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March 27, 2007, 7:07 PM CT

Scientists Explain Source of Tiny Tremors

Scientists Explain Source of Tiny Tremors
Tiny earthquakes called non-volcanic tremors recently discovered in fault zones from California to Japan are generated by slow-moving earthquakes that may foreshadow catastrophic events, as per researchers at Stanford University and the University of Tokyo.

As per a research findings reported in the March 15 issue of the journal Nature, seismologists say their findings may be useful in understanding potentially destructive mega-quakes of magnitude 8 or higher. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

"This work gives us a way to use different types of seismic activity to monitor places where large, destructive earthquakes occur," said Eva Zanzerkia, program director in NSF's Division of Earth Sciences.

Gregory Beroza, a geophysicist at Stanford and co-author of the Nature study, said that non-volcanic tremors are often accompanied by low-frequency earthquakes (LFEs)--small quakes of magnitude 1 or 2.

To date, LFEs have been found primarily in subduction zones--seismically active faults where two tectonic plates meet and one plate constantly dives beneath the other. A recent example was the devastating 2004 earthquake near Sumatra, where a magnitude 9.2 quake triggered powerful tsunamis that killed more than 200,000 people.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source


March 25, 2007, 8:13 PM CT

Not All Nanomaterials Are Created Equal

Not All Nanomaterials Are Created Equal Acid-Treated Nanotubes Interact with E. Coli for 15.5 Days
Troy, N.Y. The size, type, and dispersion of nanomaterials could all play a role in how these materials impact human health and the environment, as per two groups of scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In new studies, the teams observed that while carbon nanotubes inhibited growth in mammalian cells, they sustained the growth of usually occurring bacteria.

The seemingly contradictory findings highlight the need for society to better grasp the impacts these infinitesimally small particles could have when released into the environment or the human body, the scientists said. Both results were presented at the 233rd American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting in Chicago, March 25-29, 2007.

In the first study, which was led by Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Deanna M. Thompson, scientists examined the impact of carbon nanotubes on the growth of rat heart muscle cells to better understand how they affect mammalian cells and ultimately human tissue and organs. Unlike prior research that focused on the effects of nanotube clusters on cell growth, this study looked at both the impacts of clusters and related finely dispersed material composed of small bundles of nanotubes and other nanoparticulate impurities.

The scientists discovered that the finely dispersed material, despite its low concentration, inhibited animal cell growth more than larger clusters of nanotubes. Activated carbon, a usually used nanoporous carbon material, had a lower impact on the cells than either the large aggregates or the finely dispersed material. The findings of this study were recently reported in the journal Toxicology Letters.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source


March 21, 2007, 4:59 AM CT

Educational video increases knowledge

Educational video increases knowledge
An educational and motivational video, designed to increase emotional well-being and use of adaptive devices in low vision patients increased knowledge but did not change behavior or emotions, says Schepens Eye Research Institute researchers in a study in the March Issue of Optometry & Vision Science.

"While our video clearly succeeded in increasing patients' knowledge of macular degeneration and the availability of adaptive devices and techniques, it did not change their emotional response to their disease or motivate them to make changes that could improve their quality of life," says Dr. Eli Peli, senior scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute and senior author of the study The Impact of a Video Intervention on the Use of Low Vision Assistive Devices. "These findings suggest that patients need more than a video to encourage them to make changes and improve their feelings about their plight," he adds.

More than one million Americans and millions more worldwide suffer from low vision caused by age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which destroys the tiny center of the retina known as the macula. It is the leading cause of (legal) blindness among European-descended people older than 65 years. Without assistive devices and adaptive behaviors, sufferers of AMD are often unable to perform daily tasks such as reading, writing, driving, and face recognition, which can cause a loss of self-esteem, employment, independence and social interaction. Low vision patients experience emotions ranging from depression to despair and might even entertain thoughts about suicide. "And, while a number of useful assistive devices and adaptive techniques exist, patient and doctor awareness of these possibilities is alarmingly low," says Peli.........

