Friday, August 31, 2012

Bears Count as Well as Primates

Researchers studying captive black bears at Alabama's Mobile Zoo have found the animals could discriminate between different numbers of grouped items, showing for the first time other animal species can exhibit cognitive counting abilities on a par with primates.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Cyborg" Tissue Created

Researchers have grown rat neurons, heart cells and muscle cells on a three-dimensional scaffold of conductive nanowires and silicon sensors, creating viable tissues with embedded electronics that can provide real-time biometrics to monitor the health and activity of these tissues and possibly deliver commands or instructions.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sugar Found in Space

Astronomers have discovered simple sugar molecules (glycoaldehyde) in the gas surrounding a star 400 light years away (IRAS 16293-2422), suggesting such organic components may be more common than expected in the search for interstellar life.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Estimate for Microbial Life

New data from studies of single-celled organisms living in marine sediment on the sea floor at the extremes of nutrient starvation downsize previous estimates by as much as 92%, reducing the overall estimated population of microbial life and biomass on Earth by about half.

Monday, August 27, 2012

EPB Virtually Impassable

First hypothesized by Charles Darwin in 1880, a comprehensive study focusing on robust coral species has confirmed the deep, 4000-mile uninterrupted stretch of water known as the Eastern Pacific Barrier (EPB) separating the eastern from the central Pacific Ocean is virtually impassable by most marine species, with implications for climate research and species-preservation efforts.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Two New Owl Species

Researchers have discovered two previously unknown owl species in the Philippines: the Cebu hawk-owl, once thought to be extinct due to deforestation, and the Camiguin hawk-owl, originally suspected to be a subspecies but both confirmed as distinctly new species.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bendable Teeth Discovered

Researchers have found the teeth of the suckermouth catfish (Loricariidae) have a section containing more collagen and significantly less calcium, magnesium and phosphate than the rest of the tooth, permitting the tooth to bend and flex as opposed to being the hardest material in their bodies.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mini Ion Thrusters

Researchers at MIT have developed small, penny-sized electronic engines covered in 500 microscopic tips that emit tiny beams of ions producing 50 micronewtons of force, enough to propel a shoebox-sized satellite through simple orbital maneuvers.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New Superhard Form of Carbon

Scientists have created a form of carbon clusters, a hybrid mix of crystalline and amorphous structures starting with carbon-60 "cages," that yields a new superhard material capable of indenting diamond.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sun's Perfectly Round Shape

With new data from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite, astronomers have found the Sun to have an almost mathematically perfect spherical shape that barely varies at all over time instead of a characteristic rotational bulge along the equator, a surprising result that cannot be explained by current models.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Room-Temperature Maser

Researchers have developed a maser (microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) using a simple crystal called doped p-terphenyl, the first practical design to work at room temperature instead of requiring strong magnetic fields that depend upon complex cooling equipment.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New "Glymphatic System" in Brain

Neuroscientists have discovered a previously unknown system that rapidly drains waste away from the brain, a waste clearance network named the "glymphatic system" that shadows the blood vessels and operates much the same way as the lymphatic system in the rest of the body.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Helium in Moon's Atmosphere

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has detected helium in the thin atmosphere of the Moon, with scientists uncertain if the helium originates from the surface itself via radioactive decay or is captured from external sources such as the solar wind.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Prosthetic Retina Encodes Sight

Neuroscientists have developed a prosthetic retina that works to partially restore sight in mice by pre-processing the visual signals detected and encoding them electronically according to how a healthy retina responds to stimuli before sending the signal to the brain.

Regrown Phantom Hand

A woman born without a finger and a thumb on her right hand that was subsequently amputated after an auto accident has developed a phantom image of her hand, an experience common for amputees but complete with five fingers and a thumb, suggesting our brain has a fully functional map of our body regardless of its physical condition.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fingertip Circuit Enhances Touch

Engineers have designed a flexible circuit sandwiched into a "nanomembrane" of polyimide plastic and mounted on a silicone shape to be worn over the fingertips to provide electrotactile stimulation for the wearer, enhancing the sense of touch for the wearer for a variety of applications.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Plate Tectonics on Mars

Previously thought to exist nowhere else in the solar system but Earth, scientists have discovered evidence of plate tectonics on Mars in about a dozen satellite images of surface fault systems collected from orbiting spacecraft.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dark Matter Near the Sun

Astronomers working from a new mathematical simulation of the Milky Way galaxy and applying real data on the positions and velocities of thousands of orange K dwarf stars have obtained a new, more accurate measure of dark matter density, revealing an abundance of the theoretical material surrounding the Sun.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Two New Human Ancestors

New fossil finds east of Lake Turkana in Kenya of a skull and parts of a jaw confirm two previously unknown species of our genus (Homo) living alongside our direct human ancestor, Homo erectus, almost two million years ago.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Moons of Uranus Will Collide

Running thousands of computer simulations varying the masses and known orbits of Uranus' moons Cupid and Belinda, researchers find the orbits of the two moons always intersect on relatively short time scales, implying a collision in the planetary system is inevitable sometime between 1000 and 10 million years from now.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Longer Lives of Females in DNA

Researchers studying the mitochondrial DNA of fruit flies have found that mutations in male DNA affecting how long they live and how fast they age are not continued to subsequent generations as only the female mitochondrial DNA is passed to offspring, providing a clue why females of many species consistently outlive males.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Flexible Electronic Sensor

Inspired by the wing-locking structures of beetles, engineers have developed a flexible electronic sensor composed of layers of tiny polymer fibers that can detect pressure, shear and torsion that rivals human skin, sensitive to forces as light as 5 pascals.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Meteorite's Left-Handed Molecules

Previously believed to be unique evidence as an indicator of life, excesses of "left-handed" (chiral) aspartic and glutamic amino acids found in meteorites collected from Canada's Tagish Lake have been shown to also be created through non-biological processes.