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June 10, 2006, 7:51 PM CT

Synthesizing Complex Surfaces

Synthesizing Complex Surfaces Illustration of NIST's new gradient surface for materials research: a graded co-polymer
Credit: NIST
Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated an elegantly simple technique for synthesizing a wide variety of complex surfaces that vary in a controlled fashion across a test strip. The new technique is so flexible that it can be applied to surface science experiments ranging from developing better paints to exploring the bonding of proteins to cell membranes.

So-called "gradient composition surfaces"--their chemical composition changes gradually across the surface--have been shown to be powerful research tools for rapid, high-throughput testing of complicated surface properties, but they can be tricky to build. The new NIST technique described in a recent paper in Advanced Materials* coats a silicon wafer with a brush-like copolymer surface, varying the relative concentration of two components, or monomers, of the polymer along the length of the substrate. The dense polymer brush provides a controlled interaction surface at the top while effectively masking the underlying substrate.

The heart of the NIST technique is a combined microfluidic mixer and reaction chamber. The two components are injected into the mixer with gradually changing flow rates and mix thoroughly before filling a thin reaction chamber holding the silicon wafer substrate. Once the solution leaves the mixing region, the narrow dimensions of the reaction chamber inhibit further mixing, so the varying composition ratios through the chamber remain stable while the solution polymerizes on the substrate.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


June 10, 2006, 7:48 PM CT

Circuit Board Materials May Like It Hot

Circuit Board Materials May Like It Hot
Electrical circuits may act differently in Arizona than they do in Alaska--potentially affecting the performance of computers and other electronics. A new technique identifies and quantifies an important cause of this temperature sensitivity.

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and DuPont Electronic Technologies (Research Triangle Park, N.C.) have demonstrated a nondestructive method for measuring how temperature affects the electrical properties of three common circuit board materials (ceramic, polymer and glass). The work, described at a recent conference,* provides manufacturers with an accurate technique for measuring high-frequency electrical properties of substrates without cutting up the material--enabling faster, less expensive and easier testing--as well as a tool for designing circuits and substrates with improved performance.

NIST has been working with ceramic and printed-wiring board manufacturers for five years to develop the technique. They previously have used the method to measure changes in electrical properties as substrates are subjected to different electromagnetic frequencies. The work is important to the electronics industry because the performance of electrical circuits depends in part on the electrical properties of the substrate.........

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June 6, 2006, 11:43 PM CT

Supercomputers To Transform Science

Supercomputers To Transform Science
New insights into the structure of space and time, climate modeling, and the design of novel drugs, are but a few of the many research areas that will be transformed by the installation of three supercomputers at the University of Bristol.

At peak performance the multi-million pound high performance computers (HPCs) will carry out over 13 trillion calculations per second. That is equivalent to the entire population of the world working simultaneously on hand-held calculators for about three hours.

"This initiative puts Bristol at the forefront of high performance computing", said Professor David May, Head of Computer Science. "The HPC impact will be enormous - right across all disciplines - turning data into knowledge. It will influence both research and teaching. Universities that understand this will be the most competitive in the 21st century".

The University today announced the award of the contract to install the computers to a consortium led by ClusterVision, working with IBM and ClearSpeed Technology. The largest of the three HPCs will be one of the fastest University research computers in the UK, and is expected to be one of the top 100 computers of its type in the world.

Dr David Newbold, physicist, explained how the new HPC cluster will allow the University's physicists to be amongst the first to examine results from the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest particle collider which is set to provide new insights into the structure of space and time and the origin of mass.........

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June 3, 2006, 6:48 PM CT

Eardrum Could Lead To Tiny Microphones

Eardrum Could Lead To Tiny Microphones
Being able to hear the smallest of noises is a matter of life or death for many insects, but for the scientists studying their hearing systems understanding how insect ears can be so sensitive could lead to new microphones able to capture and analyse extremely faint sounds.

A multidisciplinary team at the University of Bristol have used funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to explore the workings of the 'ears' of a locust. These are micrometre thick membranes with complex and varying structural properties. The thickness of the membrane varies at different points and this affects how it responds to sounds - and in the case of ambient noise the team have discovered the membrane oscillates by only a few nanometres. The thickness of a human hair is about 80,000 nanometres across.

Professor Daniel Robert is the research leader at Bristol: "We have found that different sound frequencies elicit very different mechanical responses in the locust hearing system. By studying these tiny nanoscale movements and understanding how sound waves are turned into mechanical responses we may be able to develop microphones based on the functions of natural hearing. These could detect very faint sounds and analyse their frequency, something that current microphones cannot pick up".........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


June 3, 2006, 1:33 PM CT

Make your gadgets unstealable

Make your gadgets unstealable
When I finally bought an iPod, it was after 2 years of waiting for the "right" model to come along. But my troubles failed to cease - for along came the fear of getting my precious one nicked. There isn't a truly comprehensive insurance scheme available for portable electronics as yet, so we recommend that you take a look at Datadots for some solace. So what are Datadots? The Datadots DNA kit contains a bunch of tiny dots suspended in adhesive which you smear on your beloved gadgets. Each dot within the kit contains the same unique serial number which you register at the Datadots site. The idea is that if the device is stolen and is recovered by police, they can trace it back to you.

Wondering what's the use of Datadots once the device is already stolen? For one, the police can definitely tell if the gadget is stolen. If you are a persistent gluer, you can also stick the dots in different places on the gadget (though it is recommended to smear the glue mostly on the gadget innards, to keep it looking pretty). A major deterrent for thieves is that they will end up with a very ugly gadget if they try scraping off all the dots. The glue also contains warning stickers to highlight that the gadget has been marked against theft.

