and software," Levitin said. "This bound poses an absolute law of nature, just like the speed of light."
QuoteThe particle, whose existence has been predicted by theoreticians, would help to explain why matter has mass. Finding the Higgs is a major goal of Cern's Large Hadron Collider (LHC). But the US Fermilab says the odds of its Tevatron accelerator detecting the famed particle first are now 50-50 at worst, and up to 96% at best. Both machines hope to see evidence of the Higgs by colliding sub-atomic matter at very high speeds. If it exists, the Higgs should emerge from the debris. The LHC has been out of action since last September when an accident damaged some of the magnets that make up its giant colliding ring. Project leader Lyn Evans conceded the enforced downtime might cost the European lab one of the biggest prizes in physics. Cern and Fermilab officials squared up at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Chicago.
QuoteThe beams have not yet been run continuously. So far, they have been stopped, or "dumped", after just a handful of circuits. By Wednesday evening, engineers hope to inject clockwise and anti-clockwise protons again, but this time they will "close the orbit", letting the beams run continuously for a few seconds each. Cern has not yet announced when it plans to carry out the first collisions, but the BBC understands that low-energy collisions could happen in the next few days.
QuoteProtocellular work is even more radical than the other field trying to create artifical life: synthetic biology. Even J. Craig Venter's work to build an artificial bacterium with the smallest number of genes necessary to live takes current life forms as a template. Protocell researchers are trying to design a completely novel form of life that humans have never seen and that may never have existed.
Over the summer, Szostak's team published major papers in the journals Nature and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that go a long way towards showing that this isn't just an idea and that his lab will be the first to create artificial life -- and that it will happen soon.
QuoteA laser pulse fired at a piece of material like aluminium briefly heats it to millions of degrees Celsius and raises its pressure to about 1 billion times that at sea level on Earth, similar to the extreme conditions inside gas giants and brown dwarfs. The experiments could help scientists learn how easily this exotic matter conducts electricity, which could shed light on the magnetic fields produced by the objects. The experiments could also help scientists better understand gamma-ray bursts. Some scientists say the extremely high temperatures present in gamma-ray bursts should lead to the production of antimatter, a phenomenon that might be replicated by the Texas Petawatt Laser. "It's surmised that we can actually create a small amount of matter-antimatter plasma in the lab with the petawatt laser," Ditmire says.
QuoteWith Soho, the researchers were only able to take images in the upper section of the corona - the outer part of the Sun’s atmosphere. Stereo's Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUVI) instruments monitor the Sun at four wavelengths, which allowed astronomers to see how the wave moved through the different layers of the solar atmosphere. "We were able to show for the first time that this wave actually propagates almost all the way from the surface of the Sun to high up in the Sun's atmosphere," said Dr Gallagher.
QuoteThe group, led by Jane Greaves of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, found the 100,000-year-old fetal planet about 520 light-years away in the constellation Taurus. "The new object, designated HL Tau b, is the youngest planetary object ever seen," said Anita Richards, an astronomer at the U.K. Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. Richards, who worked with Greaves' team to describe the infant planet, said it's just 1 percent as old as the young planet found in orbit around the star TW Hydrae last year. "We see a distinct orbiting ball of gas and dust, which is exactly how a very young protoplanet should look," Greaves said, noting the far-younger planet should take on a Jupiter-like essence in millions of years.
Quote"Our observations suggest that between 20% and 60% of Sun-like stars have evidence for the formation of rocky planets not unlike the processes we think led to planet Earth," he said. "That is very exciting." Mr Meyer's team used the US space agency's Spitzer space telescope to look at groups of stars with masses similar to the Sun. They detected discs of cosmic dust around stars in some of the youngest groups surveyed. The dust is believed to be a by-product of rocky debris colliding and merging to form planets. Nasa's Kepler mission to search for Earth-sized and smaller planets, due to be launched next year, is expected to reveal more clues about these distant undiscovered worlds.
QuoteIn 2007 Zhong Lin Wang, a materials scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, US, developed a generator composed of a forest of piezoelectric zinc oxide nanowires topped by a flat conductive plate. As the plate is pushed down, the wires bend, producing a voltage that induces current to flow into the plate. Now Wang has turned this idea into an electricity-generating thread, which he plans to weave into a fabric. His team figured out how to grow the nanowires on a strand of Kevlar fibre instead of a flat surface, so that the wires stick out from the fibre like the bristles on a pipe-cleaner.
