Diet or exercise? ‘Energy balance’ real key to disease prevention

A majority of Americans are overweight or obese, a factor in the rapid rise in common diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and more. According to a paper published collaboratively in this month’s issues of the official journals of both the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, energy balance is a viable public health solution to address the obesity epidemic. The paper outlines steps to incorporate energy balance principles into public health outreach in the U.S.”It is time we collectively move beyond debating nutrition or exercise and focus on nutrition and exercise,” said co-author and ACSM member Melinda Manore, Ph.D., R.D., C.S.S.D., FACSM of Oregon State University. “Nutrition and exercise professionals working collaboratively, combined with effective public health messaging about the importance of energy balance, can help America shape up and become healthier.”The paper, published in the July edition of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise and in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, gives the following recommendations:• Integrate energy balance into curriculum and training for both exercise science and nutrition professionals and strengthen collaborative efforts between them • Develop competencies for school and physical education teachers and position them as energy balance advocates • Develop core standards for schools that integrate the dynamic energy balance approach • Work with federally-funded nutrition programs like the Cooperative Extension Service and school lunch programs to incorporate energy balance solutions • Develop messaging and promotional strategies about energy balance that American consumers can understand and apply to their lifestyle • Map out and support existing programs that emphasize energy balance”Our health professionals are currently working in silos and must work together to educate and promote energy balance as the key to better health” said Manore. “The obesity crisis is one of the greatest public health challenges of our generation. Energy balance can help us work toward a solution so our children aren’t saddled with the same health challenges we currently face. “The paper is an outcome of the October 2012 expert panel meeting titled “Energy Balance at the Crossroads: Translating the Science into Action” hosted by ACSM, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Agriculture Research Service.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Fatigue and returning to normality!

Underlying fatigue sets in after basis exertion, however it does not stop me from getting on with my life while undergoing chemotherapy! I simply stop and have a rest then keep going …. . I have to be careful with my shallow breathing and do stop and rest if need be. Slowly returning to normality. Weds will be day 14 since chemo.When in Washington, April 2014 I was presented with the 2014 Alan Reinstein Award (ADAO Asbestos Disease Awareness Organisation) at the annual global asbestos awareness conference for my commitment to education, advocacy and support to countless patients and families around the world. Unfortunately my beautiful crystal teardrop award was broken on the tip in transit. Linda Reinstein, ADAO kindly organised a replacement award to be sent to my home in …

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BOSS quasars track the expanding universe: Most precise measurement yet

The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), the largest component of the third Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-III), pioneered the use of quasars to map density variations in intergalactic gas at high redshifts, tracing the structure of the young universe. BOSS charts the history of the universe’s expansion in order to illuminate the nature of dark energy, and new measures of large-scale structure have yielded the most precise measurement of expansion since galaxies first formed.The latest quasar results combine two separate analytical techniques. A new kind of analysis, led by physicist Andreu Font-Ribera of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and his team, was published late last year. Analysis using a tested approach, but with far more data than before, has just been published by Timothe Delubac, of EPFL Switzerland and France’s Centre de Saclay, and his team. The two analyses together establish the expansion rate at 68 kilometers per second per million light years at redshift 2.34, with an unprecedented accuracy of 2.2 percent.”This means if we look back to the universe when it was less than a quarter of its present age, we’d see that a pair of galaxies separated by a million light years would be drifting apart at a velocity of 68 kilometers a second as the universe expands,” says Font-Ribera, a postdoctoral fellow in Berkeley Lab’s Physics Division. “The uncertainty is plus or minus only a kilometer and a half per second.” Font-Ribera presented the findings at the April 2014 meeting of the American Physical Society in Savannah, GA.BOSS employs both galaxies and distant quasars to measure baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO), a signature imprint in the way matter is distributed, resulting from conditions in the early universe. While also present in the distribution of invisible dark matter, the imprint is evident in the distribution of ordinary matter, including galaxies, quasars, and intergalactic hydrogen.”Three years ago BOSS used 14,000 quasars to demonstrate we could make the biggest 3D maps of the universe,” says Berkeley Lab’s David Schlegel, principal investigator of BOSS. “Two years ago, with 48,000 quasars, we first detected baryon acoustic oscillations in these maps. Now, with more than 150,000 quasars, we’ve made extremely precise measures of BAO.”The BAO imprint corresponds to an excess of about five percent in the clustering of matter at a separation known as the BAO scale. …

