New submitter MTorrice writes "Scientists decorated red blood cells with gold nanoparticles so they could trigger the cells to dump their contents with a zap from a laser. The laser pulses heated the particles to produce nanopores in the cells' membranes. The cells contained two fluorescent dyes and both flooded through the pores and out of the cells after the laser pulses. Although the researchers studied the release of dyes, their end goal is to use red blood cells as a vehicle for drug delivery, because the cells are naturally compatible with the immune system and circulate for days in the body. Until now, researchers have found easy ways to load the cells with drugs, but the challenge has been to control the molecules' release."
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gurps_npc writes "Robert Krampf, who runs the web site 'The Happy Scientist,' recently wrote in his blog about problems with Florida's Science FCAT. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is an attempt to measure how smart the students are. Where other states have teachers cheating to help students, Florida decided to grade correct answers as wrong. Mr. Krampf examined the state's science answers and found several that clearly listed right answers as wrong. One question had 3 out of 4 answers that were scientifically true. He wrote to the Florida Department of Education's Test Development center. They admitted he was right about the answers, but said they don't expect 5th graders to realize they were right. For this reason they marked them wrong. As such, they were not changing the tests. Note: they wouldn't let him examine real tests, just the practice tests given out. So we have no idea if FCAT is simply too lazy to provide good practice questions, or too stupid to be allowed to test our children."
Esther Schindler writes "An MIT professor explains why "simple" ideas require hard science and how a gemstone might be the key to an optical network. As the story begins: 'For years, the dream of an all-optical network has lain somewhere between Star Wars and a paper cup and a string. Recent successful work on the creation of an optical diode is a virtual case study in both the physics and materials sciences challenges of trying to develop all-optical networks. It is also a significant step towards their final realization.' One answer may be... garnet. Yes, the January birthstone. 'The material that Ross and others in her field use is a synthetic, lab-grown garnet film. Similar to the natural mineral, often used as a gemstone, it is transparent in the infrared part of the spectrum. This makes synthetic garnet ideal for optical communications systems, which use the near infrared. Unlike natural garnet, it's also magnetic. ... While it works, it's too big and too labor intensive for use as a commercial integrated chip. For that, you need to grow garnet on silicon. The challenge that Ross's group overcame is that garnet doesn't grow on silicon.'"
scibri writes "Chemists have found a way to make reaction vessels perfectly suited to their needs, with 3D printers. From the article: 'Armed with a three-dimensional printer and the type of silicone-based sealant typically used for bathrooms, researchers have demonstrated a novel way to control chemical reactions ... One vessel was printed with catalyst-laced "ink," enabling the container walls to drive chemical reactions. Another container included built-in electrodes, made from skinny strips of polymer printed with a conductive carbon-based additive. The strips carried currents that stimulated an electrochemical reaction within the vessel.'"
An anonymous reader writes "To attract media and Congressional attention to the deep NASA planetary exploration cuts proposed to take place October 1, and the need to restore the planetary budget to present or higher levels, a National Planetary Exploration Car Wash and Bake Sale is being planned for June 9th. Organizations already involved include planetary groups at many universities, research institutions, and Moon Express (Google Lunar X Prize)."
ZeroExistenZ writes "NASA plans to make another trip to Mars in 2018 for which they want to devise a plan by this summer. To come up with ideas for this mission, they turn to the public to tackle a few challenge areas. Participants must submit a brief abstract (no more than two pages) outlining the idea, and indicating in which of the topical areas the idea belongs. Abstracts are due no later than 5:00 p.m. U.S. Central Daylight Time May 10, 2012."
First time accepted submitter jcho5 writes "China's 600-year-old Forbidden City is looking less forbidding these days. As part of a major restoration, the Chinese Palace museum will use 3D-Printers to re-manufacture and replicate many of the city's most precious and unique objects. From the article: 'PhD student Fangjin Zhang—along with her colleagues at Loughborough Design School in the East Midlands of England—had, for a number of years, been looking into the use of 3D printing as means to restore sculptures and archaeological relics. According to a Loughborough press release, Zhang developed a “formalized approach tailored specifically to the restoration of historic artifacts.” After reviewing Zhang’s techniques, the Palace Museum then invited Loughborough researchers to repair several Forbidden City artifacts, including the ceiling and enclosure of a pavilion in the Emperor Chanlong Garden.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Expanding on previous research providing proof-of-principle that human stem cells can be genetically engineered into HIV-fighting cells, a team of UCLA researchers have now demonstrated that these cells can actually attack HIV-infected cells in a living organism. From the article: 'This most recent study shows that scientists can manipulate stem cells — immature cells that can develop into any type of cell — by implanting genes, turning it into killer T cells which can kill the virus in living mice. While the mouse form of HIV is not exactly the same as it is in humans, the infection and progression closely mimic the virus in humans, and eliminating it is a huge step forward, researchers said.'"
