Latest materials

Researchers discover new fundamental quantum mechanical property

new fundamental quantum mechanical property
Nanotechnologists at the University of Twente research institute MESA+ have discovered a new fundamental property of electrical currents in very small metal circuits. They show how electrons can spread out over the circuit like waves and cause interference effects at places where no electrical current is driven. The geometry of the circuit plays a key role in this so called nonlocal effect. The interference is a direct consequence of the quantum mechanical wave character of electrons and the specific geometry of the circuit. For designers of quantum computers it is an effect to take account of. The results are published in the British journal Scientific Reports.

Interference is a common phenomenon in nature and occurs when one or more propagating waves interact coherently. Interference of sound, light or water waves is well known, but also the carriers of electrical current - electrons - can interfere. It shows that electrons need to be considered as waves as well, at least in nanoscale circuits at extremely low temperatures: a canonical example of the quantum mechanical wave-particle duality.


Robots to Spy On Black Holes

accretion disk
Astronomers wanting more accurate measurements of distant black holes have some new assistants - robots that can tackle the tedious task of monitoring black hole neighbor clouds' glow.

The technique, known as reverberation mapping, has been in astronomers' toolkits for decades, but it required much labor and telescope time.

The idea is that radiation from swirling matter at the mouth of an active black hole will light up distant clouds. By chemically analyzing the gas in the so-called accretion disk around the black hole and comparing it with the glow of gas farther away, astronomers can figure out the mass of the black hole and the strength of its gravitational field.


Visible Light from a Black Hole Spotted by Telescope, a First

Visible Light from a Black Hole Spotted by Telescope
For the first time, astronomers have seen dim flickers of visible light from near a black hole, researchers with an international science team said. In fact, the light could be visible to anyone with a moderate-size telescope.

These dramatically variable fluctuations of light are yielding insights onto the complex ways in which matter can swirl into black holes, scientists added. The researchers also released a video of the black hole's light seen by a telescope. In a statement, they added that such light from an active black hole could be spotted by an observer with a 20-cm telescope.


Why Earth's Largest Ape Went Extinct g

Gigantopithecus blacki
The biggest primate that ever walked the Earth may have died out because of its giant size and limited diet, new research suggests.

Little is known about the mysterious Gigantopithecus blacki, a distant relative to orangutans that stood up to 10 feet (3 meters) tall and weighed up to 595 lbs. (270 kilograms).

However, a new analysis of its diet suggests it lived and ate exclusively in the forest. When its forest habitats shrank about 100,000 years ago, the enormous ape may not have been able to snag enough food to survive and reproduce, and went extinct as a result, said study co-author Herve Bocherens, a paleontologist at the University of Tubingen in Germany.


Squeezing cells into stem cells

stem cells
EFPL scientists have developed a new method that turns cells into stem cells by "squeezing" them. The method paves the way for large-scale production of stem cells for medical purposes.

Stem cells are now at the cutting edge of modern medicine. They can transform into a cells of different organs, offering new ways to treat a range of injuries and diseases from Parkinson's to diabetes. But producing the right type of stem cells in a standardized manner is still a serious challenge. EPFL scientists have now developed a gel that boosts the ability of normal cells to revert into stem cells by simply "squeezing" them into shape. Published in Nature Materials, the new technique can also be easily scaled up to produce stem cells for various applications on an industrial scale.


The trouble with time travel

The trouble with time travel

In Back to the Future, Marty McFly faces some mind-warping time travel paradoxes. John Gribbin explains the science behind time travel in the movies and whether travelling through time is possible.

The Grandfather Paradox

Time travel theory

A time traveller goes back in time and either accidentally or deliberately (if you are in a macabre mood) kills his own grandfather, before the time traveller's father has been conceived. So the time traveller is never born, so he never goes back in time, so his grandad never dies, so the time traveller is born. And so on.