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Rainbow-catching waveguide could revolutionize energy technologies

By slowing and absorbing certain wavelengths of light, engineers open new possibilities in solar power, thermal energy recycling and stealth technologyMore efficient photovoltaic cells. Improved radar and stealth technology. A new way to recycle waste heat generated by machines into energy.All may be possible due to breakthrough photonics research at the University at Buffalo.The work, published March 28 in the journal Scientific Reports, explores the use of a nanoscale microchip component called a “multilayered waveguide taper array” that improves the chip’s ability to trap and absorb light.Unlike current chips, the waveguide tapers (the thimble-shaped structures pictured above) slow and ultimately absorb each frequency of light at different places vertically to catch a “rainbow” of wavelengths, or broadband light.”We previously predicted the multilayered waveguide tapers would more efficiently absorb light, and now we’ve proved it with these experiments,” says lead researcher Qiaoqiang Gan, PhD, UB assistant professor of electrical engineering. “This advancement could prove invaluable for thin-film solar technology, as well as recycling waste thermal energy that is a byproduct of industry and everyday electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops.”Each multilayered waveguide taper is made of ultrathin layers of metal, semiconductors and/or insulators. The tapers absorb light in metal dielectric layer pairs, the so-called hyperbolic metamaterial. By adjusting the thickness of the layers and other geometric parameters, the tapers can be tuned to different frequencies including visible, near-infrared, mid-infrared, terahertz and microwaves.The structure could lead to advancements in an array of fields.For example, there is a relatively new field of advanced computing research called on-chip optical communication. In this field, there is a phenomenon known as crosstalk, in which an optical signal transmitted on one waveguide channel creates an undesired scattering or coupling effect on another waveguide channel. The multilayered waveguide taper structure array could potentially prevent this.It could also improve thin-film photovoltaic cells, which are a promising because they are less expensive and more flexible that traditional solar cells. The drawback, however, is that they don’t absorb as much light as traditional cells. Because the multilayered waveguide taper structure array can efficiently absorb the visible spectrum, as well as the infrared spectrum, it could potentially boost the amount of energy that thin-film solar cells generate.The multilayered waveguide taper array could help recycle waste heat generated by power plants and other industrial processes, as well as electronic devices such as televisions, smartphones and laptop computers.”It could be useful as an ultra compact thermal-absorption, collection and liberation device in the mid-infrared spectrum,” says Dengxin Ji, a PhD student in Gan’s lab and first author of the paper.It could even be used as a stealth, or cloaking, material for airplanes, ships and other vehicles to avoid radar, sonar, infrared and other forms of detection. …

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New way to filter light: May provide first directional selectivity for light waves

