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One area of intensive research at the nanoscale is the creation of electrically conductive meshes made of metal nanowires. Promising exceptional electrical throughput, low cost and easy processing, engineers foresee a day when such meshes are common in new generations of touch-screens, video displays, light-emitting diodes and thin-film solar cells.
Standing in the way, however, is a major engineering hurdle: In processing, these delicate meshes must be heated or pressed to unite the crisscross pattern of nanowires that form the mesh, damaging them in the process.
In a paper just published in the journal Nature Materials, a team of engineers at Stanford has demonstrated a promising new nanowire welding technique that harnesses plasmonics to fuse the wires with a simple blast of light.
The team set out to identify the effects that the first land plants had on the climate during the Ordovician Period, which ended 444 million years ago. During this period the climate gradually cooled, leading to a series of 'ice ages'. This global cooling was caused by a dramatic reduction in atmospheric carbon, which this research now suggests was triggered by the arrival of plants.
There may come a day when mounting a fancy new flat screen TV to your living room wall is as simple as pulling out some double-sided tape. Well, that’s if the double-sided tape is made from Geckskin, an advanced super adhesive that can carry a 700-pound load using only an index card-sized piece. Plus, it leaves no residue on your wall.
The Geckskin has been developed by a team of scientists studying and replicating the amazing adhesion abilities of geckos. The little toes on geckos have millions of microscopic hair-like setae that cause attraction and repulsion at the molecular level. But it’s more than the setae that create the incredible adhesion.
The research team, which include polymer scientists and biologists observed that the padding, bones, and tendons of the gecko work in unison to create the strong stickiness. Hence, with Geckskin, they’ve developed a stiff woven fabric that incorporates a soft adhesive pad woven into a synthetic tendon.
In what is being hailed as the oldest successful regeneration of a living plant, researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences used cells from a 30,000-year-old plant buried in permafrost to create living seedlings.
About 300 million years ago, volcanic ash buried a tropical forest located in what is now Inner Mongolia, much like it did the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.
This preserved forest has given researchers the unusual opportunity to examine an ecosystem essentially frozen in place by a natural disaster, giving them a detailed look at ancient plant communities and a glimpse at the ancient climate.
This ancient, tropical forest created peat, or moist, acidic, decaying plant matter. Over geologic time, the peat deposits were subjected to high pressure and became coal, which is found in the area.
The volcano appears to have left a layer of ash that was originally 39 inches (100 centimeters) thick.
"This ash-fall buried and killed the plants, broke off twigs and leaves, toppled trees, and preserved the forest remains in place within the ash layer," the authors, led by Jun Wang of the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology in China, wrote in an article published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The ash layer dated to about 298 million years ago, early in the Permian Period, when the supercontinent Pangea was coming together.
THE GIST • First discovered in 2009, GJ 1214b was one of the first exoplanets found to have an atmosphere. • In follow-up observations by Hubble, it turns out the planet is composed mostly of water, under a thick, steamy atmosphere. • This represents a unique class of exoplanet where extreme atmospheric conditions make it totally alien to our everyday experience.
The first solid “buckyball” Carbon-60 molecules have been spotted forming a ring around a star 6,500 light-years away, according to data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.
A new paper reports a pair of stars called "XX Ophiuchi," with what looks like a disc of the molecules - dubbed Buckminsterfullerene after the architect who used a similar geodesic style - in orbit around one of the stars. In total they have a mass equivalent to 10,000 Everests, but in practice form a thin ring in orbit around a B-class subdwarf star in the system.
"These buckyballs are stacked together to form a solid, like oranges in a crate," said Nye Evans of Keele University in England, lead author of the paper published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in a statement. "The particles we detected are miniscule, far smaller than the width of a hair, but each one would contain stacks of millions of buckyballs."
The wind speed was recorded by astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which clocked it around 20 million mph, or about 3 percent of the speed of light. This is nearly 10 times faster than had ever been seen from a stellar-mass black hole and may help scientists better understand how these types of black holes behave.
Paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara is looking to print out some robot dinosaurs.
He wants to use a 3-D printer to create dinosaur bones, based on real fossils, to use in scaled-down robo-saurs. In the same way that document programs can shrink a page to 50 or 20 or 2 percent of its original size, a 3-D printing program can shrink a blueprint for 100-foot-long skeletons to a more manageable size for study.
The assembled dino-bots will help Lacovara, who is based at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa., study how 60- to 80-ton sauropods stood, walked and mated. "It's great," he said, "because I physically can't lift up [and piece together] the bones."