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Edge on Health

Heightened Immunity to Colds May Cause Asthma Flare-ups

June 22nd 2011

Health/Medicine - Childhood asthma

People often talk about “boosting” their immunity to prevent and fight colds. Nutritional supplements, cold remedies and fortified foods claim to ward off colds by augmenting the immune system.

A new University of Michigan study shows this strategy might actually be flawed. The results may hold important implications for individuals with asthma, who often experience life-threatening flare-ups due to infections with cold viruses.

The study, using a novel mouse model, shows that, in the airways, the immune response to the common cold is actually maladaptive. Mice that were engineered to have a reduced innate immune response to the common cold actually showed less - not more - airway inflammation and bronchoconstriction (airway spasm) following infection. Read more ..


Edge on the Environment

Mississippi Flooding Brings Record 'Dead Zone' to Gulf of Mexico

June 22nd 2011

Environment Topics - Dead Zone Gulf of Mexico
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center graphic

Extreme flooding of the Mississippi River this spring is expected to result in the largest Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" on record, according to a University of Michigan aquatic ecologist and his colleagues.

The 2011 forecast, released today by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), calls for a Gulf dead zone of between 8,500 and 9,421 square miles, an area roughly the size of New Hampshire.

The most likely 2011 scenario, according to U-Michigan's Donald Scavia, is a Gulf dead zone of at least 8,500 square miles, surpassing the current record of 8,400 square miles, set in 2002. The average over the past five years is about 6,000 square miles. Read more ..


Edge of Outer Space

X-Ray Telescope Discovers New Voracious Black Holes in Early Universe

June 21st 2011

Science - baby black hole

Using the deepest X-ray image ever taken, a University of Michigan astronomer and her colleagues have found the first direct evidence that massive black holes were common in the early universe. This discovery from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory shows that very young black holes grew more aggressively than previously thought, in tandem with the growth of their host galaxies.

By pointing Chandra at a patch of sky for over six weeks, astronomers obtained what is known as the Chandra Deep Field South (CDFS). When combined with very deep optical and infrared images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, the new Chandra data allowed astronomers to search for black holes in 200 distant galaxies, from when the universe was between about 800 million and 950 million years old. Read more ..


The Medical Edge

Non-Invasive Brain Implant may Translate Thought into Movement

June 21st 2011

Social Topics - Sullen Woman

A brain implant developed at the University of Michigan uses the body's skin like a conductor to wirelessly transmit the brain's neural signals to control a computer, and may eventually be used to reactivate paralyzed limbs.

The implant is called the BioBolt, and unlike other neural interface technologies that establish a connection from the brain to an external device such as a computer, it's minimally invasive and low power, said principal investigator Euisik Yoon, a professor in the U-M College of Engineering, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Currently, the skull must remain open while neural implants are in the head, which makes using them in a patient's daily life unrealistic, said Kensall Wise, the William Gould Dow Distinguished University professor emeritus in engineering. Read more ..


Urban Edge

Cockroach Allergens Explain Why Childhood Asthma is Prevalent in Urban Neighborhoods

June 16th 2011

Animals - Cucarachas

Children living on New York City blocks where asthma is common have higher levels of exposure to cockroach allergens and are more likely to be sensitized to it. In New York City, the prevalence of asthma among children entering school varies by neighborhood anywhere from 3 percent to 19 percent, and children growing up within walking distance of each other can have 2-3 fold differences in risk for having asthma.

In the first comprehensive effort to understand what drives these localized differences, researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health compared the household presence of cockroach, mouse, cat, dust mite and other allergens in neighborhoods with a high prevalence of asthma to that in low-prevalence neighborhoods. They found that cockroach, mouse and cat allergens were significantly higher in homes located in neighborhoods where asthma is more common and that children in these higher-exposure homes were more likely to be sensitized to cockroach antigens. Read more ..


The Race for Batteries

New Sodium-Manganese Oxide Rechargeable Batteries Can take the Heat off the Grid

June 15th 2011

Science - sodium maganese battery

By adding the right amount of heat, researchers have developed a method that improves the electrical capacity and recharging lifetime of sodium ion rechargeable batteries, which could be a cheaper alternative for large-scale uses such as storing energy on the electrical grid.

