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Preventing overload in the brain

Brain researchers in Amsterdam have observed a double control system in the hippocampus. This double control system contributes to the memory and ensures that the brain does not `crash`, as is the case during an epileptic seizure.

The neurobiologists from the University of Amsterdam carried out their observations on the hippocampus of rats. The hippocampus probably plays an important role in converting the short-term memory to the long-term memory.

The hippocampus contains two sorts

Improving mobility in the city through research

Every citizen dreams of spending less time in traffic jams, away from polluted air, while continuing to enjoy the same level of mobility and quality of life as today. On Thursday, 31 January, Commissioner for Research Philippe Busquin will participate in the conference “Towards Sustainable Urban Mobility” jointly organised by the European Commission and the European Parliament. The objective of this Conference is to present a network of ten projects in the field of land use and transport funded unde

Cylinders make circuits spontaneously

Carbon nanotubes assemble themselves into electronic grids

Tiny electrical circuits with a single molecule for each wire have been created in the United States 1 . These grids could replace silicon chips, making computers and memory devices much more compact and powerful than they are today.

The grids comprise carbon nanotubes – long, hollow cylinders of pure carbon a few millionths of a millimetre (nanometres) across and several thousand nanometres long. Dep

Air traffic tussles up annoyance

Controversies over new airport runways make locals more noise-sensitive.

Public controversy surrounding the impending building of a runway may make locals much more sensitive to increased aircraft noise than planners predict. A new study warns that it could be easy to underestimate the impact of changes such as those proposed for Britain’s Heathrow Airport.

A new runway began operating at Vancouver International Airport in 1996 after highly publicized local objection to

Car work for quantum mechanics

A quantum afterburner extracts laser light from vehicle exhaust.

The hot gases belching out of your car’s exhaust are not just useless waste. They are a laser waiting to happen, says physicist Marlan Scully1.

All you need to harness this potential, suggests Scully, of Texas A&M University in College Station, is a quantum afterburner. This hypothetical modification would use quantum mechanics to boost the engine’s efficiency by clawing back waste heat and turning it

Clamping down on a cancer-causing protein

Many of today’s medicines were discovered by trial and error: a substance is found which helps alleviate the symptoms of a disease, and it may take years before scientists really understand how it works. Typically they find that a drug has its effects by attaching itself to a particular molecule in a cell and blocking part of its activity, the way you might prevent someone from turning a light on or off by putting a lock over the switch. Scientists now hope to take the opposite approach, and custom-d

China leads GM revolution

Government funding puts Chinese plant biotechnology second only to US

While westerners vacillate about the risks and benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops, China is embracing the technology. A new survey shows that the Chinese are working on more plant biotechnology products than anyone outside North America1.

Chinese research institutes claim to have developed 141 GM plants, 65 of which have been approved for release into the environment. Scott Rozelle, an agricultura

Noise quietens driving

Sensors and loudspeakers reduce in-car racket.

Tired of shouting to your passenger as you drive, striving to make your voice heard over the rumble of the car? Help is on the way, in the form of strategically placed sensors and loudspeakers.

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Taejon have developed a prototype system that shaves up to 6 decibels off the typical motoring noise of around 60 decibels. That’s more than any other co

Stress relief caused Giant’s Causeway

Ireland’s huge hexagonal columns are a natural consequence of lava cooling.

The Giant’s Causeway is not the work of men or monsters, but a natural consequence of how lava cools and solidifies, new computer simulations suggest.

The causeway is a field of roughly hexagonal basalt columns up to 40 feet high on the shores of County Antrim in Northern Ireland. It arose when a flow of volcanic rock split into hexagonal columns to relieve stress, according to Eduardo Jagla

Derrida`s deconstruction to help safety industry

A technique used by academics to analyse poetry may soon help industry to find out whether computer safety systems really ARE safe. In a novel example of interdisciplinary academic work, English literature meets computing science in an project to design a decision-making framework for the safety industry.

Newcastle University researcher Jim Armstrong, who holds a first degree in English Literature and a PhD in Computing Science, is investigating how the technique ‘deconstruction’ – usually

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Physics and Astronomy

Taking correlated quantum Hall physics to the third dimension

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids and their international colleagues found signatures of an unconventional Hall response in the quantum limit of the bulk metal…

The next phase of the proton puzzle

Physicists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have tested quantum mechanics to a completely new level of precision using hydrogen spectroscopy, and in doing so they came much…

Pitt researchers create nanoscale slalom course for electrons

Professors from the Department of Physics and Astronomy have created a serpentine path for electrons. A research team led by professors from the Department of Physics and Astronomy have created…

Life Sciences

Small molecules control bacterial resistance to antibiotics

Antibiotics have revolutionized medicine by providing effective treatments for infectious diseases such as cholera. But the pathogens that cause disease are increasingly developing resistance to the antibiotics that are most…

Getting to the core of nuclear speckles

Scaffold of sub-cellular structures identified after a hundred years. Nuclear speckles are tiny agglomerations of proteins in the nucleus of the cell that are involved in the processing of genetic…

Decoding gigantic insect genome could help tackle devastating locust crises

A ‘game changing’ study deciphering the genetic material of the desert locust by researchers at the University of Leicester, could help combat the crop-ravaging behaviour of the notorious insect pest…

Agricultural and Forestry Science

Novel haplotype-led approach to increase the precision of wheat breeding

Wheat researchers at the John Innes Centre are pioneering a new technique that promises to improve gene discovery for the globally important crop. Crop breeding involves assembling desired combinations of…

Climate-adapted plant breeding

Improvement of crops with seeds from gene banks Securing plant production is a global task. Using a combination of new molecular and statistical methods, a research team from the Technical…

Mycorrhizing your way to sweeter tomatoes

Demand for mycorrhizal fungi in gardening and landscaping tasks is steadily climbing, given its ability to boost growth and yield as a natural fertilizer. In a successful first, scientists from…

Information Technology

New electronic chip delivers smarter, light-powered AI

Prototype tech shrinks AI to deliver brain-like functionality in one powerful device. Researchers have developed artificial intelligence technology that brings together imaging, processing, machine learning and memory in one electronic…

New method brings physics to deep learning to better simulate turbulence

Deep learning, also called machine learning, reproduces data to model problem scenarios and offer solutions. However, some problems in physics are unknown or cannot be represented in detail mathematically on…

Intelligent surfaces signal better coverage

Specialized reflective panels located on top of buildings and deployed widely across a city could significantly improve network coverage, shows a KAUST modeling study. Next-generation cellular networks (5G and beyond)…

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