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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.



 



US investigates after lab improperly ships nuclear material

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 04:00:31 EDT

U.S. regulators said Friday they are launching an investigation into the improper shipment of nuclear material from the laboratory that created the atomic bomb to other federal facilities this week, marking the latest safety lapse for Los Alamos National Laboratory as it faces growing criticism over its track record.



Utah evacuees watched flames draw closer, smoke get thicker

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 19:18:25 EDT

A wildfire menacing a southern Utah ski town for nearly a week flared again, doubling in size for the second night in a row and torching more homes after residents fled the flames, officials said Friday.



Mars rover Opportunity on walkabout near rim

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 19:09:08 EDT

NASA's senior Mars rover, Opportunity, is examining rocks at the edge of Endeavour Crater for signs that they may have been either transported by a flood or eroded in place by wind.



New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 18:49:04 EDT

As farmers survey their fields this summer, several questions come to mind: How many plants germinated per acre? How does altering row spacing affect my yields? Does it make a difference if I plant my rows north to south or east to west? Now a computer model can answer these questions by comparing billions of virtual fields with different planting densities, row spacings, and orientations.



By far, men garner most coveted speaking slots at virology meetings

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 18:47:39 EDT

Ann Palmenberg and Rob Kalejta heard complaints at one too many virology conferences about the perceived lack of women among the invited and keynote speakers. So, they did what all good scientists do: They tracked down the data.



Making ferromagnets stronger by adding non-magnetic elements

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 18:46:52 EDT

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory discovered that they could functionalize magnetic materials through a thoroughly unlikely method, by adding amounts of the virtually non-magnetic element scandium to a gadolinium-germanium alloy.



Cut US commercial building energy use 29 percent with widespread controls

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 18:46:00 EDT

Like driving a car despite a glowing check-engine light, large buildings often chug along without maintenance being performed on the building controls designed to keep them running smoothly.



Atomic imperfections move quantum communication network closer to reality

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 18:43:55 EDT

An international team led by the University of Chicago's Institute for Molecular Engineering has discovered how to manipulate a weird quantum interface between light and matter in silicon carbide along wavelengths used in telecommunications.



NASA adds up Tropical Storm Cindy's rainfall

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 18:41:15 EDT

Tropical storm Cindy was downgraded to a tropical depression after moving onshore near the Texas and Louisiana Border on Thursday June 22, 2017 and bringing a lot of rain with it. That rainfall was measured by NASA using satellite data.



Google to stop scanning Gmail for ad targeting

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 18:39:31 EDT

Google said Friday it would stop scanning the contents of Gmail users' inboxes for ad targeting, moving to end a practice that has fueled privacy concerns since the free email service was launched.



Chickens may illuminate how humans developed sharp daylight vision

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 18:34:15 EDT

Humans belong to a select club of species that enjoy crisp color vision in daylight, thanks to a small spot in the center of the retina at the back of the eye. Other club members include monkeys and apes, various fish and reptiles, and many birds, which must home in on their scurrying dinners from afar or peck at tiny seeds.



Kansas jury awards $218M to farmers in Syngenta GMO suit

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:24:26 EDT

A Kansas federal jury awarded nearly $218 million on Friday to farmers who sued Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta over its introduction of a genetically engineered corn seed variety.



Bid for environmental rights pact to kick off in Paris

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:24:00 EDT

Politicians, legal experts and activists will launch a campaign in Paris on Saturday for a global pact to protect the human right to a clean, healthy environment.



Bioengineers create more durable, versatile wearable for diabetes monitoring

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:21:08 EDT

Researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas are getting more out of the sweat they've put into their work on a wearable diagnostic tool that measures three diabetes-related compounds in microscopic amounts of perspiration.



CHESS mission will check out the space between stars

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:20:29 EDT

Deep in space between distant stars, space is not empty. Instead, there drifts vast clouds of neutral atoms and molecules, as well as charged plasma particles called the interstellar medium—that may, over millions of years, evolve into new stars and even planets. These floating interstellar reservoirs are the focus of the NASA-funded CHESS sounding rocket mission, which will check out the earliest stages of star formation.



Team launches 'comb and copter' system to map atmospheric gases

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:19:10 EDT

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder have demonstrated a new mobile, ground-based system that could scan and map atmospheric gas plumes over kilometer distances.



Fungal toxins easily become airborne, creating potential indoor health risk

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:00:01 EDT

Toxins produced by three different species of fungus growing indoors on wallpaper may become aerosolized, and easily inhaled. The findings, which likely have implications for "sick building syndrome," were published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.