To connect solar and wind energy sources to the electrical grid, grid managers require batteries that can store large amounts of energy created at the source. Lithium ion rechargeable batteries -- common in consumer electronics and electric vehicles -- perform well, but are too expensive for widespread use on the grid because many batteries will be needed, and they will likely need to be large. Sodium is the next best choice, but the sodium-sulfur batteries currently in use run at temperatures above 300 degrees Celsius, or three times the temperature of boiling water, making them less energy efficient and safe than batteries that run at ambient temperatures. Read more ..


The Nano Edge

New Technique for Producing Low-Cost Nanodevices for Solar Power and Drug Delivery

June 14th 2011

Science - Titanium nanotubes
Microscopic image of imprinted titanium tubes - Weiss Lab.

A simple technique for stamping patterns invisible to the human eye onto a special class of nanomaterials provides a new, cost-effective way to produce novel devices in areas ranging from drug delivery to solar cells. The technique was developed by Vanderbilt University engineers and described in the cover article of the May issue of the journal Nano Letters. The new method works with materials that are riddled with tiny voids that give them unique optical, electrical, chemical and mechanical properties. Imagine a stiff, sponge-like material filled with holes that are too small to see without a special microscope.

For a number of years, scientists have been investigating the use of these materials – called porous nanomaterials – for a wide range of applications including drug delivery, chemical and biological sensors, solar cells and battery electrodes. There are nanoporous forms of gold, silicon, alumina, and titanium oxide, among others. Read more ..


The Race for Alt Fuel

Chips for Solar, Wind Applications See 25% Surge in 2011

June 9th 2011

Energy Topics - MOSFETs
MOSFETs

The market for semiconductors for solar and wind energy-generation systems will grow 26.5 percent in 2011, after expanding 25.4 percent in 2010 to reach revenues of $1.4 billion.

The chips are “riding on the coattails of huge increases in alternative energy installs in 2010,” said Robert Castellano, president of The Information Network. “Renewable, alternative energy technologies continue to grab the attention of private industries and world governments”

For example, the global market for photovoltaic inverters more than doubled in 2010, driven by major European markets. The top 10 suppliers of inverter systems and subsystems were European, according to the report.

The report looks at a range of alternative energy systems including geothermal, nuclear, fuel cells and other energy storage systems. Read more ..


Medical Edge

Tuberculosis Drug Resistance Research Reveals Super-drug Inactivator

June 8th 2011

Health/Medicine - tuberculosis

Researchers at the University of Michigan's Life Sciences Institute and College of Pharmacy have uncovered how tuberculosis builds drug resistance.

The discovery could provide scientists with a new direction to try to combat drug-resistant tuberculosis and to head off the continued spread of this deadly infectious disease.

Tuberculosis claims about 2 million lives worldwide each year. With the global spread of the pathogenic bacterium that currently infects one-third of the world's population, there are also strains that are resistant to most types of antibiotics that are used to treat this infection.

These strains cause so-called multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and extensively drug resistant tuberculosis. The limited number of drugs that are used to treat these resilient infections are our last line of defense, and some bacteria have already evolved resistance even to these antibiotics. The family of aminoglycoside antibiotics is among these drugs. Read more ..


Edge on Environment

Freshwater Snail Survives Mass Extinction

June 8th 2011

Animals - Ancient snail

Think "mass extinction" and you probably envision dinosaurs dropping dead in the long-ago past or exotic tropical creatures being wiped out when their rainforest habitats are decimated. But a major mass extinction took place right here in North America in the first half of the 20th century, when 47 species of mollusk disappeared after the watershed in which they lived was dammed.

Now, a population of one of those species—a freshwater limpet last seen more than 60 years ago and presumed extinct—has been found in a tributary of the heavily dammed Coosa River in Alabama's Mobile River Basin.

  Read more ..


Edge on Research

Weizmann Institute Scientists set new Record for Measuring Vibrations of a Single Atom

June 5th 2011

Science - Weizman Ins atom measurement

Weizmann Institute scientists set a new record for measuring magnetic vibrations using the spin of a single atom: 100 times more accurate than the previous record. The lab, though it may seem quiet and insulated, can be as full of background noise as a crowded train station when we’re trying to catch the announcements. Our brains can filter out the noise and focus on the message up to a certain point, but turning up the volume on the loudspeakers – improving the signal-to-noise ratio – helps as well.

