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Chemists Grow Soil Fungus On Cheerios, Discover New Antifungal Compounds

MTorrice Re:Nature scraping (77 comments)

Usually the compound in your pill is not the compound someone fished out of a microbe. It's been modified to give it better pharmacological properties--last longer in your bloodstream--and to avoid toxicity issues. So there is a lot of intellectual work that goes into making the compound you ingest even if the initial inspiration came from a fungus.

about 2 months ago
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Chemists Grow Soil Fungus On Cheerios, Discover New Antifungal Compounds

MTorrice Re:Nature scraping (77 comments)

No one takes a molecule from a bacterium or fungus and then starts giving it to patients. You have to find the specific compound that allows the fungus/bacterium to kill its neighbors--a very labor intensive process. Then you have to get its structure. Then you test it to see if is druggable--will it last long enough in the bloodstream to be effective, for example. It probably isn't, so then you need to synthesize analogs and test them. Then you have to test it for toxicity, maybe synthesize more analogs to get around toxicity problems. And then you can start clinical trials--three rounds of them usually. Somewhere along the way you need to devise a way to make the compound in large enough quantities to turn it into a pill or injection or whatever deliverable form you're picking. So there are a lot of steps between "hey this compound from this fungus killed that bacteria," and "take this pill once a day for 10 days."

about 2 months ago
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First Transistors Made Entirely of 2-D Materials

MTorrice The transistors aren't 2-D, the materials that mak (137 comments)

The use of the term reflects the usage by materials scientists. The titles of both papers describe the materials as 2-D. It is an established term in the field.

about 7 months ago
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First Transistors Made Entirely of 2-D Materials

MTorrice It's a materials science term (137 comments)

Materials scientists use "two-dimensional" to describe graphene and similar materials. These are materials that consist of essentially a single molecular/atomic layer.

about 7 months ago
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Oil Detection Methods Miss Important Class of Chemicals

MTorrice Re:Oxidized stuff (46 comments)

Really? How do they know it wasn't just raw sewage, or industrial chemicals if they didn't even identify the chemical, or even prove it came from the oil spill?

The PNAS paper that looked at the SF Bay spill ruled out sewage and other chemicals found in the Bay. They suggest sunlight transformed crude compounds into toxic ones. The PNAS paper is in front of a paywall, I believe: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/2/E51.full

Its not that the oil is "missed", its just that the oil once degraded to the point that it is not oil anymore is hard for them to measure with current methods, so they can't figure out where it went.

The main point, is that the oil is gone, degraded, oxidized, etc. The most dangerous (to marine life) part of the spill is gone.

But where degraded oil goes is a question scientists want to know, mainly because they don't fully understand what those compounds do to wild life. So even if the chemicals aren't the ones that originally spilled into the ocean, what they become is still of interest to researchers, because they know less about them.

about 2 years ago
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Oil Detection Methods Miss Important Class of Chemicals

MTorrice Re:Oxidized stuff (46 comments)

They haven't identified specific compounds yet--sounds like that is next on their to-do list. The scientists definitely think the compounds arise after the oil spills out of the well and sits out in the sun for a bit. Basically you're right: They're talking about the end results of oil degradation. But the big question is what do these chemicals do to marine life. Are they toxic? Or do they just sit around and living things ignore them.

about 2 years ago
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Silicon Nanoparticles Could Lead To On-Demand Hydrogen Generation

MTorrice Re:The key question becomes (163 comments)

The particles get used up in the process, producing silicon oxides.

about 2 years ago
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Silicon Nanoparticles Could Lead To On-Demand Hydrogen Generation

MTorrice Re:The key question becomes (163 comments)

They make the nanoparticles from silane gas. The process is very energy intensive and produces CO2. So a pretty long tailpipe on this technology. You probably need more energy than you can create. Also it's unclear if these particles are better than magnesium hydride, which is the material of choice in many prototype fuel cells.

about 2 years ago

Submissions

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U.S. Passenger Vehicle Fleet Dirtier After 2008 Recession

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about two weeks ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "The 2008 recession hammered the U.S. auto industry, driving down sales of 2009 models to levels 35% lower than those before the economic slump. A new study has found that because sales of new vehicles slowed, the average age of the U.S. fleet climbed more than expected, increasing the rate of air pollutants released by the fleet.

