>ScienceDaily Technology Headlines — for Monday, March 14, 2011

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ScienceDaily Technology Headlines

for Monday, March 14, 2011

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Nanotech-enabled consumer products continue to rise (March 13, 2011) — Over 1,300 manufacturer-identified, nanotechnology-enabled products have entered the commercial marketplace around the world. The most recent update to the group’s five-year-old inventory reflects the continuing use of the tiny particles in everything from conventional products like non-stick cookware to more unique items such as self-cleaning window treatments. … > full story

Color view from orbit shows Mars rover beside crater (March 13, 2011) — NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has nearly completed its three-month examination of a crater informally named “Santa Maria,” but before the rover resumes its overland trek, an orbiting camera has provided a color image of Opportunity beside Santa Maria. … > full story

Dawn mission gets Vesta asteroid target practice (March 13, 2011) — In the lead-up to orbiting the second most massive body in the asteroid belt this coming July, planners of NASA’s Dawn mission to the giant asteroid Vesta and scientists have been practicing mapping Vesta’s surface, producing still images and a rotating animation that includes the scientists’ best guess to date of what the surface might look like. … > full story

Smart materials for high-tech products: Hard, viscous or watery at the touch of a button (March 13, 2011) — Flexible and independently operating “smart materials” can adapt to changing conditions with high speed. … > full story

Low cost solar cells: New European record in efficiency (March 12, 2011) — Scientists have developed an improved preparation process for kesterite solar cells, which resulted in a new European record efficiency of 6.1 percent. … > full story

Engineer studies damage caused by New Zealand earthquake (March 12, 2011) — Researchers are just back from studying the damage caused by the Feb. 22 earthquake that hit Christchurch, New Zealand, and killed more than 160 people. In Christchurch, researchers said unreinforced brick masonry buildings built in the 1930s and ’40s suffered significant damage. … > full story

Nanoscale whiskers from sea creatures could grow human muscle tissue (March 12, 2011) — Minute whiskers of nanoscale dimensions taken from sea creatures could hold the key to creating working human muscle tissue, researchers say. … > full story

Perfect buns: Imaging system controls baking process on production line to improve sandwich bun quality (March 12, 2011) — Food companies requiring tight control over baking conditions should benefit from a new imaging system that automatically inspects sandwich buns on the production line and adjusts oven temperatures to provide product of consistent quality. A prototype has been in use in a baking facility for a year. … > full story

Radiation expert discusses Japan nuclear power plant concerns (March 11, 2011) — Following Friday’s massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake that caused tsunamis and rocked the island nation of Japan, Japanese government officials announced a nuclear emergency after the quake caused a reactor cooling system malfunction at Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. … > full story

Near-real-time map of Japan quake aftershocks (March 11, 2011) — Researchers have created a near-real-time map of the aftershocks occurring globally following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that rocked Japan Friday. … > full story

Speed demon star creates a shock (March 11, 2011) — Just as some drivers obey the speed limit while others treat every road as if it were the Autobahn, some stars move through space faster than others. NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, captured a new image of the star Alpha Camelopardalis speeding through the sky like a motorcyclist zipping through rush-hour traffic. … > full story

The most distant mature galaxy cluster: Young, but surprisingly grown-up (March 11, 2011) — Astronomers have discovered and measured the distance to the most remote mature cluster of galaxies yet found. Although this cluster is seen when the universe was less than one quarter of its current age it looks surprisingly similar to galaxy clusters in the current universe. … > full story

Snails’ complex muscle movements, rather than mucus, key to locomotion (March 11, 2011) — New evidence suggests that the key to locomotion in snails stems from the animal’s complex muscle movements, and not from its mucus, as had been previously thought. This finding could open the door to the construction of robots which could imitate this form of propulsion. … > full story

New method for studying molecule reactions a breakthrough in organic chemistry (March 11, 2011) — In a feat of manipulating substances at the nanoscale, new research demonstrates a method to isolate two molecules together on a substrate and to control specifically how those two molecules react when excited with ultraviolet light, further making detailed observations before and after reaction. The method mimics the strategy used by enzymes in many biochemical reactions. … > full story