Datadots are also being used by car manufacturers such as Audi, BMW and Ford Australia to reduce car thefts, and by several corporations and leading manufacturers as well. Check out the Datadots global website for further information.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


June 1, 2006, 7:20 PM CT

Raiders Of The Lost Dimension

Raiders Of The Lost Dimension
A team of researchers working at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory's Pulsed Field Facility at Los Alamos has uncovered an intriguing phenomenon while studying magnetic waves in barium copper silicate, a 2,500-year-old pigment known as Han purple. The scientists discovered that when they exposed newly grown crystals of the pigment to very high magnetic fields at very low temperatures, it entered a rarely observed state of matter. At the threshold of that matter state--called the quantum critical point-the waves actually lose a dimension. That is, the magnetic waves go from a three-dimensional to a two-dimensional pattern. The discovery is yet another step toward understanding the quantum mechanics of the universe.

Writing about the work in today's issue of the scientific journal Nature, the scientists describe how they discovered that at high magnetic fields (above 23 Tesla) and at temperatures between 1 and 3 degrees Kelvin (or roughly minus 460 degrees Fahrenheit), the magnetic waves in Han purple crystals "exist" in a unique state of matter called a Bose Einstein condensate (BEC). In the BEC state, magnetic waves propagate simultaneously in all of three directions (up-down, forward-backward and left-right). At the quantum critical point, however, the waves stop propagating in the up-down dimension, causing the magnetic ripples to exist in only two dimensions, much the same way as ripples are confined to the surface of a pond.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


May 30, 2006, 10:38 PM CT

In Quest For Inexhaustible Energy Source

In Quest For Inexhaustible Energy Source The ITER device
Image courtesy of ITER
As gas prices soar and greenhouse gases continue to blanket the atmosphere, the need for a clean, safe and cheap source of energy has never seemed more pressing.

Scientists have long worked to meet that need, exploring alternative energy technologies such as wind and solar power. But, after decades of quiet progress, the spotlight is now on another potentially inexhaustible energy source.

Seven countries signed an agreement in Brussels last week (May 24) to launch construction of the multibillion dollar International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in southern France. The largest fusion-energy experiment ever conducted, ITER is the culmination of years of research by scores of scientists, and is poised to answer long-standing questions about the real-world viability of fusion energy. The United States, China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation are joint sponsors of the project, which will experimentally generate up to 500 million watts of energy.

An international collective of physicists and engineers is working to both complement and lend expertise directly to the ITER initiative - and researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are firmly placed among them.

"[ITER] is a major threshold that we've been waiting to get to for 20 years," says Raymond Fonck, a UW-Madison professor of engineering physics and the chief scientist of ITER's U.S. project office. "The project is the No. 1 priority in fusion research in the country and the world, and essentially takes us to a regime we've never been to before".........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


May 29, 2006, 11:35 PM CT

Get Hooked On Creatures Of The Deep

Get Hooked On Creatures Of The Deep
An official website for Creatures of the Deep, a fishing game for Nokia's next generation mobile gaming platform, was unveiled today, featuring a blog-powered news section, fun interactive hidden treasures, and a teaser trailer at www.mobileangler.com.

The website is designed by award-winning Juicy Studios as a multi-level underwater depth experience with strong community features and fun interactive elements. Each menu option submerges you from the surface to the ocean floor as you explore the underwater world. The stunning 3D graphics are even reproduced in the game itself including weather effects and day to night cycles.

"Creatures of the Deep and its respective website, reinforces that Nokia is pushing the boundaries of mobile gaming forward," says Brandon Crick, Games Marketing Manager, Multimedia, Nokia. "Creatures of the Deep takes advantage of mobile device technologies such as vibration feedback and camera motion tracking. Every nibble and the true fight of the fish are felt through tactile vibration feedback. The player can also use the camera motion sensing feature to perform a physical cast. Adding these elements with stunning visuals is a testament to what is possible with Nokia's next generation mobile gaming experience".

Creatures of the Deep takes you on a made-for-mobile fishing adventure. Travel through some of the world's most exotic angler destinations, cast your line and catch boatloads of fish, sea creatures, and underwater items to store in your virtual live-well. The single player career mode will challenge you with dozens of quests as you freely roam the expansive fantasy and real-world fishing destinations. Compete in tournaments online via the N-Gage Arena to determine who will wear the crown of the ultimate angler worldwide.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


May 27, 2006, 9:58 AM CT

Honda To Take Over World

Honda To Take Over World
So we're reading our daily edition of The Car Connection and we stumble on something that distracted us from our donut. Well, it didn't really distract us, we ate it up anyway, but it wasn't as satisfying. You see, way, way at the bottom is a little piece on how Honda has figured out how to control robots with their brains!

So not only does Detroit have to deal with the kick-ass new Civic (hybrid, coupe, and sedan), the new. the new. what's that noise? It's frickin' Mechagodzilla! What's that near Mechagodzilla's feet? Is that Takeo Fukui? In a Honda Fit? He's controlling Mechagodzilla while driving?! What's he saying? It's economical and fun to drive? Emporer Fukui is destroying Detroit while using very little fuel! Run for your god-damned lives!.

It was a dozen donuts and now we can't run from Mechagodzilla. We've done this to ourselves! Damn you tasty treats!........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


May 27, 2006, 9:40 AM CT

Making Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak

Making Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak
Two scientists at Duke University and a third from London's Imperial College have crunched the numbers, and they say it might be possible to build a real-life invisibility cloak like that used by Harry Potter in J. K. Rowling's children's books.

The key, say the professors, would be the creation of a so-far nonexistent metamaterial that would absorb all electromagnetic waves from one side of an object and then project them on the other side, making the object appear effectively invisible and transparent. The researchers are currently working on creating this metamaterial, and hope to begin by building a small invisibility cloak of just a few millimeters in width.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


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