Friendship of tiger Amur and goat Timur in russian zoo

Amur and Timur in russian zoo

In december 22, 2015 year, at a zoo in Russia (Vladivostok) in the cage the tiger named Amur let the goat Timur. Timur had become dinner Amur. But to the surprise of employees of the zoo, goat showed no fear, and the tiger did not see in it a sacrifice. On this night, the tiger has conceded his place to sleep, and he slept in the rain. This story was told in the media and a couple of friends bought wildly popular.


Live webkam from the Baikonur Cosmodrome

webkam from the Baikonur Cosmodrome

Baikonur Cosmodrome. This is where the start almost all space-ships of "Roscosmos" corporation. Webcam of cosmodrome starts a few hours before the launch.


Scent of a woman's tears lowers men's desire

What a downer! Men who smell a woman's tears experience a dip in both sexual arousal and testosterone, a new study finds.
woman's tears

The libido-dampening effect occurred even when the men never saw the women cry and didn't know they were sniffing tears, researchers report online today .

The results are the first to suggest that humans can chemically communicate with tears.

"We conclude that there is a chemosignal in human tears, and at least one of the things the chemosignal does is reduce sexual arousal," study researcher Noam Sobel, a neuroscientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.


Sexual Pheromones - myth or Reality?

Half a century after the discovery of pheromones in animals, scientists have yet to conclusively identify a single such chemical in humans. Yet the term is bandied about regularly in reference to people and the supposedly silent means by which they communicate.
Sexual Pheromones

Pheromones will improve your sex life, a common sales pitch goes.

For certain, animals use pheromones to communicate nonverbally, transmitting the chemical signals often through air. The purpose is often related to mating or defense of territory.

Peter Karlson and Martin Luscher first proposed the word "pheromone" in 1959, referring to a chemical cocktail emitted by an animal and detected and responded to by other creatures of the same species. That same year, researchers reported the identification of the first pheromone (called bombykol) in silk moths.


5 facts about dinosaurs that jurassic world probably got completely wrong

5 facts about dinosaurs in jurassic world
Following the release of Jurassic World on DVD and Blu-ray, we spoke to dinosaur expert Dr Jakob Vinther about the film's biggest dinosaur disasters that question the 'science' in 'science fiction'...

Dinosaurs were covered in feathers, not scales

After years of debate, scientists now know that dinosaurs were the ancestors of birds, not reptiles. Dr Jakob, along with scores of other palaeontologists, have confirmed that dinosaurs as large as T. rex were covered in feathers rather than scales.


Top 10 subatomic surprises

In 1995 Fred Reines won the physics Nobel for detecting neutrinos, bizarre subatomic particles that some experts said could never be detected. In 2002, Ray Davis and Masatoshi Koshiba won for measuring how many neutrinos the sun sends to the Earth. In 1988, the physics prize honored the discovery of the muon neutrino, one of three "flavors" in the neutrino family. And this year, Takaaki Kajita and Arthur McDonald shared the prize for demonstrating that neutrinos can change themselves from one flavor into another.

Wolfgang Pauli, the Austrian physicist who predicted the neutrino's existence, also won a Nobel, but not for the neutrino (he did a lot of other very important stuff). He might have won for the neutrino except that his prediction came in the form of a letter to physicists attending a conference that Pauli decided to skip so he could go to a dance.


A new way of defining temperature?

caesium atoms
Atoms wriggle - they can't help themselves. And the warmer they are, the faster they writhe. By using lasers to measure how fast atoms of the element caesium zip around a vacuum chamber, Australian scientists have shown they can calculate the sample's temperature. The super-accurate technique could be adopted as the basis of a new definition for the standard unit of temperature, the Kelvin. The work was reported in Nature Communications in October.

The International Bureau of Weights and Measures has for decades sought to redefine the seven key units of scientific measurement - a group that includes the kilogram and the metre, as well as the Kelvin - based on fundamental constants. Traditionally, many such measurements have been based on a physical object. The definitive metre, for example, was a metal bar kept by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris. But that method of defining a metre was inconvenient for anyone trying to calibrate a metre ruler elsewhere in the world. Today the metre is defined as the distance light travels in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second - a measurement many modern labs can carry out.


