Saturday, December 27, 2014
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Saturday, December 20, 2014
The bedrock, nicknamed "Cumberland," is Curiosity's second drilling site on the Red Planet. After drilling into the rock, NASA tested what's called the "D-to-H" ratio in the water, which compares the amounts of deuterium (heavy hydrogen) and normal hydrogen in the compound. Compared to the water vapor present in Mars' atmosphere, the water within Cumberland has roughly twice as much hydrogen. NASA says the tests confirm that most of the water present on the surface of Mars disappeared at least 3.9 billion years ago.
Also present in the water? Organic molecules, which are the first found by Curiosity. Hydrogen was present (as it's a part of water), but carbon was also found in the same drilling sample. The findings, "...shed light on a chemically active modern Mars and on favorable conditions for life on ancient Mars."
"This first confirmation of organic carbon in a rock on Mars holds much promise," said MIT's Roger Summons, who works on the Curiosity team as a Participating Scientist. "The challenge now is to find other rocks on Mount Sharp that might have different and more extensive inventories of organic compounds."'
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Speed. That's key to ending the Ebola epidemic, says the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Thomas Frieden is visiting West Africa this week to figure out how to reduce the time it takes to find new Ebola cases and isolate them.
Otherwise, Ebola could become a permanent disease in West Africa.
The computing giant launched a preview of is Skype Translator project today, with the first iteration supporting English and Spanish.
A video demonstration showed two students -- one in the United States, one in Mexico, using the software to have a conversation in their native languages.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
"Today's Mars is dry and probably has been that way for 2 billion years, but at one time Mars was shaped by water," said Ashwin Vasavada, NASA's deputy project scientist for the Mars rover Curiosity. "Rivers, lakes and ground water were present for millions of years. The atmosphere must have been thicker. Mars must have been warmer... and the climate system must have been loaded with water."
Mars at one time had the right ingredients and the right environment to support life, even if only in microbial form.
Friday, December 12, 2014
The Office of Naval Research reported Wednesday that its laser weapons system -- dubbed LaWS -- had performed flawlessly in tests aboard the amphibious transport dock USS Ponce in the Arabian Gulf from September to November.
"Laser weapons are powerful, affordable and will play a vital role in the future of naval combat operations," Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, chief of naval research, said in a statement. "We ran this particular weapon, a prototype, through some extremely tough paces, and it locked on and destroyed the targets we designated with near-instantaneous lethality."
Klunder said the laser performed so well that the commander of the Ponce is now authorized to use it in defense of the vessel, according to a report from the U.S. Naval Institute.
"The captain of that ship has all of the authorities necessary if there was a threat inbound to that ship to protect our sailors and Marines (and) we would defend that ship with that laser system," Klunder is quoted as saying in a USNI report.
The laser could be used to stop threats ranging from drones and helicopters to small patrol boats, Klunder said, according to the USNI report.
Navy video released Wednesday shows the LaWS hitting exactly those types of targets. Watching the video, you can't see any light beam as you might expect from watching science fiction movies. Instead, the targets just burn up.
The Navy says the laser weapon is safer than conventional arms that use propellants and explosive warheads, and more cost-effective.
"At less than a dollar per shot, there's no question about the value LaWS provides,
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
On Dec 9, 2014, at 8:52 AM, <larry.r.trout> wrote:
'Scientists have found a way to accelerate subatomic particles to an energy gradient 1,000 times that of the massive Large Hadron Collider at CERN — all with a device that would fit on a tabletop.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkely National Lab used a specialized petawatt laser and plasma to speed up the particles. Known as a laser-plasma accelerator, it allows physicists to shrink the standard accelerator, which in the case of CERN is miles long, to much more compact machines, according to Gizmag.
Scientists shot plasma with a laser and produced energy of 4.25 giga-electron volts. The Large Hadron Collider, which is 17 miles in circumference and uses a series of modulated electromagnetic fields, can only achieve 100 mega-electron volts per meter before the energy starts to threaten the metal structure that holds it together.
The device put together by the Berkeley Lab is just a plasma tube that is 3.5 inches long, achieving a speed that would typically take many miles for a standard particle accelerator.
There is a catch, however: The approach of laser-plasma accelerators is entirely different, and used one of the most powerful lasers in the world, the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA), which produced a beam of light that equates to a quadrillion watts of power, or a petawatt. Researchers focused the laser on the small tube that contained the plasma.
