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Robots Project Thoughts

October 30, 2014 | by MIT, Jennifer Chu | Comments

In a darkened, hangar-like space a small, Roomba-like robot is trying to make up its mind. A new visualization system combines ceiling-mounted projectors with motion-capture technology and animation software to projects the robot’s intentions in real time.

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Bacteria May Save Bees

October 29, 2014 7:00 am | by Brigham Young Univ. | Comments

For decades, honeybees have been battling a deadly disease that kills off their larvae and leads to hive collapse. It’s called American Foulbrood and its effects are so devastating and infectious, it often requires infected hives to be burned to the ground. Now, an undergraduate has produced a natural way to eliminate the scourge, and it’s working: using tiny killer bugs known as phages to protect baby bees from infection.

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Researchers Learn How Cells Sense, Respond to Chemicals

October 28, 2014 7:00 am | by Johns Hopkins Medicine | Comments

Amoebas aren’t the only cells that crawl: movement is crucial to development, wound healing and immune response in animals, not to mention cancer metastasis. In two new studies, researchers have answered long-standing questions about how complex cells sense the chemical trails that show them where to go— and the role of cells’ internal “skeleton” in responding to those cues.

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New Rocket Propellant, Design Offer Performance, Safety

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

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Star Escapes Black Hole Slightly Damaged

October 24, 2014 2:00 pm | by The Ohio State Univ. | Comments

We may think of black holes as swallowing entire stars— or any other object that wanders too close to their immense gravity. But sometimes, a star that is almost captured by a black hole escapes with only a portion of its mass torn off. Astronomers have gotten the closest look yet at what happens when a black hole takes a bite out of a star— and the star lives to tell the tale.

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The Chemistry of Candy

October 24, 2014 7:00 am | by ACS | Comments

Ever wonder why your favorite sweets taste, well, sweet? Whether they’re made with sugar or artificial sweeteners, it all comes down to chemistry, and a very special shape known as the "sweetness triangle."

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Riflescope Lets Soldiers Zoom with Ease

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

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Aquaponic Systems Can Be Sustainable

October 22, 2014 7:00 am | by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service | Comments

If growing vegetables in a box with no soil and out of direct sunlight sounds a little fishy, well, it is. Aquaponics is a relatively new way of intensified farming that combines aquaculture and hydroponics, according to a vegetable specialist.

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Tarantula Toxin Exposes Activity in Live Cells

October 21, 2014 8:06 am | by UC Davis | Comments

Researchers have created a cellular probe that combines a tarantula toxin with a fluorescent compound to help scientists observe electrical activity in neurons and other cells. The probe binds to a voltage-activated potassium ion channel subtype, lighting up when the channel is turned off and dimming when it is activated.

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Engineers Successfully Build Earthquake-resistant House

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

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Ancient Mountains Fed Early Life

October 17, 2014 7:00 am | by The Australian National Univ. | Comments

Scientists have found evidence for a huge mountain range that sustained an explosion of life on Earth 600 million years ago. The mountain range was similar in scale to the Himalayas and spanned at least 2,500 kilometers of modern west Africa and northeast Brazil, which at that time were part of the supercontinent Gondwana.

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Chimpanzees Have Favorite Tools for Hunting Food

October 16, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Cambridge | Comments

West African chimpanzees will search far and wide to find Alchornea hirtella, a spindly shrub whose straight shoots provide the ideal tools to hunt aggressive army ants in an ingenious fashion. The plant provides the animals with two different types of tool, a thicker shoot for digging and a more slender tool for dipping.

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Sensor Designed to Improve Fit of Prosthetic

October 15, 2014 7:00 am | by Sandia National Laboratories | Comments

A researcher has been studying prosthetics for a decade and is part of a group working to develop a sensor to tell how a limb changes, along with a system that automatically accommodates those changes. After additional testing and refinements, he hopes to find a company that wants to market the sensor system.

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ATMs Run on Windows are Easy to Hack

October 14, 2014 7:00 am | by The Conversation, Bill Buchanan | Comments

A plot has been discovered, apparently spread across Russia, India and China, whereby cash machines can be turned into a free money vending machine. The hack requires re-starting the cash machine– essentially a Windows terminal– from a prepared CD that injects malware into the system to circumvent the security.

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App Highlights how Animals Inspire Technology

October 13, 2014 7:00 am | by Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Highlighting unexpected similarities between what animals do and what people are trying to do is a new strategy researchers are using to hopefully increase public awareness about animals and encourage conservation. They’ve created an iPhone app based on biologically inspired design, highlighting two dozen species that have helped engineers solve problems or invent new solutions.

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Glowing Nanoparticles Can Be Magnetically Manipulated

October 9, 2014 2:00 pm | by MIT, David Chandler | Comments

A long-sought goal of creating particles that can emit a colorful fluorescent glow in a biological environment, and that could be precisely manipulated into position within living cells, has been achieved by a team of researchers.

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