Applied Physics

Computer scientists from UC San Diego have developed a way to generate images like smoke-filled bars, foggy alleys and smog-choked cityscapes without the computational drag and slow speed of previous computer graphics methods.

“This is a huge computational savings. It lets you render explosions, smoke, and the architectural lighting design in the presence these kinds of visual effects much faster,” said Wojciech Jarosz, the UC San Diego computer science Ph.D. candidate who led the study.

Jenna Rickus, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Purdue, has developed a "living electrode" coated with specially engineered neurons that, when stimulated, releases a neurotransmitter to inhibit epileptic seizures.

It's part of a larger collaboration focusing on creating a neuroprosthesis that dispenses a neurotransmitter called GABA and calms the brain once the onset of a seizure is detected.

Just when you thought it was safer to stay out of the water.

Microbes that result in beach closures and health advisories when detected at unsafe levels in the ocean also have been detected in the sand, according to a recent study by a team of Stanford scientists.

Published in the July 1 issue of Environmental Science and Technology, the study found that sand at beaches all along the California coast contained some level of fecal indicator bacteria. Moreover, when the researchers looked closely at the sand quality at a popular beach in Monterey, Calif., they found evidence of human waste-raising doubt about the commonly held belief that some fecal indictor bacteria occur naturally in the sand and are therefore benign.

‘Second generation’ biorefineries – those making biofuel from lignocellulosic feedstocks like straw, grasses and wood – have long been touted as the successor to today’s grain ethanol plants, but until now the technology has been considered too expensive to compete. However, recent increases in grain prices mean that production costs are now similar for grain ethanol and second generation biofuels, according to a paper published in the first edition of Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining.

The switch to second generation biofuels will reduce competition with grain for food and feed, and allow the utilization of materials like straw which would otherwise go to waste.

Greenhouse gas emissions from power stations could be cut to almost zero by controlling the combustion process with tiny tubes made from an advanced ceramic material, claim British engineers.

The material, known as LSCF, has the remarkable property of being able to filter oxygen out of the air.

Why do we like some music and not others? Why does music feel right and why does it evoke certain moods? The brain's ability to segment the continual stream of sensory information into perceptual chunks and extract meaning, “event segmentation” functions, have long fascinated researchers.

In a series of experiments, a team led by Vinod Menon of Stanford University School of Medicine asked subjects to listen to symphonies of the English composer William Boyce. The symphonies were chosen because they are relatively short and comprise well-defined movements - changes in tempo, tonality, rhythm, and pitch, and brief silences.

How high is Mount Everest exactly?

Recent surveys have come up with heights that differ by more than five meters. An expedition called the Geodetic Journey is making its way through China and Tibet to highlight the importance of geodesy and how an accurate model of the geoid from ESA's GOCE mission will lead to a unified system for measuring heights.

Geodesy is concerned with measuring and mapping the shape of the Earth's surface, to the benefit of all branches of Earth sciences and has many practical applications. Although surveying techniques go back thousands of years, it traditionally involves taking very precise three-dimensional positioning of points.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have found a way to overcome a major stumbling block to developing successful insulin-cell transplants for people with type I diabetes.

Traditional transplant of the cells, accompanied by necessary immune-suppressing drugs, has had highly variable results, from well- to poorly tolerated. Part of the problem, the Hopkins researchers say, is an inability to track the cells—so-called pancreatic beta cells—once they’re inside the body.

Now a new technique encapsulates the insulin-producing cells in magnetic capsules, using an FDA-approved iron compound with an off-label use, which can be tracked by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

A recent UN study, Livestock's Long Shadow, basically says you can help the environment more by driving than walking.

Cellulose is not digestible by humans, that's why it's considered dietary fiber. Plants produce it to use as their cell walls and to provide rigidity to their structure. Along with lignin and hemicellulose, cellulose makes up a large amount of the biomass produced by plants.

Some animals, ruminants and termites for example, can break down cellulose with the aid of bacteria that live in their digestive tract but most vertebrates derive little nutrition from it.

Penn State researchers now say careful pairing of bacteria can create a fuel cell that consumes cellulose and produces electricity.