Physicists have discovered a highly sensitive magnetic material that could transform computer hard drives and energy storage devices. The metal bilayer needs only a small shift in temperature to dramatically alter its magnetism - a tremendously useful property in electronic engineering.
"No other material known to man can do this. It's a huge effect. And we can engineer it," Ivan Schuller, professor of physics, told BBC News. Read more.
Like an enormous backlight, remnant radiation from the Big Bang shines through the whole universe.
This ancient light, the cosmic microwave background, has cooled and stretched since then.
Light can trigger coordinated, wavelike motions of atoms in atom-thin layers of crystal, scientists have shown. The waves, called phonon polaritons, are far shorter than light waves and can be "tuned" to particular frequencies and amplitudes by varying the number of layers of crystal.
These properties - observed in this class of material for the first time - open the possibility of using polaritons to convey information in tight spaces, create images at far finer resolution than is possible with light, and manage the flow of heat in nanoscale devices. Read more.
The surface of the sea takes up nitrogen oxides that build up in polluted air at night, new measurements on the coast of southern California have shown. The ocean removes about 15 percent of these chemicals overnight along the coast, atmospheric chemists report the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The sea has a salty, rich, organic surface with the potential for a variety of chemical reactions,” says Tim Betram, an assistant professor of chemistry who led the project. It’s part of his group’s mission, to “embrace the complexity to study real systems in their native states and the coupling of the natural world with our influence,” he adds. Read more.
Astronomers see huge clouds of gas orbiting supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies. Once thought to be a relatively uniform, fog-like ring, the accreting matter instead forms clumps dense enough to intermittently dim the intense radiation blazing forth as these enormous objects condense and consume matter. Evidence for the clouds comes from records collected over 16 years by NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, a satellite equipped with instruments that measured variations in X-ray sources. Read more.
Two years ago, chemistry professor Akif Tezcan and coworkers showed that a cytochrome protein could self-assemble into one- and two-dimensional arrays, coordinated by zinc ions. Now Tezcan's research team has used this metal-linked protein array as a template for nanofabrication.
In a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they show that the protein within this metal-based array is much more stable to heat and organic solvents than the native protein and that its light-driven chemical activity can be used to control the growth of inorganic nanocrystals. Stable arrays of other proteins and enzymes with different functions could also potentially be used to fabricate materials on a nanoscale.
Strange events have long been linked to nights of a full moon, though careful scrutiny dispels any association. So, when signals bounced off the lunar surface returned surprisingly faint echoes on full moon nights, scientists sought an explanation in reason rather than superstition. Still, the most compelling evidence arrived during another event that once evoked irrational fears—on a night when Earth's shadow eclipsed the full moon.
Recent reports of local kayak operators picking up radioactive residue from Fukushima on the bottoms of their boats are not a result of the Fukushima disaster, Mark Thiemens told the La Jolla Light.
In 2011 Thiemens and a crew of UC San Diego atmospheric chemists reported the first quantitative measurement of the amount of radiation leaked from the damaged nuclear reactor in Fukushima, following the devastating earthquake and tsunami there.
Dark matter could consist of relatively small black holes that formed in the early Universe. We might detect one of these so-called primordial black holes as gravitational lenses of background stars, but a new analysis of data from the Kepler mission’s search for Earth-sized planets finds no black hole lensing events. From this nondetection, astrophysicist Kim Griest and colleagues, reporting in Physical Review Letters, rule out part of the mass range previously thought still available for dark matter black hole candidates.
The first weather forecast for a brown dwarf is in - and it's not looking good up there.
Astronomers predict it will rain molten iron and "snow" hot sand, with lightning and hurricanes likely. New observations reveal surprisingly turbulent storm clouds circling these "failed stars".
It is the most detailed report ever for a world outside our Solar System. Read more in this BBC Report.
Chemical reactions proceed so fast it’s hard to capture the moves atoms make as they break and reform chemical bonds. Using a unique experimental approach, Robert Continetti’s group has teased out the intermediate chemical pathways through which a reaction proceeds and identified how energy is distributed among its products.
Their results, along with confirmation by a quantum mechanical model developed by Hua Guo’s group at the University of New Mexico, are published in the early online edition of Science January 9. Read more.
Chemists have caught molecules in the act of biosynthesis revealing an animated view of how a fundamental piece of cellular machinery operates. The approach will allow this team to continue to unravel interactions between proteins, a critical step to the successful manipulation of biosynthetic pathways.
The system they observed, a critical metabolic pathway, generates fatty acids, essential components of fats and structures such as cell membranes.
Nature published their findings in the early online edition December 22. Read more.
In the human body, most biological molecules are surrounded by water, which can change the molecules' shapes and influence their interactions. Biochemists and mathematicians here have developed a geometric model to predict the influence of water on biological molecules much faster than previous methods. They describe their their new approach in the Journal of Chemical Physics and say it could speed the search for new drugs.