Posted by: Nora      Read more         Source


March 15, 2007, 9:17 PM CT

Enhanced Genome Data Management System

Enhanced Genome Data Management System
As interest in the rising number of newly characterized microbial genomes mounts, powerful computational tools become critical for the management and analysis of these data to enable strategies for such challenges as harvesting the potential of carbon-neutral bioenergy sources and coping with global climate change.

The Integrated Microbial Genomes (IMG) data management system developed by the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) addresses this challenge with the release of version 2.1. Released on the two-year anniversary of its launch, the content of IMG 2.1 is updated with new microbial genomes from National Center for Biotechnology Informations (NCBI) Reference Sequence collection (RefSeq) latest release, Version 21. Other enhancements feature model eukaryotic genomes, including several well-characterized yeast species, and plasmids, the double-stranded circular DNA molecules independent of any sequenced microbessignificantly expanding the utility of the system for comparative genome analysis.

"Over two very productive years the community has adopted IMG as a mainstay genome analysis tool and have supported and contributed to the continuous growth and improvement of the system," said Nikos Kyrpides, head of DOE JGIs Genome Biology program and IMGs scientific lead.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source


March 12, 2007, 9:41 PM CT

Investing In Carbon Capture Research

Investing In Carbon Capture Research
The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources, along with partners from Innoventures Canada (I-CAN), today announced funding for a project correlation to the initial development of the I-CAN Centre for the Conversion of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), at the Economic Club in Calgary.

Under the leadership of the Alberta Research Council, the Saskatchewan Research Council, Manitobas Industrial Technology Centre and a Quebec industrial research centre (Centre de recherche industrielle du Qubec), the I-CAN Centre for the Conversion of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) will help develop microalgae systems that could capture up to 100 million tonnes of CO2 from industrial sources, such as coal-fired plants and oil sands projects. The microalgae, a valuable source of biomass, would then be converted into a range of industrial products and by-products such as renewable natural gas, hydrogen and biofuels.

"This project is a great example of our Governments commitment to finding new and promising projects that will help take Canada to the next level of understanding carbon capture, storage and use," said Minister Lunn. "It builds on our ecoENERGY Initiatives, including the Task Force announced last week by the Prime Minister. We are serious about delivering real results to Canadians and reducing greenhouse gas emissions".........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source


March 11, 2007, 8:46 PM CT

Fermions do not travel together

Fermions do not travel together
Fermions tend to avoid each other and cannot "travel" in close proximity. Demonstrated by a team at the Institut d'optique (CNRS/Universit Paris 11, Orsay-Palaiseau), this result is described in detail in the January 25, 2007 issue of Nature. It marks a major advance in our understanding of phenomena at a quantum scale.

For a number of years, the theory of quantum mechanics stipulated that certain particles, the fermions , were incapable of "travelling" in close proximity. For example, in a jet of identical particles, the theory supposed that the distance between them was always greater than a given value, called the "correlation length".

Researchers in the Charles Fabry Laboratory at the Institut d'optique, working with a team from the Free University in Amsterdam, have recently shown that this "anti-bunching" property, which it had never been possible to demonstrate hitherto, does indeed exist. It is as if the particles repel each other, even though interactions between them are negligible. In fact, this "anti-bunching" is due to quantum interferences which forbid the probability of finding two very close particles.

To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers compared the behaviour of fermions with that of bosons , under identical conditions. Amongst the latter, the same interferences led on the contrary to a "bunching" effect, and thus an increased probability of finding two particles together.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source


March 6, 2007, 4:50 AM CT

LED name badge

LED name badge
Because a handwritten "Hi, my name is. " nametag is so last century. The Infrared LED Name Badge lets you program up to 8 different messages, each with its own customisable appearance like scrolling direction or font size. You can have your name flashing in lights or, if it's used in a work environment, maybe some kind of message of the day.

The badge comes packaged with its own message input software, so adding or updating new messages (via a USB cable) is straightforward enough. And there's even a handy magnetic clip so it can be stuck onto a fridge or anywhere you'd like to leave your own flashing LED message.