Light waves can be defined by three fundamental characteristics: their color (or wavelength), polarization, and direction. While it has long been possible to selectively filter light according to its color or polarization, selectivity based on the direction of propagation has remained elusive.But now, for the first time, MIT researchers have produced a system that allows light of any color to pass through only if it is coming from one specific angle; the technique reflects all light coming from other directions. This new approach could ultimately lead to advances in solar photovoltaics, detectors for telescopes and microscopes, and privacy filters for display screens.The work is described in a paper appearing this week in the journal Science, written by MIT graduate student Yichen Shen, professor of physics Marin Soljačić, and four others. “We are excited about this,” Soljačić says, “because it is a very fundamental building block in our ability to control light.”The new structure consists of a stack of ultrathin layers of two alternating materials where the thickness of each layer is precisely controlled. “When you have two materials, then generally at the interface between them you will have some reflections,” Soljačić explains. But at these interfaces, “there is this magical angle called the Brewster angle, and when you come in at exactly that angle and the appropriate polarization, there is no reflection at all.”While the amount of light reflected at each of these interfaces is small, by combining many layers with the same properties, most of the light can be reflected away — except for that coming in at precisely the right angle and polarization.Using a stack of about 80 alternating layers of precise thickness, Shen says, “We are able to reflect light at most of the angles, over a very broad band [of colors]: the entire visible range of frequencies.”Previous work had demonstrated ways of selectively reflecting light except for one precise angle, but those approaches were limited to a narrow range of colors of light. The new system’s breadth could open up many potential applications, the team says.Shen says, “This could have great applications in energy, and especially in solar thermophotovoltaics” — harnessing solar energy by using it to heat a material, which in turn radiates light of a particular color. That light emission can then be harnessed using a photovoltaic cell tuned to make maximum use of that color of light. But for this approach to work, it is essential to limit the heat and light lost to reflections, and re-emission, so the ability to selectively control those reflections could improve efficiency.The findings could also prove useful in optical systems, such as microscopes and telescopes, for viewing faint objects that are close to brighter objects — for example, a faint planet next to a bright star. By using a system that receives light only from a certain angle, such devices could have an improved ability to detect faint targets. …

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A tale of two data sets: New DNA analysis strategy helps researchers cut through the dirt

For soil microbiology, it is the best of times. While no one has undertaken an accurate census, a spoonful of soil holds hundreds of billions of microbial cells, encompassing thousands of species. “It’s one of the most diverse microbial habitats on Earth, yet we know surprisingly little about the identities and functions of the microbes inhabiting soil,” said Jim Tiedje, Distinguished Professor at the Center for Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University. Tiedje, along with MSU colleagues and collaborators from the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), have published the largest soil DNA sequencing effort to date in the March 10, 2014, issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). What has emerged in this first of the studies to come from this project is a simple, elegant solution to sifting through the deluge of information gleaned, as well as a sobering reality check on just how hard a challenge these environments will be.”The Great Prairie represents the largest expanse of the world’s most fertile soils, which makes it important as a reference site and for understanding the biological basis and ecosystem services of its microbial community,” said Tiedje. “It sequesters the most carbon of any soil system in the U.S. and produces large amounts of biomass annually, which is key for biofuels, food security, and carbon sequestration. It’s an ecosystem that parallels the large ocean gyres in its importance in the world’s primary productivity and biogeochemical cycles.”Since the release of the first human genome over a decade ago, the applications of DNA sequencing have been extended as a powerful diagnostic technique for gauging the health of the planet’s diverse ecological niches and their responsiveness to change. In this ambitious pilot study launched by the DOE JGI, MSU researchers sought to compare the microbial populations of different soils sampled from Midwestern corn fields, under continuous cultivation for 100 years, with those sourced from pristine expanses of the Great Prairie. …

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Mongol Empire rode wave of mild climate, but warming now may be tipping region into unparalleled drought

Researchers studying the rings of ancient trees in mountainous central Mongolia think they may have gotten at the mystery of how small bands of nomadic Mongol horsemen united to conquer much of the world within a span of decades, 800 years ago. The rise of the great leader Genghis Khan and the start of the largest contiguous empire in human history was propelled by a temporary run of nice weather.The rings show that exactly when the empire rose, the normally cold, arid steppes of central Asia saw their mildest, wettest weather in more than 1,000 years. Grass production must have boomed, as did vast numbers of war horses and other livestock that gave the Mongols their power. But the tree rings, spanning 1,112 years from 900 to 2011, also exhibit an ominous modern trend. Since the mid-20th century, the region has warmed rapidly, and the rings show that recent drought years were the most extreme in the record — possibly a side effect of global warming. In a region already pressed for water, the droughts have already helped spark a new migration in a vast region where people until now have lived the same way for centuries, moving herds from place to place and living in tents. Now, those herders are being driven rapidly into cities, and there could be greater future upheavals. The study appears in this week’s early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”Before fossil fuels, grass and ingenuity were the fuels for the Mongols and the cultures around them,” said lead author Neil Pederson, a tree-ring scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “Energy flows from the bottom of an ecosystem, up the ladder to human society. Even today, many people in Mongolia live just like their ancestors did. …

