The immiscibility of oil and water creates a multitude of bubbles of all sizes. A lack of miscibility occurs when the forces between like molecules are very strong for two liquids—essentially the oil molecules and the water molecules are so much more strongly attracted to themselves than they are to one another that they cannot mix. Surface tension—another expression of molecular forces—pulls the oil into droplets that float in the water and refract the light in such lovely ways. (Photo credit: Vendula Adriana Kaprálová Hauznerová; via thinxblog)
MIT chemical engineers have devised a cheaper way to synthesize a key biofuel component, which could make its industrial production much more cost-effective.
The compound, known as gamma-valerolactone (GVL), is attractive because of its versatility, says Yuriy Román, an assistant professor of…
Reaction Speed Doesn’t Always Increase with More Applied Force
The harder you pull, the quicker it goes. At least, that used to be the rule in mechanochemistry, a method that researchers apply to set chemical reactions in motion by means of mechanical forces. However, as chemists led by Prof. Dominik Marx, Chair of Theoretical Chemistry at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum now report in the journal Nature Chemistry, more force cannot in fact be translated one to one into a faster reaction. With complex molecular dynamic simulations on the Jülich supercomputer “JUQUEEN” they unmasked the Janus-faced nature of mechanochemistry. Up to a certain force, the reaction rate increases in proportion to the force. If this threshold is exceeded, greater mechanical forces speed up the reaction to a much lesser extent.
Read more: www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/06/reaction-speed-doesnt-always-increase-more-applied-force
‘Embryonic’ Subduction Zone Found
A new subduction zone forming off the coast of Portugal heralds the beginning of a cycle that will see the Atlantic Ocean close as continental Europe moves closer to America.
Published in Geology, new research led by Monash Univ. geologists has detected the first evidence that a passive margin in the Atlantic Ocean is becoming active. Subduction zones, such as the one beginning near Iberia, are areas where one of the tectonic plates that cover the Earth’s surface dives beneath another plate into the mantle – the layer just below the crust.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/06/embryonic-subduction-zone-found
Artificial Sweetener May Treat Parkinson’s
Mannitol, a sugar alcohol produced by fungi, bacteria and algae, is a common component of sugar-free gum and candy. The sweetener is also used in the medical field — it’s approved by the FDA as a diuretic to flush out excess fluids and used during surgery as a substance that opens the blood/brain barrier to ease the passage of other drugs.
Now Profs. Ehud Gazit and Daniel Segal of Tel Aviv Univ.’s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, along with their colleague Ronit Shaltiel-Karyo and PhD candidate Moran Frenkel-Pinter, have found that mannitol also prevents clumps of the protein α-synuclein from forming in the brain — a process that is characteristic of Parkinson’s disease.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/06/artificial-sweetener-may-treat-parkinson%E2%80%99s
The recently formed Ugly Animal Preservation Society (UAPS) is, according to its president Simon Watt, “dedicated to raising the profile of some of Mother Nature’s more aesthetically challenged children. The panda gets too much attention.” Watt, who is also an evolutionary biologist, and his team definitely did not showcase cute and furry pandas at recent UAPS events held at the Edinburgh Science Fest and Bristol’s Big Green Week. Media attention instead was paid to animals such as the appropriately named blobfish.
Robot Runs Like a Cat
Thanks to its legs, whose design faithfully reproduces feline morphology, EPFL’s four-legged “cheetah-cub robot” has the same advantages as its model: it is small, light and fast. Still in its experimental stage, the robot will serve as a platform for research in locomotion and biomechanics.
Even though it doesn’t have a head, you can still tell what kind of animal it is: the robot is definitely modeled upon a cat. Developed by EPFL’s Biorobotics Laboratory (Biorob), the “cheetah-cub robot,” a small-size quadruped prototype robot, is described in an article appearing today in the International Journal of Robotics Research. The purpose of the platform is to encourage research in biomechanics; its particularity is the design of its legs, which make it very fast and stable. Robots developed from this concept could eventually be used in search and rescue missions or for exploration.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/videos/2013/06/robot-runs-cat
Currently on display at The Field Museum, this is the name given to an anatomically modern human dating from the Magdalenian period. Although she is commonly known as the Magdalenian Girl, evidence suggests that she is more likely 25-30 years old, with some researchers placing her at age 35. Early researchers initially thought that she was much younger than that because her wisdom teeth had not ruptured, but new research suggests she is older than originally thought because of epiphyseal fusions of the femurs.
Unfortunately, she was discovered when a worker hit her skull with a pickaxe. This greatly damaged her skull and the black you see on her skull is a reconstruction that early researchers fused to the bone.
At the time that Magdalenian Girl was discovered, researchers believed that homo neanderthalensis was the direct ancestor to anatomically modern humans, and so when they reconstructed her skull they gave her Neanderthal features, which is incorrect. The reconstruction you see here was done by Elisabeth Daynès, who also did the most recent facial reconstruction of Tutankhamun.
Magdalenian Girl is currently on display at the Field Museum in their current exhibit Scenes from the Stone Age: The Cave Paintings of Lascaux. She is part of the museum’s permanent collection and is the most complete paleolithic skeleton in North America.
Solar Cells Can Be Made from Graphene
Longer-lasting and better – the next-generation solar cells and optoelectronic devices will tout these properties and more when created from a combination of graphene and other one-atom thick materials, reported a group of scientists from the Univ. of Manchester and National Univ. of Singapore. The breakthrough work was published in Science recently.
Graphene is the world’s thinnest, strongest and most conductive material, and its isolation also led to the discovery of a whole new family of one-atom-thick materials. By stacking up the atom-thick materials and sandwiching them between two layers of graphene, multilayered heterostructures with multifunctional properties are formed. These features range from conductive to insulating, as well as opaque to transparent.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/06/solar-cells-can-be-made-graphene
As Descartes famously noted, there’s no way to really know that another person has a mind — every mind we observe is, in a sense, a mind we create. Now, new research suggests that victimization may be one condition that leads us to perceive minds in others, even in entities we don’t normally think…