New technology would dramatically extend battery life for mobile devices (March 11, 2011) — Technophiles who have been dreaming of mobile devices that run longer on lighter, slimmer batteries may soon find their wish has been granted. Engineers have developed a form of ultra-low-power digital memory that is faster and uses 100 times less energy than similar available memory. The technology could give future portable devices much longer battery life between charges. The researchers use carbon nanotubes as electrodes and tiny amounts of phase-change material as the bit. … > full story

New robot system to test 10,000 chemicals for toxicity (March 11, 2011) — Several federal agencies have unveiled a new high-speed robot screening system that will test 10,000 different chemicals for potential toxicity. The system marks the beginning of a new phase of an ongoing collaboration, referred to as Tox21, that is working to protect people’s health by improving how chemicals are tested in this country. … > full story

Half-time for Mars500: Simulated mission to the Red Planet (March 11, 2011) — The Mars500 mission — a simulated mission to the Red Planet — has reached its half-way mark: After a 250-day virtual flight, the crew members recently landed on a virtual Mars and left the isolation container at the Moscow Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in their space suits. … > full story

How do people respond to being touched by a robotic nurse? (March 10, 2011) — Researchers have found people generally had a positive response toward being touched by a robotic nurse, but that their perception of the robot’s intent made a significant difference. … > full story

Defective plastics repair themselves (March 10, 2011) — Indestructible things are a figment of the imagination of advertising. Even plastic components that have to stand up to major mechanical loads can break. The reason for this are microcracks that may be found in any component part. Researchers have now come up with elastic polymers that heal themselves to put an end to the growth of cracks. … > full story

Work climate the main reason women leave engineering, survey suggests (March 10, 2011) — After years of investing in strategies to encourage more women to pursue a rigorous engineering degree — and succeeding — US engineering firms are now facing a problem in retaining qualified women engineers. Why are so many women leaving the field — or getting their degrees but never entering the field? The top reason isn’t family, according to a new study, but an unfavorable work climate. … > full story

New switching device could help build an ultrafast ‘quantum Internet’ (March 10, 2011) — Researchers have developed a new switching device that takes quantum communication to a new level. They can route quantum bits, or entangled particles of light, at very high speeds along a shared network of fiber-optic cable without losing the entanglement information embedded in the quantum bits. The switch could be used toward achieving two goals of the information technology world: a quantum Internet, where encrypted information would be completely secure, and networking superfast quantum computers. … > full story

Web-crawling the brain: 3-D nanoscale model of neural circuit created (March 10, 2011) — Researchers have created a three-dimensional nanoscale model of a neural circuit using electron microscopy. As a result, the researchers can crawl these vast neural networks much as Google crawls web links. … > full story

How long does a tuning fork ring? (March 10, 2011) — Researchers have solved a long-standing problem in the design of mechanical resonators: the numerical prediction of the design-limited damping. Their achievement has a broad impact on diverse fields. The new article describes both a numerical method to calculate the mechanical damping as well as a stringent test of its performance on a set of mechanical microstructures. … > full story

Voyager seeks the answer blowin’ in the wind (March 10, 2011) — In which direction is the sun’s stream of charged particles banking when it nears the edge of the solar system? The answer, scientists know, is blowing in the wind. It’s just a matter of getting NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft in the right orientation to detect it. … > full story

Electromechanical circuit sets record beating microscopic ‘drum’ (March 10, 2011) — Physicists have demonstrated an electromechanical circuit in which microwaves communicate with a vibrating mechanical component 1,000 times more vigorously than ever achieved before in similar experiments. The microscopic apparatus is a new tool for processing information and potentially could control the motion of a relatively large object at the smallest possible, or quantum, scale. … > full story