In 2013, the researchers studied the emissions of more than 68,000 vehicles on the roads in three cities—Los Angeles, Denver, and Tulsa. They calculated the amount of pollution released per kilogram of fuel burned for the 2013 fleet and compared the rates to those that would have occurred if the 2013 fleet had the same age distribution as the prerecession fleet. For the three cities, carbon monoxide emissions were greater by 17 to 29%, hydrocarbons by 9 to 14%, nitrogen oxide emissions by 27 to 30%, and ammonia by 7 to 16%."

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Pantry Pests Harbor Plastic-Chomping Bacteria

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about two weeks ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "In the U.S. alone, consumers discard over 32 million tons of plastic each year, only 9% of which is recycled. Polyethylene is one of the most popular and, unfortunately, persistent types of plastics. Bags, bottles, and packaging made from the polymer accumulate in landfills and oceans across the globe. Scientists have lamented that the material isn't biodegradable because microbes can’t chew up the plastic to render it harmless. However, a new study reports the first definitive molecular evidence that two species of bacteria, found in the guts of a common pantry pest, can thrive on polyethylene and break it apart."
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European Nations Release Troubling Levels Of Chemicals

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about a month ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "An ecological footprint is a popular metric that shows the amount of natural resources required to provide raw materials and food to sustain an individual or a country. Comparing the footprint to what nature actually can provide allows people to easily grasp their impact on the environment.

Now, researchers report the first methods for calculating a chemical footprint to explain how the mix of chemicals released into the environment affects ecosystem health. The footprint describes how much freshwater is needed to dilute all of the chemicals released by a country to safe levels.

Analyses using these indicators suggest that most European countries don’t have enough freshwater in their rivers and lakes to dilute their chemical pollution to safe levels for their aquatic ecosystems."

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Researchers Direct Growth Of Neurons With Silicon Nitride Microtubes

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about a month and a half ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Bioengineers want to connect electronics and neurons to make devices such as new cochlear implants or prosthetic limbs with a seemingly natural sense of touch. They also could build synthetic neural circuitry to use to study how the brain processes information or what goes wrong in neurodegenerative diseases.

As a step toward these applications, a team of researchers has developed a way to direct the growth of axons, the connection-forming arms of neurons. They use transparent silicon nitride microtubes on glass slides to encourage the cells’ axons to grow in specific directions. The cultured nerve cells grow aimlessly until they bump into one of the tubes. The axon then enters the tube, and its growth is accelerated 20-fold.

Silicon nitride already is used in some orthopedic devices, and could serve as a substrate for electronics to interface with the growing neurons.

 "

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Chemists Grow Soil Fungus On Cheerios, Discover New Antifungal Compounds

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 2 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Many drugs that treat bacterial and fungal infections were found in microbes growing in the dirt. These organisms synthesize the compounds to fend off other bacteria and fungi around them. To find possible new drugs, chemists try to coax newly discovered microbial species to start making their arsenal of antimicrobial chemicals in the lab. But fungi can be stubborn, producing just a small set of already-known compounds.

Now, one team of chemists has hit upon a curiously effective and consistent trick to prod the organisms to start synthesizing novel molecules: Cheerios inside bags. Scientists grew a soil fungus for four weeks in a bag full of Cheerios and discovered a new compound that can block biofilm formation by an infectious yeast. The chemists claim that Cheerios are by far the best in the cereal aisle at growing chemically productive fungi."

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Antiperspirants Could Be Source Of Some Particulate Pollution

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 2 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Environmental scientists monitor particulate matter pollution because it poses risks to human health and can affect the climate. Ultrafine particles, up to 100 nm in diameter, are produced by vehicle exhaust and other combustion processes. They also form when volatile chemicals from other sources condense in the atmosphere, often through reactions triggered by sunlight.

