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Mar 20, 2019

Protein-slaying drugs could be the next blockbuster therapies

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

Researchers are hijacking the cell’s protein-disposal system in the fight against Alzheimer’s and intractable cancers.

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Mar 20, 2019

The best topological conductor yet: Spiraling crystal is the key to exotic discovery

Posted by in categories: computing, quantum physics

The realization of so-called topological materials—which exhibit exotic, defect-resistant properties and are expected to have applications in electronics, optics, quantum computing, and other fields—has opened up a new realm in materials discovery.

Several of the hotly studied topological materials to date are known as . Their surfaces are expected to conduct electricity with very little resistance, somewhat akin to superconductors but without the need for incredibly chilly temperatures, while their interiors—the so-called “bulk” of the material—do not conduct current.

Now, a team of researchers working at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has discovered the strongest topological conductor yet, in the form of thin crystal samples that have a spiral-staircase structure. The team’s study of crystals, dubbed topological chiral crystals, is reported in the March 20 edition of the journal Nature.

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Mar 20, 2019

Japan Poised to Declare CRISPR-Edited Foods Safe to Eat

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food

Just so long as people making the food don’t leave any foreign DNA in it.

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Mar 20, 2019

Alexandra Albani added a new photo

Posted by in categories: futurism, space travel

Astronomers found a pulsar hurtling through space at nearly 2.5 million miles an hour — so fast it could travel the distance between Earth and the Moon in just 6 minutes. The discovery was made using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA).

“Thanks to its narrow dart-like tail and a fortuitous viewing angle, we can trace this pulsar straight back to its birthplace,” said Frank Schinzel, a scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, New Mexico. “Further study of this object will help us better understand how these explosions are able to ‘kick’ neutron stars to such high speed.” Schinzel, together with his colleagues Matthew Kerr at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, and NRAO scientists Dale Frail, Urvashi Rau and Sanjay Bhatnagar presented the discovery at the High Energy Astrophysics Division meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Monterey, California. A paper describing the team’s results has been submitted for publication in a future edition of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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Mar 20, 2019

LHC beam pipe to be mined for monopoles

Posted by in categories: electronics, particle physics

In February, the CMS and MoEDAL collaborations at CERN signed an agreement to hand over to MoEDAL a section of the LHC beam pipe that was located inside CMS between 2008 and 2013. The delicate object, 6 metres long and made of beryllium, will now be sliced and fed into a highly precise magnetic sensors in order to allow MoEDAL to look for magnetic monopoles: hypothetical particles with only a single magnetic pole – north or south – unlike north-south dipoles we are familiar with.

Paul Dirac posited the existence of magnetic monopoles in 1931, and, although never observed, they could be produced in collisions within the LHC. They would not travel very far after being produced, binding with the beryllium nuclei of the beam pipe and remaining there awaiting discovery.

The MoEDAL collaboration will cut the beam pipe at a special facility at the Centre for Particle Physics at the University of Alberta in Canada and ship the pieces back across the Atlantic to ETH Zurich in Switzerland to look for electromagnetic anomalies in them. Many theories attempting to unify all of the known forces into a single force (so-called “Grand Unified Theories”) require the existence of monopoles and finding them could open the door to all-new physics.

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Mar 20, 2019

Carbon monoxide detectors could warn of extraterrestrial life

Posted by in categories: alien life, chemistry, computing

Carbon monoxide detectors in our homes warn of a dangerous buildup of that colorless, odorless gas we normally associate with death. Astronomers, too, have generally assumed that a build-up of carbon monoxide in a planet’s atmosphere would be a sure sign of lifelessness. Now, a UC Riverside-led research team is arguing the opposite: celestial carbon monoxide detectors may actually alert us to a distant world teeming with simple life forms.

“With the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope two years from now, astronomers will be able to analyze the atmospheres of some rocky exoplanets,” said Edward Schwieterman, the study’s lead author and a NASA Postdoctoral Program fellow in UCR’s Department of Earth Sciences. “It would be a shame to overlook an inhabited world because we did not consider all the possibilities.”

In a study published today in The Astrophysical Journal, Schwieterman’s team used computer models of chemistry in the biosphere and to identify two intriguing scenarios in which carbon monoxide readily accumulates in the atmospheres of living planets.

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Mar 20, 2019

Levitating objects with light

Posted by in categories: engineering, nanotechnology, space travel

Researchers at Caltech have designed a way to levitate and propel objects using only light, by creating specific nanoscale patterning on the objects’ surfaces.

Though still theoretical, the work is a step toward developing a spacecraft that could reach the nearest planet outside of our solar system in 20 years, powered and accelerated only by light.

A paper describing the research appears online in the March 18 issue of the journal Nature Photonics. The research was done in the laboratory of Harry Atwater, Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science in Caltech’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science.

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Mar 20, 2019

MEGAPIXELS: Doctors can now see everything inside you at once

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, electronics

After years of development, a powerful and speedy full-body scanner is ready for action.

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Mar 20, 2019

This High-Tech Toilet Seat Can Detect Heart Failure

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, information science

A team of researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology invented a “toilet seat-based cardiovascular monitoring system” that could help hospitals monitor patients for risk of congestive heart failure — a toilet, in other words, that detects whether your heart is about to give out.

“This system will be uniquely positioned to capture trend data in the home that has been previously unattainable,” reads the paper, published in the journal JMIR Mhealth Uhealth.

Integrated into the seat is a device that measures heart rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygenation levels. Algorithms will take in all that data and notify health practitioners if the patient’s condition deteriorates.

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Mar 20, 2019

Study identifies molecule that allows bacteria to breach cellular barriers

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

A new study identifies a single molecule as a key entry point used by two types of dangerous bacteria to break through cellular barriers and cause disease. The findings, published March 19 in the journal mBio, suggest that blocking the interaction between the molecule, known as CD40, and bacteria may represent a universal strategy for preventing life-threatening illnesses, including toxic shock syndrome.

The two , Staphylococcus aureus (staph) and Streptococcus pyogenes, cause many serious illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, staph causes 70,000 cases of highly fatal pneumonia, 40,000 cases of severe heart infections, and over 500,000 post-surgical infections each year. Streptococcus pyogenes causes 10 million cases of sore throat and 30,000 cases of severe invasive diseases annually.

“Many of the infections caused by these two bacteria start on the skin or on the mucosal surfaces that line body cavities like the nose, mouth and throat, the gut, and the vagina. The ability of these bacteria to cause depends on production of a family of toxins known as superantigens, which cause exceptionally harmful inflammation,” explains Patrick Schlievert, Ph.D., professor and head of microbiology and immunology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and lead author of the new study.

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