The team was able to focus the laser beam into a 500 micro hole from a distance of 14 meters, which produced huge waves of rolling energy that accelerated free electrons in the plasma, similar to how a surfer increases its speed while going down the face of a wave, according to the report.'
At a stroke, this device removes the pain of learning one's mother tongue, and explains how a child can pick up a native language in such a short time. It's brilliant. Chomsky's idea dominated the science of language for four decades. And yet it turns out to be a myth. A welter of new evidence has emerged over the past few years, demonstrating that Chomsky is plain wrong…'
Monday, December 1, 2014
Friday, November 28, 2014
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
'The probe that landed on the surface of a comet has discovered organic molecules, the most rudimentary building blocks of life, according to the German agency involved in the mission.
An instrument aboard the Philae lander detected the molecules after "sniffing" the comet's atmosphere. An organic compound is one whose molecules contain the carbon atom, the basis of life on earth.
Scientists are analyzing the data to see whether the organic compounds detected by Philae are simple ones—such as methane and methanol—or a more complex species such as amino acids, the building blocks for proteins. A drill on Philae also obtained some material from the comet's hard surface, but data about organic molecules from that experiment have yet to be fully analyzed.'
Monday, November 17, 2014
'Physicists have engineered a spiral laser beam and used it to create a whirlpool of hybrid light-matter particles called polaritons, hybrid particles that have properties of both matter and light and could link electronics with photonics.'
'Engineers have successfully printed complex electronic circuits using a common t-shirt printer. The electronic circuits are printed using unique materials in layers on top of everyday flexible materials such as plastic, aluminum foil and even paper. Resistors, transistors and capacitors, the key components of a complex electronic circuit, are printed using non-toxic organic materials like silver nanoparticles, carbon and plastics.'
Monday, November 10, 2014
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
'Ghez, who studies thousands of stars in the neighbourhood of the supermassive black hole, said G2 appears to be just one of an emerging class of stars near the black hole that are created because the black hole's powerful gravity drives binary stars to merge into one.
Ghez also noted that, in our galaxy, massive stars primarily come in pairs. '
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Sunday, October 26, 2014
'Scientists have reconstructed the genome of a man who lived 45,000 years ago, by far the oldest genetic record ever obtained from modern humans. The research, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, provided new clues to the expansion of modern humans from Africa about 60,000 years ago, when they moved into Europe and Asia.
And the genome, extracted from a fossil thighbone found in Siberia, added strong support to a provocative hypothesis: Early humans interbred with Neanderthals.
Monday, October 13, 2014
'A string of a dozen volcanoes, at least several of them active, has been found beneath the frigid seas near Antarctica, the first such discovery in that region.
Some of the peaks tower nearly 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) above the ocean floor — nearly tall enough to break the water's surface.
"That's a big volcano. That's a very big volcano. If that was on land it would be quite remarkable," said Philip Leat, a vulcanologist with the British Antarctic Survey who led a seafloor mapping expedition'
Technologies like this allow us to imagine a new form of quarantine. Rather than relying on primitive instruments, indiscriminate profiling or questionnaires, we should consider running a pilot program to test asymptomatic travelers using sensitive P.C.R.-based techniques. Obviously, such technologies are expensive, but the cost is not prohibitive. A typical P.C.R. reaction, including labor, costs between $60 and $200 (we have already spent 100 times more disposing of the contaminated sheets from the home Mr. Duncan stayed in). Since the test takes about a third of the time of a trans-Atlantic flight, the flight would become the quarantine.
Huge logistical questions would need to be solved. Where would such a screening test be administered — before departure from West Africa, or upon landing? Could we imagine a walking quarantine in which travelers were granted provisional entry, but recalled if they tested positive? What infection precautions would need to be in place for such testing? What forms of consent would be required? Who would bear the costs? Who exactly would be tested?'
'Duke University researchers have made fluorescent molecules emit photons of light 1,000 times faster than with previous designs — a speed record, and a step toward realizing superfast light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for nanophotonic devices, such as telecommunication lasers and as single-photon sources for quantum cryptography.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Friday, October 10, 2014
'How can a beam of light tell the difference between left and right? Tiny particles have now been coupled to a glass fiber. The particles emit light into the fiber in such a way that it does not travel in both directions, as one would expect. Instead, the light can be directed either to the left or to the right. This has become possible by employing a remarkable physical effect – the spin-orbit coupling of light. This new kind of optical switch has the potential to revolutionize nanophotonics.'
