Monday, November 30, 2015

Moonlighting molecules: Finding new uses for old enzymes

Researchers have identified a potentially significant new application for a well-known human enzyme, which may have implications for treating respiratory diseases such as asthma.

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New phase of carbon discovered: Making diamonds at room temperature

Scientists have discovered a new phase of solid carbon, called Q-carbon, which is distinct from the known phases of graphite and diamond. They have also developed a technique for using Q-carbon to make diamond-related structures at room temperature and at ambient atmospheric pressure in air.

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ABC: Anything but coal

Policymakers, industry and government officials will have to invest US $2.5 trillion for electricity generation over the next 20 years. A new report presents the environmental costs and benefits linked to different renewable energy sources, and makes one thing abundantly clear: anything is better than coal.

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Tiny octopods catalyze bright ideas

Researchers demonstrate plasmonic nanoparticles can support catalysts without losing their beneficial optical properties. Such alloys could make industrial processes more efficient or enable sun-driven chemical reactions.

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Doping powers new thermoelectric material

In power production, nearly two-thirds of energy input from fossil fuels is lost as waste heat. Industry is hungry for materials that can convert this heat to useful electricity, but a good thermoelectric material is hard to find. Researchers now report that doping tin selenide with sodium boosts its performance as a thermoelectric material, pushing it toward usefulness. The doped material produces a significantly greater amount of electricity than the undoped material, given the same amount of heat input.

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Companies are given new tool to check for harmful chemical substances

New database containing more than 600,000 chemical structures gives companies a unique opportunity to quickly get an overview of the harmful effects associated with substances they are considering using.

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Coming to a monitor near you: A defect-free, molecule-thick film

A research team has found a simple way to fix defects in atomically thin monolayer semiconductors. The development could open doors to transparent LED displays, ultra-high efficiency solar cells, photo detectors and nanoscale transistors.

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Sticky breakthrough: Researchers make strides in their quest to develop an underwater adhesive

In an important step toward creating a practical underwater glue, researchers have designed a synthetic material that combines the key functionalities of interfacial mussel foot proteins, creating a single, low-molecular-weight, one-component adhesive.

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Friday, November 27, 2015

A new form of real gold, almost as light as air

Researchers have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible to tell the difference with the naked eye. There are many possible applications.

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Discovery could open door to frozen preservation of tissues, whole organs

A new approach to 'vitrification,' or ice-free cryopreservation, has been discovered, which could ultimately allow a much wider use of extreme cold to preserve tissues and even organs for later use.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Specifically controlling the structure of macromolecules

Researchers will develop new synthesis processes for long-chain molecules in order to characterize and construct them with so far unreached precision. This will result in an innovative leap in a number of material classes, they say.

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A row-bot that loves dirty water

Taking inspiration from water beetles and other swimming insects, academics have developed the Row-bot, a robot that thrives in dirty water. The Row-bot mimics the way that the water boatman moves and the way that it feeds on rich organic matter in the dirty water it swims in.

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More efficient biosensors for monitoring glucose levels in the field

The need for low-cost portable devices to measure substances of medical or biological interest (blood sugar levels, for instance) is growing, primarily within the health sector, though also areas such as food quality and environmental monitoring. Sending samples off to a clinical chemistry laboratory for analysis is expensive, and it takes a long time for results to reach the patient. Devices for use in the field, at point-of-care or in non-hospital settings would constitute an efficient alternative were they able to give accurate readings under non-laboratory conditions.

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Shedding light on oil behaviors before the next spill

There are still critical research gaps hampering efforts to both assess the environmental impacts of crude oil spills and to effectively remediate them, a Canadian, comprehensive scientific report has concluded.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Why E. coli move faster in syrup-like fluids than in water

Swimming in a pool of syrup would be difficult for most people, but for bacteria like E. coli, it's easier than swimming in water. Scientists have known for decades that these cells move faster and farther in viscoelastic fluids, such as the saliva, mucus, and other bodily fluids they are likely to call home, but didn't understand why. New findings could inform disease models and treatments, or even help design microscopic swimming robots.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Atom-sized craters make a catalyst much more active

Bombarding and stretching an important industrial catalyst opens up tiny holes on its surface where atoms can attach and react, greatly increasing its activity as a promoter of chemical reactions, according to a new study.