Toward real time observation of electron dynamics in atoms and molecules (March 10, 2011) — Another step has been taken in matter imaging. By using very short flashes of light, researchers have obtained groundbreaking information on the electronic structure of atoms and molecules by observing for the first time ever electronic correlations using the method of high harmonic generation. … > full story

High-volume portable music players may impair ability to clearly discriminate sounds (March 10, 2011) — Listening to loud music through earphones for extended periods in noisy surroundings can cause neurophysiological changes related to clear discrimination of sounds, even if the hearing threshold is normal, new research shows. … > full story

Intelligent microscopy: Software runs experiments on its own (March 10, 2011) — Scientists in Germany have created new software that rapidly learns what researchers are looking for and automatically performs complex microscopy experiments. … > full story

Open-source software is actually more secure for health care IT, study suggests (March 10, 2011) — Globally the sale of health-care information systems is a multibillion dollar industry. The vast costs and frequent failed systems regularly attract media comment. However policy makers still shy away from a class of software, open source, that could address many of these problems, because of worries about the safety and security. Now new research finds that open-source software may actually be more secure than its often more expensive alternatives. … > full story

Synthetic biology: Novel kind of fluorescent protein developed (March 9, 2011) — Since the 1990s a green fluorescent protein known as GFP has been used in research labs worldwide. Protein designers have now taken it a step further: They have managed to incorporate a synthetic amino acid into the natural GFP and thus to create a new kind of chimeric fluorescent bio-molecule by means of synthetic biology. By exploiting a special physical effect, the fluorescent protein glows in turquoise and displays unmatched properties. … > full story

NASA’s Jupiter-bound spacecraft taking shape in Denver (March 9, 2011) — NASA’s Juno spacecraft is currently undergoing environmental testing at Lockheed Martin Space Systems near Denver. The solar-powered Juno spacecraft will orbit Jupiter’s poles 33 times to find out more about the gas giant’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere. The launch window for Juno from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida opens Aug. 5, 2011. … > full story

New molecular robot can be programmed to follow instructions (March 9, 2011) — Scientists have developed a programmable “molecular robot” — a sub-microscopic molecular machine made of synthetic DNA that moves between track locations separated by 6nm. The robot, a short strand of DNA, follows instructions programmed into a set of fuel molecules determining its destination, for example, to turn left or right at a junction in the track. The report represents a step toward futuristic nanomachines and nanofactories. … > full story

Medical microcamera the size of a grain of salt gives razor-sharp images, very inexpensively (March 9, 2011) — There have been gloves and shavers for one-off use for a long time. In future, there will also be disposable endoscopes for minimally invasive operations on the human body. A new microcamera is what makes it possible. It is as large as a grain of salt, supplies razor-sharp pictures and can be manufactured very inexpensively. … > full story

Report identifies priority missions for planetary science in the next decade (March 9, 2011) — A new report from the U.S. National Research Council recommends a suite of planetary science flagship missions for the decade 2013-2022 that could provide a steady stream of important new discoveries about the solar system. However, if NASA’s budget over that decade cannot support all of these missions, the agency should preserve smaller scale missions in its New Frontiers and Discovery programs first and delay some or all of the recommended large-scale missions, the report says. … > full story

Ultrafast laser ‘scribing’ technique to cut cost, hike efficiency of solar cells (March 9, 2011) — Researchers are developing a technology that aims to help make solar cells more affordable and efficient by using a new manufacturing method that employs an ultrafast pulsing laser. … > full story

Real March Madness is relying on seedings to determine Final Four (March 9, 2011) — Think picking all the top-seeded teams as the Final Four in your March Madness bracket is your best bet for winning the office pool? Think again. You’re better off picking a seed combination of 1, 1, 2 and 3. A professor has integrated his statistical model into a user-friendly website to help March Madness fans evaluate their NCAA men’s basketball tournament brackets and compare relative likelihood of two sets of seed combinations. … > full story

Cassini finds Saturn’s moon Enceladus is a powerhouse (March 9, 2011) — Heat output from the south polar region of Saturn’s moon Enceladus is much greater than was previously thought possible, according to a new analysis of data collected by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. … > full story