Separating out the signal from the noise – increasing one while reducing the other – is so basic that much of scientific research could not take place without it. One common method, developed by the physicist Robert Dicke at Princeton University in New Jersey, is based on a principle similar to the one that enables radio broadcasts to pass through the noisy atmosphere. Read more ..


The Race for Power

Smart Grid Could Cost $476 Billion

June 5th 2011

Energy Topics - transformer farm

Costs and benefits of building a smart electric grid have more than doubled as the vision of a digital, networked power utility has expanded, according to a new report from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). Sensor networks are on the rise as one of the big and under-served opportunities in the diverse terrain of the smart grid.

The EPRI report estimated the cost of upgrading the U.S. grid could range from $338 to $476 billion, up from $165 billion in a 2004 forecast. Benefit estimates have also skyrocketed to a range of $1.2 to $2 trillion, up from $660 billion estimated in 2004.

EPRI's previous estimates did not include enabling plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles, renewable energy sources, grid-scale energy storage, distributed generation and demand response applications that let consumers adjust energy use based on changing energy prices. Benefits of a smart grid include reduced carbon emissions, energy savings and reduced blackouts that cost $10 billion per event. Read more ..


Edge on Cancer

Clues to Rapid Division Among Cancerous Cells

June 5th 2011

Science - Cancer

Temptations to exceed the speed limit are always plentiful, but only reckless drivers give in to such impulses. Likewise, numerous growth factors always abound in our bodies, but only cancerous cells are quickly “tempted” by these chemicals to divide again and again. Healthy cells, in contrast, divide only after being exposed to growth factors for eight continuous hours. What happens during these eight hours in a healthy cell that resists the call to divide? And even more important, what fails to work properly in the cancerous cell during these same hours? Why do cancerous cells give in so easily to the influence of growth factors, dividing so readily? Read more ..


Edge on Climate Change

Attack of the Urban Tornadoes

June 4th 2011

Science - jet streams

AccuWeather.com reports not only is this the year of the tornadoes, but it also seems to be the year of the urban tornadoes. Chance, a shift in the jet stream and expanding population centers are the main reasons for the number of tornadoes striking towns and cities this year. The list of towns and cities being hit by tornadoes this year continues to grow along with the number of tornadoes.

According to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, as of 9:00 a.m. CST, June 2, 2011, there have been 1,425 reports of tornadoes thus far this year. This is already above the 3-year average of 1,376 and of course, this year is far from over. Read more ..


Edge on Computing

Cloud Computing Rapidly Maturing as Users Multiply

June 4th 2011

Computer Topics - cloud computing

AMD has announced the results of a global research study on adoption, attitudes and approaches to cloud computing, surveying IT decision makers in public and private sector organisations across the United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific. The findings reveal both global and regional trends in cloud computing adoption and usage, highlighting the importance of both infrastructure and workloads in considering a cloud computing model.

The findings conclude that cloud computing is maturing rapidly, with 70 percent of respondents indicating they are either using or currently investigating cloud computing for remotely hosted applications or to store data. Read more ..


Edge on Research

Scientists Reveal an Immune System Release Valve that Keeps Inflammation in Check

June 4th 2011

Science - White blood cells

The molecular machines that defend our body against infection apparently operate on the same principle as a steam engine. Weizmann Institute scientists have discovered a mechanism that controls inflammation similarly to a steam-engine valve: Just when the inflammatory mechanism that protects cells against viruses reaches its peak of activity, the molecular “steam-release valve” interferes, restoring this mechanism to its resting state, ready for re-activation. This finding might shed new light on such inflammatory disorders as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease, and point the way to developing effective therapies.