QuoteThis composite image shows the jet from a black hole at the center of a galaxy striking the edge of another galaxy, the first time such an interaction has been found. In the image, data from several wavelengths have been combined. X-rays from Chandra (colored purple), optical and ultraviolet (UV) data from Hubble (red and orange), and radio emission from the Very Large Array (VLA) and MERLIN (blue) show how the jet from the main galaxy on the lower left is striking its companion galaxy to the upper right. The jet impacts the companion galaxy at its edge and is then disrupted and deflected, much like how a stream of water from a hose will splay out after hitting a wall at an angle.
QuoteU.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, a Republican whose Florida district includes the Kennedy Space Center, proposed extending the shuttles' lifetime to close the gap until their replacement ships, called Orion, are ready for their first manned flights in 2015. His proposal, which would cost about $10 billion, would have the shuttles make six or seven additional flights between 2010 and 2013 and speed up development of the Orion ships to be ready by then. A second proposal would keep the shuttles flying until 2015 and leave Orion's schedule alone. "This is an issue of priorities," said Weldon, who announced his plan at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center on Monday.
QuoteNASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft has found that our solar system is not round but is "dented" by the local interstellar magnetic field of deep space, space experts said on Monday. The data was gathered by the craft on its 30-year journey into the edge of the solar system when it crossed into a sweeping region called the termination shock, they said. It showed that the southern hemisphere of the solar system's heliosphere is being pushed in or "dented."
QuoteMaking ethanol from forestry or agricultural waste does not involve the same intensive farming as corn, which requires more water and labor, cellulosic ethanol proponents say. Also, in the ongoing food-versus-fuel debate, cellulosic ethanol advocates say that forests don't compete for land with food crops. The Soperton, Ga., plant will be using wood cast away by loggers. Trees are hauled to a central point where their tops and branches are cut off, providing the material for Range Fuels' multi-step thermochemical process. Tree branches will go into a large tank where enough heat and pressure are applied to the mix to turn it into a gas. That synthetic gas is treated and then passed through a chemical catalyst which converts the gas to alcohol. Finally, the alcohol gas is converted to fuels and then turned into liquid.
QuoteAccording to the device's maker, Menssana Research, the BCA has been able to detect breast cancer with the same accuracy as a mammogram. And initial findings have shown that the BCA detects pulmonary tuberculosis. As a cheap, rapid alternative to modern-day sputum testing, the device could have a huge impact in TB-ravaged developing countries. The BCA can also supposedly detect lung cancer, certain kind of heart disease and diabetes. And it's been approved by the FDA for clinical use in detecting heart transplant rejection. All of which sounds suspiciously miraculous, but with funding from both DARPA and the U.S. National Institute of Health, the BCA will continue to be tested at universities and hospitals in the U.S. and abroad.
QuoteUsing a novel technology that adds multiple innovations to a very high-performance crystalline silicon solar cell platform, a consortium led by the University of Delaware (UD) has achieved a record-breaking combined solar cell efficiency of 42.8 percent. The current record of 40.7 percent was attained in December 2006 by Boeing's Spectrolab, Inc. Honsberg said the previous best of 40.7 percent efficiency was achieved with a high concentration device that requires sophisticated tracking optics and features a concentrating lens the size of a table and more than 30 centimeters, or about 1 foot, thick. The UD consortium's devices are potentially far thinner at less than 1 centimeter.
QuoteScientists are working on a new type of nanogenerator that could draw the necessary energy from flowing blood in the human body, by using the beating heart and pulsating blood vessels. Once completed, this new cellular engine could find various applications, even beyond medicine. Zhong Lin Wang and colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology hope to be able to incorporate the new nanogenerator into biosensors, environmental monitoring devices and even personal electronics that will require no fuel source, internal or external. It will produce its own electricity while immersed in biological fluids or other liquids, using ultrasonic waves as the energy source. So far, they achieved the nanogenerator effect in an array of nanowires that could produce as much as 4 watts/cubic centimeter.
QuoteMooij and co-workers created the quantum version of a basic building block of computer logic, called the controlled-not (CNOT) gate, which switches a bit from 0 to 1 or vice versa if a second bit is set to 1-or does nothing if that bit is set to 0. "You need something like a controlled-not gate to make every quantum algorithm you might need," Mooij says. Their gate, described in this week's Nature, consisted of two side-by-side loops of aluminum cooled to a few kelvins (nearly -459 degrees Fahrenheit). A current flowing around one loop created a magnetic field that influenced the current flowing around the second loop.
