Physicists have found a metal that conducts electricity but not heat

Share to TwitterShare to FlipboardShare to Copy LinkResearchers have identified a metal that conducts electricity without conducting heat – an incredibly useful property that defies our current understanding of how conductors work. The metal contradicts something called the Wiedemann-Franz Law, which basically states that good conductors of electricity will also be proportionally good conductors of heat, which is why things like motors and appliances get so hot when you use them regularly. But a team in the US has shown that this isn’t the case for metallic vanadium dioxide (VO2) – a material that’s already well known for its strange ability to switch from a see-through insulator to a conductive metal at the temperature of 67 degrees Celsius (152 degrees Fahrenheit).

“This was a totally unexpected finding,” said lead researcher Junqiao Wu, from Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division.”It shows a drastic breakdown of a textbook law that has been known to be robust for conventional conductors. This discovery is of fundamental importance for understanding the basic electronic behaviour of novel conductors.

“Not only does this unexpected property change what we know about conductors, it could also be incredibly useful – the metal could one day be used to convert wasted heat from engines and appliances back into electricity, or even create better window coverings that keep buildings cool. Researchers already know of a handful of other materials that conduct electricity better than heat, but they only display those properties at temperatures hundreds of degrees below zero, which makes them highly impractical for any real-world applications.Vanadium dioxide, on the other hand, is usually only a conductor at warm temperatures well above room temperature, which means it has the ability to be a lot more practical. Source: Physicists have found a metal that conducts electricity but not heat

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Watch Alien Worlds Whirl Around a Distant Star

Not too far away, four worlds are orbiting a young, bright star—and now, after staring at the alien stellar system for seven years, we can watch as the planets quietly trace their cosmic loops.

There’s something indescribably majestic about watching these whirling worlds, each obeying the same laws of planetary motion that Johannes Kepler derived four centuries ago. After all, though we can see moons orbiting our planetary neighbors, it’s improbable that we’ll ever observe our own solar system perform this dance from afar.

The blotted-out star in the center of the video is called HR 8799, and it’s in the constellation Pegasus, about 129 light-years from Earth. About five times brighter than the sun, HR 8799 is just 30 million years old, the equivalent of a stellar newborn. Source: Watch Alien Worlds Whirl Around a Distant Star

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The Problem with Voice Recognition……..

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This is the closest-ever photo of a moonlet hiding in Saturn’s rings

While plow trucks across the US northwest pushed around snow this week, a Mount Everest-size rock near Saturn continued a centuries-long effort of clearing its own lane in the planet’s expansive disc of icy rings.

On January 16, the nuclear-powered Cassini spacecraft flew by the moonlet, called Daphnis, and took the closest-ever photo of the object. The shot below, which NASA released on Wednesday, is as pretty as it is incredible.

The image looks down on the 5-mile (8-kilometre) wide space rock in its 26-mile (42-kilometre) wide lane, called the Keeler Gap, as it zips on by:

NASA calls Daphnis the wavemaker moon, and it’s not hard to see why.The passing moonlet stirs up large waves of ring material with its weak gravitational pull, as well as smaller trails of grit that it yanks into the gap.If you look closely, you can see a wisp to the bottom-left of the moonlet: Source: This is the closest-ever photo of a moonlet hiding in Saturn’s rings


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Scientists create first stable semisynthetic organism

Life’s genetic code has only ever contained four natural bases. These bases pair up to form two “base pairs”—the rungs of the DNA ladder—and they have simply been rearranged to create bacteria and butterflies, penguins and people. Four bases make up all life as we know it.

Until now. Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have announced the development of the first stable semisynthetic organism. Building on their 2014 study in which they synthesized a DNA base pair, the researchers created a new bacterium that uses the four natural bases (called A, T, C and G), which every living organism possesses, but that also holds as a pair two synthetic bases called X and Y in its genetic code.

TSRI Professor Floyd Romesberg and his colleagues have now shown that their can hold on indefinitely to the synthetic base pair as it divides. Their research was published January 23, 2017, online ahead of print in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We’ve made this semisynthetic organism more life-like,” said Romesberg, senior author of the new study.

While applications for this kind of organism are still far in the future, the researchers say the work could be used to create new functions for single-celled that play important roles in drug discovery and much more.

Building a Unique Organism

When Romesberg and his colleagues announced the development of X and Y in 2014, they also showed that modified E. coli bacteria could hold this synthetic base pair in their genetic code. What these E. coli couldn’t do, however, was keep the base pair in their code indefinitely as they divided. The X and Y base pair was dropped over time, limiting the ways the organism could use the additional information possessed in their DNA.

