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Preview: PhysOrg.com - latest science and technology news stories

Phys.org - latest science and technology news stories



Phys.org internet news portal provides the latest news on science including: Physics, Nanotechnology, Life Sciences, Space Science, Earth Science, Environment, Health and Medicine.



 



UPS adding to electric truck fleet

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 16:43:08 EST

UPS says it will soon start using electric delivery trucks that cost the same as conventional diesel- or gas-fueled ones.



New crystal structures reveal mysterious mechanism of gene regulation by the 'magic spot'

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 16:21:06 EST

Using an innovative crystallization technique for studying three-dimensional structures of gene transcription machinery, an international team of researchers, led by scientists at Penn State, has revealed new insights into the long debated action of the "magic spot"—a molecule that controls gene expression in Eschericahia coli and many other bacteria when the bacteria are stressed. The study contributes to our fundamental understanding of how bacteria adapt and survive under adverse conditions and provides clues about key processes that could be targeted in the search for new antibiotics. A paper describing the research appears on February 22, 2018 in the journal Molecular Cell.



Airbnb expands offerings with new upscale categories

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 16:19:16 EST

Home-share titan Airbnb on Thursday took aim at more upscale travelers with new categories including premium lodging and properties for "trips of a lifetime."



New partnership aids sustainable growth with Earth observations

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 16:13:02 EST

NASA and the nonprofit Conservation International are partnering to use global Earth observations from space to improve regional efforts that assess natural resources for conservation and sustainable management.



Improved Hubble yardstick gives fresh evidence for new physics in the universe

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:43:53 EST

Astronomers have used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to make the most precise measurements of the expansion rate of the universe since it was first calculated nearly a century ago. Intriguingly, the results are forcing astronomers to consider that they may be seeing evidence of something unexpected at work in the universe.



Few Chicagoland wetlands left without non-native species, study finds

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:40:54 EST

The wetlands in and around Chicago are overwhelmingly invaded by non-native plants, according to a new study by University of Illinois researchers. The study, which pulls together species occurrence data from over 2,000 wetlands in the urban region, is the first to describe wetland invasion patterns on such a large scale in the Chicagoland area.



Researchers track commercial fishing worldwide in near real-time

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:34:47 EST

The global fishing fleet is so big it can be seen from space. Really.



Toenail fungus gives up sex to infect human hosts

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:33:12 EST

The fungus that causes athlete's foot and other skin and toenail infections may have lost its ability to sexually reproduce as it adapted to grow on its human hosts.



Engineers advance the capability of wearable tech

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:31:32 EST

Creating the perfect wearable device to monitor muscle movement, heart rate and other tiny bio-signals without breaking the bank has inspired scientists to look for a simpler and more affordable tool.



Researchers show microscopic wood nanocrystals make concrete stronger

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:30:37 EST

Purdue University researchers studying whether concrete is made stronger by infusing it with microscopic-sized nanocrystals from wood are moving from the laboratory to the real world with a bridge that will be built in California this spring.



Scientists isolate cancer stem cells using novel method

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:28:56 EST

Researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas have devised a new technique to isolate aggressive cells thought to form the root of many hard-to-treat metastasized cancers—a significant step toward developing new drugs that might target these cells.



Study suggests evolutionary change in protein function respects biophysical principles

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:00:21 EST

Some molecular biologists who study the proteins that regulate cell operations, including Elizabeth Vierling at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, do not confine their research to understanding the molecules' current roles. They also look deep into the proteins' evolutionary past to explore what structures have allowed proteins with new functions to develop in response to new needs.



Surprising new study redraws family tree of domesticated and 'wild' horses

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:00:21 EST

There are no such things as "wild" horses anymore.



Neanderthals were artistic like modern humans, study indicates

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:00:18 EST

Scientists have found the first major evidence that Neanderthals, rather than modern humans, created the world's oldest known cave paintings - suggesting they may have had an artistic sense similar to our own.



Loops, loops, and more loops: This is how your DNA gets organised

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:00:15 EST

Remarkably, living cells are able to package a jumble of DNA over two meters in length into tidy, tiny chromosomes while preparing for cell division. However, scientists have been puzzled for decades about how the process works. Researchers from the Kavli Institute of Delft University and EMBL Heidelberghave now isolated and filmed the process, and witnessed in real time how a single protein complex called condensin reels in DNA to extrude a loop. By extruding many such loops in long strands of DNA, a cell effectively compacts its genome so it can be distributed evenly to its two daughter cells. The scientists published their findings in Science. 



In living color: seeing cells from outside the body with synthetic bioluminescence

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:00:14 EST

Glowing creatures like fireflies and jellyfish are interesting to researchers, as their bioluminescent molecules contribute to visualizing a host of biological processes. Now, scientists in Japan have supercharged these molecules, making them hundreds of times brighter in deep tissues and allowing for imaging of cells from outside the body. The bioengineered light source was used to track cancer cells in mice and brain-cell activity in monkeys, but its applications extend beyond the lab.



Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:00:13 EST

Wheat, millet and maize all need nitrogen to grow. Fertilisers therefore contain large amounts of nitrogenous compounds, which are usually synthesised by converting nitrogen to ammonia in the industrial Haber-Bosch process, named after its inventors. This technology is credited with feeding up to half of the present world population.



Scientists verify theory of the role of the South Pacific in natural atmospheric CO2 fluctuations

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:00:02 EST

A team led by geochemist Dr. Katharina Pahnke from Oldenburg has discovered important evidence that the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at the end of the last ice age was triggered by changes in the Antarctic Ocean. The researchers from the University of Oldenburg's Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM), the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen and the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) were able to demonstrate that the deep South Pacific was strongly stratified during the last ice age, and could thus have facilitated long-term, deep-sea storage of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2). The study, which has now been published in the academic journal Science, also indicates that in the course of the warming following the end of the last ice age the mixing of the deep water masses increased, releasing stored CO2 and enhancing global warming.



Good vibrations feel the Force

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 13:59:04 EST

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal. By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are at large distances from the equilibrium arrangements. This promises new insights into the mechanical properties of matter and their instability near phase changes.



Toyota, Genesis among Consumer Reports' top auto picks

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 13:41:03 EST

Toyota has four of the 10 vehicles on Consumer Reports' annual top picks, the most of any brand.



Another former employee sues Google over issues of diversity

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 13:39:26 EST

Another former Google employee is suing the tech company over issues of diversity.



Modification of CRISPR guide RNA structure prevents immune response in target cells

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 13:37:29 EST

CRISPR-mediated genome editing has become a powerful tool for modeling of disease in various organisms and is being developed for clinical applications. Preassembled Cas9 ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) composed of the recombinant Cas9 protein and in vitrotranscribed (IVT) guide RNA complexes can be delivered into cells without risk of foreign DNA integration into the host genome and with fewer off-target effects. However, in a study published today in Genome Research, scientists discovered in vitro-transcribed gRNAs, containing a 5' triphosphate (5'ppp) moiety, activate the immune response in human cells leading to cell death.



Extinct lakes of the American desert west

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 13:35:52 EST

Boulder, Colo., USA: The vestiges of lakes long extinct dot the landscape of the American desert west. These fossilized landforms provide clues of how dynamic climate has been over the past few million years.



With computation, researchers identify promising solid oxide fuel cell materials

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 13:34:43 EST

Using advanced computational methods, University of Wisconsin-Madison materials scientists have discovered new materials that could bring widespread commercial use of solid oxide fuel cells closer to reality.



Imaging individual flexible DNA 'building blocks' in 3-D

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 13:11:07 EST

Over the past decade, researchers have been working to create nanoscale materials and devices using DNA as construction materials through a process called "DNA origami."



Financial structure of early childhood education requires overhaul to make it accessible and affordable for all families

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 13:09:39 EST

High-quality early care and education (ECE) is critical to positive child development and has the potential to generate economic returns, but the current financing structure of ECE leaves many children without access to high-quality services and does little to strengthen the ECE workforce, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Transforming the accessibility, affordability, and quality of ECE provided outside the child's home will require phased implementation, amounting to at least an estimated $140 billion annually from the public and private (philanthropy, employers, and families) sectors in the final phase of implementation. The report says an ideal financing structure should support high standards; a highly qualified workforce; and equitable access for families from all socio-economic, racial, ethnic, ability, and geographic backgrounds.



How spacecraft testing enabled bone marrow research

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 13:08:02 EST

In the 1970s, a NASA employee stepped up to a challenge posed by the National Institutes of Health or NIH: to freeze bone marrow.



Moths in mud can uncover prehistoric secrets

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 13:07:12 EST

Moth scales, preserved in the mud of a coniferous forest lake, have been used to identify outbreaks of these insects over the past 10,000 years. This groundbreaking new technique, reported in the open-access journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, can tell us more about the frequency and intensity of past and future insect epidemics, their impact on the forest environment and how they are linked to climate change.



Invasion of the body-snatching fungus

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 12:56:41 EST

UConn researchers recently documented in Nature Scientific Reports a gory and fascinating relationship between periodical cicadas and a fungus that infects them, hijacks their behavior, and causes a scene straight out of a zombie movie.



Understanding the wetting of micro-textured surfaces can help give them new functionalities

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 12:55:26 EST

The wetting and adhesion characteristics of solid surfaces critically depend on their fine structures. However, until now, our understanding of exactly how the sliding behaviour of liquid droplets depends on surface microstructures has been limited. Now, physicists Shasha Qiao, Qunyang Li and Xi-Qiao Feng from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China have conducted experimental and theoretical studies on the friction of liquid droplets on micro-structured surfaces.