Thursday, April 30, 2015

Metal contamination makes gasoline production inefficient

Scientists have identified key mechanisms of the aging process of catalyst particles that are used to refine crude oil into gasoline. This advance could lead to more efficient gasoline production.

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Engineering a better solar cell: Defects in popular perovskites pinpointed

A new study demonstrates that perovskite materials - superefficient crystal structures that have recently taken the scientific community by storm - contain flaws that can be engineered to improve solar cells and other devices even further.

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Sticky fingers: Developing a materials science approach to forensics

Researcher applies materials science techniques to the field of forensics, and some of her research has helped crime scene investigators rebuild fingerprints after they have faded over time.

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Reagent pencils, turning chemistry into child’s play

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

New 3-D method improves study of proteins

A new computational method called AGGRESCAN3D has been developed, allowing researchers to study in 3-D the structure of folded globular proteins, and substantially improve the prediction of any propensity for forming toxic protein aggregates. Proteins can also be modeled to study the pathogenic effects of the aggregation or redesign them for therapeutic means.

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Research seeks alternatives for reducing bacteria in fresh produce using nanoengineering

Nearly half of foodborne illnesses in the US have been attributed to contaminated fresh produce. Prevention and control of bacterial contamination on fresh produce is critical to ensure food safety. The current strategy remains industrial washing of the product in water containing chlorine. Due to sanitizer ineffectiveness there is an urgent need to identify alternative, natural antimicrobials. Researchers have been exploring alternative antimicrobials along with nanoengineering techniques to address this need.

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Researchers closer to being able to change blood types

What do you do when a patient needs a blood transfusion but you don't have their blood type in the blood bank? It's a problem that scientists have been trying to solve for years but haven't been able to find an economic solution -- until now.

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Artificial photosynthesis could help make fuels, plastics and medicine

The global industrial sector accounts for more than half of the total energy used every year. Now scientists are inventing a new artificial photosynthetic system that could one day reduce industry's dependence on fossil fuel-derived energy by powering part of the sector with solar energy and bacteria. The system converts light and carbon dioxide into building blocks for plastics, pharmaceuticals and fuels -- all without electricity.

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The Food Babe quiz. Can you tell Vani Hari quotes from other irrational nonsense?




By now I’m sure you’ve all seen the ravings of Vani Hari a.k.a. Food Babe. Her one women campaign to spread fear through nonsense has netted her (in)fame, fortune and influence. Not to mention a pretty strong back lash from the rational side of the internet.

So to test if you’ve been paying attention I thought I’d set a little quiz.

All you have to do is identify, in the list below, genuine Food Babe musings mixed with other random nonsense.

Answers at the bottom of the page.

So here goes, with a nice game of …

Food Babe or Not Food Babe.

1) There is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever.

2) Chlorophyll is the first product of light and, therefore, contains more light energy than any other element.

3) Please consider removing this additive from your diet because artificial dyes…Are man-made in a lab with chemicals derived from petroleum (a crude oil product, which also happens to be used in gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and tar).

4) Your brain uses more oxygen than any another organ. If you need to concentrate it is important to keep you oxygen levels high .… Green leaves produce oxygen so if you need to study eat plenty of leafy vegetables to keep that brain well oxygenated.

5) When you look at the ingredients, if you can’t spell it or pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

6) With a name like 8-methyl-N-vannillyl-6-nonenamide it’s bound to be a baddie. If you want more evidence of its unpleasantness then you may like to know that it is used by the police to control rioters.

7) Mass produced bread contains Potassium Bromate. Its used to help make the bread light and fluffy. Bromates have been banned as fire retardants in furniture, so how come its still used in the food we eat!?

8) Wheatgrass … is more than 70% chlorophyll which is essential for improving blood sugar problems.

9) For the experiment pictured above, microwaved water produced a similar physical structure to when the words “satan” and “hitler” were repeatedly exposed to the water.

10) You all know that we breath out carbon dioxide. But did you know that it’s an acid? … Whenever I’ve been in a crowded place I cleanse myself of the effects of all that acid breath with a good dose of Spirulina.

11) North Americans deserve to truly eat fresh – not yoga mats.

Credit: Fraud Files

How did you think you did? Here’s the answers.

1) Genuine Food Babe. An easy one to start with. You can find this little gem in her book. Don’t go out and buy it now.