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Pinwheel ‘living’ crystals and the origin of life

Simply making nanoparticles spin coaxes them to arrange themselves into what University of Michigan researchers call ‘living rotating crystals’ that could serve as a nanopump. They may also, incidentally, shed light on the origin of life itself.The researchers refer to the crystals as ‘living’ because they, in a sense, take on a life of their own from very simple rules.Sharon Glotzer, the Stuart W. Churchill Collegiate Professor of Chemical Engineering, and her team found that when they spun individual nanoparticles in a simulation — some clockwise and some counterclockwise — the particles self-assembled into an intricate architecture.The team discovered the behavior while investigating methods to make particles self-assemble — one of the major challenges in nanotechnology — without complicated procedures. When the pieces are a thousand times smaller than a grain of sand, normal techniques for building structures are no longer effective.For this reason, researchers like Glotzer are exploring ways to make order develop naturally from disorder, much like what may have occurred at the very beginnings of life.”If we can understand that, not only can we begin to imagine new ways to make materials and devices, but also we may begin to understand how the first living structures emerged from a soup of chemicals,” said Glotzer, who is also a professor of materials science and engineering, macromolecular science and engineering, physics, and applied physics.”One way biology approaches the challenge of assembly is by constantly feeding building blocks with energy. So, that’s what we did with nanoparticles.”Recently, researchers in the field have found that if particles are given energy for some basic motion, such as moving in one direction, they can begin to influence one another, forming groups. Glotzer’s team looked at what would happen if the particles all were made to rotate.”They organize themselves,” said Daphne Klotsa, a research fellow in Glotzer’s lab. “They developed collective dynamics that we couldn’t have foreseen.”The team’s computer simulation can be imagined as two sets of pinwheels on an air hockey table. The air pushing up from the table drives some of the pinwheels clockwise, and others counterclockwise. When the pinwheels are tightly packed enough that their blades catch on one another, the team found that they begin to divide themselves into clockwise and counter-clockwise spinners — a self-organizing behavior known among researchers as phase separation.”The important finding here is that we get phase separation without real attraction,” Klotsa said.She calls the self-sorting counterintuitive because no direct forces push the same — spin pinwheels together or push opposite-spinners apart.The separation occurs because of the way the pinwheel blades collide. While a pair of pinwheels may be spinning in the same direction, where their blades might meet, they’re actually moving in opposite directions. …

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Optimizing custody is child’s play for physicists

Ensuring that parents in recomposed families see their children regularly is a complex network problem.Physics can provide insights into societal trends. Problems involving interactions between people linked in real-life networks can be better understood by using physical models. As a diversion from his normal duties as a theoretical physicist, Andrs Gomberoff from the Andres Bello University in Santiago, Chile, set out to resolve one of his real-life problems: finding a suitable weekend for both partners in his recomposed family to see all their children at the same time. He then joined forces with a mathematician and a complex systems expert. This resulted in a study published in EPJ B, showing that solving this problem essentially equates to minimizing the energy in a material model.The authors assume that they deal with a network of people who are connected, either because they are in a current relationship or because they are ex-partners. Another assumption is that all involved in the network are willing to cooperate and communicate in an open manner.They then attempt to verify whether it is possible to find a custody arrangement whereby all parents see all of their children together every other weekend, thus satisfying the expectations of all members of the network. The answer is that it is not possible, in general, to have such an agreement.However, they also found that it is possible to have an arrangement in which one of the parents gets to see all of their children every other weekend. They also found an algorithm to maximize the level of contentment of members of this extended family network. Maximizing the number of parents spending time with their own children and those of their current partners was akin to minimizing the energy of a particular magnetic material called a spin glass.Who said that physics can’t have real-life applications?Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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UK failing to harness its bioenergy potential