“Your genome isn’t just stable for a day,” said Romesberg. “Your genome has to be stable for the scale of your lifetime. If the semisynthetic organism is going to really be an organism, it has to be able to stably maintain that information.”

Romesberg compared this flawed organism to an infant. It had some learning to do before it was ready for real life.

In stepped TSRI Graduate Student Yorke Zhang and Brian Lamb, an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow in the Romesberg lab at the time of the study. Together, they helped develop the means for the single-celled organism to retain the artificial base pair. Read more at:

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Slow Motion Visible Combustion

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2,200-Year-Old Stunning Mosaics Discovered in Ancient Greek City Of Zeugma

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Galileo satellites experiencing multiple clock failures

The onboard atomic clocks that drive the satellite-navigation signals on Europe’s Galileo network have been failing at an alarming rate.

Across the 18 satellites now in orbit, nine clocks have stopped operating. Three are traditional rubidium devices; six are the more precise hydrogen maser instruments that were designed to give Galileo superior performance to the American GPS network.

Galileo was declared up and running in December. However, it is still short of the number of satellites considered to represent a fully functioning constellation, and a decision must now be made about whether to suspend the launch of further spacecraft while the issue is investigated.

Prof Jan Woerner, the director general of the European Space Agency (Esa), told a meeting with reporters: “Everybody is raising this question: should we postpone the next launch until we find the root cause, or should we launch? Source: BBC News

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We now know bacteria can communicate electrically, and we should be worried

We already have a lot to worry about when it comes to bacteria, as more and more strains becoming resistant to our dwindling arsenal of antibiotics. Last year, a woman in the US was killed by a superbug resistant to every antibiotic available. But scientists continue to discover more worrying facts about the apparently simple, single-cell organisms we call bacteria: such as the way they beam out electrical signals to recruit other species to join their communities. That’s the conclusion of new research studying biofilms, the thin layer of cells and slime formed whenever bacteria glue themselves to a surface, and it can teach us more about how these microscopic communities live.

Biofilms are found in all kinds of places, from the plaque on your teeth to the underside of rocks, and they’re a particular concern for researchers, because instead of just one strain of bacteria growing on something, bacteria species team up to form these sticky, adhesive films, which are much harder to treat with chemicals and antibiotics.

It’s estimated that biofilms are responsible for more than 80 percent of all microbial infections in the body, so if we can find out more about how they form, and how we might be able to break them apart, it would be a huge win for medicine.

Now a group of scientists from the University of California, San Diego, say the bacteria are essentially sending out electronic advertisements to recruit new members to their biofilm, drawing in different bacterial species from outside.”In this way, bacteria within biofilms can exert long-range and dynamic control over the behaviour of distant cells that are not part of their communities,” explains lead researcher Gürol Süel. But the good news is that, now we know how this works, it gives us new options for dealing with biofilms, and understanding how bacteria communicate and work together in the first place. Source: We now know bacteria can communicate electrically, and we should be worried

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California’s iconic ‘tunnel tree’ has finally fallen

Made famous for the car tunnel carved into its trunk more than 100 years ago, California’s giant sequoia tree, known affectionately as the Pioneer Cabin Tree, has fallen.

The tree, which was estimated to be more than 1,000 years old, toppled over last weekend, after a vicious winter storm rolled through the Calaveras Big Trees State Park in Arnold, California.

“The Pioneer Cabin tree has fallen! This iconic and still living tree – the tunnel tree – enchanted many visitors. The storm was just too much for it, “park volunteer Jim Allday announced on January 9.

Pioneer Cabin stood a remarkable 45.7 metres (150 feet) tall, and was just one of many giant sequoias to call the park home. Source: California’s iconic ‘tunnel tree’ has finally fallen

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The Ames room illusion

An Ames room is a distorted room that is used to create an optical illusion. Probably influenced by the writings of Hermann Helmholtz, it was invented by American ophthalmologist Adelbert Ames, Jr. in 1934, and constructed in the following year.

An Ames room is constructed so that from the front it appears to be an ordinary cubic-shaped room, with a back wall and two side walls parallel to each other and perpendicular to the horizontally level floor and ceiling. However, this is a trick of perspective and the true shape of the room is trapezoidal: the walls are slanted and the ceiling and floor are at an incline, and the right corner is much closer to the front-positioned observer than the left corner (or vice versa). (See overhead view diagram)

As a result of the optical illusion, a person standing in one corner appears to the observer to be a giant, while a person standing in the other corner appears to be a dwarf. The illusion is so convincing that a person walking back and forth from the left corner to the right corner appears to grow or shrink.