Now atmospheric scientists propose that personal care products, such as antiperspirants, could be a potential source of ultrafine particulate matter. On the basis of data from the U.S. and Finland, they find that airborne nanoparticles in highly populated areas often contain silicon. They hypothesize that organic silicon compounds found in cosmetics waft into the air, get oxidized, and contribute to the growth of nanoparticles."

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Magnetic Fields Help Transform Adult Mouse Cells Into Stem Cells

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 2 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Biologists have been building up evidence that magnetic fields affect living things in some ways. For example, plants and amphibian embryos develop abnormally when shielded from Earth’s geomagnetic field. Now, for the first time, an international team reports that low-strength magnetic fields may foster the transformation of adult cells into pluripotent stem cells. In fact, when the researchers blocked the Earth's natural magnetic field, the cells couldn't undergo the transformation at all. If confirmed, the phenomenon could lead to new tools for tissue engineering and help researchers understand the potential health effects of changing magnetic fields on astronauts."
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Strong And Springy Materials Made In The Freezer

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 3 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Many strong, porous inorganic materials, such as silica aerogels and metal foams, currently find use in insulation, aircraft wings, and battery electrodes. But these lightweight materials are brittle. Compress them too much and they crack or crumble. Now researchers have developed a one-step freezing method to make porous inorganic materials that can spring back after being squeezed to 15% of their original size. Basically, they freeze a mixture of inorganic particles and a polymer solution and then thaw it after the material has set. These ultralight elastic materials could find use in tissue-engineering scaffolds, biomedical implants, and electronics."
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Researchers Report Largest DNA Origami To Date

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 3 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Bioengineers can harness DNA’s remarkable ability to self-assemble to build two- and three-dimensional nanostructures through DNA origami. Until now, researchers using this approach have been limited to building structures that are tens of square nanometers in size. Now a team reports the largest individual DNA origami structures to date, which reach sizes of hundreds of square nanometers. What’s more, they have developed a less expensive way to synthesize the DNA strands needed, overcoming a tremendous obstacle to scaling up the technology."
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Computer's Heat Sink Used To Slash Cost Of Medical Diagnostic Test

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 4 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Researchers have harnessed that heat from a computer CPU to run the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify DNA in a blood sample. The team developed software that cycles the temperature of the CPU to drive PCR’s three distinct steps.The method allowed them to detect miniscule amounts of DNA from a pathogenic parasite that causes Chagas disease. They hope their technique will lead to low-cost diagnostic tests in developing countries."
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Leaves Inspire Potentialy Efficient Material For Solar Cells

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 4 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "A new material that mimics the structure of a leaf helps light-sensitive dyes convert low-energy light into high-energy photons, a process known as upconversion. The leaflike nanopaper protects such dyes from oxygen damage, potentially helping solar cells achieve high efficiencies, the researchers say.

Upconversion allows solar cells to harness a greater range of wavelengths in the solar spectrum. Unfortunately, oxygen interferes in this process. So researchers have been looking for ways to keep air away from these dyes."

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Researchers Print Electronic Memory On Paper

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 5 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Electronics printed on paper promise to be cheap, flexible, and recyclable, and could lead to applications such as smart labels on foods and pharmaceuticals or as wearable medical sensors. Many engineers have managed to print transistors and solar cells on paper, but one key component of a smart device has been missing—memory. Now a group of researchers has developed a method that uses ink-jet technology to print resistive random access memory on an ordinary piece of 8.5 by 11 inches paper. The memory is robust: Engineers could bend the device 1,000 times without any loss of performance."
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Reproducing a Monet Painting with Aluminum Nanostructures

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 6 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Plasmonic printing is a recently developed method to create color images using different shapes and sizes of gold or silver nanostructures. It relies on the oscillations of electrons in the metal surfaces and can produce images with a resolution 100 times that of a common desktop printer. Now researchers have expanded the color palette of the technique using tiny aluminum-capped nanopillars. Each pixel consists of four nanopillars; tuning the diameters and arrangement of the pillars produced a palette of more than 300 different colors. Using these pixels, the researchers created a microscale reproduction of Claude Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise.”"
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Long-Lasting Enzyme Chews Up Cocaine

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 6 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Despite cocaine’s undeniable destructiveness, there are no antidotes for overdoses or medications to fight addiction that directly neutralize cocaine’s powerful effects. A natural bacterial enzyme, cocaine esterase, could help by chopping up cocaine in the bloodstream. But the enzyme is unstable in the body, losing activity too quickly to be a viable treatment. Now, using computational design, researchers tweaked the enzyme to simultaneously increase stability and catalytic efficiency. Mice injected with the engineered enzyme survive daily lethal doses of cocaine for an average of 94 hours."
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Sulfur Polymers Could Enable Long-Lasting, High-Capacity Batteries

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 10 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Lithium-sulfur batteries promise to store four to five times as much energy as today’s best lithium-ion batteries. But their short lifetimes have stood in the way of their commercialization. Now researchers demonstrate that a sulfur-based polymer could be the solution for lightweight, inexpensive batteries that store large amounts of energy. Battery electrodes made from the material have one of the highest energy-storage capacities ever reported"
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Hard Silicon Wafers Yield Flexible Electronics

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about 10 months ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "By shaving off an ultrathin layer from the top of a silicon wafer, researchers have transformed rigid electronic devices into flexible ones. The shaving process could be used to fabricate parts for wearable electronics or displays that can roll up. Compared to similar techniques to make bendable silicon electronics, the new method is more cost-effective and produces more flexible devices, its developers say."
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Green-Building Labels Trigger A Race To The Top

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about a year ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Rib eye steaks, washing machines, and even buildings can don labels signaling their environmental sustainability. As the number of organizations that hand out these ecolabels grows, some researchers wonder if the tags are merely window dressing or if they actually push producers to improve the sustainability of their goods. In a new study, economists looked at the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design program (LEED), which certifies buildings that use resources efficiently and are built with sustainable materials. The researchers show, for the first time, that this ecolabel provides a marketing bonus that pushes firms to construct buildings that are more sustainable than they would have otherwise."
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Plastic Films Pin Water Droplets Like Rose Petals Do

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about a year ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Materials scientists often turn to the plant kingdom for ideas on how to design surfaces that trap or repel water. Some have mimicked the surfaces of rose petals to engineer nanoscale patterns that cling to water droplets. Now researchers report a simple method to print large-area, water-pinning plastic films. They etch the nanoscale patterns onto a metal or silicon drum, heat the drum, and then press it against sheets of plastic to emboss the sheets with the nanoscale features. With a practical manufacturing method, water-trapping plastics could find commercial applications, such as controlling condensation in greenhouses or liquid flow in microfluidic devices."
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Carbon Nanotubes and Spongy Polymer Help Transistors Stretch

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about a year ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "To make future displays that roll, bend, and stretch, electronics makers need the circuits that control the pixels to be elastic. In particular, they need flexible transistors. Now researchers have combined a carbon nanotube mesh with a spongy ionic polymer to build super stretchy transistors. The scientists can pull the devices to lengths 57% greater than their resting length without disrupting performance."
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Electrochemical Cell Generates Hydrogen While Cleaning Up Arsenic

MTorrice MTorrice writes  |  about a year ago

MTorrice (2611475) writes "Arsenic taints drinking water in many parts of Asia, and the element can be abundant in industrial wastewaters or acidic drainage from mines. Typically engineers clean up the tainted water by oxidizing the arsenic to a less toxic form that is easy to pull out of the water. Now researchers report an electrochemical device that generates hydrogen as it oxidizes the arsenic. The hydrogen produced could be used as fuel, making the remediation process more cost effective."
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