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The Lead

Seismic Network Records Urban Sounds

October 30, 2014 7:00 am | by Acoustical Society of America | News | Comments

Although naturally occurring vibrations have proven extremely useful to seismologists, the vibrations caused by humans haven't been explored in any real depth. Now, researchers are describing their efforts to tap into an urban seismic network to monitor the traffic of trains, planes, automobiles and other modes of human transport.

Robots Project Thoughts

October 30, 2014 7:00 am | by MIT, Jennifer Chu | Videos | Comments

In a darkened, hangar-like space a small, Roomba-like robot is trying to make up its mind. A new...

Planet-forming Gas Clumps Seen in Binary Star System

October 29, 2014 2:00 pm | by ESO | News | Comments

GG Tau-A, a multiple-star system, contains a large outer disc encircling the entire system as...

Cause of Rocket Explosion Unknown

October 29, 2014 8:07 am | by Associated Press, Brock Vergakis, Marcia Dunn | News | Comments

The owners of a commercial supply ship that exploded moments after liftoff have promised to find...

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Glaciers Sing

October 29, 2014 7:00 am | by The Geological Society of America | News | Comments

Researchers using seismic recordings, collected near Lake Gornersee in the Swiss Alps, to look for signs of water moving through fractures near the glacier bed, have found that that harmonic tremor occurs within mountain glaciers and that individual icequakes at the glacier base can exhibit harmonic properties.

Chip Can Up Battery Life, Save Energy in Cell Towers

October 29, 2014 7:00 am | by MIT, Rob Matheson | News | Comments

Stream video on your smartphone, or use its GPS for an hour or two, and you’ll probably see the battery drain significantly. As data rates climb and smartphones adopt more power-hungry features, battery life has become a concern. But, a new chip can essentially “switch gears” to adjust voltage supply to power amplifiers in smartphones as needed, cutting power loss to improve battery life.

Using Premium Gas May Save Fuel, Money

October 28, 2014 2:00 pm | by MIT, Jennifer Chu | News | Comments

If the majority of light-duty vehicles in the U.S. ran on higher-octane gasoline, the automotive industry as a whole would reduce its CO2 emissions by 35 million tons per year, saving up to $6 billion in fuel costs, according to a new analysis. The researchers reasoned that the use of higher-octane fuel could spur manufacturers to design vehicles to run on higher-octane— which could lead to more efficient vehicles.

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Researchers Achieve Record Transmission Over Fiber

October 27, 2014 2:00 pm | by Eindhoven Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers are reporting the transmission of a record high 255 Terabits/sec over a new type of fiber, allowing 21 times more bandwidth than currently available in communication networks. This new type of fiber could be an answer to mitigating the impending optical transmission capacity crunch caused by the increasing bandwidth demand.

Faster Switching Key to Ferroelectrics

October 27, 2014 2:00 pm | by UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Ferroelectric materials– commonly used in transit cards, gas grill igniters, video game memory and more– could become strong candidates for use in next-generation computers. Researchers have found an easy way to improve the performance of ferroelectric materials in a way that makes them viable for low-power computing and electronics.

Cutting Power Can Boost Laser Output

October 27, 2014 7:00 am | by Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

Lasers are so deeply integrated into modern technology that their basic operations would seem well understood. Re-examining longstanding beliefs about the physics of these devices, engineers have shown that carefully restricting the delivery of power to certain areas within a laser could boost its output by many orders of magnitude.

New Rocket Propellant, Design Offer Performance, Safety

October 27, 2014 7:00 am | by Los Alamos National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Conventional solid-fuel rocket motors work by combining a fuel and an oxidizer to enhance the burning of the fuel. In higher-energy fuels, this mixture can be somewhat unstable, and can contain sensitive high explosives that can detonate. A new rocket fuel and motor design adds a higher degree of safety by separating the fuel from the oxidizer, both novel formulations that are, by themselves, unable to detonate.

Evidence Found for Long-predicted Exotic State

October 27, 2014 7:00 am | by Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Superconductors and magnetic fields do not usually get along. But a research team has produced new evidence for an exotic superconducting state, first predicted a half-century ago, that can indeed arise when a superconductor is exposed to a strong magnetic field.

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3-D Tech Promises Greater Energy Efficiency

October 23, 2014 2:00 pm | by The Optical Society | News | Comments

At first glance, the static, greyscale display created by a group of researchers might not catch the eye of a thoughtful consumer in a market saturated with flashy, colorful electronics. But a closer look at the specs could change that: the ultra-thin LCD screen is capable of holding three-dimensional images without a power source, making it a compact, energy-efficient way to display visual information.

Riflescope Lets Soldiers Zoom with Ease

October 23, 2014 7:00 am | by Sandia National Laboratories | Videos | Comments

An optical engineer led the development of the Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles (RAZAR) prototype. At the push of a button, RAZAR can toggle between high and low magnifications, enabling soldiers to zoom in without having to remove their eyes from their targets or their hands from their rifles.