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Chemical design made easier

A metal-free process has been developed for the rapid synthesis of elusive small-molecule catalysts that promise to speed the making of novel chemicals, including drugs.

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New, inexpensive way to clean water from oil sands production found

A process to remove contaminants from oil sands wastewater has been found by researchers, which uses only sunlight and nanoparticles. They report that the process is more effective and inexpensive than conventional treatment methods.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Oily waste with natural radionuclides: Stimulates or inhibits soil bacterial community?

Researchers have revealed both structural and functional changes of the microbial community resistant to and able to decompose oily wastes in soil. The experiment was dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide efflux, microbial biomass, and community structure for 120 d after application of radioactive oily wastes to the soil at the ratio 1:4. Both waste and soil samples were collected in Tatarstan, Russia.

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Electric fields remove nanoparticles from blood with ease

A new technology that uses an oscillating electric field to easily and quickly isolate drug-delivery nanoparticles from blood has been developed by a team of engineers. The technology could serve as a general tool to separate and recover nanoparticles from other complex fluids for medical, environmental, and industrial applications.

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tiny robots inspired by pine cones

The future of bio-inspired engineering or robotics will greatly benefit from lessons learned from plants, according to a group of researchers. They will share details about how studying plants enabled them to create tiny robots powered exclusively by changes in humidity.

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Better catalysts will remove carcinogenic chlorine compounds from water

Two new catalysts have been developed as effective treatment of tap water. With these catalysts, researchers intend to eliminate harmful chlorine compounds.

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

New vision for multifunctional materials

Taking a cue from nature, scientists have deciphered how the biomineral making up the body armor of a chiton mollusk has evolved to create functional eyes embedded in the animal's protective shell. The findings could help determine so far still elusive rules for generating human-made multifunctional materials.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chemists create adaptable metallic-cage gels

Chemists have created a new material that combines the flexibility of polymer gels with the rigid structure provided by metal-based clusters. The new gels could be well-suited for a range of possible functions, including drug release, gas storage, or water filtration, the researchers say.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nanotech-based sensor developed to measure microRNAs in blood, speed cancer detection

A newly developed, simple, ultrasensitive microRNA sensor holds promise for the design of new diagnostic strategies and, potentially, for the prognosis and treatment of pancreatic and other cancers.

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Cheaper, Higher Performing LEDs

Scientists are using a class of materials called organometal halide perovskites to build a highly functioning LED.

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Self-healing sensor brings 'electronic skin' closer to reality

Scientists have developed a self-healing, flexible sensor that mimics the self-healing properties of human skin. Incidental scratches or cuts to the sensors "heal" themselves in less than one day.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Scientists build nanoscale submarines powered by light

Though they're not quite ready for boarding a lá "Fantastic Voyage," nanoscale submarines are proving themselves seaworthy.

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Primordial goo used to improve implants

An innovative new coating that could be used to improve medical devices and implants, thanks to a 'goo' thought to be have been home to the building blocks of life.

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Physicists uncover mechanism that stabilizes plasma within tokamaks

Under certain conditions a helix-shaped whirlpool of plasma forms around the center of the tokamak. The swirling plasma acts like a dynamo -- a moving fluid that creates electric and magnetic fields. Together these fields prevent the current flowing through plasma from peaking and crashing.

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Super environmentally friendly: the 'fool’s gold battery'

High-performance lithium ion batteries face a major problem: Lithium will eventually start to run out as batteries are deployed in electric cars and stationary storage units. Researchers have now discovered an alternative: the “fool’s gold battery”. It consists of iron, sulfur, sodium and magnesium – all elements that are in plentiful supply. This means that giant storage batteries could be built on the cheap and used stationary in buildings or next to power plants, for instance.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

High durability, efficiency of 1 cm2 size perovskite solar cells

A research group has improved the power conversion efficiency (PCE) of perovskite solar cells to over 16% while employing cells that were greater than 1 cm2. The high efficiency cells also passed the durability test (exposure to AM 1.5G 100 mW/cm2 sunlight for 1,000 hours), which is considered to be a basic criterion for practical use. These achievements were made by replacing the conventional organic materials with inorganic materials as the electron and hole extraction layers of the solar cells.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

The most cynical advice to graduate students from an assistant professor you’ll read

Attention: ALL THE WHINERS IN MY LAB

I’m sick of your fucking complaining. Labor laws, my ass. Union? Give me a fucking break. You’re here in my lab for one reason: you wanted to play in the big leagues and you fucking chose to come here. I didn’t get down on bended knee for you. I didn’t ask you to come. YOU wrote me a letter about how passionate you were about organic chemistry, how much you loved my research, and how excited you’d be to join my group at Big Swinging Dick University. After that written equivalent of a sloppy hand job, you got your supervisor to write letter to me and then even call me up late one Friday evening in my office, a.k.a. Fort DeepInTheShit. I was there, of course. I’m always there. “I get 10 good postdoctoral applications a week”, I told him. What’s special about your guy? “Oh, he works 40 hours a week, plays violin in a string quartet and he has a fantastic collection of Eastern European stamps from the 1890-1930 period. But you should see how efficient he is in the lab!” Do you think I said, “How exciting! As a philatelist myself, maybe he can help me fill in some of the gaps in my Bismarcks. I can’t wait to spend leisurely Saturday afternoons drinking sherry and comparing our collections!” FUCK NO. He said, “This motherfucker is passionate about chemistry and he is 100% balls-in. He knows every named reaction forwards and backwards, he runs 3 reactions a day, and once recrystallized 3 mg of his key intermediate after his undergrad accidentally threw it into the waste solvent cannister. He is a superstar in the chemistry department here at Pudknocker U but his talent is wasted here. He deserves a chance to play with the big boys”. To which I said, “That is the kind of guy I want in my lab. I am sold.”

I’m not fucking with you: I will put you through hell. But it is a good kind of hell. [Of course if I actually wrote that in a letter, some snot-nosed whiny fuck would probably scan it and email it to his friends and they will complain about what a bastard I am.] Why? Because at Big Swinging Dick U, we don’t give a shit about doing the same crap that other people are doing. If you want to do pudknocker chemistry, there’s plenty of places for that. What we’re doing at BSDU has to be special. It has to be amazing. It has to the the kind of chemistry that people read and then jizz in their pants, they’re so excited about it. That’s right: we only do jizz-worthy chemistry. And over the past year, not to be immodest, our chemistry has caused a fair amount of jizz to fly around the organic chemistry world. People are jizzing enough that I’ve been invited to give talks at the Hyperphallus Institute, Massive Balls of Steel University, and numerous other smaller places, including Pudknocker. That’s why you wrote me, isn’t it? Deep down, you thought, “I want to do chemistry that makes people jizz”. Well, you’re come to the right place. But it comes at a price.

You think you can get as much done in 40 hours as a synthetic organic chemist versus someone who works 80? Bullshit. Don’t believe me? I’ll reassign my graduate student Suk Deep Lee to your molecule. He’s going to work on an alternative route. Don’t talk to me until you’ve made the molecule. Let’s see who makes the most progress, shall we?

Exactly. You’ll fall in line like everyone else.

I will put you through hell because jizzworthy chemistry does not come from sitting around drinking coffee and singing in the choral society. It takes FAILURE FAILURE FAILURE FAILURE, and then, maybe, if you keep failing, eventual success. Organic chemistry is all about trial and error, creating luck. That, and a lot of fucking columns. I will push you to the limits of your capabilities, and then some. You will hate it at first. But over time, you will adjust. You will be forged into a hardened lethal weapon of organic chemistry effectiveness. You will become a chemistry navy seal. There will be nothing you can’t do. You will surprise yourself with what you can accomplish. You will push through barriers you’ve been struggling with your entire life and finally achieve your full potential. That whiny voice you have in the back of your mind that says “I can’t do it!”? You are going to stomp on its face with steel-spiked boots. Plus, you’re going to be surrounded by other ninjas of chemistry. These will be your brothers in the trenches, and there will always be a bond between you, through the rest of your career. You will be doing jizzworthy chemistry: your old friends from Pudknocker will see your papers and say, “awesome work dude”. You will tell your buddies how the other day at BSDU you were in the washroom and saw [Nobel laureate] walk right out of the crapper and he didn’t even flush the toilet. Gross! Then you will get emails from random strangers asking “And by the way, does Prof. Hardass Slavedriver have any openings for a postdoc?”

