Culture

A compelling new paper from the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research explores the community-supported agriculture movement and its survival in the face of economic globalization. Organic food was once an economic haven for small farms who distributed their goods predominantly through local channels such as farmers’ markets and food co-ops. In the contemporary marketplace, however, the vast majority of organic food production occurs on large-scale, industrial farms whose goods flow through global supply chains.

A remarkably simple experiment devised by scientists yields important information about the mechanical properties of thin films--nanoscopically thin layers of material that are deposited onto a metal, ceramic or semiconductor base.

The research results, funded by the National Science Foundation and performed at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, appears in the August 3, 2007, issue of Science.

An international team of astronomers using NASA’s Swift satellite and the Japanese/U.S. Suzaku X-ray observatory has discovered a new class of active galactic nuclei (AGN).

By now, you’d think that astronomers would have found all the different classes of AGN — extraordinarily energetic cores of galaxies powered by accreting supermassive black holes. AGN such as quasars, blazars, and Seyfert galaxies are among the most luminous objects in our Universe, often pouring out the energy of billions of stars from a region no larger than our solar system.

A method for making instant steam, without the need for electricity, promises to be useful for tackling antibiotic resistant ‘superbugs’ like MRSA and C. difficile, as well as removing chewing gum from pavements and powering environmentally friendly cars, reports Nina Morgan in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI. ‘The value of instant steam lies in creating truly portable steam that can be generated intermittently on demand,’ says Dave Wardle, business development director at Oxford Catalysts.

Rotary engines were developed by Wankel of Germany in the 1930s. They never really gained acceptance in the mass markert, aside from Mazda in its RX-7 and later models. But a project team says they can take the Mazda rotary engine block and build an aero engine around it that could be retrofitted to all aircraft - and it will change aviation.

The four-stroke piston engine technology used by the majority of planes in general aviation dates back 60 years.

Scientists at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory have discovered the surprising strength of a sheet of nanoparticles that measures just 50 atoms in thickness.Experiments by scientists at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, have revealed how to drastically change the properties of certain materials by confining their molecules in nanospaces.

Fossils discovered in the oft-painted arroyos of northern New Mexico show for the first time that dinosaurs and their non-dinosaur ancestors lived side by side for tens of millions of years, disproving the notion that dinosaurs rapidly replaced their supposedly outmoded predecessors.

A new National Science Foundation (NSF) report finds the number of U.S. science and engineering (S&E) articles in major peer-reviewed journals flattened in the 1990s, after more than two decades of growth, but U.S. influence in world science and technology remains strong.

The report, Changing U.S. Output of Scientific Articles: 1988 - 2003, finds changes occurred despite continued increases in funding and personnel for research and development. Flattening occurred in nearly all U.S. research disciplines and types of institutions.

Usually, the synthesis of short protein chains (polypeptides) begins with the production of their components, the amino acids. But it can be done differently: In the journal Angewandte Chemie, Chinese researchers report a considerably more convenient method that is similar to olefin polymerization, which is used for the mass production of plastics such as polyethylene. The advantage of this reaction is that it uses inexpensive starting materials and would be ideal for industrial production.

Unless you run marathons, you probably won’t get much protection from common colds by taking a daily supplemental dose of vitamin C, according to an updated review of 30 studies.

Conducted over several decades and including more than 11,000 people who took daily doses of at least 200 milligrams, the review also shows that vitamin C (ascorbic acid) does little to reduce the length or severity of a cold, according to the researchers at the Australian National University and the University of Helsinki.