QuoteBut they discovered that the opposite experiment - over-expressing levels of pha-4 in the worms - increased longevity when on the restricted diet. "This is the first gene we have found that is absolutely essential to the longevity response to dietary restriction," explained Dr Dillin. "We finally have genetic evidence to unravel the underlying molecular programme required for increased longevity in response to calorie restriction."
Quote"We have estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be liquid," explains Stéphane Udry, from the Geneva Observatory (Switzerland) and lead-author of the paper reporting the result. "Moreover, its radius should be only 1.5 times the Earth's radius, and models predict that the planet should be either rocky - like our Earth - or fully covered with oceans," he adds.
QuoteAdditionally, the new PS3 software will support Folding@home, a distributed computing project created by Stanford University in 2000 in order to better understand the process of protein folding and how it correlates to serious diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and various forms of cancer. Research into protein folding, however, requires an enormous amount of computing power. Similar to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence's famed SETI@home project, in which thousands of PC users are donating a slice of their computers' processing time to aid in the hunt for intelligent life in outer space, Folding@home has been relying on contributions from PC users around the world since its inception.
QuoteScientists have attempted for years to create materials that can eliminate unwanted reflections, which can degrade the performance of various optical components and devices. “We started thinking, there is no viable material available in the refractive index range 1.0-1.4,” Schubert said. "If we had such a material, we could do incredible new things in optics and photonics." So the team created one. Using a technique called oblique angle deposition, the researchers deposited silica nanorods at an angle of precisely 45 degrees on top of a thin film of aluminum nitride, which is a semiconducting material used in advanced light-emitting diodes (LEDs). From the side, the films look much like the cross section of a piece of lawn turf with the blades slightly flattened.
QuoteWhat if gasoline, diesel and jet fuel could be made without oil and made instead with sugar? An Emeryville-based company founded by U.C. Berkeley scientists is on its way to doing just that, with staggering environmental and economic implications.
This sugary solution could be what breaks America's addiction to oil. Science has long understood how ethanol is made by adding sugar to yeast. But now using the same basic biological processes, scientists can re-program the microbes to make something closer to gasoline. It's cutting-edge technology commonly known as "synthetic biology" and it will change the way we fuel any vehicle that now relies on oil -- at least that's the hope at Emeryville-based Amyris Biotechnologies. Jack Newman, PhD, Amyris Biotechnologies VP: "Why are we making ethanol if we're trying to make a fuel? We should be making something that looks a lot more like gasoline. We should be making something that looks a lot more like diesel. And if you wanted to design, you name it, a jet fuel? We can make that too."
QuoteTheoretical physicists predicted years ago that some nuclei of elements much more massive than uranium should survive for a relatively long time-possibly long enough to probe their chemical properties-if they could be synthesized. On the chart of nuclides, theoreticians pinpointed a region with coordinates corresponding to 114 protons and 184 neutrons and indicated that nuclei with those "magic" numbers of subatomic particles should lie at the center of an island of stability. The nuclear longevity, according to the models, is due to the closing of proton and neutron shells, which renders the particles stable against spontaneous fission much the same way that a filled outer electron shell endows noble gases with chemical inertness. Experimentalists, though, haven't yet found a route to reach the center of the island.
QuoteWe are talking pond scum, or algae, a plant that for decades has been prized as a possible commodity crop based on its unparalleled ability to photosynthesize solar energy into plant biomass for food. Unlike most plants, algae shares characteristics of bacteria, and its photosynthetic machinery operates much faster in converting inorganic substances into organic matter. And while plants require a lot of fuel to sow and harvest and additional fertilizer and fresh water to nourish, algae can be continuously harvested from closed water-based bioreactors that require little additional replenishment other than inorganic fuel supplied in the form of waste gas.
QuoteBecause these two photons are entangled, the act of detecting the second as either a wave or a particle should simultaneously force the other photon to also change into either a wave or a particle. But that would have to happen to the first photon before it hits its detector -- which it will hit 50 microseconds before the second photon is detected. That is what quantum mechanics predicts should happen. And if it does, signaling would have gone backward in time relative to the first photon.