There are a number of things which can damage DNA - toxic chemicals are the primary concern on earth but, in space, ionized radiation is the worry. Unrepaired DNA can lead to mutations, which in turn can lead to diseases like cancer. Intricate DNA repair mechanisms in the cells' nuclei are constantly working to fix what's broken, but whether the repair work happens "on the road" — right where the damage occurs — or "in the shop" — at specific regions of the nucleus — is an unanswered question.
NASA scientists are working on understanding where and how DNA is repaired so they can be prepared for long distance space travel.
The dream of theoretical physics is to unite behind a common theory that explains everything, but that goal has remained highly elusive.
String theory emerged 40 years ago as one of the most promising candidates for such a theory, and has since slipped in and out of favor as new innovations have occurred. Now Europe is fortunate to have one of the world’s leading experts in string theory working on an ambitious project that could make significant progress towards a unified theory, and at least help resolve two mysteries.
One is how the universe emerged in the beginning as a random fluctuation of a vacuum state, and the other is a common explanation for all sub-atomic particles.
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.
Molly Brown of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and her colleagues have created a model using data from satellite remote sensing of crop growth and food prices.
Brown conceived the idea while working with organizations in Niger, West Africa, that provide information regarding failed crops and help address local farmers' worries about feeding their families. Brown's new approach could improve the ability for government and humanitarian aid officials to plan and respond to drought-induced food price increases in Niger and elsewhere.
On July 3, a NASA aircraft equipped with a state-of-the-art sensor provided emergency response officials with critical soil moisture data for several regions across Texas that were threatened by flooding. NASA responded to the heavy rains and flooding in Texas by redirecting a NASA research aircraft, the P-3B, to Texas after it completed an interagency project in Oklahoma.
The aircraft had been flying a sensor developed by the University of Colorado at Boulder, NOAA and U.S. Department of Agriculture that could provide detailed maps of ground surface water.
LSI (low-swirl injector) technology, developed by Robert Cheng of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, recently won a 2007 R&D 100 award from R&D magazine as one of the top 100 new technologies of the year for successfully using pure hydrogen as a fuel – a milestone that indicates a potential to help eliminate millions of tons of carbon dioxide and thousands of tons of NOx from power plants each year.
The LSI holds great promise for its near-zero emissions of nitrogen oxides, gases that are emitted during the combustion of fuels such as natural gas during the production of electricity.