A new all-solid lithium-sulfur battery

Batteries - a guide to the future

Batteries that store renewable energy are essential for the Paris climate agreement to work. Viviane Richter describes the rechargeable batteries that could make it happen.

Turning solar and wind electricity into a 24/7 power source as reliable as coal. Eliminating the "range anxiety" that stops people switching from petrol to electric cars. Stopping the irritation of flat smartphones or laptops.

Those are just a few of the advantages that affordable long-lived rechargeable batteries, capable of delivering a sustained high-powered output over weeks instead of days could offer.


The Universe Is (Probably) Not a Hologram

The Universe Is Not a Hologram
Sometimes science gives us mind-blowing results that fundamentally force us to revise our perception of the universe we inhabit. From discovering that Earth is a sphere to the theory of special relativity, science has readjusted our grasp of reality time and again. This is not one of those times.

Researchers at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois recently carried out an experiment to prove whether or not the entire universe, as we know it, is nothing more than a hologram. To find evidence of our holographic existence, researchers used a so-called Holometer to probe for the universe's "pixels." Long story short, they didn't find what they were looking for.


Previous materials

Ceres reveals its salty secrets - and blurs the line between comets and asteroids

Ceres reveals its salty secrets

When Guiseppe Piazzi reported his observations of a minor planet in 1801, he originally thought it might be a comet. But follow-up observations by fellow astronomers suggested that Ceres was actually an asteroid. So it's somewhat ironic that the latest results from NASA's Dawn mission suggest this asteroid is confusingly similar to a comet.

Dawn has found a number of mysterious features on Ceres so far, including bright white spots on its surface. Its latest results suggest that these are salts left behind as ice vaporised from the surface by sublimation - a process often seen in comets. They also suggest Ceres may have formed far away from its current location in orbit between Mars and Jupiter. This would be surprising as many astronomers believe that a key difference between comets and asteroids is that asteroids form closer to the sun.


Elephant Social Networks

Elephant Social Networks Remain Strong In The Face of Poaching

Each year, approximately 30,000 African elephants are killed illegally for their ivory. Between 2010 and 2012, a staggering 100,000 elephants were slaughtered. Driven by an insatiable demand for ivory in China and Southeast Asia to make trinkets for burgeoning middle classes, the price of ivory has skyrocketed. A single carved tusk in China can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Unfortunately, this means no there is no respite in sight for the African elephant, and this has placed lots of pressure on elephant family groups, which are highly developed and complex social networks. However, despite near constant disruption and turnover within elephant families, the integrity of their social groups has remained surprisingly intact, revealing a hopeful bit of resiliency in an otherwise dismal situation.


A fascinating act of cellular cannibalism

After a century of observing strange acts of cellular cannibalism, Jo Durgan and Oliver Florey tell us how close we are to understanding entosis, and what it may mean for cancer biology.

Our research explores the relationship between entosis, a recently described form of live cell engulfment, and human cancer. During entosis, one live and perfectly viable epithelial cell is engulfed, killed and digested by another, in a fascinating act of cellular cannibalism. Although cannibalised cells have been observed in tumour samples for more than a century, many questions remain about the molecular and cellular events that drive entosis, and the effect that this process has on tumour progression. The main objectives of our work are to investigate the mechanisms underlying cell cannibalism and to explore its significance in the context of cancer biology.

For more than one hundred years, pathologists have recorded the appearance of cannibalised cells, referred to as 'cell-in-cell' structures, within human tumour specimens (Figure 1). However, little research had been undertaken on this topic until 2007, when Michael Overholtzer and Joan Brugge 'rediscovered' this process through studies of cultured human cell lines at Harvard. Recognising the potential significance of this unexpected observation, Dr Overholtzer undertook a comprehensive investigation of tumour cell cannibalism. His studies uncovered the basic mechanics of homotypic, epithelial 'cell-in-cell' formation and characterised the novel form of cell death that ensues. The process was named 'entosis' after the Greek word 'entos', meaning inside, into or within.