New instrument for analyzing viruses: Sensitive ‘PING’ device (March 9, 2011) — Scientists in Israel and California have developed an instrument for rapidly analyzing molecular interactions that take place viruses and the cells they infect. By helping to identify interactions between proteins made by viruses like HIV and hepatitis and proteins made by the human cells these viruses infect, the device may help scientists develop new ways of disrupting these interactions and find new drugs for treating those infections. … > full story

Ultra fast photodetectors out of carbon nanotubes (March 9, 2011) — Single-walled carbon nanotubes are promising building blocks for future optoelectronic devices. But conventional electronic measurements were not able to resolve the ultra fast optoelectronic dynamics of the nanotubes. Now scientists have found a way to directly measure the dynamics of photo-excited electrons in nanoscale photodetectors. … > full story

Engineers demonstrate use of proteins as raw material for biofuels, biorefining (March 9, 2011) — Researchers demonstrate for the first time the feasibility of using proteins, one of the most abundant biomolecules on earth, as a significant raw material for biorefinery and biofuel production. … > full story

Receiving work-related communication at home takes greater toll on women, study finds (March 9, 2011) — Communication technologies that help people stay connected to the workplace are often seen as solutions to balancing work and family life. However, a new study suggests there may be a “dark side” to the use of these technologies for workers’ health — and these effects seem to differ for women and men. … > full story

Some of Mars’ missing carbon dioxide may be buried (March 9, 2011) — Rocks on Mars dug from far underground by crater-blasting impacts are providing glimpses of one possible way Mars’ atmosphere has become much less dense than it used to be. At several places where cratering has exposed material from depths of about 5 kilometers (3 miles) or more beneath the surface, observations by a mineral-mapping instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate carbonate minerals. … > full story

Enzymes from garden compost could favour bioethanol production (March 9, 2011) — Today, bioethanol is primarily made from glucose. If xylose – which is found in straw, willow and other fast-growing plant species – could also be used efficiently, then ethanol production could increase significantly. A researcher in applied microbiology is well on the way to making this a reality. … > full story

NASA develops light microscope for International Space Station (March 9, 2011) — NASA has begun testing a new multi-capability microscope on the International Space Station. It will help scientists study the effects of the space environment on physics and biology aboard the orbiting laboratory. The microscope is isolated from vibrations on the station, allowing it to obtain clear, high-resolution images. Using high-resolution magnification, scientists can examine microorganisms and individual cells of plants and animals, including humans. … > full story

Intelligence analysts need not fear ‘Watson,’ study shows (March 9, 2011) — A new study on the future of predictive analytics, which examined the outlook for intelligence analysis in the computerized age, shows machines not yet capable of detecting deliberately deceptive data. … > full story

Extremely fast magnetic random access memory (MRAM) computer data storage within reach (March 9, 2011) — Magnetic random access memory (MRAM) is the most important new module on the market of computer storage devices. Like the well known USB sticks, they store information into static memory, but MRAM offers short access times and unlimited writing properties. Commercial MRAMs have been on the market since 2005. They are, however, still slower than the competitors they have among the volatile storage media. An invention made by researchers in Germany changes this situation: A special chip connection, in association with dynamic triggering of the component, reduces the response from – so far – 2 ns to below 500 ps. This corresponds to a data rate of up to 2 GBit (instead of the approx. 400 MBit so far). … > full story

Graphene oxide’s solubility disappears in the wash (March 9, 2011) — Graphene oxide has had a scrum of researchers fall upon it as it retains much of the properties of the highly valued super material pure graphene, but it is much easier, and cheaper, to make in bulk quantities; easier to process; and its significant oxygen content appears to make it soluble in water. However new research has found that that last assumption is incorrect and unfortunately graphene oxide’s solubility literally comes out in the wash. … > full story

How can robots get our attention? (March 8, 2011) — Researchers have found that they can program a robot to understand when it gains a human’s attention and when it falls short. … > full story


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