2) Food babe again. Apparently wheatgrass is a miracle.

3) Food babe. Those nasty men in labs.

4) Not Food babe. Just me trying to channel Gillian McKeith.  

5) Food babe. But how are my fellow dyslexics and I going to eat?

6) Not Food babe. That one was me, with tongue firmly in cheek.

7) Not Food babe. Just random nonsense I made up, but sounds good doesn’t it?

8) Not Food babe. This gem came from the menu of the health food cafe I dinned in recently.

9) Food babe! Honesty, has she no shame? We’ll actually she might, since she’s removed offending post from her blog. But luckily the internet forgets nothing.

10) Not Food babe, I just made it up. But Vani does have some odd ideas about Spiriulina.

11) Food babe. What about fresh yoga mats? 

How did you do? Tell use you scores in the comments. And play along on twitter with #FoodbabeOrNot



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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Opening the way to living implants

Supramolecular chemistry is the science that is concerned with molecular self-assembly: chemical building blocks which, when you combine them, naturally form larger ordered structures. Researchers have now found a method that allows them to ensure that living cells - in this case bacteria from the human body - can be incorporated in materials while maintaining their mobility. This opens the way to a wide range of new applications, for example as part of medical implants. Examples include stents equipped with bacteria on which endothelial cells can grow, or bacteria that can release medicines in specific parts of the body.

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Chemists strike nano-gold: Four new atomic structures for gold nanoparticle clusters

New nanoscale blueprints for low-energy, stable gold nanoclusters could help develop new cancer drugs or mitigate carbon monoxide emissions.

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Mathematics reveals how fluid flow affects bacteria

Researchers have used mathematical equations to shed new light on how flowing fluid hinders the movement of bacteria in their search for food.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

2-D semiconductor comes clean: Performance dramatically improved

Scientists have dramatically improved the performance of graphene by encapsulating it in boron nitride. They’ve now shown they can similarly improve the performance of another 2D material, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2. Their findings provide a demonstration of how to study all 2D materials and hold great promise for a broad range of applications including high-performance electronics, detection and emission of light, and chemical/bio-sensing.

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New insights into ionic liquids

To directly observe chemical processes in unusual, new materials is a scientific dream, made possible by modern microscopy methods: researchers have, for the first time, captured video images of the attachment of molecules in an ionic liquid onto a submerged electrode. The images from the nanoscale world provide detailed information on the way in which chemical components reorganize when a voltage is applied. New findings based on this information may lead to improved batteries and more energy efficient coating technology or solar engineering.

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Chemists' synthesis of silicon oxides opens 'new world in a grain of sand'

In an effort that reaches back to the 19th-century laboratories of Europe, a discovery by chemistry researchers establishes new research possibilities for silicon chemistry and the semiconductor industry. The study gives details on the first time chemists have been able to trap molecular species of silicon oxides.

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Scientists develop first liquid nanolaser

Scientists have developed the first liquid nanoscale laser. And it's tunable in real time, meaning you can quickly and simply produce different colors, a unique and useful feature. The laser technology could lead to practical applications, such as a new form of a 'lab on a chip' for medical diagnostics. In addition to changing color in real time, the liquid nanolaser has additional advantages: it is simple to make, inexpensive to produce and operates at room temperature.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Industrial virtual factory lowers costs and reduces emissions

Scientists have developed a cloud-based, easily customized, modular software platform for improving the sustainability performance of industrial products by lowering production costs and reducing emissions. The platform provides a virtual collaborative environment for organizations that are jointly developing the same product and/or service. The system, created during the recently completed EPES (Eco-Process Engineering System for composition of services to optimise product life-cycle) project, effectively combines a context-aware approach, cloud services, industrial internet, collaborative networks, simulation and assessment of environmental impacts.

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Picture this: Graphene brings 3-D holograms clearer and closer

From mobile phones and computers to television, cinema and wearable devices, the display of full-color, wide-angle, 3-D holographic images is moving ever closer to fruition.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Revolutionary discovery leads to invention of new 'building blocks'

Taking a revolutionary 'building blocks' approach, a research team has invented a new thinking pathway in the design and synthesis of macromolecules by creating an original class of giant tetrahedra. Through a reaction called 'click chemistry,' these tetrahedron building blocks can then be precisely manipulated to unite with other tetrahedrons.