Exactly. As much as people might be afraid of me, I’m in demand. People want to work for me. Oh, they complain. But I give them something that is scarce: the opportunity to achieve greatness. Greatness is all I care about. Commitment to Excellence. Deep down, you want to be great too, don’t you? To play in the majors. To be taken seriously. To be in the brotherhood. To be on a winning team. To be the best you can be at something you are passionate about.

Don’t want to make the sacrifices? Well, there’s always Pudknocker U.

Behind my back, my students bitch about how I am a slavedriver. All I have to say is: Suck it up you fucking princesses. Nobody works harder than me. You think your life is fucking stressful? I’m 3 years into my position and we’re just at the point where we’re getting out key results. EVERYTHING is riding on what happens in my lab over the next two years. That includes your fucking careers, bitches. In 2 years I have to apply for tenure and an NIH grant which will decide the future of my life. I do not sleep. I do not take days off. I do not have time for my family. I do not have time for kids. I have eight people in my lab right now whose future completely depends on me, and I will be adding more in the fall. You think you are under pressure? You have no fucking clue what pressure is. Do you have any idea what the success rate on NIH and NSF grants are? You don’t want to know. But you want to take weekends off, work 9 to 5, participate in extracurriculars, while I’m working my ass off, and you’re living off MY precious startup funds? What do you think [EJ/KC/Kishi] would have said to me if I told them I was going to do that during MY Ph.D? They would have torn me a new asshole! My head would have been ripped off and the senior postdocs would circle-jerk on my exposed brain stem. Metaphorically, of course.

Do you think I’m a slavedriver because I want to be? Are you really that cynical? I’m a slavedriver because I HAVE to be. All things being equal, I would prefer to be nice to my students. I would like to tell them to work at a time of their leisure and take weekends, and give them a big pink stuffed animal every time they run a column on 20 g of starting material that takes them six hours. All things being equal, I would love to take weekends myself. I would love to call up KC Nicolaou and say,

ME: “Gee KC, I know you’re also working on Jackoffamycin, but I was thinking… maybe we could agree to cut back the pace a bit. You know, take it easy, let our grad students and postdocs spend more time on extracurriculars. Plus, I would like to take July off and visit the vineyards of southern France. KC: Oh my! You’re so right! There is too much competition in our field. Our students and postdocs do suffer so. Starting today, I’ll make 40 hour weeks mandatory, and I’ll make sure the lab is locked on weekends so they aren’t tempted to break the rule. Thank you, young man, for showing me the error of my ways! ME: You’re a great guy KC. KC: You took the words out of my mouth

Three months later KC’s synthesis of Jackoffamycin comes out in JACS and it has eight postdocs on it.
ME: KC! What about our deal? KC: HAHAHAHAHAHAH BY ZEUS’ ASS

My friends, the fact is that people are out to eat our lunch. If we want to avoid this fate we will work our goddamn asses off to ensure that this does not happen. That means that you give me your best effort and your complete devotion. I will keep your balls in a jar in my office. At the end of your military service here, if you work your ass off and do well, we will have a synthesis. I will salute you, return your balls – which have hardened into solid brass – and give you a firm handshake. You will have become a forceful, deadly unstoppable chemistry ninja whom pharmaceutical companies salivate over, and you will have my Letter. You can take my Letter to any of the companies I consult for and get a six-figure job with them. THEN you can do your 9 to 5, no weekends thing. You’ll have a stimulating pharma job, a wife, a family, and great job security in an industry that is only going to grow once the insights from the Human Genome Project start making their mark. What a bright future the pharmaceutical industry has! You’ll go far, young man.

Meanwhile your old friends who did their Ph.D’s at Pudknocker are finishing up their 7-year Ph.Ds in fields that maybe 20 people in the world give a shit about. Good thing you’re not like them.
That’s the bargain. Take it or leave it.

Yours Truly

Prof. Hardass Slavedriver Assistant
Profesor,

Big Swinging Dick University

From: Reddit



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First 'porous liquid' invented

Scientists have made a major breakthrough by making a porous liquid. The three-year research project could pave the way for many more efficient and greener chemical processes, including ultimately the procedure known as carbon capture -- trapping carbon dioxide from major sources, for example a fossil-fuel power plant, and storing it to prevent its entry into the atmosphere.

