December 13, 2018

    Frances H. Arnold, George P. Smith, and Sir Gregory P. Winter the 2018 laureates. Credit: Niklas Elmehed, Nobel Media
    The 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded for evolution in a test tube - daily science news headlines

    The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Frances H. Arnold from California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA, George P. Smith from the University of Missouri, Columbia, USA and Sir Gregory P. Winter from MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK.

    Frances H. Arnold conducted the first directed evolution of enzymes and he received half of the award. George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter shared the other half for developing and perfecting a method to evolve new proteins using a phage system.

    They have used the principles of evolution to produce new molecules in a process called directed evolution. Their work allowed production of new enzymes and proteins with particular properties that are now used in many applications, from research and medicine to fuel production.

    Read the full story: Nobel Prize


    The principle of the circular solar energy storing and releasing system. Image: Yen Strandqvist/Chalmers University of Technology
    Circular solar energy storing and releasing system established - green technology science news

    Scientists have developed a system that can store solar energy for later use. Importantly, this system is circular, completely free of emissions, and does not damage the molecules that store the energy. This molecule is made from carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen, and changes into an energy-rich isomer when hit by sunlight. Energy can be released with the aid of a catalyst that acts as a filter through which liquid flows, and creates a reaction which warms the liquid by 63 centigrades. The molecule then changes back to its energy-free form. Applications are endless, for instance storing sun energy in the summer, and releasing it in the winter for domestic heating. The developers expect that the new technology could be in commercial use within ten years.

    Read the full story: Chalmers University of Technology
    Scientific publication: Energy & Environmental Science


    Physicists discovered and imaged a single-atom catalyst that breaks carbon-fluorine bonds. Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory
    Single atoms can break one of the strongest chemical bonds - science news headlines in brief

    One of the strongest chemical bounds know is the carbon-fluorine bond. An international team of scientists just discovered that this bound can be broken using single atoms of platinum.

    The platinum atoms work as an efficient catalyst for breaking the carbon-fluorine bonds. Using an advanced transmission electron microscope (TEM) scientists were able to visualize their new catalyst and assess its performance.

    The discovery is an important step for environmental decontamination and chemical synthesis.

    Read the full story: Brookhaven National Laboratory
    Scientific publication: ACS Catalysis


    Laser beams and optical tweezers win the Nobel in 2018. Credit: NobelPrize.org
    The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded for revolutionary ways of manipulating light - short science news headlines - Nobel Prize

    This year, three scientist share the Nobel Prize in Physics: Arthur Ashkin of Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, N.J., Gérard Mourou of École Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France, and Donna Strickland of the University of Waterloo in Canada.

    They discovered groundbreaking methods to manipulate light. Ashkin invented the optical tweezers, a tool that uses beams of light to capture and move small particles, including viruses and living cells.

    Mourou and Strickland invented a way to compress light into extremely short and intense pulses (chirped pulse amplification).

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Nobel Prize


    Researchers, medical doctors, patients, and the publishing industry are preparing for a change
    Access to scientific publications will be free in 2020 - science news latest headlines

    European authorities have decided that research funded by public funding has to be published free of charge to the reader.

    This is a real revolution in scientific publishing, in which access to scientific articles is often behind a paywall in the form of a subscription to a journal.

    To make such “open access” publishing a success, hurdles have to be taken that include publishing costs (that will have to be paid by the universities), giving less importance to scientific publications alone to estimate scientific quality and making science understandable to the general public.

    Sciencebriefss will play a role in the latter, especially by providing short science news articles for non-experts, putting new research findings into a broader context, and highlighting the importance of scientific results for society and science.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss Editorial


    Schematic representation of photocatalytic hydrogen production with InP/ZnS quantum nanoparticle dots. Image: Shan Yu
    New use of nanoparticles for artificial photosynthesis - green technology science news

    Scientists have developed a new type of nanoparticles that can be used for artificial photosynthesis, producing hydrogen fuel from water and sunlight. The nanoparticles are 3 nm in diameter consist of a core of indium phosphide, with a thin layer of zinc sulfide and sulfide ligands wrapped around it. These are all environmental-friendly materials, and appear to be highly efficient. These nanoparticles have great potential for the generation and storage of clean energy.

    Read the full story: University of Zürich
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    The biggest international project studying the mysterious neutrino particles has just made its first recordings
    First particle tracks recorded by mega-project studying neutrinos - short science news daily - physics

    CERN and Fermilab announced a big step in the DUNE (Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment) project which involves 1000 physicists from 32 countries. They have just recorded the first particle tracks, using the largest liquid-argon neutrino detector in the world. DUNE’s scientific mission is dedicated to unlocking the mysteries of neutrinos, the most abundant (and most mysterious) matter particles in the universe. “The completion of the protoDUNE detector, a so-called single phase liquid argon Time Projection Chamber, is an important milestone on the way to realizing a neutrino detector capable of observing differences between neutrinos and anti-neutrinos - a key observation towards a full understanding of the early universe”, said professor Gary Barker from University of Warwick.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: DUNE Project


    Too much technology can interfere with good parenting
    Technology used by parent negatively impacts child’s behavior - short science news

    We use technology and digital devices all the time, but could they have an impact on parenting and in consequence on the behavior of our children? This is the question that a new study tried to answer. The researchers followed 183 couples with a young child and discovered that problem behaviors of children were associated with increased use of technology by their parents. One explanation is that many parents stressed by the bad behavior of their children find an escape in using technology, at the expense of parent-child interactions. Moreover, more time spent using technology (like smartphones) may influence externalizing and withdrawal behaviors of children.

    Read the full story: Medicalxpress
    Scientific publication: Pediatric Research


    Using a new algorithm, robots can now analyze objects in detail, grab and manipulate them better
    Robots just received a boost in dexterity - short science news - technology

    Humans are masters of dexterity, while robots are still struggling with grabbing and manipulating objects. Now, a key development was achieved, allowing robots to improve their dexterity. Thus, a robot can now inspect random objects and visually understand them enough to accomplish specific tasks without ever having seen them before. This lets robots better understand and manipulate items and it even allows them to pick up a specific object among a cluster of similar ones. This breakthrough opens many possibilities for using robots in industry and even around the house.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Arxiv


    Experimental two-electrode setup showing the photoelectrochemical cell illuminated with simulated solar light. Image: Katarzyna Sokół
    Harnessing solar power: new ways to turn sunlight into useful energy - technology science news

    Researchers have developed a new method to split water into hydrogen and oxygen in a process that is based on photosynthesis in plants. They created semi-natural conditions by combining natural and man-made components into one device, which produced energy more efficiently than plants. This technological breakthrough may lead to the development of a new platform for developing new solar technologies.

    Read the full story: St. John’s College – University of Cambridge
    Scientific publication: Nature Energy


    Researchers from the MIT lab have now taken a giant step towards solving a longstanding problem of wireless communication: direct transmission of information between underwater and airbone devices. Traditionally, underwater devices cannot share information with those on the land since they use a different wireless signal, which can operate only in their respective mediums. Now, researchers have developed a system, such that an underwater transmitter sends sonar signals to the surface of the water, which causes tiny vibrations. These signals are then picked up by sensitive receivers on the water surface and then transmit it upwards. Just above this transmitter is a high-frequency radar, which can then process these signals.

    Read the full story: MIT news


    Several imaging techniques in medicine require cutting open people or making them swallow large tubes with attached cameras. However, scientists have developed an in-body GPS system called ReMix. Now, one can track accurately the location of ingestible implants using a wireless signal. Importantly, the marker inside the body doesn't need to transmit any wireless signal, rather it reflects the signals which are transmitted from a device outside the body. Further, the marker inside the body doesn't need any battery or external energy source. An important application for ReMix is the proton therapy which is used in cancer treatments to kill cancer cells with magnetically controlled protons.

    Read the full story: MIT news


    The red alga C. merolae grown in culture in the laboratory. Image: Sousuke Imamura
    Acceleration of biofuel production with an enzyme from algae - biotechnology news

    Scientists found that the enzyme GPAT1 is the rate-limiting factor in the accumulation of oils called triacylglycerols in red algae. This is of importance for the production of biofuel, as triacylglycerols can be converted to biodiesel. Red algae normally store triacylglycerols under adverse condition such as nitrogen deprivation, and use them as energy source. Overexpressing GPAT1 increases triacylglycerols by more than 50%, without compromising algae survival or growth, suggesting that upregulation of the enzyme may serve to increase the production of biofuel.