The UK could generate almost half its energy needs from biomass sources, including household waste, agricultural residues and home-grown biofuels by 2050, new research suggests.Scientists from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at The University of Manchester found that the UK could produce up to 44% of its energy by these means without the need to import.The study, published in Energy Policy Journal , highlights the country’s potential abundance of biomass resources that are currently underutilised and totally overlooked by the bioenergy sector. Instead, say the authors, much of the UK bioenergy sector is heading towards increased reliance on biomass resources that will have to be imported from abroad.Study author Andrew Welfle said: “The UK has legally binding renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets, and energy from biomass is anticipated to make major contributions to these. The widely discussed barriers for energy from biomass include the competition for land that may otherwise be used to grow food and the narrative that biomass will have to be imported to the UK if we want to use increased levels of bioenergy. But our research has found that the UK could produce large levels of energy from biomass without importing resources or negatively impacting the UK’s ability to feed itself.”The research involved analysing the UK’s biomass supply chains and investigating how different pathways that the UK could take may influence the potential bioenergy that the country could generate from its own resources up to 2050.The pathways the team analysed included a future with economic focus, investigating how the future UK bioenergy sector may look if economic growth was the prime focus; a conservation focus pathway, where the conservation of resources is the key future aim; an energy focus pathway, where the UK pushes towards achieving the maximum practical levels of bioenergy generated from its resources; and a food focus pathway, where the potential future of the country’s bioenergy sector is analysed in reflection of the UK working to increase its food security.”Biomass residue resources from ongoing UK activities, such as agriculture, forestry and industrial processes, were found to represent a continuous and robust resource option for the UK bioenergy sector, potentially contributing up to 6.5% of primary energy demand by 2050,” said Mr Welfle. “The potential bioenergy generated from agricultural residues, particularly from straws and slurry resources, being the highlight opportunities for the bioenergy sector due to their high abundance and current underutilisation.”UK waste resources were also found to represent a potential major opportunity for the bioenergy sector. The research highlights that both household and food/plant waste streams represent particular potential for the sector. Although the design and influence of future strategies and policies on UK waste generation and management are fundamental in determining the extent of opportunities that wastes represents to the UK bioenergy sector.He added: “Biomass is a flexible energy option, in that it can be used to produce heat, electricity or even be converted to transport fuels, although different types of biomass resource tend to be utilised in specific ways in order to produce the most energy or biomass-based products with increased value. Our research confirms that the best option for the UK to make the most of its biomass resources would be for selected resources to be used by bio-refineries to produce high value bio-products, with all remaining suitable resources being dedicated for heat generation.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Manchester University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Artificial leaf jumps developmental hurdle