Microscope Sees Defects in Nanotubes

October 22, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Oregon | News | Comments

Chemists have devised a way to see the internal structures of electronic waves trapped in carbon nanotubes by external electrostatic charges. However, these traps, or defects, in ultra-thin nanotubes can compromise their effectiveness.

World Record Achieved in Smart Circuits

October 22, 2014 7:00 am | by Chalmers Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

Fewer cords, smaller antennas and quicker video transmission may be the result of a new type of microwave circuit. The research team behind these new circuits currently holds an attention-grabbing world record.

Cosmic Rays Threaten Future Astronaut Missions

October 22, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of New Hampshire | News | Comments

Crewed missions to Mars remain an essential goal for NASA, but scientists are only now beginning to understand and characterize the radiation hazards that could make such ventures risky. A researcher says that, because of a highly abnormal and extended lack of solar activity, the solar wind is exhibiting extremely low densities and magnetic field strengths, which causes dangerous levels of hazardous radiation.

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Engineers Successfully Build Earthquake-resistant House

October 20, 2014 7:00 am | by Stanford Univ. | Videos | Comments

Engineers have built and tested an earthquake-resistant house that stayed staunchly upright even as it shook at three times the intensity of the destructive 1989 Loma Prieta temblor 25 years ago.

Crystalized DNA Key to Nanotech

October 20, 2014 7:00 am | by Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | News | Comments

DNA has garnered attention for its potential as a programmable material platform that could spawn entire new and revolutionary nanodevices in computer science, microscopy, biology and more. Now scientists have designed the first large DNA crystals with precisely prescribed depths and complex 3D features, which could create revolutionary devices.

Physicists: Leave Your Nails Alone

October 17, 2014 2:00 pm | by Institute of Physics | News | Comments

The daily trimming of fingernails and toenails to make them more aesthetically pleasing could be detrimental and potentially lead to serious nail conditions. This is according to researchers who have devised equations to identify the physical laws that govern nail growth, and used them to throw light on the causes of some of the most common nail problems, such as ingrown toe nails, spoon-shaped nails and pincer nails.

Nanoflares May Heat the Sun's Corona

October 17, 2014 7:00 am | by Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics | News | Comments

Why is the Sun's million-degree corona, or outermost atmosphere, so much hotter than the Sun's surface? This question has baffled astronomers for decades. Now, a team has found that miniature solar flares called nanoflares— and the speedy electrons they produce— might partly be the source of that heat, at least in some of the hottest parts of the Sun's corona.

Engineers Lose to Win Laser Performance

October 16, 2014 2:00 pm | by Washington Univ. in St. Louis | News | Comments

To help laser systems overcome loss, operators often pump the system with an overabundance of photons, or light packets, to achieve optical gain. But now, engineers have shown a new way to reverse or eliminate such loss by, ironically, adding loss to a laser system to actually reap energy gains. In other words, they’ve invented a way to win by losing.

Materials Make ‘Warmer’ LEDs

October 16, 2014 7:00 am | by ACS | News | Comments

Researchers have designed a family of materials to make LEDs that don’t include rare earths but instead are made out of copper iodide, which is an abundant compound. They tuned them to glow a warm white shade or various other colors using a low-cost solution process.

Brighter, Energy-saving Flat Lights Based on Nanotubes

October 15, 2014 7:00 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Electronics based on carbon, especially carbon nanotubes, are emerging as successors to silicon for making semiconductor materials. They may enable a new generation of brighter, low-power, low-cost lighting devices that could challenge the dominance of LEDs in the future and help meet society's ever-escalating demand for greener bulbs.

Flexible Coatings Hide Objects from Detection

October 14, 2014 7:00 am | by Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

Developing a cloak of invisibility would be wonderful, but sometimes simply making an object appear to be something else will do the trick, according to electrical engineers. They have developed a metamaterial coating with a negligible thickness that allows coated objects to function normally while appearing as something other than what they really are, or even completely disappearing.

Microbots Could Probe Individual Cells

October 14, 2014 7:00 am | by Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Inexpensive microrobots capable of probing and manipulating individual cells and tissue for biological research and medical applications are closer to reality with the design of a system that senses the minute forces exerted by a robot's tiny probe.

Compound has Strange Combination of Properties

October 14, 2014 7:00 am | by Ludwig Maximilians Univ. | News | Comments

Chemists have synthesized a ferromagnetic superconducting compound that is amenable to chemical modification, opening the route to detailed studies of this rare combination of physical properties.

Researchers ID Best Parameters for Simulating Clouds

October 13, 2014 2:00 pm | by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new study looked for which "tunable" variables were most influential in depicting various cloud types in a global atmospheric model. They found that different parameters influenced different types of clouds.

Researchers Set Records for Silicon Quantum Computing

October 13, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of New South Wales | News | Comments

Two research teams working in the same laboratories at a university have found distinct solutions to a critical challenge that has held back the realization of super powerful quantum computers.

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