Tiny graphene microchips could make your phones and laptops thousands of times faster, say scientists

Graphene, and its nano-scale dimensions, could be leveraged to design the smallest microchips yet

By Daphne Leprince-Ringuet 

Researchers unlocked the electronic properties of graphene by folding the material like origami paper.

Graphene strips folded in similar fashion to origami paper could be used to build microchips that are up to 100 times smaller than conventional chips, found physicists – and packing phones and laptops with those tiny chips could significantly boost the performance of our devices. 

New research from the University of Sussex in the UK shows that changing the structure of nanomaterials like graphene can unlock electronic properties and effectively enable the material to act like a transistor.   

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Physicists could do the ‘impossible’: Create and destroy magnetic fields from afar

By Stephanie Pappas 

A new study circumvents a 178-year-old theory.

Scientists have figured out a way to create and cancel magnetic fields from afar. 

The method involves running electric current through a special arrangement of wires to create a magnetic field that looks as if it came from another source. This illusion has real applications: Imagine a cancer drug that could be delivered directly to a tumor deep in the body by capsules made of magnetic nanoparticles. It’s not possible to stick a magnet in the tumor to guide the nanoparticles on their journey, but if you could create a magnetic field from outside the body that centered right on that tumor, you could deliver the drug without an invasive procedure. Advertisement

The strength of a magnetic field decreases with distance from the magnet, and a theorem proven in 1842, Earnshaw’s Theorem, says that it’s not possible to create a spot of maximum magnetic field strength in empty space.

“If you cannot have a magnetic field maxima in empty space, it means you cannot create the field of a magnetic source remotely, without placing an actual [magnetic] source at the target location,” said Rosa Mach-Batlle, a physicist at the Istituto Italiano Di Tecnologia Center for Biomolecular Nanotechnologies in Italy who led the new research. 

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Discovery of mechanism that switches off fat production after eating

By Rich Haridy

New research discovered lipogenesis, the process by which digested food is turned into fat by the liver, is switched off by a gut hormone released in the hours following a meal

A fascinating new study, published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, is shedding light on a previously unknown mechanism by which a hormone released from the gut in the hours after eating effectively switches off the body’s fat production processes. The research also found this regulatory mechanism is defective in obese mice and human patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

After we eat a meal our body gets down to serious metabolic business. One key process triggered by eating is called lipogenesis, which is when our liver begins converting food into fats for storage across the body.

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Human aging process biologically reversed in world first

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The ageing process has been biologically reversed for the first time by giving humans oxygen therapy in a pressurised chamber.

 Scientists in Israel showed they could turn back the clock in two key areas of the body believed to be responsible for the frailty and ill-health that comes with growing older.

As people age, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes – called telomeres – shorten, causing DNA to become damaged and cells to stop replicating. At the same time, “zombie” senescent cells build up in the body, preventing regeneration.

Increasing telemere length and getting rid of senescent cells is the focus of many anti-ageing studies, and drugs are being developed to target those areas.

Now scientists at Tel Aviv University have shown that giving pure oxygen to older people while in a hyperbaric chamber increased the length of their telomeres by 20 per cent, a feat that has never been achieved before.

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Revolutionary synthetic DNA disk could hold key to future of storage

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Synthetic DNA could solve the world’s storage problems

 A new proof of concept that would see data stored on synthetic DNA could hold the key to the world’s storage problems. In theory, if the concept is successful, all the world’s accumulated data would fit inside a shoebox.

By 2025, it is estimated that 463 exabytes of data will be produced every day – equivalent to 212,765,957 DVDs – and data center providers are constantly expanding to provide storage for this deluge of information. A single gram of DNA, however, can hold 455 exabytes of information – a fact that has drawn the attention of computer scientists.

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Meet the zeptosecond, the shortest unit of time ever measured

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ABOVE – A particle of light, called a photon (yellow arrow), produces electron waves out of an electron cloud (grey) of a hydrogen molecule (red: nucleus). The result of those interactions is what’s called an interference pattern (violet-white). The interference pattern is slightly skewed to the right, allowing researchers to calculate the time for the photon to get from one atom to the next.

Scientists have measured the shortest unit of time ever: the time it takes a light particle to cross a hydrogen molecule.