In a recent early online edition of Nature Chemistry, ASU scientists, along with colleagues at Argonne National Laboratory, report advances toward perfecting a functional artificial leaf.Designing an artificial leaf that uses solar energy to convert water cheaply and efficiently into hydrogen and oxygen is one of the goals of BISfuel — the Energy Frontier Research Center, funded by the Department of Energy, in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Arizona State University.Hydrogen is an important fuel in itself and serves as an indispensible reagent for the production of light hydrocarbon fuels from heavy petroleum feed stocks. Society requires a renewable source of fuel that is widely distributed, abundant, inexpensive and environmentally clean.Society needs cheap hydrogen.”Initially, our artificial leaf did not work very well, and our diagnostic studies on why indicated that a step where a fast chemical reaction had to interact with a slow chemical reaction was not efficient,” said ASU chemistry professor Thomas Moore. “The fast one is the step where light energy is converted to chemical energy, and the slow one is the step where the chemical energy is used to convert water into its elements viz. hydrogen and oxygen.”The researchers took a closer look at how nature had overcome a related problem in the part of the photosynthetic process where water is oxidized to yield oxygen.”We looked in detail and found that nature had used an intermediate step,” said Moore. “This intermediate step involved a relay for electrons in which one half of the relay interacted with the fast step in an optimal way to satisfy it, and the other half of the relay then had time to do the slow step of water oxidation in an efficient way.”They then designed an artificial relay based on the natural one and were rewarded with a major improvement.Seeking to understand what they had achieved, the team then looked in detail at the atomic level to figure out how this might work. They used X-ray crystallography and optical and magnetic resonance spectroscopy techniques to determine the local electromagnetic environment of the electrons and protons participating in the relay, and with the help of theory (proton coupled electron transfer mechanism), identified a unique structural feature of the relay. This was an unusually short bond between a hydrogen atom and a nitrogen atom that facilitates the correct working of the relay.They also found subtle magnetic features of the electronic structure of the artificial relay that mirrored those found in the natural system.Not only has the artificial system been improved, but the team understands better how the natural system works. This will be important as scientists develop the artificial leaf approach to sustainably harnessing the solar energy needed to provide the food, fuel and fiber that human needs are increasingly demanding.ASU chemistry professors involved in this specific project include Thomas Moore, Devens Gust, Ana Moore and Vladimiro Mujica. The department is a unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Key collaborators in this work are Oleg Poluektov and Tijana Rajh from Argonne National Laboratory.This work would not have been possible without the participation of many scientists driven by a common goal and coordinated by a program such as the Energy Frontier Research Center to bring the right combination of high-level skills to the research table.The Department of Chemisry and Biocehmistry is an academic unit in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. …

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America’s natural gas system is leaking methane and in need of a fix

The first thorough comparison of evidence for natural gas system leaks confirms that organizations including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have underestimated U.S. methane emissions generally, as well as those from the natural gas industry specifically.Natural gas consists predominantly of methane. Even small leaks from the natural gas system are important because methane is a potent greenhouse gas — about 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. A study, “Methane Leakage from North American Natural Gas Systems,” published in the Feb. 14 issue of the journal Science, synthesizes diverse findings from more than 200 studies ranging in scope from local gas processing plants to total emissions from the United States and Canada.”People who go out and actually measure methane pretty consistently find more emissions than we expect,” said the lead author of the new analysis, Adam Brandt, an assistant professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford University. “Atmospheric tests covering the entire country indicate emissions around 50 percent more than EPA estimates,” said Brandt. “And that’s a moderate estimate.”The standard approach to estimating total methane emissions is to multiply the amount of methane thought to be emitted by a particular kind of source, such as leaks at natural gas processing plants or belching cattle, by the number of that source type in a region or country. The products are then totaled to estimate all emissions. The EPA does not include natural methane sources, like wetlands and geologic seeps.The national natural gas infrastructure has a combination of intentional leaks, often for safety purposes, and unintentional emissions, like faulty valves and cracks in pipelines. In the United States, the emission rates of particular gas industry components — from wells to burner tips — were established by the EPA in the 1990s.Since then, many studies have tested gas industry components to determine whether the EPA’s emission rates are accurate, and a majority of these have found the EPA’s rates too low. …

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Superconductivity in orbit: Scientists find new path to loss-free electricity

Brookhaven Lab researchers captured the distribution of multiple orbital electrons to help explain the emergence of superconductivity in iron-based materials. Armed with just the right atomic arrangements, superconductors allow electricity to flow without loss and radically enhance energy generation, delivery, and storage. Scientists tweak these superconductor recipes by swapping out elements or manipulating the valence electrons in an atom’s outermost orbital shell to strike the perfect conductive balance. Most high-temperature superconductors contain atoms with only one orbital impacting performance — but what about mixing those elements with more complex configurations?Now, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have combined atoms with multiple orbitals and precisely pinned down their electron distributions. Using advanced electron diffraction techniques, the scientists discovered that orbital fluctuations in iron-based compounds induce strongly coupled polarizations that can enhance electron pairing — the essential mechanism behind superconductivity. The study, set to publish soon in the journal Physical Review Letters, provides a breakthrough method for exploring and improving superconductivity in a wide range of new materials.While the effect of doping the multi-orbital barium iron arsenic — customizing its crucial outer electron count by adding cobalt — mirrors the emergence of high-temperature superconductivity in simpler systems, the mechanism itself may be entirely different.”Now superconductor theory can incorporate proof of strong coupling between iron and arsenic in these dense electron cloud interactions,” said Brookhaven Lab physicist and study coauthor Weiguo Yin. “This unexpected discovery brings together both orbital fluctuation theory and the 50-year-old ‘excitonic’ theory for high-temperature superconductivity, opening a new frontier for condensed matter physics.”Atomic Jungle GymImagine a child playing inside a jungle gym, weaving through holes in the multicolored metal matrix in much the same way that electricity flows through materials. This particular kid happens to be wearing a powerful magnetic belt that repels the metal bars as she climbs. This causes the jungle gym’s grid-like structure to transform into an open tunnel, allowing the child to slide along effortlessly. …

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How do you recharge for the day ahead?

Before I go to bed at night I have to have a plan of attack for the next day. I have NEVER been a morning person and having children was quite the awakening We’re up between 6-7am and they don’t know what a weekend is. And I don’t know how they do it, but they are UP and RUNNING as soon as their feet hit the floor. “Mom, I’m hungry! Let’s play a game! Mom, you forgot my drink! I need a napkin! I have to go potty!” Or from the 1-year-old: “Poooooop!” Yea. Mornings are rough. I definitely need a way to recharge for the day ahead. Along with Team Kellogg’s, here’s my Tip #28 for a Great Start: Recharge for the Day …

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Ballistic transport in graphene suggests new type of electronic device

Using electrons more like photons could provide the foundation for a new type of electronic device that would capitalize on the ability of graphene to carry electrons with almost no resistance even at room temperature — a property known as ballistic transport.Research reported this week shows that electrical resistance in nanoribbons of epitaxial graphene changes in discrete steps following quantum mechanical principles. The research shows that the graphene nanoribbons act more like optical waveguides or quantum dots, allowing electrons to flow smoothly along the edges of the material. In ordinary conductors such as copper, resistance increases in proportion to the length as electrons encounter more and more impurities while moving through the conductor.The ballistic transport properties, similar to those observed in cylindrical carbon nanotubes, exceed theoretical conductance predictions for graphene by a factor of 10. The properties were measured in graphene nanoribbons approximately 40 nanometers wide that had been grown on the edges of three-dimensional structures etched into silicon carbide wafers.”This work shows that we can control graphene electrons in very different ways because the properties are really exceptional,” said Walt de Heer, a Regent’s professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “This could result in a new class of coherent electronic devices based on room temperature ballistic transport in graphene. Such devices would be very different from what we make today in silicon.”The research, which was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the W.M. Keck Foundation, was reported February 5 in the journal Nature. The research was done through a collaboration of scientists from Georgia Tech in the United States, Leibniz Universitt Hannover in Germany, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France and Oak Ridge National Laboratory — supported by the Department of Energy — in the United States.For nearly a decade, researchers have been trying to use the unique properties of graphene to create electronic devices that operate much like existing silicon semiconductor chips. But those efforts have met with limited success because graphene — a lattice of carbon atoms that can be made as little as one layer thick — cannot be easily given the electronic bandgap that such devices need to operate.De Heer argues that researchers should stop trying to use graphene like silicon, and instead use its unique electron transport properties to design new types of electronic devices that could allow ultra-fast computing — based on a new approach to switching. Electrons in the graphene nanoribbons can move tens or hundreds of microns without scattering.”This constant resistance is related to one of the fundamental constants of physics, the conductance quantum,” de Heer said. …