Physicists struggle to squeeze new particles from the LHC

Large Hadron Collider
It's a fairly silent night as the Large Hadron Collider shuts down for the holidays. Particle physicists at CERN today presented the first results since the LHC was switched back on for its second run, but had no discoveries to report.

Instead, early hints of new physics from the end of the LHC's first run seemed to drop away. But there is one glimmer of hope: a glimpse of a possible new particle.

With rumours of new particles flying around earlier in the week, physicists were crammed into the main lecture hall at CERN - the location of the announcement of the Higgs boson discovery in 2012. But this time there were no early Christmas presents.


Neuropathy: What a pain

What a pain

No one wishes to experience pain. But fortunately when those everyday aches and pains arise, we have over-the-counter medications readily available to help us out. (For a recent review on what the evidence has to say about over-the-counter pain medications, check out the Ask Julie column at Vox with Canada's own Julia Belluz:

But what if you are experiencing pain that isn't likely to get better with these over-the-counter medications? Patients with neuropathic pain find themselves in this category. Neuropathic pain - or as it is sometimes called, neuropathy - is a type of chronic pain that results from damage to the nervous system. Neuropathic pain can be peripheral, resulting from damage to the peripheral nerves (nerves in your arms, legs, hands, and feet for example) or central, resulting from damage to the brain or spinal cord. Common causes of peripheral neuropathy include diabetes and postherpetic neuralgia (nerve pain following shingles). Causes of central neuropathy can include spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis.


Great White Sharks Can Sense Emotions?

crystalline water
Great White Sharks are some of the most remarkable animals on planet earth. Next, our journey continues as we propel ourselves beyond the economics of fear toward more fascinating discoveries as it relates to the shark's advanced biological senses.

The most well-known shark species, such as the great white shark, tiger shark, blue shark, mako shark, and the hammerhead shark, are considered to be apex predators at the top of their underwater food chain.

As apex predators, sharks play a vital role in our ocean's food chain and yet humanity in recent times has brutally obstructed their ability to play this role. Why? First, let's take a look at scientific discoveries on sharks and Great White Sharks in particular.


Artificial intelligence software at the end of the rainbow

Artificial intelligence
The incoming artificial intelligence software revolution is affecting the finance sector. It's not easy to draw the boundaries of such a broad concept as the financial sector, but evolving customer expectations, crypto-currencies, peer-to-peer landing and changes in the regulatory landscape are all affecting the way finance is executed today. And those changes are rapid. Enjoy this introductory video provided by the Financial Times. It suggests a few questions, we will take care of the answers in this post.

As I work in finance, people always ask me if we will benefit or be damaged by this kind of financial innovation. To answer the question, we have to think what finance really means. To me finance is about managing and transferring risk. When I buy insurance, I transfer some risk to the insurer. When I buy a stock, I accept the risk of default of the issuer and hope for dividends and increase in value of my title. When I buy a derivative I want to cover the risk of adverse variances of interests, exchange rates etc...


Mars is ripping its moon apart

Stickney crater
Phobos will eventually disintegrate and form a ring around the red planet. Belinda Smith reports.

Naming the red planet for the god of war was a prescient move. But naming it for Hercules, the god who slaughtered his own children, would have been better.

Mars, it turns out, is mercilessly crushing one of its own moons. When its death throes are finally over, the moon Phobos will have disintegrated into a orbiting disc of dust and rock, and Mars will be a ringed planet, the Solar System's fifth. That's the conclusion of a study in Nature Geoscience in November by Benjamin Black and Tushar Mittal from the University of California, Berkeley.


How are minerals involved in creating liquid crystalline water?

crystalline water
Water does not naturally exist without minerals (salts/electrolytes). Even rain that has been purified by the process of evaporation immediately begins gathering minerals when it comes in contact with the Earth. Healthy water always contains minerals, just like the healthy internal fluids in our bodies. BUT the form these mineral take and the way they are held in the water is very important.

