A compound that previously progressed to Phase II clinical trials for cancer treatment slows neurological damage and improves brain function in an animal model of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study. The study published the week of March 13 in the Journal of Neuroscience shows that the compound epothilone D (EpoD) is effective in preventing further neurological damage and improving cognitive performance in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The results establish how the drug might be used in early-stage AD patients.
A simple, inexpensive dip-and-dry treatment can convert ordinary silk into a fabric that kills disease-causing bacteria -- even the armor-coated spores of microbes like anthrax -- in minutes, scientists are reporting in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. They describe a range of potential uses for this new killer silk, including make-shift curtains and other protective coatings that protect homes and other buildings in the event of a terrorist attack with anthrax.
New research has linked springtime die-offs of honeybees critical for pollinating food crops -- part of the mysterious malady called colony collapse disorder -- with technology for planting corn coated with insecticides.
Hydrogen fuel cells, like those found in some "green" vehicles, have a lot of promise as an alternative fuel source, but making them practical on a large scale requires them to be more efficient and cost effective.
A research team from the University of Central Florida may have found a way around both hurdles.
The majority of hydrogen fuel cells use catalysts made of a rare and expensive metal -- platinum. There are few alternatives because most elements can't endure the fuel cell's highly acidic solvents present in the reaction that converts hydrogen's chemical energy into electrical power. Only four elements can resist the corrosive process -- platinum, iridium, gold and palladium. The first two are rare and expensive, which makes them impractical for large-scale use. The other two don't do well with the chemical reaction.
UCF Professor Sergey Stolbov and postdoctoral research associate Marisol Alcántara Ortigoza focused on making gold and palladium better suited for the reaction.
They created a sandwich-like structure that layers cheaper and more abundant elements with gold and palladium and other elements to make it more effective.
Electrochemical capacitors (ECs), also known as supercapacitors or ultracapacitors, differ from regular capacitors that you would find in your TV or computer in that they store sustantially higher amounts of charges. They have garnered attention as energy storage devices as they charge and discharge faster than batteries, yet they are still limited by low energy densities, only a fraction of the energy density of batteries. An EC that combines the power performance of capacitors with the high energy density of batteries would represent a significant advance in energy storage technology. This requires new electrodes that not only maintain high conductivity but also provide higher and more accessible surface area than conventional ECs that use activated carbon electrodes.
Now researchers at UCLA have used a standard LightScribe DVD optical drive to produce such electrodes. The electrodes are composed of an expanded network of graphene -- a one-atom-thick layer of graphitic carbon -- that shows excellent mechanical and electrical properties as well as exceptionally high surface area.
UCLA researchers from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and the California NanoSystems Institute demonstrate high-performance graphene-based electrochemical capacitors that maintain excellent electrochemical attributes under high mechanical stress. The paper is published in the journal Science.
High-gain nuclear fusion could be achieved in a preheated cylindrical container immersed in strong magnetic fields, according to a series of computer simulations performed at Sandia National Laboratories.
The simulations show the release of output energy that was, remarkably, many times greater than the energy fed into the container's liner. The method appears to be 50 times more efficient than using X-rays -- a previous favorite at Sandia -- to drive implosions of targeted materials to create fusion conditions.
"People didn't think there was a high-gain option for magnetized inertial fusion (MIF) but these numerical simulations show there is," said Sandia researcher Steve Slutz, the paper's lead author. "Now we have to see if nature will let us do it. In principle, we don't know why we can't."
High-gain fusion means getting substantially more energy out of a material than is put into it. Inertial refers to the compression in situ over nanoseconds of a small amount of targeted fuel.
Such fusion eventually could produce reliable electricity from seawater, the most plentiful material on earth, rather than from the raw materials used by other methods: uranium, coal, oil, gas, sun or wind. In the simulations, the output demonstrated was 100 times that of a 60 million amperes (MA) input current. The output rose steeply as the current increased: 1,000 times input was achieved from an incoming pulse of 70 MA.
While the costs associated with storing nuclear waste and the possibility of it leaching into the environment remain legitimate concerns, they may no longer be obstacles on the road to cleaner energy.
A new paper by researchers at the University of Notre Dame, led by Thomas E. Albrecht-Schmitt, professor of civil engineering and geological sciences and concurrent professor of chemistry and biochemistry, showcases Notre Dame Thorium Borate-1 (NDTB-1) as a crystalline compound that can be tailored to safely absorb radioactive ions from nuclear waste streams. Once captured, the radioactive ions can then be exchanged for higher-charged species of a similar size, recycling the material for re-use.
If one considers that the radionuclide technetium (99Tc) is present in the nuclear waste at most storage sites around the world, the math becomes simple. There are more than 436 nuclear power plants operating in 30 countries; that is a lot of nuclear waste. In fact, approximately 305 metric tons of 99Tc were generated from nuclear reactors and weapons testing from 1943 through 2010. Its safe storage has been an issue for decades.
"The framework of the NDTB-1 is key," says Albrecht-Schmitt. "Each crystal contains a framework of channels and cages featuring billions of tiny pores, which allow for the interchange of anions with a variety of environmental contaminants, especially those used in the nuclear industry, such as chromate and pertechnetate."
If you think the above video is some sort of trippy adaptation of Van Gogh’s classic “Starry Night,” you wouldn’t be the first. Created by NASA’s ECCO2 project, which seeks to estimate the circulation and conditions of the world’s oceans, the animation consists of a portrayal of the surface currents that happened around the globe between June of 2005 and December 2007. Called “Perpetual Ocean,” it displays the beauty of our planet in way that we don’t usually get to see.
Pioneering engineers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow are developing an innovative technique based on lasers that could radically change asteroid deflection technology.
The research has unearthed the possibility of using a swarm of relatively small satellites flying in formation and cooperatively firing solar-powered lasers onto an asteroid -- this would overcome the difficulties associated with current methods that are focused on large unwieldy spacecraft.
Dr Massimiliano Vasile, of Strathclyde's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is leading the research. He said: "The approach we are developing would involve sending small satellites, capable of flying in formation with the asteroid and firing their lasers targeting the asteroid at close range.
Intensive research around the world has focused on improving the performance of solar photovoltaic cells and bringing down their cost. But very little attention has been paid to the best ways of arranging those cells, which are typically placed flat on a rooftop or other surface, or sometimes attached to motorized structures that keep the cells pointed toward the sun as it crosses the sky.
Now, a team of MIT researchers has come up with a very different approach: building cubes or towers that extend the solar cells upward in three-dimensional configurations. Amazingly, the results from the structures they've tested show power output ranging from double to more than 20 times that of fixed flat panels with the same base area.
Common material such as polyethylene used in plastic bags could be turned into something far more valuable through a process being developed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
In a paper published in Advanced Materials, a team led by Amit Naskar of the Materials Science and Technology Division outlined a method that allows not only for production of carbon fiber but also the ability to tailor the final product to specific applications.
"Our results represent what we believe will one day provide industry with a flexible technique for producing technologically innovative fibers in myriad configurations such as fiber bundle or non-woven mat assemblies," Naskar said.
Using a combination of multi-component fiber spinning and their sulfonation technique, Naskar and colleagues demonstrated that they can make polyethylene-base fibers with a customized surface contour and manipulate filament diameter down to the submicron scale. The patent-pending process also allows them to tune the porosity, making the material potentially useful for filtration, catalysis and electrochemical energy harvesting.
Using nanoparticles and alternating magnetic fields, University of Georgia scientists have found that head and neck cancerous tumor cells in mice can be killed in half an hour without harming healthy cells.
A new genre of plastics that mimic the human skin's ability to heal scratches and cuts offers the promise of endowing cell phones, laptops, cars and other products with self-repairing surfaces, scientists reported March 27. The team's lead researcher described the plastics, which change color to warn of wounds and heal themselves when exposed to light, in San Diego at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
• The carcass of a well-preserved, frozen, juvenile mammoth carcass has been discovered in Siberia. • The remains include much of the mammoth's pink flesh and blonde-red fur. • Humans likely butchered parts of the mammoth at least 10,000 years ago.
A team of academics has won a $10m grant for a five-year project to develop robots that can be designed and manufactured by anyone within 24 hours.
“Our goal is to develop technology that enables anyone to manufacture their own customized robot. This is truly a game changer,” said Professor Vijay Kumar, who is leading the team from the University of Pennsylvania, in a statement. “It could allow for the rapid design and manufacture of customized goods, and change the way we teach science and technology in high schools.”