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Nanotech-enabled moisturizer speeds healing of diabetic skin wounds

A new high-tech but simple ointment applied to the skin may one day help diabetic patients heal stubborn and painful ulcers on their feet, Northwestern University researchers report. They are the first to develop a topical gene regulation technology that speeds the healing of ulcers in diabetic animals. The scientists combined spherical nucleic acids with a common commercial moisturizer to create a way to topically knock down a gene known to interfere with wound healing.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Materials scientists putting new spin on computing memory

As computers continue to shrink -- moving from desks and laps to hands and wrists -- memory has to become smaller, stable and more energy conscious. A group of researchers is trying to do just that with help from a new class of materials, whose magnetism can essentially be controlled by the flick of a switch.

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Soy: It's good for eating, baking -- and cleaning up crude oil spills

If you've studied ingredient labels on food packaging, you've probably noticed that soy lecithin is in a lot of products, ranging from buttery spreads to chocolate cake. Scientists have now found a potential new role for this all-purpose substance: dispersing crude oil spills. Their study could lead to a less toxic way to clean up these environmental messes.

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Nanoparticle drug reverses Parkinson's-like symptoms in rats

As baby boomers age, the number of people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease is expected to increase. Patients who develop this disease usually start experiencing symptoms around age 60 or older. Currently, there's no cure, but scientists are reporting a novel approach that reversed Parkinson's-like symptoms in rats. Their results could one day lead to a new therapy for human patients.

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Engineering the P450 enzyme to perform new reactions

Enzymes, the micro machines in our cells, can evolve to perform new tasks when confronted with novel situations. But what if you want an enzyme to do an entirely different job -- one that it would never have to do in a cell? Researchers now show that they can mimic nature and perform evolution in a test tube, developing enzymes that can perform brand-new chemical reactions.

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New 'comb' detects terahertz waves with extreme precision

Chemists have created a device that generates and detects terahertz waves over a wide spectral range with extreme precision, allowing it to be used as an unparalleled tool for measuring terahertz waves.

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'Holey' graphene for energy storage: Charged holes in graphene increase energy storage capacity

Engineers have discovered a method to increase the amount of electric charge that can be stored in graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon. The research may provide a better understanding of how to improve the energy storage ability of capacitors for potential applications in cars, wind turbines, and solar power.

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Invisible inks could help foil counterfeiters of all kinds

Scientists have invented sophisticated fluorescent inks that one day could be used as multicolored barcodes for consumers to authenticate products often counterfeited. Snap a photo with your smartphone, and it will tell you if the item is real and worth your money. These inks, which can be printed using an inkjet printer, are invisible under normal light but visible under ultraviolet light. They give manufacturers and consumers an authentication tool that would be very difficult for counterfeiters to mimic.

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Pseudoparticles travel through photoactive material

Researchers have unveiled an important step in the conversion of light into storable energy: They have studied the formation of so-called polarons in zinc oxide. The pseudoparticles travel through the photoactive material until they are converted into electrical or chemical energy at an interface.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Chemists create modular system for placing proteins on membranes

With a tag, an anchor and a cage that can be unlocked with light, chemists have devised a simple, modular system that can locate proteins at the membrane of a cell.

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Better battery imaging paves way for renewable energy future

In a move that could improve the energy storage of everything from portable electronics to electric microgrids, researchers have developed a novel X-ray imaging technique to visualize and study the electrochemical reactions in lithium-ion rechargeable batteries containing a new type of material, iron fluoride.

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Quantum model reveals surface structure of water

Physicists have used a new quantum model to reveal the molecular structure of water's liquid surface.

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Happily ever after: Scientists arrange protein-nanoparticle marriage

Researchers have discovered a way to easily and effectively fasten proteins to nanoparticles -- essentially an arranged marriage -- by simply mixing them together. The biotechnology is in its infancy. But it already has shown promise for developing an HIV vaccine and as a way to target cancer cells.

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Making carboxyl(ate) friends

When it comes to supramolecular chemistry, the carboxylic acid group -- and its conjugate carboxylate base -- is one of the chemist's most flexible friends. In pairs, they act as supramolecular synthons from which more complicated structures might be built but also offer up complex hydrogen bond connectivity.



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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Homeland chemical security: U. S. chemical plants vulnerable to attack

The slow implementation of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards in the USA as part of homeland security and anti-terrorism measures is leaving chemical plants vulnerable and putting at risk the safety of American citizens, according to new research.