That time, for the record, is 247 zeptoseconds. A zeptosecond is a trillionth of a billionth of a second, or a decimal point followed by 20 zeroes and a 1. Previously, researchers had dipped into the realm of zeptoseconds; in 2016, researchers reporting in the journal Nature Physics used lasers to measure time in increments down to 850 zeptoseconds. This accuracy is a huge leap from the 1999 Nobel Prize-winning work that first measured time in femtoseconds, which are millionths of a billionths of seconds.

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Scientists create the world’s first room temperature superconductor

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Superconducting materials typically require extremely cool temperatures to operate, which is demonstrated in this photo. But a new discovery could change that

Since its discovery more than a century ago, superconductivity has come to play a powerful role in many modern day technologies, such as maglev trains and MRI scans, but its utility has been limited by the need for extremely cool operating temperatures. Scientists are now claiming a big breakthrough in this area, creating what they say is the first material capable of superconductivity at room temperature.

The work was led by Ranga Dias at the University of Rochester, and aims to overcome one of the major roadblocks in expanding the uses of superconductive materials. These materials exhibit no electrical resistance and expel a magnetic field, but because they typically only function at temperatures below -140 °C (-220 °F), they require expensive equipment to maintain.

“Because of the limits of low temperature, materials with such extraordinary properties have not quite transformed the world in the way that many might have imagined,” says Dias. “However, our discovery will break down these barriers and open the door to many potential applications.”

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For the first time in its history, NASA successfully collects sample from asteroid

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Touchdown!

For the first time in its history, NASA has successfully collected samples from the surface of an asteroid, using the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on Tuesday.

The small spacecraft has been orbiting Bennu, an asteroid 500 meters across, for almost two years. Around 6 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, the spacecraft completed a “Touch-And-Go” maneuver before firing its thrusters to get back to a safe distance from the asteroid. The lonely space rock was more than 200 million miles away at the time.

“We did it,” principal investigator Dante Lauretta said during the agency’s live broadcast. “We’ve tagged the surface of the asteroid.”

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Water on Mars: discovery of three buried lakes intrigues scientists

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Researchers have detected a group of lakes hidden under the red planet’s icy surface.

Scientists have long thought that there could be water trapped beneath the surface of Mars.

Two years ago, planetary scientists reported the discovery of a large saltwater lake under the ice at Mars’s south pole, a finding that was met with excitement and some scepticism. Now, researchers have confirmed the presence of that lake — and found three more.

The discovery, reported on 28 September in Nature Astronomy1, was made using radar data from the European Space Agency’s Mars-orbiting spacecraft, called Mars Express. It follows the detection of a single subsurface lake in the same region in 2018 — which, if confirmed, would be the first body of liquid water ever detected on the red planet and a possible habitat for life. But that finding was based on just 29 observations made from 2012 to 2015, and many researchers said they needed more evidence to support the claim. The latest study used a broader data set comprising 134 observations from 2012 to 2019.

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Cashew shell compound appears to mend damaged nerves

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Summary: Anacardic acid, a compound found in cashew shells, promotes the repair of myelin. The findings could have positive implications for the treatment of diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, that are characterized by demyelination.

Source: Vanderbilt University Medical Center

In laboratory experiments, a chemical compound found in the shell of the cashew nut promotes the repair of myelin, a team from Vanderbilt University Medical Center reports today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Old human cells rejuvenated with stem cell technology, research finds

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Old human cells return to a more youthful and vigorous state after being induced to briefly express a panel of proteins involved in embryonic development, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The researchers also found that elderly mice regained youthful strength after their existing muscle stem cells were subjected to the rejuvenating protein treatment and transplanted back into their bodies.

The proteins, known as Yamanaka factors, are commonly used to transform an adult cell into what are known as induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells. Induced pluripotent stem cells can become nearly any type of cell in the body, regardless of the cell from which they originated. They’ve become important in regenerative medicine and drug discovery.

The study found that inducing old human cells in a lab dish to briefly express these proteins rewinds many of the molecular hallmarks of aging and renders the treated cells nearly indistinguishable from their younger counterparts.

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Bacteria that eats metal accidentally discovered by scientists

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Manganese oxide nodules generated by the bacteria discovered by the Caltech team.

(CNN)Scientists have discovered a type of bacteria that eats and gets its calories from metal, after suspecting they exist for more than a hundred years but never proving it.

Now microbiologists from the California Institute of Technology (or Caltech) accidentally discovered the bacteria after performing unrelated experiments using a chalk-like type of manganese, a commonly found chemical element.

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