February 19, 2019

    The structure of small molecules can now be identified in a record time
    Structure of small molecules uncovered in 30 minutes with this new technology - daily science news in brief

    A recent study describes a new approach that achieves the amazing capability of allowing identification of the structures of small molecules (hormones, drugs) in as little as 30 minutes. Using current approaches, such a task could take hours or even days.

    The technique is called micro-electron diffraction (MicroED), previously used to discover the structure of large molecules. It works even on powders, without the requirement of converting the compound into crystals, or other complicated preparations.

    This works on molecules weighing less than about 900 daltons and it has major implications for chemistry and other fields such as drug discovery, forensics, medical testing, etc.

    Read the full story: California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
    Scientific publication: ACS Central Science

    A new device can measure oxygen levels in the blood in regions of the body previously inaccessible to oximeters. Credit: UC Berkeley photo by Yasser Khan, Arias Research Group
    Flexible sensor measures blood-oxygen anywhere in the body - short science news

    A new type of sensor (oximeter) allows detection of the blood-oxygen levels over large areas of the body, providing crucial medical information.

    The sensor is made of organic electronics printed on flexible plastic that molds to the shape of the body. It can detect blood-oxygen levels at nine points in a grid and can be placed anywhere on the skin. Previous oximeters only work on “transparent” areas of the body, such as fingertips, but the new design can be used anywhere.

    The device has many applications: map oxygenation of sky grafts, monitor transplanted organs and supervise healing wounds.

    Read the full story: University of California Berkeley
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    A new piece of hardware is able to both write and read quantum information, a first in the field
    New device reads and writes quantum information - technology science news latest

    Quantum computers technology just got a boost with the development of a new silicon-based device capable of reading and writing quantum information, two essential functions for error correction in computers.

    It is the first time these two operations were achieved simultaneously on the same device. The team of scientists used existing technologies combined in an ingenious way to allow the design of a novel device.

    The hardware was produced using conventional semiconductor manufacturing technology and the researchers will try to scale it up in order to create a silicon-based quantum-computer chip.

    Read the full story: Physics World
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    Fluorescent cells shaped as number 10 (to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Department of Biosystems in Basel). In response to the light, transcription was initiated in the illuminated cells. Credit: Group Mustafa Khammash/ETH Zurich
    Controlling genes with light - science news

    Scientists report the development of a new technology that controls gene transcription using light. Gene transcription is the process that allows the conversion of DNA into RNA, a crucial step in producing proteins that impact how cells function.

    The researchers used single yeast cells genetically engineered to respond to blue light. When the light is present, the cells activate a transcription factor and thereby promote the transcription of a specific gene.

    Currently, the technique only works under the microscope, so the applications are limited. However, it is very useful for research, tissue engineering and, stem cells. Further studies will be conducted to expand the applicability of the discovery.

    Read the full story: ETH Zurich
    Scientific publication: Molecular Cell

    Graphene-integrated devices could be the key ingredient in the evolution of 5G, the Internet-of-Things (IoT), and Industry 4.0. Image: Lauren V. Robinson / © Springer Nature Ltd
    Graphene technologies to transform cutting edge applications in telecommunications - technology science news

    Technology for telecommunications is expected to benefit from graphene, which enables ultra-wide bandwidth communications with low power consumption, researchers report. While current semiconductor technologies are approaching their physical limitations, graphene may offer solutions to enable the realization of 5G, the Internet-of-Things, and Industry 4.0, as it enhances the performance of key components for optical and radio communications to levels that are even beyond the requirements. It is thus expected that graphene-based optical components, integrated on a silicon platform, will become key components in the 5G era.

    Read the full story: Graphene Flagship
    Scientific publication: Nature Reviews Materials

    Broken screens of portable telephones might be a thing of the past soon with the development of new self-healing polymers that can be used for the coating of the screen.
    Self-healing polymers produced at low cost - technology science news

    A new study reports the production of a new self-healing polymer that is cheap and can be applied to for instance the coating of cell phone screens, plastics, and paints. The researchers took advantage of interactions between co-polymers that look like spaghetti strands with little brushes on the side. When they get longer, they become more entangled, and the side groups interlock so that it becomes harder to pull them apart. Also, when they are being pulled out, they come back together, and are self-healing like our skin. Researchers expect that the polymers can be synthesized at an industrial scale relatively soon.

    Read the full story: Clemson University
    Scientific publication: Science

    A single nanocluster of 22 gold atoms -- Au22 -- is only 1 nanometer in diameter, allowing it to easily slip through the bacterial cell wall. Image: Peidong Yang, UC Berkeley
    Feed bacteria with gold, and they will produce more biofuel - biotechnology science news

    Researchers have established that feeding the bacterium Moorella thermoacetica with gold clusters of 1 nm in size transforms them into an artificial photosynthesis system. The bacteria take up the gold particles quite efficiently, and have thus a sunlight-absorbing metal inside that is close to the enzymes involved in photosynthesis and electron transfer to generate energy. This energy can be used for the production of useful chemicals, including biofuel.

    Read the full story: UC Berkeley – College of Chemistry
    Scientific publication: Nature Nanotechnology

    Compacting reactors could reduce the danger of excess heat for fusion power plants. Credit: MIT
    New approach solves problem with excess heat for fusion power plants - science news - energy production

    The development of real fusion power plants is facing several problems. For example: how to get rid of the excess heat that would cause structural damage to the plant?

    Now, a group of scientists came up with a possible solution to this problem: using an innovative approach the scientists can compact fusion reactors using superconducting magnets.

    The new design has several added advantages, like allowing the replacement of critical components, which is not possible in typical fusion plants designs.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Fusion Engineering and Design

    Biodegradable electronic implant used for nerve regeneration. Image. Northwestern University
    Bioelectronic medicine: implantable and biodegradable electric device for nerve regeneration - health technology news

    Researchers have designed and tested a prototype of an implantable, biodegradable, and wireless device that accelerates the regeneration of nerves. This example of bioelectronic medicine delivers regular pulses of electricity to damaged peripheral nerves in rats. It is about the size of a dime, as thin as a sheet of paper, and is degraded within two weeks by the body. This type of technology could be used in patients in the future to deliver care at the location in the body where it is needed, during a clinically relevant period, and is therefore expected to cause less side effects or risks associated with implants that are in use today.

    Read the full story: Northwestern University (through Eurekalert)
    Scientific publication: Nature Medicine

    Social media and transport data can predict if a business will be a success or a failure
    Retail business success or failure predicted by social media and transport data - daily short science news

    Researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a model that can predict if a given retail business will succeed or not, with an accuracy of 80%.

    To predict the future of a business, scientists used social media data and transport information. Their model included over 71 million check-ins from location-based social network and 181 million taxi trips. The data showed that across all ten cities tested, venues that are popular around the clock, rather than just at certain points of the day, are more likely to succeed.

    The model suggests that to ensure the success of a business, owners should consider the ways that people move to and through that neighbourhood at different times.

    Read the full story: University of Cambridge
    Scientific publication: ACM Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp)

    Fake news could be stopped at the origin with this new algorithm
    New system can spot fake news at the source - science news

    Detecting fake news is not an easy task, and many companies invest millions in this direction.

    Now, researchers from MIT have developed a new approach, based on machine learning, to identify fake news right at the source. The system automatically collects data about different websites and after analyzing about 150 articles it can reliably estimate whether a news source is trustable.

    The system is still in development however, it helped already establish a database of 1,000 news sources, annotated with factuality and bias scores, that is the world’s largest database of its kind.

    Read the full story: MIT

    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

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