Fungi processing audio signals. E. Coli storing images. DNA acting as logic circuits. It’s not only possible, in some cases it’s already happened.
Performing digital signal processing using organic and chemical materials without electrical currents could be the wave of the future, according to Sotirios Tsaftaris, Northwestern University research professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and Aggelos Katsaggelos, Ameritech Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, in their recently published “point of view” piece in the Proceedings of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.)
Digital signal processing uses mathematics and other techniques to manipulate signals like visual images and sound waves after those signals have been converted to a digital form. This processing can enhance images and compress data for storage and transmission, and such processing chips are found in cell phones, iPods, and HD TVs.
An interactive map of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels says we still have things to learn about where it's coming from - and where the worst offenders are.
The maps and system, called Vulcan, show CO2 emissions at more than 100 times more detail than was available before. Until now, data on carbon dioxide emissions were reported, in the best cases, monthly at the level of an entire state. The Vulcan model examines CO2 emissions at local levels on an hourly basis.
Researchers say the maps also are more accurate than previous data because they are based on greenhouse gas emissions instead of estimates based on population in areas of the United States.
Even with oil prices at $100 a barrel, it could take 10 or more years of intensive research and development to reduce the cost of solar energy to levels competitive with petroleum, according to Harry Gray, Ph.D., the Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry and Founding Director of the Beckman Institute at the California Institute of Technology. He is the principal investigator in an NSF funded Phase I Chemical Bonding Center (CBC) – a Caltech/MIT collaboration – and a principal investigator at the Caltech Center for Sustainable Energy Research (CCSER).
The single biggest challenge, Gray said, is reducing costs so that a large-scale shift away from coal, natural gas and other non-renewable sources of electricity makes economic sense. Gray estimated the average cost of photovoltaic energy at 35 to 50 cents per kilowatt-hour. By comparison, other sources are considerably less expensive, with coal and natural gas hovering around 5-6 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Researchers have confirmed the first case of a frog without lungs - the aquatic frog Barbourula kalimantanensis apparently gets all the oxygen it needs through its skin. Previously known from only two specimens, two new populations of the aquatic frog were found during a recent expedition to Indonesian Borneo.
Of all tetrapods (animals with four limbs), lunglessness is only known to occur in amphibians. There are many lungless salamanders and a single species of caecilian, a limbless amphibian resembling an earthworm, known to science. The complete loss of lungs is a particularly rare evolutionary event that has probably only occurred three times.
One thing that would make the cultural transition to cleaner fuels easier would be gasoline that works with current engine technology. Reporting in Chemistry & Sustainability, Energy & Materials, a group of researchers have made a breakthrough in the development of this "green gasoline" - a liquid identical to standard gasoline yet created from sustainable biomass sources like switchgrass and poplar trees.
It may be five to 10 years before green gasoline arrives at the pump or finds its way into a fighter jet but the breakthrough by George Huber of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass) and graduate students Torren Carlson and Tushar Vispute of the first direct conversion of plant cellulose into gasoline components is a big step.
A rare type of galax with a higher number of X-rays than thought possible has been detected.
Quasars are cosmic 'engines' that pump energy into their surroundings - theorists speculate that an enormous black hole drives each one. As matter falls into the black hole, it collects in a swirling reservoir called the accretion disc, which heats up. Computer simulations suggest that powerful radiation and magnetic fields present in the region eject some of gas from the gravitational clutches of the black hole, throwing it back into space.