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Miniaturizable magnetic resonance

A garnet crystal only one micrometer in diameter was instrumental in physicists creating a route to 'lab-on-a-chip' technology for magnetic resonance, a tool to simplify advanced magnetic analysis for device development and interdisciplinary science.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

New class of materials for organic electronics

Polymeric carbon nitride is an organic material with interesting optoelectronic properties. As an inexpensive photocatalyst, it can be used to facilitate water splitting using sunlight. Research has now investigated for the first time how light creates charge carriers in this class of materials and established details about charge mobility and lifetimes. They discovered surprising characteristics in their investigations that provide prospects for new applications, in conjunction with graphene for example.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Nanopores could take the salt out of seawater

Engineers have found an energy-efficient material for removing salt from seawater that could provide a rebuttal to poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge's lament, 'Water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink.'

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Microbes map path toward renewable energy future

In the quest for renewable fuels, scientists are taking lessons from a humble bacterium that fills our oceans and covers moist surfaces the world over. Cyanothece 51142, a type of bacteria also called blue-green algae, produces hydrogen in robust fashion, and scientists have found that it taps into an unexpected source of energy to do so.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sea urchin spurs new ideas for lightweight materials

Materials researchers love sea creatures. Mother-of-pearl provokes ideas for smooth surfaces, clams inspire gluey substances, shark's skin is used to develop materials that reduce drag in water, and so on. Researchers have now found a model for strong, lightweight materials by diving below the sea surface to investigate a sea urchin cousin known as the heart urchin.

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Forensic science of dating inks fine tuned

When did you make your book entries? When was the settlement signed? When was the will made? These are often very tricky questions to answer and frequently arise in judicial contexts. In fact, the dating of documents is a key area in the field of forensic science. A new method that determines the age of a document in a less invasive way than other techniques and is also able to date documents up to five years old.

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Onion-like layers help this efficient new nanoparticle glow

A new, onion-like nanoparticle could open new frontiers in biomaging, solar energy harvesting and light-based security techniques.

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Clay makes better high-temp batteries

Scientists develop lithium-ion batteries with clay-based electrolytes for high-temperature environments.

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Microwave field imaging using diamond, vapor cells

Microwave field imaging is becoming increasingly important, as microwaves play an essential role in modern communications technology and can also be used in medical diagnostics. Researchers have now independently developed two new methods for imaging microwave fields. Both methods exploit the change in spin states induced by an applied microwave field, researchers report.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

A new way to look at metal organic frameworks

Scientists have developed a technique called 'gas adsorption crystallography' that provides a new way to study the process by which metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are able to store immense volumes of gases such a carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane.

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Computers used to tackle one of chemistry's greatest challenges

Researchers have successfully predicted the crystal structures of small organic molecules by computational methods without experimental input. The ability to predict crystal structures could enable the design of materials with superior properties, for example the creation of brighter pigments, more effective pharmaceuticals, or even lower calorie foodstuff.

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Conducting gels, from waste to wealth

Scientists have demonstrated an innovative way of using a gel to extract precious metals such as silver and gold from waste and convert them into conducting nanoparticles to form a hybrid nanomaterial potentially suitable for a range of high-tech applications.

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Watching cement dry could help dental fillings last longer

Scientists have revealed 'sweet points' for dental fillings, where cement used to fill cracks regain elasticity before hardening indefinitely. This could have implications for creating more durable and longer-lasting fillings in the future.

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New technology colors in the infrared rainbow

Researchers have devised a technology that can bring true color to infrared imaging systems, like the one the Predator used to track Arnold Schwarzenegger through the jungle. Rather than creating images based on the amount of infrared radiation detected, these cameras could detect different wavelengths -- or colors -- of the infrared spectrum, which would capture much more information about the objects being imaged, such as their chemical composition.

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Giant fullerene system inhibits the infection by an artificial Ebola virus

Using an artificial Ebola virus model, a medical researchers have demonstrated how a supermolecule -- constituted by 13 fullerenes -- has been able of inhibiting the virus infection by blocking a receptor implied in its expansion. The model, tested in vitro, highlights the potential of this biotechnology to eradicate the infection.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Using hydrogen to enhance lithium ion batteries

Scientists have found that lithium ion batteries operate longer and faster when their electrodes are treated with hydrogen.

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