mikejuk writes "You can build a computer out of all sorts of things — mechanical components, vacuum tubes, transistors, fluids and ... crabs. Researchers at Kobe University in Japan have discovered that soldier crabs have behaviors suitable for implementing simple logic and hence — with enough crabs — you can achieve a complete computer. The Soldier crab Mictyris guinotae has a swarming behavior that is just right for simple logic gates (PDF). When two crab swarms collide they fuse to make a single swarm — and this is enough to build an OR gate."
Zothecula writes "Crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter have proven popular for groups and individuals looking to get a consumer product, movie, music or video game project off the ground. Now a group of researchers and scientists is adopting a similar crowd-funding model to raise money for scientific research projects. The Microryza website, which launched this week, lets the public get behind research they care about and maybe help it get out of the lab."
cowtamer writes "CNN has a writeup on a method of treating depression with implanted electrodes. If this works, we may be seeing a lot more of this type of technology in the future. '[The patients] were lightly sedated when the holes were drilled and the electrodes implanted, but they were awake to describe what they experienced. Several patients reported profound changes just minutes after the stimulator was turned on. One said the room suddenly seemed brighter and colors were more intense. Another described heightened feelings of connectedness and a disappearance of the void.' While I haven't looked into any of the academic literature on this, it seems that yet another Larry Niven Prediction has come true!"
New submitter HeLLFiRe1151 sends this quote from Physics Central: "Here's a practical application for your physics education: using math to successfully beat a traffic ticket in court. Dmitri Krioukov, a physicist based at the University of California San Diego, did just that to avoid paying a fee for (purportedly) running a stop sign. Krioukov not only proved his innocence, but he also posted a paper detailing his argument online (PDF) on the arXiv server."
HairyNevus writes "An international team of scientists used satellite technology to conduct a census of emperor penguin populations from outer space. Honing in on their colonies by looking for the brown patches of penguin guano that stand out in the snowy antarctic, high resolution images were taken and used to count the total number of emperor penguin species on the continent. The result was a census of 595,000 penguins, almost double the previous estimates of 270,000-350,000 emperors. This includes seven new colonies which had not been previously identified. Although this is uplifting data, computer modeling still shows that loss of ice flows in the northern reaches could result in problems for the penguins."
Hugh Pickens writes "Dr. James Hansen, director of the NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who first made warnings about climate change in the 1980s, says that public skepticism about the threat of man-made climate change has increased despite the growing scientific consensus. He says that without public support, it will be impossible to make the changes he and his colleagues believe need to occur to protect future generations from the effects of climate change. 'The science has become stronger and stronger over the past five years while the public perception is has gone in completely the other direction. That is not an accident,' says Hansen. 'There is a very concerted effort by people who would prefer to see business to continue as usual. They have been winning the public debate with the help of tremendous resources.' Hansen's comments come as recent surveys have revealed that public support for tackling climate change has declined dramatically in recent years. A recent BBC poll found that 25% of British adults did not think global warming is happening and over a third said many claims about environmental threats are 'exaggerated,' compared to 24 per cent in 2000. Dr. Benny Peiser, director of skeptical think tank The Global Warming Policy Foundation, says it's time to stop exaggerating the impact of global warming and accept the uncertainty of predictions about the rate of climate change. 'James Hensen has been making predictions about climate change since the 1980s. When people are comparing what is happening now to those predictions, they can see they fail to match up.'"
MatthewVD writes "Some time in the next decade, the Voyager probes will run out of juice and finally go silent after almost a half century of exploration. John Rennie writes that the lack of any meaningful effort to follow up with a mission to interstellar space shows the "fragile, inconsistent state of space exploration." It's particularly frustrating since the Voyagers have tantalized astronomers with a glimpse into about how the sun's magnetic field protects us from (or exposes us to) cosmic rays. Have we gone as far as we're willing to go in space?"