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Technology-development studies at Cornell University and Jefferson Laboratory are showing how to use the brightest X-ray light ever generated for the scientific examination of everything from human proteins to forged art.

X-ray beams from an energy-recovery linac (linear accelerator) could be both a thousand times brighter and a thousand times faster--with pulses as brief as one ten-thousandth of a billionth of a second--than current state-of-the-art synchrotron X-ray sources.

"We're closer than ever to building a kind of universal toolkit for all the science and engineering disciplines," says Joel D. Brock, a Cornell University professor of applied and engineering physics.

The ruya, an inspirational night dream, is a fundamental part of the militant jihadist movement among Muslims, according to a study by Dr. Iain Edgar, a social anthropologist at Durham University.

The problem? He used the reported dreams of al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders who are, after all, in the business of inspiring terrorism. It may be that militant leaders do touchy-feely things like report their dreams accurately, but unlikely.

Speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival on the cultural significance of sleeping and dreaming, Edgar said: "Islam is probably the largest night dream culture in the world today. The night dream is thought to offer a way to metaphysical and divinatory knowledge, to be a practical alternative and accessible source of inspiration and guidance, to offer clarity concerning action in this world."

A new study in Neuroscience Letters says that short-wavelength light, including natural light from a blue sky, is highly effective at stimulating the circadian system while exposure to other wavelengths — and thus colors — of light may necessitate longer exposure times or require higher exposure levels to be as effective at stimulating our biological clocks.

In some instances, exposure to multiple wavelengths (colors) of light simultaneously can result in less total stimulation to the circadian system than would result if either color were viewed separately, a phenomenon known as "spectral opponency." The LRC scientists have shown that the circadian system shares neurons in the retina — which exhibit spectral opponency and form the foundation for our perception of color — with the visual system. Thus, in principle, the circadian system may be able to distinguish between lights of different colors.

More than meets the eye To demonstrate that the circadian system exhibited spectral opponency formed in the retina, the researchers exposed 10 subjects to three experimental conditions: one unit of blue light to the left eye plus one unit of green light to the right eye; one unit of blue light to the right eye plus one unit of green light to the left eye; and half a unit of blue light plus half a unit of green light to both eyes and then measured each individual's melatonin levels, a natural indicator of the circadian clock.

Was Judgment Day at hand? At noon, it was black as night, there was lunch by candle light, the night birds came out to sing while flowers folded their petals and the animals behaved strangely. They called it 'New England's Dark Day' and it's been a mystery for almost 230 years.

The mystery has been solved, according to researchers at the University of Missouri, who say evidence from tree rings reveals massive wildfires as the likely cause, one of several theories proposed after the event but previously dismissed as 'simple and absurd.'

Limited ability for long-distance communication prevented colonists from knowing the cause of the darkness.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute have taken a page from sports physiology and developed a low-cost optical sensor to measure the force with which tiny, migrating somatic cells push themselves away from an underlying surface. Force analysis devices like these could help to identify specific cell types more reliably than using a microscope or other conventional methods.

The sensor consists of a smooth surface that is studded with 250,000 tiny plastic columns measuring only five microns in diameter, rather like a fakir’s bed of nails. These columns are made of elastic polyurethane plastic. When a cell glides across them, it bends them very slightly sideways. This deflection is registered by a digital camera and analyzed by a special software program.

The researchers working with project manager Dr. Norbert Danz of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena have already shown that their ‘Cellforce’ sensor works. It will be the task of initial biological tests to show how different cell types behave.

Biology remains a wide-open field because it has accomplished a lot but still has a long way to go. The dominant view in cellular behavior, for example, has been that it is largely chemistry-driven but there is increasing recognition that the mechanical aspects are vital to our understanding also.

Developing fundamental math and mechanics models to explain life processes like embryo development, cellular migration and growth could open doors to a new frontier in biology, say a group of researchers.

"A lot of what the cell does is mechanical. It needs to move things around. It migrates," says Krishna Garikipati, an associate professor in the U-M Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics.