Latest News

Clean forests prompt pollution rethink

South American streams call current nitrogen-cycle theory into question.

Pollution may have altered northern hemisphere forests dramatically. The surprise finding that clean forests use nitrogen differently to polluted ones emphasizes the effect that humans have on the planet’s nitrogen cycle 1 . It may even prompt a rethink of the way that this cycle works.

Humans have added vast amounts of nitrogen to the earth’s ecosystems. The element fertilizes plants. T

Event horizon dawns on desktop

Miniature physics phenomena could show hidden shades of space.

An event horizon is dawning in laboratories. Using frozen light, physicists hope to mimic this peculiar cosmic phenomenon and glimpse something like the belches of a black hole.

At the event horizon – the rim of a voracious black hole – dimensions as we know them disappear. To an observer on a spaceship, light and time appear to stand still. A floating spaceman would seem to slow and stop.

“It’s very d

Seismic rumbling foretold Congo eruption

Scientists received several day’s warning of abnormal seismic activity.

Two seismological stations on Mount Nyiragongo in eastern Congo gave several days’ advance warning of the volcano’s possible eruption, scientists working in the area say.

But the lack of a functioning government in the war-torn region may have prevented the evacuation of the nearby city of Goma, where 45 were confirmed dead and an existing humanitarian crisis was worsened by the eruption.

Crystals For Extreme Electronics

Like silicon, silicon carbide is semiconductor and in some aspects, its characteristics are even better. Electrical strength of silicon carbide is ten times higher than that of silicon, heat conductivity is three times higher. Crystals of silicon carbide are almost perfect for power electronics. They can work at high current density (more than 10 kA per square centimeter) and voltage up to 4.5 kV, unachievable for silicon. Moreover, charge-drift velocity is twice higher in silicon carbide providing b

Atmosphere and Oceans Finely Balanced

The atmosphere and oceans exist in a delicate state of balance according to research co-ordinated by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and published this month by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The recently completed five year research programme of Atmospheric Chemistry Studies in the Oceanic Environment (ACSOE) concludes that atmospheric pollution travels much further than previously thought and that this has important consequences for global chemistry and climate.

Turning unwanted straw into valuable products for industry

Common or garden straw could be a rich source of raw materials for a range of industries, from the health foods and cosmetics sectors to packaging and fabrics.
Researchers at the University of Wales, Bangor are developing environmentally friendly ways of processing wheat and other cereal straws to extract valuable products for industry.

The work is being carried out through the Government’s LINK scheme, with funding from the Swindon based Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Coun

An intelligent combination of mathematics and cell biology could spell death to brain tumours

Combining two separate observations of cells in brain tumours could enable doctors to improve the success rate of radiotherapy. Speaking today (23 January) at the Institute of Physics Simulation and Modelling Applied to Medicine conference in London, chemical engineer Dr Norman Kirkby from the University of Surrey will explain how using the correct time intervals between a sequence of low dose radiotherapy sessions could increase the chance of curing brain cancers that tend to resist treatment.

The earliest Australians

One of the really big challenges in anthropology is to date accurately the arrival of humans in the different continents. New results, to be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Quaternary Science, show that humans arrived in Australia a lot earlier than was previously thought.

It is generally argued that humans evolved in Africa and then spread out over the other continents progressively through time, arriving in the most distant, such as Australasia, relatively recently. The

Soviet plans implemented by Nature 90,000 years ag

One of the more controversial environmental issues, which emerged in the final years of the Soviet era, was the plan to dam and reverse the flow of north-flowing rivers in order to irrigate the dry southern steppes. This scheme was roundly criticised by scientists and environmentalists at the time because of fears for the impact on the Arctic Ocean and global climate. It now appears that nature performed this experiment some 90,000 years ago.

This months issue of the Journal of Quaternary

First PROBA pictures promise wealth of environmental data

ESA’s new micro-satellite PROBA has captured its first test images of the Earth’s surface using its small but powerful optical instrument, just two months after its launch from the Indian equator.

PROBA (Project for On Board Autonomy), the size of a small box and in orbit 600 km above the Earth’s surface, has provided scientists with its first detailed environmental images thanks to CHRIS – a Compact High Resolution Imaging Spectrometer – the main payload on the 100 kg European spacecraft.

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Physics and Astronomy

Unmasking the magic of superconductivity in twisted graphene

Princeton-led study links magic-angle graphene and high-temperature superconductivity. The discovery in 2018 of superconductivity in two single-atom-thick layers of graphene stacked at a precise angle of 1.1 degrees (called ‘magic’-angle…

On the hunt for hypernuclei

The WASA detector at GSI/FAIR… With the WASA detector, a very special instrument is currently being set up at GSI/FAIR. Together with the fragment separator FRS, it will be used…

Frequency translating add/drop filters designed for on-chip light manipulation

New filters could benefit data communication, quantum information processing and optical neural networks. Researchers report the development of frequency translating add/drop filters based on electro-optically modulated photonic molecules. The new…

Life Sciences and Chemistry

Under arrest: Using nanofibers to stop brain tumor cells from spreading

Researchers from Japan develop a platform based on nanofibers to trap brain cancer cells as a therapeutic strategy. Our body heals its injuries by essentially replacing damaged cells with new…

How staphylococci protect themselves against antibiotics

The skin bacterium Staphylococcus aureus often develops antibiotic resistance. It can then cause infections that are difficult to treat. Researchers at the University of Bonn have uncovered an ingenious way…

Brain cells work remotely

Neurons use local protein synthesis as dominant source of protein production To form and modify synaptic connections and store information, such as memories, neurons continuously remodel their essential cellular resources,…

Agricultural and Forestry Science

Aptasensors helpful in detection of mycotoxins

A publication saw light in Chemosensors. Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites of fungi that contaminate agriculture products. Their release in the environment can cause severe damage to human health. Aptasensors are…

New model tracks carbon in agroecosystems

Solution Sets the Bar for Quantifying Carbon Budget and Credit. Carbon is everywhere. It’s in the atmosphere, in the oceans, in the soil, in our food, in our bodies. As…

Tracking future forest fires with AI

As temperatures rise, the risk of devastating forest fires is increasing. Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) are using artificial intelligence to estimate the long-term impact that an…

Information Technology

New photonic chip for isolating light may be key to miniaturizing quantum devices

Light offers an irreplaceable way to interact with our universe. It can travel across galactic distances and collide with our atmosphere, creating a shower of particles that tell a story…

A traffic light for light-on-a-chip

Integrated photonics allow us to build compact, portable, low-power chip-scale optical systems used in commercial products, revolutionizing today’s optical datacenters and communications. But integrating on-chip optical gain elements to build…

Artificial intelligence spots anomalies in medical images

Scientists from Skoltech, Philips Research, and Goethe University Frankfurt have trained a neural network to detect anomalies in medical images to assist physicians in sifting through countless scans in search of pathologies….