Minerals in water can either be biologically available or not. In other words, they can be easily recognized or they must undergo changes before they can perform their functions. Any changes require "work" so the easier it is for minerals to be used the better. Most biologically unavailable minerals are excreted or stored in the body as deposits that can cause plaque and joint problems.


Structured Water: Embracing Expansive Knowledge

Structured Water
Structured water is one of natures most important substance and we cannot live without it. While ancient cultures recorded great accounts of their philosophies, it was clear they placed genuine focus on both the nature of things and how to view the world in a broad sense. In recent centuries, however, we have attempted to subject the phenomenon of nature to specialization. And while contributions from specialization are critical to the development of exquisite technologies, a false narrative is often created and the great unknown is left forgotten.

It's no coincidence that imaginative geniuses of the past often embraced expansive knowledge in their search for scientific breakthroughs. This gave them the ability to solve larger problems; a path we sometimes lose because of our narrow, self-minded focus of today.


Human-Like Neural Networks Make Computers Better Conversationalists

If you've ever tried to hold a conversation with a chatbot like CleverBot, you know how quickly the conversation turns to nonsense, no matter how hard you try to keep it together.

But now, a research team led by Bruno Golosio, assistant professor of applied physics at Universita di Sassari in Italy, has taken a significant step toward improving human-to-computer conversation. Golosio and colleagues built an artificial neural network, called ANNABELL, that aims to emulate the large-scale structure of human working memory in the brain - and its ability to hold a conversation is eerily human-like.


Q-carbon Puts Diamonds in Second Place

Long ago, ancient scientists attempted to master the craft of alchemy, or the mythical process of turning lead into gold. Alchemy has since been proven to be a hopeless task, but modern scientists have successfully unlocked the secrets to an even more stunning transformation: turning carbon, the basic building block of life, into diamonds.

A new, simple carbon-transforming technique that uses a laser to produce tiny diamond “seeds” is yielding even more sparkling results. Researchers, in a new study, used their method to create an entirely new phase of carbon that surpasses even diamonds in terms of hardness, and the new material could have a number of applications in medical and industrial fields.


Fifty shades of black

Creating dark materials that prevent reflections has become hot competition recently, with Guinness World Records having to keep revising the darkest substance yet created. But depending on who's asking, the best black may not be the blackest black, as Jon Cartwright discovers/
Fifty shades of black

For domestic use, options abound. Pitch black, jack black, lamp black, fine black, velour black, onyx black, blackboard black, black fossil, charcoal, soot, smoke, sinner, black stillness, off black, little black dress, penny black, deep black and - should you want to be left in no doubt - black black.

There are probably 50 shades of black, if not more. But sometimes, and especially where physicists are concerned, even the blackest black isn't black enough.


Electron lifetime is at least 66,000 yottayears

The best measurement yet of the lifetime of the electron suggests that a particle present today will probably still be around in 66,000 yottayears (6.6 x 1028 yr), which is about five-quintillion times the current age of the universe. That is the conclusion of physicists working on the Borexino experiment in Italy, who have been searching for evidence that the electron decays to a photon and a neutrino; a process that would violate the conservation of electrical charge and point towards undiscovered physics beyond the Standard Model.

The electron is the least-massive carrier of negative electrical charge known to physicists. If it were to decay, energy conservation means that the process would involve the production of lower-mass particles such as neutrinos. But all particles with masses lower than the electron have no electrical charge, and therefore the electron's charge must "vanish" during any hypothetical decay process. This violates "charge conservation", which is a principle that is part of the Standard Model of particle physics. As a result, the electron is considered a fundamental particle that will never decay. However, the Standard Model does not adequately explain all aspects of physics, and therefore the discovery of electron decay could help physicists to develop a new and improved model of nature.


Your guts play host to bacterial hunger games

Trillions of bacteria are fighting it out for survival, and the scene of the battle is your gut. But fortunately, say researchers at Oxford University, it’s good for you.

Scientists have known for some time that the human gut contains large communities of microorganisms, many of which contribute to healthy digestion and immune system function. But a study published recently in Science found that, far from cooperating with each other as previously thought, the bacteria in these communities are perpetually at war. The results may help to explain how the communities maintain relatively constant sizes and compositions over time, and in doing so, contribute to human health.