    Read the full story: Tokyo Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Robots induced peer pressure in children, while adults resisted. Credit: Pixabay
    Children are susceptible to peer pressure by robots - science news

    Peer pressure is a common psychological phenomenon, but now a new study shows that it doesn’t necessarily take a human to induce it. As the research shows, robots can induce peer pressure too. In an experiment, humanoid robots influenced children to make bad decisions. However, adults remained immune to the peer pressure from the robots but were influenced by human peers. According to the paper, this reinforces the idea of humans treating computers and robots as social beings, “attributing human-like qualities to technology.”

    Read the full story: Popular Mechanics
    Scientific publication: Science Robotics


    A new platform to promote blood vessel growth. Image: Texas A&M University
    A clay-based platform to promote blood vessel growth - health technology news

    Scientists have developed a clay-based platform for the delivery of growth factors into the body to stimulate the growth of blood vessels. It makes use of a two-dimensional clay (nanosilicates) that slowly release growth factors, so that the secretion of these proteins is prolonged. This method prevents problems such as abnormal, abrupt tissue formation, and eliminates a major hurdle for efficient wound repair and tissue implants.

    Read the full story: Texas A&M University
    Scientific publication: Advanced Biosystems


    For the first time, scientists created fibers with embedded electronics that are so flexible they can be woven into soft fabrics and made into wearable clothing. Credit: the researchers / MIT
    Latest in fashion: clothing with electronic devices built right into it - science news

    Researchers managed to create textiles and fibers that incorporate high-speed optoelectronic semiconductor devices, including light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and diode photodetectors. The tiny electronic devices were embedded within the fibers that were then woven into soft, washable fabrics. As a result, “smart” clothing can be obtained that behave like communication systems. This discovery, the researchers say, could unleash a rapid development for smart fabrics. The capabilities of fibers could grow rapidly and exponentially over time, just as the capabilities of microchips have grown over decades.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Experimentally measured polarization singularity trefoil knot. Credit: University of Bristol
    Physicists tie light in knots to understand how it flows through space - science news physics

    Laser light may appear to be a single, focused beam. In fact, it is an electromagnetic field, vibrating in an ellipse shape at each point in space (the light is polarized). Now, scientists have been able to use holographic technology to twist a polarized laser beam into knots. This way, one can study the topology of the knotted light fields. The researchers were able to create knots of much greater complexity than previously possible. Understanding how light flows through space provides important information for the fields on optics and polarization and could lead to the creation of new devices which process information through customized complex light structures.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol
    Scientific publication: Nature Physics


    Frontal and lateral scans of mouse lungs with fibrosis (grey), before and after treatment with nanoparticles carrying drugs. Image: Guillem Garaulet and Francisca Mulero, CNIO
    Nano-carriers for drug release into senescent cells - technology science news

    Senescent cells accumulate during aging, and play an active role in aging-related diseases. Scientists have now developed a drug delivery tool that specifically targets senescent cells by employing the high lysosomal (degradative) activity of these cells. Nanoparticles carrying drugs have been designed in such a way that they will go to the lysosomes, and thus release their drugs in senescent cells. In a mouse model of lung fibrosis, these nanoparticles effectively removed senescent cells, and the lung tissue regenerated. For the treatment of a cancer in mice, chemotherapy first induced the formation of senescent cells, which were then destroyed by the drugs brought by the nanoparticles. This combined therapy reduced the tumor. This versatile drug delivery system is expected to become an efficient tool for the treatment of various illnesses.

