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Thursday, January 29, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News

ScienceDaily: Top Technology News

Cassini catches Saturn's moon Titan naked in the solar wind

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 03:53 PM PST

Researchers studying data from NASA's Cassini mission have observed that Saturn's largest moon, Titan, behaves much like Venus, Mars or a comet when exposed to the raw power of the solar wind. The observations suggest that unmagnetized bodies like Titan might interact with the solar wind in the same basic ways, regardless of their nature or distance from the sun.

Researchers produce two bio-fuels from a single algae

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 02:01 PM PST

A common algae commercially grown to make fish food holds promise as a source for both biodiesel and jet fuel, according to a new study.

Some potentially habitable planets began as gaseous, Neptune-like worlds

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 01:05 PM PST

Two phenomena known to inhibit the potential habitability of planets -- tidal forces and vigorous stellar activity -- might instead help chances for life on certain planets orbiting low-mass stars, astronomers have found.

Engineer advances new daytime star tracker

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 01:05 PM PST

NASA is developing a precision attitude sensor or star tracker that would be able to locate points of reference, or in other words, stars, during daylight hours.

Gully patterns document Martian climate cycles

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 12:22 PM PST

Gullies carved into impact craters on Mars provide a window into climate change on the Red Planet. A new analysis suggests Mars has undergone several ice ages in the last several million years. The driver of these climate swings is likely the Red Planet's wobbly axis tilt.

To reassure electric car buyers, combine battery leasing with better charging

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 12:22 PM PST

A proper choice of business model plays a critical role in electric vehicle industry where many consumers are subject to range and resale anxieties. In particular, a combination of owning or leasing electric batteries and improving charging technology can reassure such skeptics and help increase the electric vehicle adoption, according to a new study.

Quantum computer as detector shows space is not squeezed

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 11:16 AM PST

Ever since Einstein proposed his special theory of relativity in 1905, physics and cosmology have been based on the assumption that space looks the same in all directions -- that it's not squeezed in one direction relative to another. A new experiment by physicists used partially entangled atoms -- identical to the qubits in a quantum computer -- to demonstrate more precisely than ever before that this is true: to one part in a billion billion.

Missing link in metal physics explains Earth's magnetic field

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 11:16 AM PST

Earth's magnetic field shields the life on our planet's surface from cosmic rays. It is generated by turbulent motions of liquid iron in Earth's core. Iron is a metal, which means it can easily conduct a flow of electrons. New findings show that a missing piece of the traditional theory explaining why metals become less conductive when they are heated was needed to complete the puzzle of this field-generating process.

Spiky 'hedgehog particles' for safer paints, fewer VOC emissions

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 10:12 AM PST

A new process that can sprout microscopic spikes on nearly any type of particle may lead to more environmentally friendly paints and a variety of other innovations.

Holes in valence bands of nanodiamonds discovered: Potential catalysts for splitting water

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 09:54 AM PST

Nanodiamonds are tiny crystals only a few nanometers in size. While they possess the crystalline structure of diamonds, their properties diverge considerably from those of their big brothers, because their surfaces play a dominant role in comparison to their extremely small volumes. Suspended in aqueous solutions, they could function as taxis for active substances in biomedical applications, for example, or be used as catalysts for splitting water.

Mobile apps take students into the laboratory

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 09:54 AM PST

Mobile apps have proved to be valuable educational tools, but laboratory instructors thus far have been limited to using mobile devices only for virtual laboratories with simulated experiments. Now, researchers have developed a series of mobile applications that allow students to remotely interact with real data and equipment in real laboratories. Students reported deeper engagement levels using mobile apps and the virtual lab.

Demystifying nanocrystal solar cells

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 09:54 AM PST

Researchers have developed a comprehensive model to explain how electrons flow inside new types of solar cells made of tiny crystals. The model allows for a better understanding of such cells and may help to increase their efficiency.

