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Apr 11, 2018

Robust and inexpensive catalysts for hydrogen production

Posted by in categories: energy, materials

Researchers from the Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) and the University of Warwick were able to observe the smallest details of hydrogen production with the synthetic mineral pentlandite. This makes it possible to develop strategies for the design of robust and cost-effective catalysts for hydrogen production. The working groups of Prof. Wolfgang Schuhmann and Dr. Ulf-Peter Apfel from the RUB and the team headed by Prof. Patrick R. Unwin from the University of Warwick published their results in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Hydrogen gas is considered a possible future source of energy and can be produced from water using platinum catalysts and electricity. However, researchers seek alternative catalysts made of cheaper and more readily available with equally high efficiency. There are a number of materials that, like platinum, are able to catalyse the reaction of water into hydrogen. “These include metal chalcogenides such as the mineral pentlandite, which is just as efficient as platinum and is also significantly more stable toward poisons such as sulphur,” explains Ulf-Peter Apfel. Pentlandite consists of iron, nickel and sulphur. Its structure is similar to that of the catalytic centres of hydrogen-producing enzymes found in a variety of sources, including green algae.

In the current study, the researchers investigated rates of artificially prepared crystalline surfaces of the mineral pentlandite in a drop of liquid with a diameter of a few hundred nanometres. They used scanning electrochemical cell microscopy for this purpose.

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Apr 11, 2018

The Life Extension is “Just a Fear of Death” Argument

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, ethics, life extension

This is a fairly common response to the discussion of extending healthy human lifespans. The idea that fear of dying is the only thing that motivates the advocates, supporters, and scientists working on rejuvenation biotechnology and ending age-related diseases.


These days, war is not really portrayed in a very good light. When we think about war, we think about genocide, mass murder, and slaughter, and we call for an end to it. The popular sentiment is that war is bad and we should just do away with it. However, once upon a time, things were rather different, and soldiers fighting wars were not seen as victims of mindless violence. Losing your life in battle was considered glorious and noble, and your family would be proud of you for fighting in the name of your country, your God, or whatever. People who were afraid of dying and refused to fight were regarded as cowards, most certainly not as pacifists of a strong moral fiber, and were possibly executed; being a conscientious objector was not yet a thing, and human rights weren’t either.

This is sheer madness to us, but back in the day, it was entirely normal. Most of us will probably think people must have been crazy to let themselves be fooled into believing such nonsense, but that’s the power of propaganda for you.

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Apr 11, 2018

Energy injustice? Cost, availability of energy-efficient lightbulbs vary with poverty levels

Posted by in category: computing

Energy-efficient lightbulbs are more expensive and less available in high-poverty urban areas than in more affluent locations, according to a new University of Michigan study conducted in Wayne County.

U-M researchers explored disparities in the availability and price of energy-efficient bulbs by surveying 130 stores across Michigan’s most populous county.

They found that the cost to upgrade from a conventional incandescent bulb to a highly efficient light-emitting diode, or LED, was twice as high in the highest-poverty areas. At the same time, the price for less-efficient incandescent and halogen lamps (IHLs) decreased as the poverty level increased.

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Apr 11, 2018

Beyond the Milky Way: The sublime beauty of our galactic neighbors

Posted by in category: cosmology

Over the 20th century our knowledge of the universe expanded, as did our technological ability to capture images its outer reaches. The Hubble Space Telescope allowed us to pull back the curtains on the deep limits of the universe and the new millennium promises an even higher definition imaging with the James Webb Space Telescope.

Despite ongoing delays, the JWT promises to take us even closer to the edge of time and space, delivering a new perspective on some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, potentially just a few hundred million years after the big bang.

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Apr 11, 2018

The most powerful physics machine on Earth may have found something that breaks the laws of physics as we know them

Posted by in category: physics

This has opened a whole new window to physics.


This could be big.

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Apr 10, 2018

The ESA Just Discovered a Second Magnetic Field Surrounding Our Planet

Posted by in categories: mapping, satellites, sustainability

A trio of satellites studying our planet’s magnetic field have shown details of the steady swell of a magnetic field produced by the ocean’s tides.

Four years of data collected by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Swarm mission have contributed to the mapping of this ‘other’ magnetic field, one that could help us build better models around global warming.

Physicist Nils Olsen from the Technical University of Denmark presented the surprising results at this year’s European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, explaining how his team of researchers managed to detail such a faint signature.

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Apr 10, 2018

Brain implants put paralyzed man back in touch with himself

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cyborgs, neuroscience

Researchers at Caltech have induced a range of sensations in the arm of a paralyzed man. The breakthrough comes courtesy of electrodes implanted in the brain, which stimulated the neurons to produce different feelings depending on the type of electrical signals. The team says the research could eventually lead to advanced prosthetic limbs that allow users to feel realistic sensations through them.

Plenty of exciting research is being conducted to help paralyzed people regain control of and feeling in their limbs. The NeuroLife system has helped a quadriplegic man move his arms again using just his thoughts, allowing him to perform a number of actions. Electrical nerve stimulation, both with and without electrode implants, has helped several people voluntarily move their legs again, often for the first time in years.

In this new study, Caltech researchers implanted two tiny arrays of electrodes into the somatosensory cortex, the small region of the brain responsible for the body’s sensations of movement or position, as well as cutaneous sensations such as touch, pressure and vibration.

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Apr 10, 2018

Could space tourism become affordable within a decade?

Posted by in categories: alien life, robotics/AI, transportation

How close are we really to space travel? Our featured contributor Lola Akinmade Åkerström talks to Space Nation, a company that’s researching both space tourism and how space technology can help us on Earth.

Thanks to Google, it can often feel like there are no mysterious places left on earth to explore—and finding new places to call the ‘final’ frontier seems increasingly difficult. Even the Pacific Ocean’s Marianna Trench, at over 36,000 feet deep and arguably the most legit final frontier on earth, has been explored by Hollywood director James Cameron in a submersible. As a result, the past few decades have seen us looking upwards to the most mysterious of places: Our own galaxy.

Blockbuster movies set in space and fictional alien encounters continue to intrigue us. Space discovery programs on TV science channels continually pique our curiosity. Even kids’ cartoons such as the 1960s American series The Jetsons brought the concept of commercial space travel closer to us, thanks to its flying space cars, pod-like apartments, and a robot maid called Rosie.

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Apr 10, 2018

Legal experts: Conflict in outer space will happen

Posted by in categories: law, military, policy, space

The University of Nebraska College of Law is joining forces with space and military law experts from Australia and the United Kingdom to take the lead on understanding how our Earth-bound laws will be applied in times of armed conflict in outer space.

Some of the best legal and policy minds at the University of Adelaide, UNSW Canberra, University of Exeter and Nebraska Law will draft the definitive document on military and security law as applied to space.

The Woomera Manual on the International Law of Military Space Operations is to be completed in 2020. It will draw on the knowledge of dozens of legal and space operations experts from around the world.

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Apr 10, 2018

Brain Waves

Posted by in category: neuroscience

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