“The assumption has always been that because these bacteria are doing us good, the communities must be cooperating with one another,” said Kevin Foster, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Oxford University. “What our work suggests, based on a wide-ranging mathematical analysis, is that competition may be key to a healthy gut.”


The case for testing drugs on pregnant women

Traditionally, expectant mothers have been excluded from clinical trials, but could this practice be doing more harm than good? Emily Anthes investigates.
pregnant women

When the heart stops beating, minutes matter. With every minute that passes before a rhythm is restored, a patient's odds of survival plummet. Which is why Anne Lyerly was surprised when, one night 20 years ago, she got a phone call from a doctor who had paused in the middle of treating a patient in cardiac arrest. Lyerly was a newly minted obstetrician; the caller was an internal medicine resident who was desperately trying to resuscitate a dying patient. A pregnant dying patient. He had called because his supervisor wanted to know whether a critical cardiac drug would be safe for the woman’s fetus.

Lyerly was stunned. Most medications are never tested in pregnant women and, although she knew that there was a chance the compound might harm the fetus, her response was unequivocal. "You need to tell him he needs to save her life," she told the resident. "It doesn't matter what drug he's using. She's dying."


The incredible truth about time

Theories of science have ignored time... until now. This idea reveals how it created the Universe - and you, writes Robert Matthews.

Time: it rules our lives, and we all wish we had more of it. Businesses make money out of it, and scientists can measure it with astonishing accuracy. In 2013, American researchers unveiled an atomic clock accurate to better than one second since the Big Bang 14 billion years ago.

But what, exactly, is time? Despite its familiarity, its ineffability has defied even the greatest thinkers. Over 1,600 years ago the philosopher Augustine of Hippo admitted defeat with words that still resonate: "If no-one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know."


The Unknown Universe - 10 questions still confounding cosmologists

We still have a long way to go when it comes to untangling the mysteries of the Universe. Stuart Clark takes a look at some of the most perplexing questions yet to be answered by science and how close we are to finding the facts about space.

1. How did it all begin?

Cosmologists talk about the Big Bang, but they have no idea what it was. "We are sure that the early phase of the Universe was hot and dense," says Prof Tim O'Brien, an astronomer from Jodrell Bank, University of Manchester. "But what triggered the Big Bang is still very much open for investigation."

In March 2014, astronomers using an instrument called BICEP2 thought that they had seen evidence for a colossal increase in the expansion of the Universe at the moment of the Big Bang. This would fit theoretical ideas called inflation. Sadly, it turned out to be space dust contaminating the signal.


Superflare: Sun could release flares 1000x greater than previously recorded

The Sun demonstrates the potential to superflare, new research into stellar flaring suggests.

Led by the University of Warwick, the research has found a stellar superflare on a star observed by NASA's Kepler space telescope with wave patterns similar to those that have been observed in solar flares.

Superflares are thousands of times more powerful than those ever recorded on the Sun, and are frequently observed on some stars.

Found in the Milky Way, the binary star, KIC9655129, is known to superflare. The researchers suggest due to the similarities between the superflare on KIC9655129 and the Sun's solar flares, the underlying physics of the flares might be the same, supporting the idea that our Sun could also produce a superflare.


Scientists get first glimpse of black hole eating star, ejecting high-speed flare

black hole
An international team of astrophysicists led by a Johns Hopkins University scientist has for the first time witnessed a star being swallowed by a black hole and ejecting a flare of matter moving at nearly the speed of light.

The finding reported in the journal Science tracks the star -- about the size of our sun -- as it shifts from its customary path, slips into the gravitational pull of a supermassive black hole and is sucked in, said Sjoert van Velzen, a Hubble fellow at Johns Hopkins.

"These events are extremely rare," van Velzen said. "It's the first time we see everything from the stellar destruction followed by the launch of a conical outflow, also called a jet, and we watched it unfold over several months."