Looks like a Diode for light
Thursday, October 9, 2014
'Fusion energy almost sounds too good to be true -- zero greenhouse gas emissions, no long-lived radioactive waste, a nearly unlimited fuel supply.
Perhaps the biggest roadblock to adopting fusion energy is that the economics haven't penciled out. Fusion power designs aren't cheap enough to outperform systems that use fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas.
University of Washington engineers hope to change that. They have designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the size of a large electrical power plant, would rival costs for a new coal-fired plant with similar electrical output.
Monday, October 6, 2014
'A new study published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on October 2 could rewrite the story of ape and human brain evolution. While the neocortex of the brain has been called "the crowning achievement of evolution and the biological substrate of human mental prowess," newly reported evolutionary rate comparisons show that the cerebellum expanded up to six times faster than anticipated throughout the evolution of apes, including humans.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
The problem is that we have pretty good evidence that black holes do
exist. If they don't exist then we have some explaining to do.
Years ago I saw how a few scientific dissenters theorized that black
holes were really just neutron stars, which is kind of like "black
hole-lite". However neutron stars couldn't account for the evidence
of billion solar mass black holes at the center of every galaxy.
Monday, September 29, 2014
'We think it is a really elegant solution," said Matt Atwood, the chief executive. At its heart is a "hydrothermal liquefaction" system that heats the algae and other solids in the sewage to more than 550 degrees Fahrenheit, at 3,000 pounds per square inch, turning out a liquid that resembles crude oil from a well.
The company sent the liquid to Auburn University, where scientists added hydrogen (a common step in oil refining) to produce diesel fuel. An independent laboratory, Intertek, confirmed that the diesel fuel met industry specifications. The thermal processing has caught the attention of independent scientists. The Department of Energy recently awarded a $4 million grant to a partnership led by SRI International for further work on Algae Systems' hydrothermal processing system…
Some companies have tried gene-altered algae, but Algae Systems uses naturally occurring forms drawn from the bay. Whichever strain flourishes in the bags is what the company uses. "We call it the Hunger Games," Mr. Atwood said.
The early results were promising enough for IHI, a Japanese conglomerate, to invest $15 million.'
Friday, September 26, 2014
'This is a mission that has been budgeted at 4.5bn rupees ($74m), which, by Western standards, is staggeringly cheap.
The American Maven orbiter that arrived at the Red Planet on Monday is costing almost 10 times as much.
Back in June, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi even quipped that India's real-life Martian adventure was costing less than the make-believe Hollywood film Gravity.'
Thursday, September 25, 2014
'Astronomers have detected water vapour in the atmosphere of a planet that orbits a star far beyond our solar system.
Observations of the Neptune-sized planet, which lies 120 light years from Earth in the constellation of Cygnus, revealed that its atmosphere was mostly hydrogen with around 25% made up from water vapour.
Until now, researchers have been frustrated in their efforts to study the atmospheres of planets much smaller than Jupiter because their skies were thick with clouds. The problem was so persistent that astronomers had begun to think that all warm, small planets formed with substantial cloud cover.
But writing in the journal Nature, scientists in the US describe how they found a Neptune-sized planet with cloud-free skies, enabling them to make detailed measurements of a small planet's atmosphere for the first time.
The planet, named HAT-P-11b, is about four times the diameter of Earth. It orbits so close to its star that surface temperatures reach more than 600C and a year passes in five Earth days. Like our own Neptune, the planet lacks a rocky surface – it's a ball of gas – and is thought to be lifeless'
Monday, September 22, 2014
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Friday, September 19, 2014
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Friday, August 29, 2014
Friday, August 22, 2014
'Researchers have developed a way to use a laser to measure people's blood sugar, and, with more work to shrink the laser system to a portable size, the technique could allow diabetics to check their condition without pricking themselves to draw blood. In a new article, the researchers describe how they measured blood sugar by directing their specialized laser at a person's palm.'
... We live in interesting times.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Big Blue released a research paper describing the latest fruits of
these labors. With this paper, published in the academic journal
Science, the company unveils what it calls TrueNorth, a custom-made
"brain-like" chip that builds on a simpler experimental system the
company released in 2011.
