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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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Mar 20, 2019

Analysts: Rocket Jumps Between Earth Cities Could Smash Airlines

Posted by in category: space travel

A new report by Swiss investment bank UBS predicts that soon high speed travel through the near reaches of space will come to compete with long-haul airline flights.

UBS analysts estimate that space tourism alone will become a $3 billion market by 2030, while the space industry as a whole will double in worth from $400 billion today to $805 billion over the same period. And once we can spend a week of vacation in space, they ask, why not use the technology for Earth-bound long-distance travel?

“Space tourism could be the stepping stone for the development of long-haul travel on earth serviced by space,” wrote UBS analysts Jarrod Castle and Myles Walton in the report, as quoted by CNBC.

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Mar 20, 2019

Supercomputer sheds light on how droplets merge

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, climatology, supercomputing

Scientists have revealed the precise molecular mechanisms that cause drops of liquid to combine, in a discovery that could have a range of applications.

Insights into how merge could help make 3D printing technologies more accurate and may help improve the forecasting of thunderstorms and other weather events, the study suggests.

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Mar 20, 2019

The U.S. Military is Buying a Brutal-Looking Powered Exoskeleton

Posted by in categories: cyborgs, military

The partnership could greatly enhance the productivity of a single officer in the field and decrease fatigue or strain — but the USSOCOM didn’t reveal the exact intended use case for the exoskeleton, which lets the wearer heft 200 pounds (90 kg).

Forklift Arms

It’s the latest sign that exoskeletons are finally hitting the mainstream. Automobile manufacturers are already considering the use of simpler exoskeletons on factory floors. And the Food and Drug Administration approved a lower-body exoskeleton last year for use by people with lower limb disabilities.

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Mar 20, 2019

Robotic ‘gray goo’

Posted by in categories: engineering, particle physics, robotics/AI

Up until now, the ability to make gray goo has been theoretical. However, the scientists at the Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science have made a significant breakthrough. The individual components are computationally simple but can exhibit complex behavior.

Current robots are usually self-contained entities made of interdependent subcomponents, each with a specific function. If one part fails, the robot stops working. In robotic swarms, each robot is an independently functioning machine.

In a new study published today in Nature, researchers at Columbia Engineering and MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), demonstrate for the first time a way to make a robot composed of many loosely coupled components, or “particles.” Unlike swarm or modular robots, each component is simple, and has no individual address or identity. In their system, which the researchers call a “particle robot,” each particle can perform only uniform volumetric oscillations (slightly expanding and contracting), but cannot move independently.

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