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Crystal clear: Crystal breeding factory uncovered

A breakthrough in understanding the way in which crystals develop will have a major impact for the pharmaceutical, chemical and food industries.



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New synthetic technology for medicines and fine chemicals

A research group has synthesized the medicine (R)- and (S)-rolipram in high yield with high selectivity by an innovative flow technology instead of the traditional batch method used in production of 99 percent of medicines. This was made possible by the development of high-activity immobilized catalysts and an innovative catalyzed flow fine synthesis.



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Understanding thermo-mechanical properties of a new class of materials

Scientists describe how an accurate statistical description of heterogeneous particulate materials, which is used within statistical micromechanics theories, governs the overall thermo-mechanical properties.



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Friday, April 17, 2015

How to maximize the superconducting critical temperature in a molecular superconductor

An international research team has investigated the electronic properties of the family of unconventional superconductors based on fullerenes which have the highest known superconducting critical temperature among molecular superconductors.



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Packing heat: New fluid makes untapped geothermal energy cleaner

More American homes could be powered by the Earth's natural underground heat with a nontoxic fluid that could cut in half the amount of water needed for a new power generation method called enhanced geothermal systems.



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Electrolyte genome could be battery game-changer

A new breakthrough battery -- one that has significantly higher energy, lasts longer, and is cheaper and safer -- will likely be impossible without a new material discovery. And a new material discovery could take years, if not decades, since trial and error has been the best available approach.



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Beyond the lithium ion: Significant step toward a better performing battery

Researchers have taken a significant step toward the development of a battery that could outperform the lithium-ion technology used in electric cars such as the Chevy Volt. They have shown they can replace the lithium ions, each of which carries a single positive charge, with magnesium ions, which have a plus-two charge, in battery-like chemical reactions, using an electrode with a structure like those in many of today's devices.



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New software analyses the effect of climate change on buildings from the cloud

Construction companies have begun to use a simulation software which analyses for the first time the entire life cycle of a building, from creation to deconstruction. The tool, which can be used in the cloud, includes aspects such as energy consumption, materials and social repercussions. It also allows scenarios to be simulated, enabling the effect of global warming on constructions to be identified.



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Engineers purify sea and wastewater in 2.5 minutes

A group of engineers have created technology to recover and purify, either seawater or wastewater from households, hotels, hospitals, commercial and industrial facilities, regardless of the content of pollutants and microorganisms in, incredibly, just 2.5 minutes, experts say.



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Engineer improves rechargeable batteries with nano 'sandwich'

The key to better cell phones and other rechargeable electronics may be in tiny "sandwiches" made of nanosheets, according to mechanical engineering research.



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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Major advance in artificial photosynthesis poses win/win for the environment

By combining biocompatible light-capturing nanowire arrays with select bacterial populations, a potentially game-changing new artificial photosynthesis system offers a win/win situation for the environment: solar-powered green chemistry using sequestered carbon dioxide.



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Nanotubes with two walls have singular qualities

Double-walled carbon nanotubes have unique electronic properties that may someday be tuned for semiconducting applications or for strong, highly conductive nanotube fibers, according to researchers.



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Protein building blocks for nanosystems

Scientists have developed the concept of protein adaptor based nano-object assembly (PABNOA). PABNOA makes it possible to assemble gold nanoparticles in various structures with the help of ring-shaped proteins while defining the precise distance between these particles. This opens up the possibility of producing bio-based materials with new optical and plasmonic properties. The field of nanoplasmonics focuses on miniscule electromagnetic waves metal particles emit when they interact with light. The principle behind the production of these materials could also be applied to develop nanosystems that convert light into electrical energy as well as bio-based materials with new magnetic properties.



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Discovery changes how scientists examine rarest elements of periodic table

A little-known element called californium is making big waves in how scientists look at the periodic table. According to new research californium is what's known to be a transitional element, meaning it links one part of the Periodic Table of Elements to the next.



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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

New sensor detects spoiled meat

Chemists have devised an inexpensive, portable sensor that can detect gases emitted by rotting meat, allowing consumers to determine whether the meat in their grocery store or refrigerator is safe to eat.



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Plant oils used for novel bio-based plastics

Researchers have developed a new way to use plant oils like olive and linseed oil to create polyurethane, a plastic material used in everything from foam insulation panels to tires, hoses and sealants.



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