TrueNorth comes packed with 4,096 processor cores, and it mimics one
million human neurons and 256 million synapses, two of the fundamental
biological building blocks that make up the human brain. IBM calls
these "spiking neurons." What that means, essentially, is that the
chip can encode data as patterns of pulses, which is similar to one
of the many ways neuroscientists think the brain stores information.'
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Although respiratory support can ease problems with breathing and prolong survival, it does not affect the progression of ALS. Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within three to five years from the onset of symptoms. The median survival time from onset to death is around 39 months, and only 4% survive longer than 10 years. Physicist Stephen Hawking has lived with the disease for more than 50 years, though he is an unusual case.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
bone marrow transplantation. The immune system ages and weakens with
time, making the elderly prone to life-threatening infection and other
maladies, and a UC San Francisco research team now has discovered a
"We have found the cellular mechanism responsible for the inability of
blood-forming cells to maintain blood production over time in an old
organism, and have identified molecular defects that could be restored
for rejuvenation therapies," said Emmanuelle Passegué, PhD, a
professor of medicine and a member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center
of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF. Passegué, an
expert on the stem cells that give rise to the blood and immune
system, led a team that published the new findings online July 30,
2014 in the journal Nature.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
'A new material structure developed at MIT generates steam by soaking up the sun. The structure -- a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam -- is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water. When sunlight hits the structure's surface, it creates a hotspot in the graphite, drawing water up through the material's pores, where it evaporates as steam.
Monday, July 28, 2014
Friday, July 25, 2014
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Friday, June 20, 2014
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Friday, June 13, 2014
'Researchers have demonstrated a technique for detecting and controlling ultrahigh frequency sound waves at the nanometer scale. This represents an advance towards next generation ultrasonic imaging with potentially 1,000 times higher resolution than today's medical ultrasounds.'
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
This is according to two researchers who explore the possibility in a new paper submitted to the arXiv pre-print service. Although their work is purely theoretical, Zilong Li and Cosimo Bambi of Fudan University in Shanghai have identified a specific emission signature surrounding their hypothetical wormhole, a signature that may be detected by a sophisticated instrument that will soon be attached to one of the world's most powerful telescopes.
ANALYSIS: Wormhole Time Travel 'Possible' (If You're a Photon)
Sagittarius A* (or Sgr A*) is a region in the Milky Way's core that generates powerful radio waves and astronomers have long suspected that it is the location of a black hole approximately 4 million times the mass of our sun. It wasn't until astronomers were able to track stars orbiting close to the suspected black hole's event horizon, however, that the supermassive black hole was confirmed to be there.
But supermassive black holes are a conundrum.
Now we know what signature our supermassive black hole generates, astronomers have discovered that the majority of other galaxies also possess supermassive black holes in their cores. Even when looking into the furthest cosmological distances at the youngest known galaxies, they also appear to host these black hole behemoths.'
Monday, May 26, 2014
Monday, May 19, 2014
Sunday, May 18, 2014
'In a strategy that combines two of the hottest ideas in cancer research, scientists at the National Institutes of Health said they successfully attacked a woman's disease by using her immune system to home in on genetic mutations unique to her tumors.
The findings, published Thursday by the journal Science, come from just one patient—a 45-year-old woman in Montana. But researchers said her case, in which she received billions of immune cells specially grown to target her tumors, amounts to evidence the technique may be a way to treat many common cancers now considered difficult to target with the immune system.
So-called immunotherapy has so far shown the most promise in relatively rare cancers such as melanoma and kidney cancers.
This new approach "represents the blueprint for making immunotherapy available to treat common cancers," said Steven A. Rosenberg, chief of the Surgery Branch at the National Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Research and senior author of the study. "We've figured out a way to target what is absolutely unique on each cancer. That is the mutations that make the cancer a cancer."'
'Researchers have discovered a natural molecule that could be used to treat insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The molecule, a derivative of omega-3 fatty acids, mimics some of the effects of physical exercise on blood glucose regulation.'
Friday, May 16, 2014
Sunday, May 4, 2014
Monday, April 28, 2014
The American Chemical Society said in 2012 that graphene was discovered to be 200 times stronger than steel and so thin that a single ounce of it could cover 28 football fields. Chinese scientists have created a graphene aerogel, an ultralight material derived from a gel, that is one-seventh the weight of air. A cubic inch of the material could balance on one blade of grass. "Graphene is one of the few materials in the world that is transparent, conductive and flexible — all at the same time," said Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, a lecturer in nanomaterials at the University of Manchester. "All of these properties together are extremely rare to find in one material."
