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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.

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 ..

Edge of Climate Change

Scientists Detect Early Warning of Ecosystem Collapse in Wisconsin

May 2nd 2011

Environment Topics - Peter and Paul lake Wisconsin

Researchers eavesdropping on complex signals emanating from a remote Wisconsin lake have detected what they say is an unmistakable warning — a death knell — of the impending collapse of the lake's aquatic ecosystem. The finding was made by a team of researchers led by Stephen Carpenter, a limnologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the first experimental evidence that radical change in an ecosystem can be detected in advance, possibly in time to prevent ecological catastrophe.

"For a long time, ecologists thought these changes couldn't be predicted," says Carpenter, a UW-Madison professor of zoology and one of the world's foremost ecologists. "But we've now shown that they can be foreseen. The early warning is clear. It is a strong signal." Read more ..

The Race for Pressure Energy

Piezoelectric MEMS boosts vibration harvester

April 29th 2011

Science - Piezo electric device 2

Electrical engineers from the University of Michigan claim to have invented a technique for micro-machining piezoelectric MEMS that generate 10-times more energy than conventional energy harvesters. The research team said a penny-sized piezoelectric MEMS could generate enough electricity to power medical implants in the body and wireless sensors on motor vehicles.

The energy harvester market for wireless sensor networks is expected to $450 million by 2015, according to Erkan Aktakka, one of the system's developers, working in the lab of professor Erkan Aktakka, principle scientist on the project. Read more ..

Edge of Climate Change

International Study Shows that Arctic Coastlines are Changing due to Climate Change

April 27th 2011

Environment Topics - Nunavut Arctic satellite image - NASA

The coastline in Arctic regions reacts to climate change with increased erosion and retreats by half a metre per year on average. This means substantial changes for Arctic ecosystems near the coast and the population living there. A consortium of more than thirty scientists from ten countries, including researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association and from the Helmholtz Centre in Geesthacht, comes to this conclusion in two studies published in Estuaries and Coasts and online on www.arcticcoasts.org. They jointly investigated over 100,000 kilometres and thus a fourth of all Arctic coasts and their results have now been published for the first time. Read more ..

Edge of Computing

Sheet of Chlorine Gas One Atom Thick to Revolutionize OLED Device Efficiency

April 27th 2011

Computer Topics - I-phone

Chlorine is an abundant and readily available halogen gas commonly associated with the sanitation of swimming pools and drinking water. Could a one-atom thick sheet of this element revolutionize the next generation of flat-panel displays and lighting technology?

In the case of Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) devices, it most certainly can. Primary researchers Michael G. Helander (PhD Candidate and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar), Zhibin Wang (PhD Candidate), and led by Professor Zheng-Hong Lu of the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at the University of Toronto, have found a simple method of using chlorine to drastically reduce traditional OLED device complexity and dramatically improve its efficiency all at the same time. Read more ..

Edge of the Universe

Search for Dark Matter is Now Closer to Detecting Elusive Particle

April 25th 2011

Science - Dark Matter image

Dark matter, the mysterious substance that may account for nearly 25 percent of the universe, has so far evaded direct observation. But researchers from UCLA, Columbia University and other institutions participating in the international XENON collaboration say they are now closer than ever before.

Their new results, announced today at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy, where the XENON experiment is housed deep beneath a mountain 70 miles west of Rome, represent the highest-sensitivity search for dark matter yet, with background noise 100 times lower than competing efforts.

Dark matter is widely thought to be a kind of massive elementary particle that interacts weakly with ordinary matter. Physicists refer to these particles as WIMPS, for weakly interacting massive particles. The XENON researchers used a dark-matter detector known as XENON100 — an instrumented vat filled with over 100 pounds of liquid xenon — as a target for these WIMPs, which are thought to be streaming constantly through the solar system and the Earth. Read more ..

Edge of Computing

Integrated Chips to Fuel Smartphone Growth

April 25th 2011

Technology - IC Layout

Silicon integration will be the key differentiator in smartphones which could grow to 600 million units in 2014, driven by expansion in low-cost handsets, according to a presentation at the inaugural Linley Tech Mobile Conference. "The next 300 million smartphones will come from feature phone replacements," said Linley Gwennap, principal of The Linley Group (Mountain View, CA), organizer of the event. "The pressure for smartphone designers will be in reducing systems cost to meet this growing demand for lower cost smartphones and silicon integration is a key," Gwennap said. Read more ..

Edge on Global Warming

Melting Glaciers and Ice Caps on Canadian Islands Play Greater Role in Sea Level Rise

April 25th 2011

Environment Topics - Devon Island Nunavut pic by Alex Gardner

Melting glaciers and ice caps on Canadian Arctic islands play a much greater role in sea level rise than scientists previously thought, according to a new study led by a University of Michigan researcher.

The 550,000-square-mile Canadian Arctic Archipelago contains some 30,000 islands. Between 2004 and 2009, the region lost the equivalent of three-quarters of the water in Lake Erie, the study found. Warmer-than-usual temperatures in those years caused a rapid increase in the melting of glacier ice and snow, said Alex Gardner, a research fellow in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences who led the project. The study is published online in Nature on April 20.

