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Smallest atomic displacements ever may lead to new new classes of electronic devices | ... - 0 views

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    An international team of scientists has developed a novel X-ray technique for imaging atomic displacements in materials with unprecedented accuracy, using a recently discovered class of exotic materials - multiferroics - that can be simultaneously magnetically and electrically ordered.

    Multiferroics are also candidate materials for new classes of electronic devices.

    The researchers are from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble (France), the University of Oxford, and the University College London.
thinkahol *

Mind-reading scan identifies simple thoughts - health - 26 May 2011 - New Scientist - 2 views

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    A new new brain imaging system that can identify a subject's simple thoughts may lead to clearer diagnoses for Alzheimer's disease or schizophrenia - as well as possibly paving the way for reading people's minds.
    Michael Greicius at Stanford University in California and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify patterns of brain activity associated with different mental states.
    He asked 14 volunteers to do one of four tasks: sing songs silently to themselves; recall the events of the day; count backwards in threes; or simply relax.
    Participants were given a 10-minute period during which they had to do this. For the rest of that time they were free to think about whatever they liked. The participants' brains were scanned for the entire 10 minutes, and the patterns of connectivity associated with each task were teased out by computer algorithms that compared scans from several volunteers doing the same task.
    This differs from previous experiments, in which the subjects were required to perform mental activities at specific times and the scans were then compared with brain activity when they were at rest. Greicius reasons his method encourages "natural" brain activity more like that which occurs in normal thought.
thinkahol *

Sex on the brain: Orgasms unlock altered consciousness - life - 11 May 2011 - New Scien... - 4 views

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    Our intrepid reporter performs an intimate act in an fMRI scanner to explore the pathways of pleasure and pain
thinkahol *

Graphene may reveal the grain of space-time - physics-math - 13 May 2011 - New Scientist - 1 views

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    COULD the structure of space and time be sketched out inside a cousin of plain old pencil lead? The atomic grid of graphene may mimic a lattice underlying reality, two physicists have claimed, an idea that could explain the curious spin of the electron.
    Graphene is an atom-thick layer of carbon in a hexagonal formation. Depending on its position in this grid, an electron can adopt either of two quantum states - a property called pseudospin which is mathematically akin to the intrinsic spin of an electron.
    Most physicists do not think it is true spin, but Chris Regan at the University of California, Los Angeles, disagrees. He cites work with carbon nanotubes (rolled up sheets of graphene) in the late 1990s, in which electrons were found to be reluctant to bounce back off these obstacles. Regan and his colleague Matthew Mecklenburg say this can be explained if a tricky change in spin is required to reverse direction. Their quantum model of graphene backs that up. The spin arises from the way electrons hop between atoms in graphene's lattice, says Regan.
    So how about the electron's intrinsic spin? It cannot be a rotation in the ordinary sense, as electrons are point particles with no radius and no innards. Instead, like pseudospin, it might come from a lattice pattern in space-time itself, says Regan. This echoes some attempts to unify quantum mechanics with gravity in which space-time is built out of tiny pieces or fundamental networks (Physical Review Letters, vol 106, p 116803).
    Sergei Sharapov of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in Kiev says that the work provides an interesting angle on how electrons and other particles acquire spin, but he is doubtful how far the analogy can be pushed. Regan admits that moving from the flatland world of graphene to higher-dimensional space is tricky. "It will be interesting to see if there are other lattices that give emergent spin," he says.
thinkahol *

New insect repellant may be thousands of times stronger than DEET - 0 views

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    ScienceDaily (May 10, 2011) - Imagine an insect repellant that not only is thousands of times more effective than DEET -- the active ingredient in most commercial mosquito repellants -- but also works against all types of insects, including flies, moths and ants.
thinkahol *

Easily distracted people may have too much brain - health - 06 May 2011 - New Scientist - 2 views

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    Those who are easily distracted from the task in hand may have "too much brain".

thinkahol *

The limits of knowledge: Things we'll never understand - space - 09 May 2011 - New Scie... - 1 views

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    From the machinery of life to the fate of the cosmos, what can't science explain?
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Origin of life on Earth: 'Natural' asymmetry of biological molecules may have come from... - 0 views

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    ScienceDaily (Jan. 7, 2011) - Certain molecules do exist in two forms which are symmetrical mirror images of each other: they are known as chiral molecules. On Earth, the chiral molecules of life, especially amino acids and sugars, exist in only one form, either left-handed or right-handed. Why is it that life has initially chosen one form over the other?
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