How does the cellular “steam-release valve” work? The scientists have discovered that its crucial component is the enzyme called caspase-8. When the cell is invaded by a virus, caspase-8 joins a large molecular complex that forms in order to send out an inflammatory signal. However, this same signal, once triggered, makes sure that the inflammatory response will eventually be shut down. The mechanism can be likened to the peak of the steam cycle when the valve opens, releasing steam and restoring the engine to its initial position. In the case of the cell, the inflammatory signal prompts caspase-8 to destroy a protein called RIP1 – a crucial signal amplifier – after RIP1 has reached a state in which it can produce maximal amplification. The inflammatory cycle is thus completed: The signaling mechanism, precisely after reaching its peak activity level, returns to its neutral state, ready to enter yet another inflammatory cycle in case the cell is still under viral attack. Read more ..


Edge of Nature

A Rescued Loggerhead Turtle Offers Clues to the Secret of Migration

June 4th 2011

Animals - Loggerhead turtle

A Loggerhead turtle being rehabilitated at Taronga Wildlife Hospital in Australia may help unlock the secret migration habits of marine turtles.

Subject to final medical clearance, a young turtle which has been in care for the past year will be released with a satellite tracker attached to its shell, providing researchers with valuable data about turtle migration habits.

Taronga Wildlife Hospital Manager, Libby Hall, said “Very little is known about the journey of Loggerhead Turtles once they leave Australian shores. They hatch on beaches in Queensland and are at sea for up to 30 years, before returning to the same beach to lay their eggs. Where they go and what they do in those years is pretty much a mystery.” Read more ..


Edge of Space

Astronomers Find 'Dead' Galaxies are not so Dead after All

June 3rd 2011

Science - elliptical galaxy

University of Michigan astronomers examined old galaxies and were surprised to discover that they are still making new stars. The results provide insights into how galaxies evolve with time. U-Michigan research fellow Alyson Ford and astronomy professor Joel Bregman presented their findings at a meeting of the Canadian Astronomical Society that was held in London, Ontario.

Using the Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope, they saw individual young stars and star clusters in four galaxies that are about 40 million light years away. One light year is about 5.9 trillion miles. "Scientists thought these were dead galaxies that had finished making stars a long time ago," Ford said. "But we've shown that they are still alive and are forming stars at a fairly low level." Read more ..


Edge on NanoTechnology

Scientists use Lasers to Form 3-D Nanoparticle Crystals

June 2nd 2011

Science - Nanoparticle laser

University of Michigan physicists used the electric fields generated by intersecting laser beams to trap and manipulate thousands of microscopic plastic spheres, thereby creating 3-D arrays of optically induced crystals.

The technique could someday be used to analyze the structure of materials of biological interest, including bacteria, viruses and proteins, said U-M physicist Georg Raithel.

Raithel is co-author of a research paper on the topic published  in the journal Physical Review E. The other author is U-Michigan research fellow Betty Slama-Eliau.

The standard method used to characterize biological molecules like proteins involves crystallizing them, then analyzing their structure by bombarding the crystals with X-rays, a technique called X-ray crystallography. But the method cannot be used on many of the proteins of highest interest—such as cell-membrane proteins—because there's no way to crystallize those molecules. Read more ..


The Race for Solar

Capacitor Choice is Key to Solar PV Economics

May 31st 2011

Energy Topics - Custom capacitor for PV array
PV array with custom capacitors (credit: Enecsys)

In the continuing effort to develop solar photovoltaic arrays as a viable long-term renewable-energy source, the modules (panels) themselves, and the silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells that they comprise, have attracted greatest attention. This is hardly surprising, as they are the visible part of the system, and the one where a great deal of research effort has been directed into continuously improving conversion efficiency.

While efforts continue in many laboratories on thin-film and amorphous-silicon cells, it is the mono-crystalline cell that continues to lead in efficiency, with researchers seeking every possible percentage point beyond the low-20 percent region. That hard-won conversion efficiency can easily be wasted and the very feasibility of solar PV as a reliable energy source challenged, without an effective design in the other—and in many respects more critical—major component of the system: the inverter. PV cells produce DC, but very few applications employ that DC output directly. Most, perhaps 95 percent, provide AC power to conventional electrical installations, and feed that power into the AC grid. Within the renewable-energy sector, it is widely recognized that the critical component in the power chain is the inverter. Read more ..


Edge of the Universe

Australian Student Astronomer Finds Universe's Missing Mass

May 29th 2011

Science - Blue sphere in space

An Australian student at Monash University has made a breakthrough in the field of astrophysics, discovering what has until now been described as the Universe’s ‘missing mass.’ Amelia Fraser-McKelvie, working as a member of a team at the Monash School of Physics, conducted a targeted X-ray search for the matter and within just three months found it – or at least some of it.

What makes the discovery all the more noteworthy is the fact that Fraser-McKelvie is not a career researcher, or even studying at a postgraduate level. She is a 22-year-old undergraduate Aerospace Engineering/Science student who pinpointed the missing mass during a summer scholarship, working with two astrophysicists at the School of Physics, Dr. Kevin Pimbblet and Dr. Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway. Read more ..


Edge of Space

Rapid Formation of Mars Explains Small Size in Relation to Earth

May 29th 2011

Science - Mars and Earth comparison
Credit: Christopher Leather

Mars, the Red Planet, developed far more quickly than our blue planet. Mars is planetary embryo that never collided with other embryos to form an Earthlike planet. Mars developed in as little as two to four million years after the birth of the solar system, far more quickly than Earth, according to results of a new study published in this week's issue of the journal Nature. The red planet's rapid formation helps explain why it is so small, say the study's co-authors, Nicolas Dauphas at the University of Chicago and Ali Pourmand at the University of Miami.

Mars probably is not a terrestrial planet like Earth, which grew to its full size over 50 to 100 million years via collisions with other small bodies in the solar system, said Dauphas, a geophysicist. "Earth was made of embryos like Mars, but Mars is a stranded planetary embryo that never collided with other embryos to form an Earthlike planet," Dauphas said. The new work provides evidence for this idea, which was first proposed 20 years ago on the basis of planetary growth simulations. Read more ..


The Race for Light

Global Market for OLEG Lighting Forecast as $4.8 Billion in 2016

May 29th 2011

Computer Topics - OLED panel research

The global market for OLED lighting will be $4.8 billion in 2016, according to market research firm NanoMarkets LLC. Of that Europe will be responsible for $1.5 billion in OLED lighting panel sales and Asia is expected to provide $2.1 billion.

Japan is set to lead the OLED lighting business in Asia. Japanese companies have taken up key positions across the OLED lighting supply chain Sales of OLED lighting in Japan are expected to reach $1.1 billion by 2016.

Although, the addressable market for OLED lighting in China is limited, NanoMarkets expects the Chinese OLED lighting market to reach $420 million by 2016. OLED lighting is expected to be one of the industries to benefit from government support for technology. For South Korea NanoMarkets predicts OLED lighting sales of $230 million by 2016. However, the influence of Samsung and LG, which have both made a commitment to OLED lighting, should not be underestimated on a global basis.
Read more ..


Genetic Edge

Study of Population Genetics reveals shared Ancestries

May 28th 2011

Africa - Out of Africa

More than just a tool for predicting health, modern genetics is upending long-held assumptions about who we are. A new study by Harvard researchers casts new light on the intermingling and migration of European, Middle Eastern and African and populations since ancient times. In a paper titled "The History of African Gene Flow into Southern Europeans, Levantines and Jews," published in PLoS Genetics, HMS Associate Professor of Genetics David Reich and his colleagues investigated the proportion of sub-Saharan African ancestry present in various populations in West Eurasia, defined as the geographic area spanning modern Europe and the Middle East. While previous studies have established that such shared ancestry exists, they have not indicated to what degree or how far back the mixing of populations can be traced. Read more ..


Green Futures

More Metal Recycling Can Grow Green Economy

May 28th 2011

Environment Topics - Electronic trash 2

Less than one-third of 60 metals studied have end-of-life recycling rate above 50 percent; 34 are under 1 percent. In addition, smarter product designs, support for developing country waste management schemes, and encouraging households in the developed world not to 'squirrel away' old electronic goods in drawers and closets could help boost recycling of metals world-wide. These are among the conclucions of a report released in Belgium by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).  Additionally, recycling rates of metals are in many cases far lower than their potential for re-use. Many of these metals are crucial to clean technologies such as batteries for hybrid cars to the magnets in wind turbines, says the study. Read more ..


