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?
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
'Nov. 1, 2013 — Despite current beliefs, sugar intake is not directly associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, according to a new study in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association. Rather, high-calorie diets promote the progression of this serious form of liver disease.
Researchers conducted a double-blind study of healthy, but centrally overweight men to compare the effects of high intakes of two types of sugar, glucose and fructose, in two conditions -- weight-maintaining (moderate-calorie diet) and weight-gaining (high-calorie diet). In the weight-maintaining period, men on neither diet developed any significant changes to the liver. However, in the weight-gaining period, both diets produced equivalent features of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, including steatosis (fatty liver) and elevated serum transaminase and triglycerides. These findings indicate that fructose and glucose have comparable effects on one's liver, and calorie intake is the factor responsible for the progression of liver disease.
"Based on the results of our study, recommending a low-fructose or low-glycemic diet to prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is unjustified," said Professor Ian A. Macdonald, study author and faculty of medicine and health sciences, University of Nottingham, UK. "The best advice to give a patient is to maintain a healthy lifestyle with diet and exercise. Our study serves as a warning that even short changes in lifestyle can have profound impacts on your liver."'
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
'A team of Harvard scientists and engineers has demonstrated a new type of battery that could fundamentally transform the way electricity is stored on the grid, making power from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar far more economical and reliable…
The paper reports a metal-free flow battery that relies on the electrochemistry of naturally abundant, inexpensive, small organic (carbon-based) molecules called quinones, which are similar to molecules that store energy in plants and animals.'