Tech

MIAMI, FL (April 16, 2009)--Today, humans perform visual inspections every two years of most of the nation's older bridges. But with a scarcity of inspectors and tens of thousands of bridges, that process can be long and laborious.

While newer bridges have monitoring devices already incorporated into their design, there are thousands of bridges erected during the 1960s and '70s, when much of the nation's infrastructure was built that would benefit from such a system.

Physicists have measured and controlled seemingly forbidden collisions between neutral strontium atoms—a class of antisocial atoms known as fermions that are not supposed to collide when in identical energy states. The advance makes possible a significant boost in the accuracy of atomic clocks based on hundreds or thousands of neutral atoms.

Described in the April 17 issue of the journal Science,* the research was performed at JILA, a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado (CU) at Boulder.

The technology of storing electronic information – from old cassette tapes to shiny laptop computers – has been a major force in the electronics industry for decades.

A University of Colorado at Boulder team has developed a new method of shrinking the size of circuitry used in nanotechnology devices like computer chips and solar cells by using two separate colors of light.

Like current methods in the nanoengineering field, one color of light inscribes a pattern on a substrate, said CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Robert McLeod of the electrical, computer and energy engineering department. But the new system developed by McLeod's team uses a second color to "erase" the edges of the pattern, resulting in much smaller structures.

Scientists at Singapore's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have succeeded in unlocking the potential of carbon dioxide – a common greenhouse gas – by converting it into a more useful product.

In the international chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie, the IBN researchers report that by using organocatalysts, they activated carbon dioxide in a mild and non-toxic process to produce methanol, a widely used industrial feedstock and clean-burning biofuel.

A world of potential may lie tied up in graphene nanoribbons, particularly for electronics applications. But researchers have been hampered in their efforts to fully explore that potential because they had no reliable way of creating the large quantities of uniform nanoribbons needed to conduct extensive studies. Now a team at Stanford University under Hongjie Dai has developed a new method that will allow relatively precise production of mass quantities of the tiny ribbons by slicing open carbon nanotubes.

(CHICAGO) – Gastroenterologists at Rush University Medical Center are studying the safety and efficacy of a new system for delivering chemotherapy for patients with esophageal cancer, a rare, but deadly disease that attacks the throat. The unique drug therapy delivers a highly concentrated dose of chemotherapy injected directly on to the hard-to-reach tumors in the esophagus non-surgically. Researchers at Rush are trying to determine if the gel treatment can reduce the size of the cancerous tumors.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Since the human genome was sequenced six years ago, the cost of producing a high-quality genome sequence has dropped precipitously. More recently, the National Institutes of Health called for cutting the cost to $1,000 or less, which may enable sequencing as part of routine medical care.

The obstacles to reaching that goal have been primarily technological: Scientists have struggled to figure out how to accurately read the 3 billion base pairs - the amount of DNA found in humans and other mammals - without time-consuming, inefficient methods.

HOUSTON – (April 15, 2009) – Scientists at Rice University have found a simple way to create basic elements for aircraft, flat-screen TVs, electronics and other products that incorporate sheets of tough, electrically conductive material.

And the process begins with a zipper.

In the first demonstration of its kind, researchers at the University of British Columbia have controlled the spin of electrons using a ballistic technique--bouncing electrons through a microscopic channel of precisely constructed, two-dimensional layer of semiconductor.

Crop growth, drinking water and recreational water sports could all be adversely affected if predicted changes in rainfall patterns over the coming years prove true, according to research published this month in Biology and Fertility of Soils.

Scientists from Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)-funded North Wyke Research have found for the first time that the rate at which a dried soil is rewetted impacts on the amount of phosphorus lost from the soil into surface water and subsequently into the surrounding environment.

Ethanol production in Minnesota and Iowa uses far less water overall than similar processes in states where water is less plentiful, a new University of Minnesota study shows.

The study, which will be published in the April 15 edition of the journal Environmental Science and Technology, is the first to compare water use in corn-ethanol production on a state-by-state basis. The authors used agricultural and geologic data from 2006-2008 to develop a ratio showing how much irrigated water was used to grow and harvest the corn and to process it at ethanol plants.

Oncologists often have to wait months before they can determine whether a treatment is working. Now, using a non-invasive method, researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have shown that they can determine after a single cycle of chemotherapy whether the toxic drugs are killing the cancer or not.

MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Dr. Kathleen Ward noticed something odd when she examined the mammogram of a patient who had recently undergone breast cancer surgery.

The Loyola University Health System radiologist saw a suspicious pattern of white specks, much like grains of salt. The specks were calcium deposits similar to microcalcifications that sometimes are a sign of early breast cancer. But it was too early for the patient's breast cancer to have returned because it had been only a month since her lumpectomy.

Mark Nicas has given some of his best years to spittle. He builds models – the mathematical kind – of how someone else's slobber ends up on you. The size of the particles, whether they come out in a dry cough or a wet sneeze, their evaporation rate, air speed – these are all complications, reasons why people like Nicas can spend careers piling up academic papers, all the while building up a healthy respect for pathogens.