Edge on Electronics

Stretchable Sensors May Improve Airbag Control

May 26th 2011

Science - Stretchable sensors

There are situations when an airbag does not protect but instead hurts car passengers: For instance, if it ignites in a moment when the seat occupant has bent forward. A sensor technology developed by Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research (ISC) can help to optimize the ignition process by providing information as to the passenger's weight and position. The sensors will be integrated into the seats. They consist of a stretchable elastomer foil which is coated by stretchable electrodes on both sides. In the case the sensor is stretched, for instance by a seat deformation as a consequence of the passenger moving around, the thickness of the foil changes, and thus its capacity. In contrast to conventional resistance strain gauges the elastomer sensors can be stretched by up to 100 percent, said Holger Böse, scientific manager of the ISC Smart Materials Center. Read more ..


Electronic Edge

'Green' Computer Displays Make More Economic Sense as Backlight LEDs Improve

May 26th 2011

Computer Topics - Russian computer user

Energy efficiency is constantly improving in flat-panel displays as backlight LEDs are improved and architected to constantly better performance. This year's DisplayWeek attested to that. “The LED efficiency continues to improve, around 10-15 percent per year through improving internal quantum efficiency (IQE) and increasing light extraction efficiency,” according to Ross Young, SVP, Displays, LEDs and Lighting for IMS Research. At the "Green Technologies" market research conference here in conjunction with the Society for Information Display event here the consensus was lower-power displays have an overall economic advantage over higher-power displays. Read more ..


Ancient Edge

Archaeologists Dig Oldest Mine of the Americas

May 25th 2011

Archaeology Topics - Chile - Taltal ancient iron mine

Archaeologists have discovered a 12,000-year-old iron oxide mine in Chile that marks the oldest evidence of organized mining ever found in the Americas. A team of researchers led by Diego Salazar of the Universidad de Chile found the 40-meter trench near the coastal town of Taltal in northern Chile. It was dug by the Huentelauquen people—the first settlers in the region—who used iron oxide as pigment for painted stone and bone instruments, and probably also for clothing and body paint, the researchers say.

The remarkable duration and extent of the operation illustrate the surprising cultural complexity of these ancient people. "It shows that [mining] was a labor-intensive activity demanding specific technical skills and some level of social cooperation transmitted through generations," Salazar and his team write. Read more ..


Edge of Space

Virgin’s Galactic Space Travel—From LA to Abu Dhabi in Two Hours

May 25th 2011

Last week, in the historic large lecture theatre at the Royal Institution in London, the oldest independent research body in the world, Stephen Attenborough—the Commercial Director for Virgin Galactic—spent two uninterrupted hours mesmerizing a private audience on the future of commercial space travel. By the end of the session, even skeptics like myself, who came in thinking this was another wasted venture for the rich, were converted, captivated by the advancement of human ingenuity and the potential that space travel holds for the future of scientific research and sustainable travel.

It’s been just over a century since the Wright Bothers made their inaugural flight in North Carolina and fifty years since Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. When Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the surface of the moon in 1969, space travel seemed poised to enter a golden era. However, space programs proved prohibitively expensive—and dangerous.

As Virgin’s Attenborough reminded us, in the last fifty years only 550 people have been to space, far fewer than what one would have expected at the time when human spaceflight first began. Read more ..


The Edge of Space

Radio Telescope Seeks Signals from Advanced Civilizations in Deep Space

May 19th 2011

Science - Andromeda galaxy

Now that NASA's Kepler space telescope has identified 1,235 possible planets around stars in our galaxy, astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley, are aiming a radio telescope at the most Earth-like of these worlds to see if they can detect signals from an advanced civilization.

The search began on Saturday, May 8, when the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope – the largest steerable radio telescope in the world – dedicated an hour to eight stars with possible planets. Once UC Berkeley astronomers acquire 24 hours of data on a total of 86 Earth-like planets, they'll initiate a coarse analysis and then, in about two months, ask an estimated 1 million SETI@home users to conduct a more detailed analysis on their home computers. Read more ..