So what do you do with graphene? Physicists and researchers say that we will soon be able to make electronics that are thinner, faster and cheaper than anything based on silicon, with the option of making them clear and flexible. Long-lasting batteries that can be submerged in water are another possibility In 2011, researchers at Northwestern University built a battery that incorporated graphene and silicon, which the university said could lead to a cellphone that "stayed charged for more than a week and recharged in just 15 minutes." In 2012, the American Chemical Society said that advancements in graphene were leading to touch-screen electronics that "could make cellphones as thin as a piece of paper and foldable enough to slip into a pocket."'
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Friday, April 18, 2014
'New research demonstrates how carnivores transitioned into herbivores for the first time on land. Previously unknown, the 300-million-year old fossilized juvenile skeleton of Eocasea martini is less than 20 cm long. Found in Kansas, it consists of a partial skull, most of the vertebral column, the pelvis and a hind limb. By comparing the skeletal anatomy of related animals, scientists discovered that Eocasea martini belonged to the caseid branch of the group Synapsid. This group, which includes early terrestrial herbivores and large top predators, ultimately evolved into modern living mammals. Eocasea lived nearly 80 million years before the age of dinosaurs.'
'In a cloning first, scientists create stem cells from adults
Scientists have moved a step closer to the goal of creating stem cells perfectly matched to a patient's DNA in order to treat diseases, they announced on Thursday, creating patient-specific cell lines out of the skin cells of two adult men.
The advance, described online in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is the first time researchers have achieved "therapeutic cloning" of adults. Technically called somatic-cell nuclear transfer, therapeutic cloning means producing embryonic cells genetically identical to a donor, usually for the purpose of using those cells to treat disease.
But nuclear transfer is also the first step in reproductive cloning, or producing a genetic duplicate of someone - a technique that has sparked controversy since the 1997 announcement that it was used to create Dolly, the clone of a ewe. In 2005, the United Nations called on countries to ban it, and the United States prohibits the use of federal funds for either reproductive or therapeutic cloning.
The new study was funded by a foundation and the South Korean government.
If confirmed by other labs, it could prove significant because many illnesses that might one day be treated with stem cells, such as heart failure and vision loss, primarily affect adults. Patient-specific stem cells would have to be created from older cells, not infant or fetal ones. That now looks possible, though far from easy: Out of 39 tries, the scientists created stem cells only once for each donor.'
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Friday, April 11, 2014
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
To cosmologists, our universe looks disturbingly fine-tuned for life. Without its Goldilocks-perfect alignment of the physical constants—everything from the strength of the force attaching electrons to atoms to the relative weakness of gravity—planets and suns, biochemistry, and life itself would be impossible...
If ours was the only cosmos spawned by a Big Bang, these life-friendly properties would seem impossibly unlikely. But in a multiverse containing zillions of universes, a small number of life-friendly ones would arise by chance—and we could just happen to reside in one of them.http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140318-multiverse-inflation-big-bang-science-space/
Friday, March 14, 2014
Friday, February 28, 2014
Early Native Americans Lived on Bering Strait for Millennia Before Traveling into North America : Science : University Herald
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
When you first take a bite of sugary cereal, your taste receptors that respond to sweetness, found at the tip of your tongue, send a signal to the portion of your brain called the cerebral cortex.
This signal activates ‘the reward system’ and causes you to want to take another bite. Excessive activation of this reward system, Dr. Avena suggests, can cause ‘loss of control, craving and intolerance to sugar.’
Monday, February 17, 2014
appletrees, only he, & myself. amidst other discourse, he told me, he
was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of
gravitation came into his mind. "why should that apple always descend
perpendicularly to the ground," thought he to him self: occasion'd by
the fall of an apple, as he sat in a comtemplative mood: "why should
it not go sideways, or upwards? but constantly to the earths centre?
assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. there must be a
drawing power in matter. & the sum of the drawing power in the matter
of the earth must be in the earths centre, not in any side of the
earth. therefore dos this apple fall perpendicularly, or toward the
centre. if matter thus draws matter; it must be in proportion of its
quantity. therefore the apple draws the earth, as well as the earth
draws the apple."