German parties salvage vote on social media hate posts bill

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:40:57 EDT

Germany's governing parties have cleared the way for parliament to vote on legislation designed to get illegal content such as hate speech or defamatory fake news removed quickly from social networking sites.



Total solar eclipse 1st in 99 years to sweep width of US

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:30:01 EDT

This August, the U.S. will experience its first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in 99 years.



Founder of Russian messaging app defies official ultimatum

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:15:57 EDT

The founder of a Russian encrypted messaging app is defying the government's request to provide information about his company.



Self-folding origami: Chemical programming allows Nafion sheets to fold and refold

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:15:18 EDT

Plastic with a thousand faces: A single piece of Nafion foil makes it possible to produce a broad palette of complex 3D structures. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, researchers describe how they use simple chemical "programming" to induce the foil to fold itself using origami and kirigami principles. These folds can be repeatedly "erased" and the foil can be "reprogrammed".



Is it okay for children to count on their fingers?

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:12:38 EDT

Is it OK for children to count on their fingers? Generations of pupils have been discouraged by their teachers from using their hands when learning maths. But a new research article, published in Frontiers in Education shows using fingers may be a much more important part of maths learning than previously thought.



Discovery of a new mechanism involved in the migration of cancer cells

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:11:31 EDT

A team of young French researchers has discovered a new mechanism which facilitates cell migration. On the surface of its membrane, the cell develops multiple small hooks which help it to attach to fibers outside the cell and move along them. This action helps us to understand better how a cell escapes from the tumor mass and moves around the body to form a new focus.



Turtle go-slow zone extensions needed

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:03:05 EDT

James Cook University marine scientists are calling for an extension of go-slow zones in turtle habitats to reduce boat strikes on the threatened creatures.



Researchers develop mathematical method for defining electoral districts

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:02:39 EDT

For democratic elections to be fair, voting districts must have similar sizes. When populations shift, districts need to be redistributed - a complex and, in many countries, controversial task when political parties attempt to influence redistricting. Mathematicians at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now developed a method that allows the efficient calculation of optimally sized voting districts.



Dune ecosystem modelling

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:00:05 EDT

Acacia longifolia, which is native to Australia, is a species which was cultivated in Portugal primarily to stabilize dunes and as an ornamental plant; now it has spread out uncontrollably in Portugal and into many ecosystems around the world. This has varying effects on native species. Because of a symbiosis with bacteria at its roots, Acacia longifolia can use atmospheric nitrogen from the air; it also grows fast and produces a lot of biomass. This means it adds nitrogen to the otherwise low-nutrient dune ecosystem, giving it unintended fertilizer. The acacia also uses more water than the native species. A team of researchers headed by the ecologists Professor Christiane Werner and Christine Hellmann, in collaboration with scientists at the Universities of Münster and Hamburg, has worked out a new approach to determine the extent to which the physical surroundings influence the acacia's interaction with other plants.



Sweet bribes for ants are key to crops bearing fruit, study shows

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:59:13 EDT

Flowering crops such as beans and cotton offer their sweetest nectar to recruit colonising ants in a strategy that balances their need for defence and to reproduce, research suggests.



Equipping form with function

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:57:40 EDT

Common toys such as steerable cars or waving wind-up figures are available as 3D-printable models, which also contain their mechanical components. However, these mechanical structures are optimized to fit exactly one particular shape of the toy. If designers want to reuse such a mechanism with different shapes, the necessary manual adjustments to the individual components are often unmanageable for non-experts, in addition to being extremely tedious. Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) in collaboration with colleagues from Adobe Research have now solved this problem by developing an interactive design tool that allows users to easily adjust a mechanical template to the shape of their choice. The software tool, which will be made available in the future, will be presented at this year's prestigious "SIGGRAPH" conference by first author and PhD student Ran Zhang from the research group of Bernd Bickel.



Does dark matter annihilate quicker in the Milky Way?

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:54:00 EDT

Researchers at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai have proposed a theory that predicts how dark matter may be annihilating much more rapidly in the Milky Way, than in smaller or larger galaxies and the early Universe.



New research reveals impact of seismic surveys on zooplankton

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:52:28 EDT

Marine seismic surveys used in petroleum exploration could cause a two to three-fold increase in mortality of adult and larval zooplankton, new research published in leading science journal Nature Ecology and Evolution has found.