Edge on Society

Study Shows that Girls are Less Likely to be Violent When Seeking Others' Approval

May 18th 2011

Social Topics - School kids

Many teen girls who push, slap or punch their dates know the situation could become more violent, but they think most consequences are unlikely, a new study shows.

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University used the theory of planned behavior, which predicts a person's intentions and actions.

"We know that girls' use of force often occurs in the context of violence against them, either as self-defense or sometimes retaliation," said Richard Tolman, U-M professor of social work, who wrote the study with lead author Poco Kernsmith, an associate professor of social work at WSU. "The impact of dating violence is more severe for girls who are victimized than for boys." Read more ..


Environmental Edge

Childhood Exposure to Toxic Waste Makes for Sick Adults

May 18th 2011

Environment Topics - drain to ocean

A newly funded center at the University of Michigan will allow researchers from the School of Public Health and the Medical School to study the way environmental toxicants change genetic programming, and how those changes contribute to chronic disease in adults.

The center, a collaboration between the U-M SPH and the U-M Health System, is the first of its kind at U-M and is the only new National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences P30 Core Center to be funded (as opposed to renewals of existing centers) in the last six years, said the center's director, Dr. Howard Hu. Read more ..


Telephone Technology on Edge

Android Wins 35 Percent of Q1 Smartphone Market

May 18th 2011

Computer Topics - HTC thunderbold droid phone
HTC Thunderbold with Droid OS

Android led the market smartphones in the first quarter of 2011 with 35 percent market share and 35.7 million units shipped out of a total of 101.0 million shipped in total, according to market research firm Canalys Ltd.

Canalys puts Android in the lead in smartphones for the second quarter running. At the same time, Canalys stated that Asia Pacific (APAC) became the largest smart phone market region, with year-on-year growth of 98 percent to 37.3 million units, putting it ahead of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). On a country basis, mainland China, South Korea and India delivered strong volumes and registered triple-digit growth.

Overall, worldwide smart phone shipments grew 83 percent to 101.0 million units, compared with a 1Q10. Though its market share shrank from 39 percent a year ago to 24 percent in Q1 2011, Nokia held onto its worldwide leadership position with 24.2 million units shipped—a 13 percent year-on-year rise—despite the current realignment of its platform strategy, staying ahead of RIM in EMEA and Apple in APAC. APAC became the largest region for Nokia, accounting for 53 percent of its overall shipments, overtaking EMEA by more than 3 million units. Canalys said that is country-level data shows that Nokia remains number one in 28 countries, including mainland China, where it grew 79 percent to 8.9 million units, thanks in part to Chinese New Year shipments. Read more ..


The Edge of Space

Mars Express Sees Dramatic Deep Fractures on Mars

May 9th 2011

Science - Nili Fossae - Mars
Nili Fossae

Newly released images from ESA’s Mars Express show Nili Fossae, a system of deep fractures around the giant Isidis impact basin. Some of these incisions into the martian crust are up to 500 m deep and probably formed at the same time as the basin. Nili Fossae is a ‘graben’ system on Mars, northeast of the Syrtis Major volcanic province, on the northwestern edge of the giant Isidis impact basin. Graben refers to the lowered terrain between two parallel faults or fractures in the rocks that collapses when tectonic forces pull the area apart. The Nili Fossae system contains numerous graben concentrically oriented around the edges of the basin.

It is thought that flooding of the basin with basaltic lava after the impact that created it resulted in subsidence of the basin floor, adding stress to the planet’s crust, which was released by the formation of the fractures. Read more ..


Edge of Computing

IEEE Looks beyond 100G Ethernet

May 9th 2011

Computer Topics - Russian computer user

The IEEE has kicked off a new group to explore what comes after today’s emerging 40 and 100 Gbit/second versions of Ethernet. The 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment Ad Hoc group is gathering data from a broad range of sources now and plans to submit a report by June 2012.

At least two camps have proposed very different futures for Ethernet to date. Companies such as Google and Facebook that run big data centers have called for Terabit Ethernet as early as 2013 to handle the growth of mobile and video data. Component companies have proposed a more realistic half-step to 400 Gbit/s.