Available for $39 from Gadget.brando.com.hk. Via Technabob........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source


March 5, 2007, 8:53 PM CT

New Coating Is Virtual Black Hole

New Coating Is Virtual Black Hole
Scientists have created an anti-reflective coating that allows light to travel through it, but lets almost none bounce off its surface. At least 10 times more effective than the coating on sunglasses or computer monitors, the material, which is made of silica nanorods, may be used to channel light into solar cells or allow more photons to surge through the surface of a light-emitting diode (LED).

Publishing in the March 1, 2007, Nature Photonics, lead author Jong Kyu Kim and a team from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., reveal how they crafted the coating, which reflects almost as little light as do molecules of air.

Guided by National Science Foundation-supported electrical engineer Fred Schubert, the scientists developed a process based on an already common method for depositing layers of silica, the building block of quartz, onto computer chips and other surfaces.

The method grows ranks of nanoscale rods that lie at the same angle. That degree of the angle is determined by temperature. Under a microscope, the films look like tiny slices of shag carpet.

By laying down multiple layers, each at a different angle, the scientists created thin films that are uniquely capable of controlling light. With the right layers in the right configuration, the scientists believe they can even create a film that will reflect no light at all.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source


March 5, 2007, 4:26 PM CT

New Nanoelectronic Switch

New Nanoelectronic Switch
Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated a prototype nanoscale electronic switch that works like lightning-except for the speed. Their proof-of-concept experiments reported last week* demonstrate that nanoscale electrical switches can be built from self-assembled layers of organic molecules on silver wires. Potential applications range from a replacement technology for magnetic data storage to integrated circuit memory devices.

Silver would be a natural choice for nanoscale and microscale electrical contacts because of its high conductivity, but it has one notorious drawback. In an electric field, silver ions readily form silver "whiskers," tree-like branching growths of crystals that can short-out microelectronic devices.

Two NIST scientists have demonstrated that this can be a feature, not a bug, in an elegant experiment that uses this growth to make a nanoscale binary switch. In the experiment, an extremely fine silver wire is coated with a molecule that forms a self-assembled monolayer on the wire, typically some organic molecule with a sulfur group on one end to bond to the silver. An equally fine gold wire is laid crosswise to the silver wire and a small voltage is applied across the two wires. When the voltage is increased to a critical level, silver ions form and quickly branch through the organic monolayer to the gold wire just like a lightning bolt-except solid. When a silver filament reaches the gold, it forms a short circuit, causing a dramatic change in conductance, which is easily detectable. Reversing the voltage retracts the filament and "opens" the switch.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source


March 5, 2007, 4:12 PM CT

Conflicting Signals For Rescue Robots

Conflicting Signals For Rescue Robots Image courtesy of rescue-robot-contest.org
Sensor-laden robots capable of vital search and rescue missions at disaster sites are no figment of a science fiction writer's imagination. Prototypes and commercial models of urban search and rescue (US&R) robots will soon begin to work rubble piles across the country. Too a number of of these lifesaving robots, however, could be too much of a good thing, as per scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), who report that the radio transmissions of multiple robots can interfere with each other and degrade search and rescue performance.

A NIST analysis of wireless radio field trials for US&R robots, presented at a conference on February 28,* observed that 10 out of the 14 robots tested experienced communication problems due to radio interference from other systems. Engineers carried out tests on the robots last August at a US&R robot standards development gathering in Gaithersburg, Md., sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security. The scientists observed that neither use of "industrial, scientific, and medical" (ISM) frequency bands nor adherence to protocols designed to minimize interference between systems in the bands could guarantee flawless communication between a robot and its human operator. Radio interference could happen whenever the ISM frequency bands became crowded or when one user had a much higher output power than the others. An example of the latter problem occurred during the tests when transmitters in the 1760 MHz band knocked out video links in the 2.4 GHz frequency band. In another case, a robot using an 802.11b signal in the 2.4 GHz band overwhelmed and cut off a robot that had been transmitting an analog video link at 2.414 GHz.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source


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