Studies have shown that the illusion can be created without using walls and a ceiling; it is sufficient to create an apparent horizon (which in reality will not be horizontal) against an appropriate background, and the eye relies on the apparent relative height of an object above that horizon. via Opitical Spy

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‘Star Wars gibbon’ is new primate species

A gibbon living in the tropical forests of south west China is a new species of primate, scientists have concluded. The animal has been studied for some time, but new research confirms it is different from all other gibbons.

It has been named the Skywalker hoolock gibbon – partly because the Chinese characters of its scientific name mean “Heaven’s movement” but also because the scientists are fans of Star Wars.

The study is published in the American Journal of Primatology.Dr Sam Turvey, from the Zoological Society of London, who was part of the team studying the apes, told BBC News: “In this area, so many species have declined or gone extinct because of habitat loss, hunting and general human overpopulation. “So it’s an absolute privilege to see something as special and as rare as a gibbon in a canopy in a Chinese rainforest, and especially when it turns out that the gibbons are actually a new species previously unrecognised by science.” Source: BC News

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Scientists create first 2-D electride

Researchers have brought electrides into the nanoregime by synthesizing the first 2D electride material. Electrides are ionic compounds, which are made of negative and positive ions. But in electrides, the negative “ions” are simply electrons, with no nucleus. The electrons are very close to each other and very loosely bound, causing them to act as an electron gas. This electron gas gives electrides certain electrical properties, such as a high electrical mobility and rapid electrical transport, that are very attractive for electronics applications.

The researchers, led by Scott C. Warren, an assistant professor of applied physical sciences and chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have published a paper on the demonstration of the 2D electride in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

“Layered electrides have very exciting electronic properties—for example, a conductivity much greater than that of graphene,” Warren told “In the crystal structure of a layered electride, a cloud of electrons is spread out into a flat two-angstrom-thick plane between slabs of atoms. The electrons can conduct through that flat cloud with few interactions with nearby atoms, allowing them to move very quickly.”

Potential applications include transparent conductors, battery electrodes, electron emitters, and catalysts for chemical synthesis.

“The potential application that excites us the most is in advanced batteries, which is the focus of our current collaboration with the Honda Research Institute,” Warren said. “There are other exciting potential applications too, for example as transparent conductive films. From an academic perspective, this work opens up synthetic routes to study 2D electrides experimentally and to test potential applications that we haven’t even considered yet.”

Edited from: Scientists create first 2-D electride

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This crazy spinning ice disc just appeared in a Michigan river

…A team led by Stéphane Dorbolo from the University of Liége in Belgium decided to get to the bottom of these crazy things once and for all.Using some cameras, a nickel bead, a magnet, and Petri dish popsicles, the researchers simulated what happens when a sheet of ice floating on water starts to melt, as it would on a frozen river as the weather warms up.

Strangely enough, the ice sheet started rotating, even though the team hadn’t added any eddies to the model. Turns out, the spinning is actually down to some crazy properties in the water itself – not the currents it forms in a flowing river.

As Ryan F. Mandelbaum explains for Gizmodo, water happens to be at its densest at exactly 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) – and that’s important. “In their experiments, the scientists measured the flow of the water beneath the ice, and found that the icy disc cooled the water surrounding it,” says Mandelbaum. “When surrounding water hit the 39.2 degrees point, it sank and formed a vortex. This vortex of water whirls the ice floating atop it.”

But while the paper, published in Physical Review E last April, finally explains the spinning, it doesn’t explain how the disc ends up in such a perfectly round shape. It could be that shards of ice are collected up by the vortex and added to the disc to form the circle shape, or maybe the circle shape develops gradually – the disc smoothes itself out over hundreds and thousands of rotations. Edited from:– ScienceAlert

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Scientists have figured out how to make wounds heal without scars

Whether it’s from a surgical procedure, clumsy shaving, or that traumatic biking incident that happened when you were five, just about everyone has a scar they wish would just fade away. And while there’s not a whole lot that can be done for scars that are already there, researchers have figured out how to make fresh wounds heal as normal, regenerated skin, instead of the usual scar tissue – something that was previously thought to be impossible in mammals.

“Essentially, we can manipulate wound healing so that it leads to skin regeneration rather than scarring,” said one of the team, George Cotsarelis, chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania. “The secret is to regenerate hair follicles first. After that, the fat will regenerate in response to the signals from those follicles.”

If you’ve ever wondered why scar tissue looks so different from regular skin, it’s because scar tissue doesn’t contain any fat cells or hair follicles. The type of skin that regenerates over a small, superficial cut is filled with fat cells called adipocytes, just like the skin you were born with, which means the two will eventually blend into each other once the wound has healed. But scar tissue is made up almost entirely of cells called myofibroblasts, and doesn’t contain any fat cells at all. So instead of blending into the surrounding skin once the wound has fully healed, it looks completely different – permanently.

The same goes for ageing skin – as we age, we lose our adipocytes, which leads to discolouration and deep, irreversible wrinkles.But scientists have discovered that existing myofibroblasts can actually be converted into adipocytes, which suggests that as a wound is healing, scar tissue could be converted to regenerated skin instead – something that scientists thought could only be possible in fish and amphibians. Source: Scientists have figured out how to make wounds heal without scars

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Hover Camera

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Artificial Intelligence Helps Diagnose Cancer

Identifying cancer based on blood samples can be surprisingly challenging. Often, doctors add chemicals to a sample that can make the cancerous cells visible, but that makes the sample impossible to use in other tests. Other techniques identify cancerous cells based on their abnormal structure, but those take more time (those cells are often rare in a given sample) and can misidentify healthy misshapen cells as cancerous.

Now researchers at University of California Los Angeles have developed a technique that combines a special microscope with an artificial intelligence algorithm to non-destructively identify cancer in a sample. Not only can that reduce the time and energy needed to diagnose cancer (and, thus, allow doctors to treat it more quickly), but could also be an asset for the field of precision medicine. The researchers published a paper about their technique recently in the journal Scientific Reports.

The microscope is called a photonic time stretch microscope, which uses nanosecond-long pulses of light broken into lines to capture images of hundreds of thousands of cells per second. Those images are fed into a computer program, which categorizes 16 of the cells’ different physical features, such as diameter, circularity, and how much light they absorb.

Using a set of images that had already been analyzed, the researchers used deep learning to train a computer program to identify cancerous cells. After several rounds of tests, the researchers found that their system was at least 17 percent better than existing analytical tools. The researchers believe their method could lead to more data-driven cancer diagnoses, according to a press release.

Deep learning has already been used to help diagnose diseases by analyzing patients’ genes. Since this technique can identify cancerous cells that scientists might not otherwise have caught, it could also help researchers better understand the mutations that drive cancer, helping them create new treatments for them as well. Source: Popular Science

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This is what the entire known Universe looks like in a single image

Isn’t it beautiful? This is an illustrated logarithmic scale conception of the observable Universe with the Solar System at the centre.

Encircling the Solar System are the inner and outer planets, Kuiper belt, Oort cloud, Alpha Centauri star, Perseus Arm, Milky Way galaxy, Andromeda galaxy, other nearby galaxies, the cosmic web, cosmic microwave radiation, and invisible plasma produced by the Big Bang at the very edges.

Created by musician and artist Pablo Carlos Budassi, the image is based on logarithmic maps of the Universe put together by Princeton University researchers, as well as images produced by NASA based on observations made by their telescopes and roving spacecraft. The Princeton team, led by astronomers J Richard Gott and Mario Juric, based their logarithmic map of the Universe on data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which over the past 15 years has been using a 2.5-metre, wide-angle optical telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico to create the most detailed three-dimensional maps of the Universe ever made, including spectra for more than 3 million astronomical objects. Source: This is what the entire known Universe looks like in a single image

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New organ named in digestive system

A part of the digestive system has been reclassified as an organ, following research at the University of Limerick.

The mesentery, which connects the intestine to the stomach, was previously thought to be made up of lots of separate parts. But Irish surgeon Prof J Calvin Coffey discovered it was one single structure. He said his research, published in the Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, could lead to a new area of science and better understanding of disease.

There are now 79 organs in the human body, and medical textbook Gray’s Anatomy has been updated to include the mesentery. But more scientific research is now needed to work out exactly what the organ does. Edited from: BBC News

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Top Pre-Raphaelite houses

Dr James Fox presents his must-see Pre-Raphaelite houses to visit this summer; from Morris’ iconic Arts and Crafts house, crammed with murals by Dante Gabrielle Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones to an elaborate Victorian manor home to an impressive Pre-Raphaelite collection.

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