"This is a region that we previously didn't think was contributing much to sea level rise," Gardner said. "Now we realize that outside of Antarctica and Greenland, it was the largest contributor for the years 2007 through 2009. This area is highly sensitive and if temperatures continue to increase, we will see much more melting." Read more ..

Edge on Computing

New Trade Group to Promote Computer Vision App for Future Smartphones and Tablets

April 25th 2011

Computer Topics - I-phone

A handful of vendors is organizing a new trade group to promote computer vision as a killer app for tomorrow's smartphones and tablets. The Embedded Vision Alliance will formally debut in May.

"We believe embedded vision will have a huge impact in mobile devices in the next few years," said Jeff Bier, an organizer of the group and principal of DSP consulting firm Berkeley Design Technology Inc. "It will proliferate in home audio/visual systems and consumers will come to expect it," he said in a talk at the Linley Tech Mobile Conference. Read more ..

Edge of the Universe

Astronomers Poke Holes in Century-old Astronomical Theory on Gravity Darkening

April 20th 2011

Science - Dark Matter image

The hottest stars in the universe spin so fast that they get a bit squished at their poles and dimmer around their middle. The 90-year-old theory that predicts the extent of this "gravity darkening" phenomenon has major flaws, according to a new study led by University of Michigan astronomers.

The von Zeipel law, named for its creator, Swedish astronomer Edvard Hugo von Zeipel, has been used for the better part of a century to predict the difference in surface gravity, brightness and temperature between a rapidly rotating star's poles and its equator. Using a technique called interferometry the researchers essentially zoomed in to take close-up pictures and measurements of the winter star Regulus. It's the brightest star in the constellation Leonis and if it were spinning just a few percent faster, it would fly apart. The astronomers found that the actual difference in temperature between its equator and poles is much less than the old theory predicts. "Our model fitting of interferometry data shows that while the law correctly describes the trend of surface temperature variation, it deviates quantitively," said Xiao Che, a doctoral student in the U-M Department of Astronomy. Read more ..

Edge on Medicine

Nanofiber Spheres Injected for Wounds and Tissue Healing

April 20th 2011

Science - Nanosphere

For the first time, scientists have made star-shaped, biodegradable polymers that can self-assemble into hollow, nanofiber spheres, and when the spheres are injected with cells into wounds, these spheres biodegrade, but the cells live on to form new tissue.

Developing this nanofiber sphere as a cell carrier that simulates the natural growing environment of the cell is a very significant advance in tissue repair, says Peter Ma, professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and lead author of a paper about the research scheduled for advanced online publication in Nature Materials. Co-authors are Xiaohua Liu and Xiaobing Jin.

Repairing tissue is very difficult and success is extremely limited by a shortage of donor tissue, says Ma, who also has an appointment at the U-M College of Engineering. The procedure gives hope to people with certain types of cartilage injuries for which there aren't good treatments now. It also provides a better alternative to ACI, which is a clinical method of treating cartilage injuries where the patient's own cells are directly injected into the patient's body. The quality of the tissue repair by the ACI technique isn't good because the cells are injected loosely and are not supported by a carrier that simulates the natural environment for the cells, Ma says. Read more ..

The Roadway's Edge

Europe Makes Advances in Automated Driving for Automobiles

April 20th 2011

Automotive - Automated driving Mercedes Benz

The HAVEit project is intended to make vehicles safer, more environmentally-friendly and fuel efficient by enhancing their level of automation. After more than three years of research work on intelligent driver assistance systems, seven vehicles demonstrating results will be presented in Borås, Sweden.

Research concepts and technologies for reducing drivers' workload, preventing accidents and reducing environmental impact, these are the objectives of the EU funded R&D project HAVEit (“Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport”). HAVEit research focuses on reducing mistakes made by distracted, overloaded or tired drivers when driving in congestions or long-haul trips. The project has developed coherent vehicle concepts, combining cutting-edge integrated information and sensor technology. These vehicles are able to assist the driver through various, situation-dependent, levels of automation by providing indications or carrying out the driving task independently. The driver still remains completely responsible at any point in time, the researchers reassure. The driver however must monitor the system carefully at any time; if desired, he can take over the complete driving task anytime. Read more ..

The Late Great Lakes

Alien Invaders Causing Massive Ecological Changes in the World's Greatest Fresh-Water System

April 18th 2011

Environment Topics - Invasive mollusks

The ongoing spread of non-native mussels in the Great Lakes has caused "massive, ecosystem-wide changes" throughout lakes Michigan and Huron, two of the planet's largest freshwater lakes, according to a new University of Michigan-led study.

The blitzkrieg advance of two closely related species of mussels—the zebra and quagga—is stripping the lakes of their life-supporting algae, resulting in a remarkable ecological transformation and threatening the multibillion-dollar U.S. commercial and recreational Great Lakes fisheries. Read more ..

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