Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers have discovered a potential chink in the armor of fibers that make the cell walls of certain inedible plant materials so tough. The insight ultimately could lead to a cost-effective and energy-efficient strategy for turning biomass into alternative fuels.
In separate papers published today in Biophysical Journal and recently in an issue of Biomacromolecules, Los Alamos researchers identify potential weaknesses among sheets of cellulose molecules comprising lignocellulosic biomass, the inedible fibrous material derived from plant cell walls. The material is a potentially abundant source of sugar that can be used to brew batches of methanol or butanol, which show potential as biofuels.
Researchers know that animals which seem identical can actually belong to completely different species. But if it's worms used in laboratory testing, that could be important news in research.
Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, say they have used DNA analyses to discover that one of our most common segmented worms, Lumbriculus variegatus, is actually two types of worm. Along with some obvious issues in research it also affirms that the variety of species on the earth could be considerably larger than we thought. "We could be talking about a large number of species that have existed undiscovered because they resemble other known species," says Professor Christer Erséus.
WHAT: New research from Baylor College of Medicine indicates a positive effect of chewing gum on academic performance in teenagers. The study examined whether chewing Wrigley sugar-free gum can lead to better academic performance in a "real life" classroom setting. Major findings include:
- The researchers found that students who chewed gum showed an increase in standardized math test scores and their final grades were better compared to those who didn't chew gum.
A new study reveals that asteroid surfaces age and redden much faster than previously thought — in less than a million years, the blink of an eye for an asteroid. The solar wind is the likely culprit in very rapid space weathering, they say, and this knowledge will help astronomers relate the appearance of an asteroid to its actual history and identify any after effects of a catastrophic impact with another asteroid.
Waves from Daphnis
Undulations mark both sides of the path of Saturn's moon Daphnis through the A ring.
Daphnis may be small at only 8 kilometers (5 miles) across, but the moon's gravity is great enough, and the Keeler gap in which it resides is narrow enough, so that the perturbed particles create the wavelike patterns seen here.
Utah and Texas researchers have learned how quiet sounds are magnified by bundles of tiny, hair-like tubes atop “hair cells” in the ear: when the tubes dance back and forth, they act as “flexoelectric motors” that amplify sound mechanically.
“We are reporting discovery of a new nanoscale motor in the ear,” says Richard Rabbitt, the study’s principal author and a professor and chair of bioengineering at the University of Utah College of Engineering. “The ear has a mechanical amplifier in it that uses electrical power to do mechanical amplification.”