The two faces of Mars: Moon-sized celestial object crashed into south pole

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 09:54 AM PST

The two hemispheres of Mars are more different from any other planet in our solar system. Non-volcanic, flat lowlands characterize the northern hemisphere, while highlands punctuated by countless volcanoes extend across the southern hemisphere. Although theories and assumptions about the origin of this so-called and often-discussed Mars dichotomy abound, there are very few definitive answers. Geophysicists are now providing a new explanation.

Breakthrough in terahertz spectroscopy

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 08:41 AM PST

Although terahertz spectroscopy has great potential, especially for environmental monitoring and security screening applications, it previously could not be used effectively to study nanocrystals or molecules at extremely low concentrations. Scientists have now found a solution to this problem by increasing the technique's sensitivity using metallic nanostructures.

Detecting chemical weapons quickly with a color-changing film

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 08:39 AM PST

In today's world, in which the threat of terrorism looms, there is an urgent need for fast, reliable tools to detect the release of deadly chemical warfare agents (CWAs). Scientists are reporting new progress toward thin-film materials that could rapidly change colors in the presence of CWAs -- an advance that could help save lives and hold aggressors accountable.

Eyeglasses that turn into sunglasses -- at your command

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 08:39 AM PST

Imagine eyeglasses that can go quickly from clear to shaded and back again when you want them to, rather than passively in response to changes in light. Scientists report a major step toward that goal, which could benefit pilots, security guards and others who need such control.

Bike-to-work events offer chance to explore barriers to cycling

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 08:39 AM PST

Cities that host bike-to-work events as their sole effort to increase commuter travel by bicycle may be missing a larger -- perhaps more valuable -- opportunity, according to a study. Local governments should use bike-to-work days to find out from participants why they're attending and -- more importantly -- what prevents them from biking more often, according to the study.

Pacemakers with Internet connection, a not-so-distant goal

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 08:37 AM PST

An efficient security protocol has been designed to protect the information provided by pacemakers and similar medical devices connected to the Internet. Thanks to the latest advances in microelectronics and communications technologies, it is not difficult to imagine a future with medical sensors connected to the Internet. Now, thanks to a group of researchers, a little more progress has been made in the area of the remote monitoring of patients by means of implanted sensors.

A robot to help improve agriculture and wine production

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 08:37 AM PST

Agricultural researchers and computer scientists are working on the development of an unmanned robot, equipped with non-invasive advanced sensors and artificial intelligence systems, which will help manage vineyards. This robot will provide reliable, fast and objective information on the state of the vineyards to grapegrowers, such as vegetative development, water status, production and grape composition.

New instrument to study the extreme universe -- the X-Ray polarimeter X-Calibur

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 07:06 AM PST

X-ray polarimetry promises to give qualitatively new information about high-energy astrophysical sources, such as black hole systems, the bright and active centers of galaxies, compact neutron stars, and gamma-ray bursts. The instrument will measure the polarization of 20-80keV X-rays. The detector is completed, tested, and fully calibrated and ready to be flown on a high-altitude balloon.

Researchers use sound to slow down, speed up, and block light

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 06:35 AM PST

How do you make an optical fiber transmit light only one way? Researchers have experimentally demonstrated, for the first time, the phenomenon of Brillouin Scattering Induced Transparency (BSIT), which can be used to slow down, speed up, and block light in an optical waveguide. The BSIT phenomenon permits light to travel in the forward direction while light traveling in the backward direction is strongly absorbed. This non-reciprocal behavior is essential for building isolators and circulators.

Ballooning offers platform for performing research in a space-like environment

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 06:35 AM PST

A high-altitude (>20 km) balloon platform is nearly ideal for carrying out scientific observations in a space-like environment, flight qualifying instrumentation, and transporting humans to the edge of space. This platform is regularly utilized by a wide range of disciplines, including astrophysics, heliophysics, planetary and Earth science. The increasing interest has driven the development of improved capabilities for payloads to fly at high altitudes for longer durations (> 100 days).

The mouth of the beast: VLT images cometary globule CG4

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 05:22 AM PST

Like the gaping mouth of a gigantic celestial creature, the cometary globule CG4 glows menacingly in this new image from ESO's Very Large Telescope. Although it appears to be big and bright in this picture, this is actually a faint nebula, which makes it very hard for amateur astronomers to spot. The exact nature of CG4 remains a mystery.

Game theory explains social interactions of cancer cells

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 05:20 AM PST

The interactions of cancer cells may be explained by using game theory. The Public Goods Game is part of game theory and is used in economics as a model to analyze the provision of common goods. There is an imbalance in the consumption of these goods between those that provide them and pay the production costs and those that do not pay but consume anyway -- a situation that is known in economics as the free rider problem. The researchers now applied this model to the cooperation between producing and non-producing members of a cancer cell population, in order to examine if the model is also applicable to biological processes, such as carcinogenesis.

Nanoscale mirrored cavities amplify, connect quantum memories

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 05:18 AM PST

Constructing tiny "mirrors" to trap light increases the efficiency with which photons can pick up and transmit information about electronic spin states -- which is essential for scaling up quantum memories for functional quantum computing systems and networks.

Crude oil conspiracy theories could be right: Oil is often the reason for interfering in another country's war

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 06:22 PM PST

Researchers have for the first time provided strong evidence for what conspiracy theorists have long thought -- oil is often the reason for interfering in another country's war.

'Knobby terrain' a sign of Mars's explosive past

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 11:08 AM PST

The Red Planet's upper crust is brittle and weak. Planetary geologists often attribute this to effusive eruption -- lava pouring out of a volcano onto the ground -- early in Mars's history with later modifications. However, some have suggested that the friable materials were created by widespread ash-laden explosive volcanoes that were eroded by geologic processes over the course of Martian history.

Novel radioguided brain surgery technique could help pinpoint cancerous tissue

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:09 AM PST

A novel radioguided surgery technique could quickly and effectively identify residual cancer cells during brain tumor surgery, with low radiation exposure for both patients and surgeons. The study reports that Y-90 DOTATOC, a beta-minus-emitting tracer, can effectively delineate the margins of meningiomas and high-grade gliomas.

Do green roofs, solar panels work well together?

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 06:59 AM PST

A new study examines whether solar electricity panels and green roofs can work well in tandem. With ongoing urbanization, which reduces the variety of species found in cities, green roofs can increase biological diversity, and also provide insulation, bringing energy benefits to building owners who will save money on heating and cooling, authors say.

Chromium-centered cycloparaphenylene rings as new tools for making functionalized nanocarbons

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 06:58 AM PST

A team of chemists has synthesized novel transition metal-complexed cycloparaphenylenes (CPPs) that enable selective monofunctionalization of CPPs for the first time, opening doors to the construction of unprecedented nanocarbons.

Maximizing access to mobile networks by seamlessly 'offloading' some traffic

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 06:58 AM PST

Mathematical analysis reveals how to maximize access to mobile networks by seamlessly 'offloading' traffic to smaller Wi-Fi and cellular systems.

Programmed synthesis towards multi-substituted benzene derivatives

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 06:58 AM PST

Chemists have developed a new method to accomplish the programmed synthesis of benzene derivatives with five or six different functional groups that enables access to novel functional organic materials that could not have been reached before.

Business: Experts urge audit transparency: Many firms outsource audit work

Posted: 26 Jan 2015 09:50 AM PST

As major accounting companies increasingly outsource audit work to other firms, a new study from the University of Colorado Denver Business School says greater transparency is needed to help investors assess the quality of those audits.

Cell imaging gets colorful

Posted: 26 Jan 2015 09:47 AM PST

The detection and imaging of protein-protein interactions in live cells just got a lot more colorful, thanks to a new technology. The new method converts biochemical processes into color changes that are easily visualized. This method is a new tool for cell biologists and neuroscientists to use to address questions ranging from fundamental mechanisms in cell biology, to the underlying causes of mental illness, to the discovery of novel therapeutics.

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