"You are really seeing a division between suppliers and customers," said John D’Ambrosia who chairs the new ad hoc group. "Customers are going to have to go back and sharpen their pencils because we are running into the limits of physics," said D’Ambrosia, who is also a member of the CTO’s office at Force10 Networks. Read more ..


Edge on Nanotechnology

Pentagonal Tiles Pave the Way towards Organic Electronics

May 8th 2011

Science - Organic electronics

New research paves way for the nanoscale self-assembly of organic building blocks, a promising new route towards the next generation of ultra-small electronic devices.

Ring-like molecules with unusual five-fold symmetry bind strongly to a copper surface, due to a substantial transfer of charge, but experience remarkably little difficulty in sideways diffusion, and exhibit surprisingly little interaction between neighbouring molecules. This unprecedented combination of features is ideal for the spontaneous creation of high-density stable thin films, comprising a pavement of these organic pentagonal tiles, with potential applications in computing, solar power and novel display technologies. Read more ..


The Anthropology Edge

Right-handedness May Have Prevailed 500,000 Years Ago

May 8th 2011

Archaeology Topics - Early hominid right hand

Right-handedness is a distinctively human characteristic, with right-handers outnumbering lefties nine-to-one. But how far back does right-handedness reach in the human story?

Researchers have tried to determine the answer by looking at ancient tools, prehistoric art and human bones, but the results have not been definitive.

Now, David Frayer, professor of anthropology at the University of Kansas, has used markings on fossilized front teeth to show that right-handedness goes back more than 500,000 years. He is the lead author (with colleagues in Croatia, Italy and Spain) of a paper published this month in the British journal Laterality.

His research shows that distinctive markings on fossilized teeth correlate to the right or left-handedness of individual prehistoric humans. Read more ..


The Race for Space

Obama asks Congress for $850 million to Support Private Enterprise in Space

May 2nd 2011

Transportation Topics - Falcon 9 space
Falcon 9 rocket

The U.S. space shuttle Endeavor was scheduled on April 28 to lift off on its last voyage to the orbiting International Space Station and now, due to some technical issues, has been delayed until May 8. And on June 28, barring any last minute complications, Alantis will become the last space shuttle ever to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center. Both missions mark the end of NASA’s 30-year space shuttle program. But it is not the end of America’s space ventures.

Fifty years after a Redstone rocket carried the first American astronaut, Alan Shephard, into space, NASA is getting out of the business of sending astronauts on missions using its own spacecraft. Instead, the U.S. space agency will rely on privately designed and owned rockets to ferry cargo and crew to the orbiting International Space Station. Read more ..


Edge of Health

Researchers Create Artificial Brain Synapse With Carbon Nanotubes

May 2nd 2011

Science - Mind

Devices might be used in brain prostheses—or combined into massive network of synthetic neurons to create a synthetic brain

Engineering researchers at USC Viterbi have made a significant breakthrough in the use of nanotechnologies for the construction of a synthetic brain. They have built a carbon nanotube synapse circuit whose behavior in tests reproduces the function of a neuron input, the synapse, the a building block of the brain.

The team, which was led by Professor Alice Parker and Professor Chongwu Zhou in the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering, used an interdisciplinary approach combining circuit design with nanotechnology to address the complex problem of capturing brain function.

In a paper published in the proceedings of the Life Science Systems and Applications Workshop in April 2011, the Viterbi team detailed how they were able to use carbon nanotubes to create a synapse. Carbon nanotubes are molecular carbon structures that are extremely small, with a diameter a million times smaller than a pencil point. These nanotubes can be used in electronic circuits, acting as metallic conductors or semiconductors. Read more ..


Edge of Computing

Mobile PC Market May Grow 27 Percent in 2011

May 2nd 2011

Computer Topics - Google tablet HOneycomb

Mobile PC shipments will each 277.7 million units in 2011, up 27 percent on 2010, according to market research firm DisplaySearch.

There is a decline in netbook and emerging market shipments but notebook and tablet computer shipments in mature markets are keeping the overall market growing fast, said the company.

Growth is expected to slow in the short term but then pick up as emerging markets return to a fresh PC buying cycle. Shipments into North American are expected to reach 91 million units in 2011 and 108.6 million units in 2012. Read more ..



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