Friday, February 14, 2014
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Monday, February 10, 2014
Monday, February 3, 2014
‘Social symptoms in autistic children may be caused by hyper-connected neurons
The brains of children with autism show more connections than the brains of typically developing children do. What's more, the brains of individuals with the most severe social symptoms are also the most hyper-connected. The findings reported in two independent studies are challenge the prevailing notion in the field that autistic brains are lacking in neural connections.’
‘Autistic brains create more information at rest, study show
New research finds that the brains of autistic children generate more information at rest -- a 42 percent increase on average. The study offers a scientific explanation for the most typical characteristic of autism -- withdrawal into one's own inner world. The excess production of information may explain a child's detachment from their environment.’
Sunday, February 2, 2014
‘Researchers turn adult cells back into stem cells’
‘'Stem cells' created in less than 30 minutes in 'groundbreaking' discovery’
‘Groundbreaking discovery could pave way for routine use of stem cells in medicine’
Saturday, February 1, 2014
New catalyst to convert greenhouse gases into chemicals
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
‘Scientists using the Herschel space observatory have made the first definitive detection of water vapor on the largest and roundest object in the asteroid belt, Ceres.
Plumes of water vapor are thought to shoot up periodically from Ceres when portions of its icy surface warm slightly. Ceres is classified as a dwarf planet, a solar system body bigger than an asteroid and smaller than a planet.
Herschel is a European Space Agency (ESA) mission with important NASA contributions.
"This is the first time water vapor has been unequivocally detected on Ceres or any other object in the asteroid belt and provides proof that Ceres has an icy surface and an atmosphere," said Michael Küppers of ESA in Spain, lead author of a paper in the journal Nature.’
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Another Photoelectrochemical Catalyst
'An improved, cost-effective catalyst for water-splitting devices
by Staff Writers
Lausanne, Switzerland (SPX) Jan 16, 2014
Publishing in Nature Communications, an EPFL-led team of scientists has found a method to create a high-efficiency, scalable solar water splitting device using cheap materials…
One of the most sustainable methods of producing hydrogen is photoelectrochemical (PEC) water-splitting. Solar energy is used to break water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen through a process called "hydrogen evolution reaction".
This reaction requires a catalyst, which is a chemical agent that increases its speed. In PEC water-splitting devices, a common catalyst used to split water is platinum, which is deposited on the surface of the solar panel's photocathode - the solar panel's electrode that converts light into electric current.
A research team at EPFL has now found a way to make efficient solar-powered water splitting devices using abundant and cheap materials. The group of Xile Hu developed a molybdenum-sulfide catalyst for the hydrogen evolution reaction, and the group of Michael Gratzel developed copper(I) oxide as a photocathode.
The researchers found that the molybdenum sulfide can be deposited on the copper(I) oxide photocathode for use in PEC water splitting through a simple deposition process that can be easily expanded onto a large scale.
The technique shows comparable efficiency to other hydrogen evolution reaction catalysts like platinum, it preserves the optical transparency for the light-harvesting surface and it shows improved stability under acidic conditions, which could translate into lower maintenance.
But more importantly, both the catalyst and the photocathode are made with cheap, earth-abundant materials that could greatly reduce the cost of PEC water-splitting devices in the future. According to senior author Xile Hu, the work represents a state-of-the-art example for solar hydrogen production devices.'
Friday, January 17, 2014
'Google's smart contact lens: what it does and how it works
Wearables may be on everyone's list as the major tech trend of the year, but Google just kicked it up to a whole new level. The company announced a project to make a smart contact lens on its official blog Thursday.
But the lens isn't going to be used to deliver your e-mail straight into your skull — at least not yet. This project is working to tackle one of the biggest health problems facing the country today: diabetes.
The soft contact lens that Google's is introducing — it's still just a prototype — houses a sensor between two layers of lenses that measures the glucose levels in tears. The lens also features a small — really small — antenna, capacitor and controller, so that the information gathered from the lens can move from your eye to a device where that data can be read and analyzed.
According to a short explanation of the technology provided by Google, the chip and sensors are mounted on a small plastic-like film. A tiny pinhole in the lens lets tear fluid seep over the glucose monitor to get regular readings. Right now, the company said, it can get a level reading once every second.'
Since when did Google get into the medical devices business?