Researchers Create World’s First Reactor-Scale Fusion Machine
ITER, the world’s first reactor-scale fusion machine, will have a plasma volume more than 10 times that of the next largest tokamak, JET. Plasma disruptions that can occur in a tokamak when the plasma becomes unstable can potentially damage plasma-facing surfaces of the machine. To lessen the impact of high energy plasma disruptions, US ITER is engaged in a global research effort to develop disruption mitigation strategies.
US ITER, managed by DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will continue working closely with global partners on the ITER disruption mitigation system, as the 2016 deadline for design of the system rapidly approaches. To continue moving R&D forward, an early conceptual design review was supported by US ITER in November.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/01/researchers-create-world%E2%80%99s-first-reactor-scale-fusion-machine
Biomaterial Improves Knee Cartilage Repair
In a small study, researchers reported increased healthy tissue growth after surgical repair of damaged cartilage if they put a hydrogel scaffolding into the wound to support and nourish the healing process. The squishy hydrogel material was implanted in 15 patients during standard microfracture surgery, in which tiny holes are punched in a bone near the injured cartilage. The holes stimulate patients’ own specialized stem cells to emerge from bone marrow and grow new cartilage atop the bone.
Results of the study, published in Science Translational Medicine, are a proof of concept that paves the way for larger trials of the hydrogel’s safety and effectiveness, the researchers say.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/01/biomaterial-improves-knee-cartilage-repair
Biggest Structure in the Universe Explained (Infographic)
Astronomers have discovered a huge formation of 73 quasars representing the largest structure yet observed in the universe.
The quasar group is very distant, and therefore existed when the universe was much younger than it is now. A quasar is a very energetic black-hole-powered galactic nucleus. Quasars first appeared in the very early universe, soon after the Big Bang. The light from a quasar is so intense that it can be visible from across the universe.
A remarkable thing about the new discovery is that the structure is larger than cosmological theory says is possible.
The currently accepted Cosmological Principle, based on the work of Albert Einstein, suggests that the largest structures we should be able to find would be about 370 megaparsecs across (more than 1.2 billion light-years). The newly found quasar group is 1,200 megaparsecs across, a distance that would take four billion years to cross at the speed of light.
The largest structures that we know that are close to Earth are super clusters of galaxies surrounding vast voids in space. The Sloan Great Wall is the largest such structure and is at the top end of the size limit set by the Cosmological Principle.
Compound Beats Drug-Resistant Staph in Mice
Researchers have discovered a new compound that restores the health of mice infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an otherwise dangerous bacterial infection. The new compound targets an enzyme not found in human cells but which is essential to bacterial survival.
The research team, led by scientists at the Univ. of Illinois and the Univ. of California, San Diego, reports the new findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The team discovered and developed several compounds that are promising leads for antibacterial drug development, and the most potent was tested in mice infected with MRSA.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/01/compound-beats-drug-resistant-staph-mice
Double-Star Systems Can Be Dangerous for Exoplanets | Space.com
Alien planets born in widely separated two-star systems face a grave danger of being booted into interstellar space, a new study suggests.
Exoplanets circling a star with a far-flung stellar companion — worlds that are part of “wide binary” systems — are susceptible to violent and dramatic orbital disruptions, including outright ejection, the study found.
Such effects are generally limited to sprawling planetary systems with at least one distantly orbiting world, while more compact systems are relatively immune. This finding, which observational evidence supports, should help astronomers better understand the structure and evolution of alien solar systems across the galaxy, researchers said.
Researchers Bring ‘Quantum Singularity’ Closer
In early 2011, a pair of theoretical computer scientists at MIT proposed an optical experiment that would harness the weird laws of quantum mechanics to perform a computation impossible on conventional computers. Commenting at the time, a quantum-computing researcher at Imperial College London said that the experiment “has the potential to take us past what I would like to call the ‘quantum singularity,’ where we do the first thing quantumly that we can’t do on a classical computer.”
The experiment involves generating individual photons — particles of light — and synchronizing their passage through a maze of optical components so that they reach a battery of photon detectors at the same time. The MIT researchers — Scott Aaronson, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and his student, Alex Arkhipov — believed that, difficult as their experiment may be to perform, it could prove easier than building a fully functional quantum computer.
In December, four different groups of experimental physicists, centered at the Univ. of Queensland, the Univ. of Vienna, the Univ. of Oxford and Polytechnic Univ. of Milan, reported the completion of rudimentary versions of Aaronson and Arkhipov’s experiment. Papers by two of the groups appeared back to back in the journal Science; the other two papers are as-yet unpublished.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/01/researchers-bring-%E2%80%98quantum-singularity%E2%80%99-closer
Content from io9.com: ”In an unprecedented discovery, paleontologists working in China have found the fossilized remains of an ancient bird with ornamented tooth enamel. Called Sulcavis geeorum, the bird lived during the Early Cretaceous period, about 121 to 125 million years ago. And as its fine row of robust teeth indicate, it likely had a highly specialized diet much different than the beaked birds of today.
Sulcavis was an enantiornithine, an early group of birds that lived in large numbers during the dinosaur era. But unlike other birds, this new fossilized specimen features a discrete set of teeth with grooves on the inside surface, which probably strengthened them against harder food items. The bird likely used these teeth not to grind or chew, but to crush tough objects.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, suggests that the teeth allowed Sulcavis to adopt a durophagous diet — a diet consisting of prey that had hard exoskeletons, including insects and crabs.
The finding greatly increases the known diversity of tooth shape in early birds, suggesting a wider array of ecological diversity among birds than previously assumed.
The study appears in the current issue of Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (it’s not available online, but we’ll update this page with a link once it’s up).
Images by Stephanie Abramowicz.”
Microalgae Has Liquid Fuel Potential
Due to continuing high demand, depletion of non-renewable resources and increasing concerns about climate change, fossil fuel-derived transportation fuels face constant challenges from both a world market and an environmental perspective. Producing renewable transportation fuel from microalgae attracts much attention because of its potential for fast growth rates, high oil content, ability to grow in unconventional scenarios, and its inherent carbon neutrality.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/01/microalgae-has-liquid-fuel-potential
Dinos Used Feathers to Attract Mates
A Univ. of Alberta researcher’s examination of fossilized dinosaur tail bones has led to a breakthrough finding: some feathered dinosaurs used tail plumage to attract mates, much like modern-day peacocks and turkeys.
U of A paleontology researcher Scott Persons followed a chain of fossil evidence that started with a peculiar fusing together of vertebrae at the tip of the tail of four different species of dinosaurs, some separated in time and evolution by 45 million years. Persons says the final vertebrae in the tails of a group of dinosaurs called oviraptors were fused together, forming a ridged, blade-like structure. “The structure is called a pygostyle,” says Persons. “Among modern animals, only birds have them.”
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/01/dinos-used-feathers-attract-mates
Looks like these guys are making the rounds this week, and I am completely okay with seeing them all over my dash :D