    Read the full story: IRB Barcelona
    Scientific publication: EMBO Molecular Medicine


    Cell-sized robots can sense changes in your body, but also in the environment, detecting and reporting problems. Credit: MIT
    Scientists create smallest robots that can sense the environment and store data - science news latest in medical technology

    Researchers from MIT have created the smallest robots – the size of a human cell – with the ability to detect changes in their environment, record data and even perform computations. They were created using two-dimensional materials and small particles called colloids. The colloids make it possible for the electrical circuits inside the robots to work. The applications are countless, from the diagnostic of the human body to measuring water contamination and other industrial applications.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Nature Nanotechnology


    Researchers have developed an imaging technology able to identify hidden mounds to help unravel the history of Native Americans. Credit: Carl Lipo
    Archeology: new imaging method allows identification of North American mounds - science news in brief

    Mounds are artificial elevated structures, like little hills, formed through gradual accumulation of debris upon which a continuously occupied settlement is built. People lived in such areas for hundreds or thousands of years. They are invaluable for archeology, but difficult to find because they are hidden by vegetation or by the landscape. Now, scientists have used a new image-based analysis technique to identify hidden North American mounds, which could reveal valuable information about pre-contact Native Americans. To achieve this, they used satellite images and a special software designed to automatically identify mounds.

    Read the full story: Phys.org
    Scientific publication: Southeastern Archaeology


    Running water depends on proper water supplies. AI may help to protect their quality.
    Artificial Intelligence for protection of water supplies - technology science news

    Artificial Intelligence software combined with microscopy makes it possible to do a rapid and inexpensive automatic analysis of the presence of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, in about two hours, scientist report. Sudden growth of cyanobacteria threatens water supplies, and quick and constant monitoring is therefore essential to protect water supplies. The newly presented method is fast and cheap, and can be used commercially in three to four years according to the latest estimates.

    Read the full story: University of Waterloo
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Psychological therapy delivered in virtual reality has shown promising results in a pioneering study
    Successful psychological therapy delivered in virtual reality - health technology science news

    In a pioneering study with 100 participants, scientists have shown that it is possible to deliver psychological therapy delivered in virtual reality. The therapy was designed to treat fear of heights, not with a human therapist present, but by a computer-generated virtual coach. The treatment is personalized and interactive due to voice recognition technology. Participants in the study had fear of height for more than 30 years, and underwent five sessions of two hours each. All participants showed fear reduction, on average with 68%, and more than half over 75%. These results are superior to those obtained by even the best psychological intervention, demonstrating that therapy delivered in virtual reality might see a golden future.

    Read the full story: University of Oxford
    Scientific publication: The Lancet Psychiatry


    A 3D color image of a wrist with a watch showing part of the finger bones in white and soft tissue in red. Credit: MARS Bioimaging Ltd
    3D color X-ray images obtained using CERN technology - short science news

    The traditional black and white X-ray images are invaluable for medical diagnosis. However, a color image could produce clearer and more accurate pictures. Now, this is possible using a technology called Medipix3, developed at CERN. The technology was used by a New Zeeland company to scan, for the first time, a human body in 3D. Medipix is a family of chips developed for particle imaging and detection. It works like a camera, detecting and counting each particle hitting the pixels when its electronic shutter is open. The technology has multiple applications in medicine, such as cancer detection and the first clinical trial is scheduled in the following months.

    Read the full story: CERN


    Inspiration from nature: a cockroach at the basis of a new minirobot that can walk under water
    A microbot that can walk under water - technology science news

    Scientists have designed a small robot that cannot only walk on land, but also under water, and it can swim on the surface of water. It resembles a cockroach that is a terrestrial animal but can survive under water for 30 minutes. The robot uses multifunctional foot pads that rely on surface tension. A voltage can be applied to break the surface of the water, making the robot sink. This process is known as electrowetting. This new robot can therefore explore many different environments, with endless applications to be expected in the near future.

    Read the full story: Harvard
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Technical breakthrough paves the way for the next generation of solar cells
    Technical breakthrough in the fabrication of efficient solar panels - technology science news

    While most of the solar cells in use today are crystalline silicon based, researchers are now working the next generation, known as Perovskite cells. They are as efficient as the silicon-based ones, but are way cheaper. However, Perovskite cells suffer from an unwanted process, known as non-radiative recombination, which basically means that energy and efficiency are lost. Now, a team of scientists have solved this problem by the technique of Solution-Process Secondary growth, which increases the voltage of Perovskite cells by 100 millivolts to reach 1.21 volts, while keeping electricity flow through a device intact. This technical breakthrough shows that Perovskite cells hold a lot of promise, and might become the solar cells of the future.

    Read the full story: University of Surrey
    Scientific publication: Science


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