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Caffeine use disorder: Widespread health problem that needs more attention

“I’m a zombie without my morning coffee.” “My blood type is Diet Coke.” “Caffeine isn’t a drug, it’s a vitamin.” Most people make jokes like these about needing a daily boost from their favorite caffeinated beverage — whether first thing in the morning or to prevent the after-lunch slump.But a recent study coauthored by American University psychology professor Laura Juliano indicates that more people are dependent on caffeine to the point that they suffer withdrawal symptoms and are unable to reduce caffeine consumption even if they have another condition that may be impacted by caffeine — such as a pregnancy, a heart condition, or a bleeding disorder.These symptoms combined are a condition called “Caffeine Use Disorder.” And according to the study Juliano coauthored, even though caffeine is the most commonly used drug in the world — and is found in everything from coffee, tea, and soda, to OTC pain relievers, chocolate, and now a whole host of food and beverage products branded with some form of the word “energy” — health professionals have been slow to characterize problematic caffeine use and acknowledge that some cases may call for treatment.”The negative effects of caffeine are often not recognized as such because it is a socially acceptable and widely consumed drug that is well integrated into our customs and routines,” Juliano said. “And while many people can consume caffeine without harm, for some it produces negative effects, physical dependence, interferes with daily functioning, and can be difficult to give up, which are signs of problematic use.””Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda,” which Juliano coauthored with Steven Meredith and Roland Griffiths of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and John Hughes from the University of Vermont, published last fall in the Journal of Caffeine Research.Grounds for More ResearchThe study summarizes the results of previously published caffeine research to present the biological evidence for caffeine dependence, data that shows how widespread dependence is, and the significant physical and psychological symptoms experienced by habitual caffeine users. Juliano and her coauthors also address the diagnostic criteria for Caffeine Use Disorder and outline an agenda to help direct future caffeine dependence research.In so far as heeding the call for more research, the scientific community is beginning to wake up and smell the coffee. Last spring, the American Psychiatric Association officially recognized Caffeine Use Disorder as a health concern in need of additional research in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders — the standard classification of mental disorders, now in its fifth edition (DSM-5), used by mental health professionals in the United States.”There is misconception among professionals and lay people alike that caffeine is not difficult to give up. However, in population-based studies, more than 50 percent of regular caffeine consumers report that they have had difficulty quitting or reducing caffeine use,” said Juliano, who served as an appointed advisor to the DSM-5 Substance Use Disorders work group and helped outline the symptoms for the Caffeine Use Disorder inclusion.”Furthermore, genetics research may help us to better understand the effects of caffeine on health and pregnancy as well as individual differences in caffeine consumption and sensitivity,” she added.A Lack of LabellingBased on current research, Juliano advises that healthy adults should limit caffeine consumption to no more than 400 mg per day — the equivalent of about two to three 8-oz cups of coffee. Pregnant women should consume less than 200 mg per day and people who regularly experience anxiety or insomnia — as well as those with high blood pressure, heart problems, or urinary incontinence — should also limit caffeine.But limiting one’s caffeine intake is often easier said than done as most people don’t know how much caffeine they consume daily.”At this time, manufacturers are not required to label caffeine amounts and some products such as energy drinks do not have regulated limits on caffeine,” Juliano said, adding that if this changed, people could perhaps better limit their consumption and ideally, avoid caffeine’s possible negative effects.But in a nation where a stop at Starbucks is a daily ritual for many people, is there really a market for caffeine cessation? Juliano says yes.”Through our research, we have observed that people who have been unable to quit or cut back on caffeine on their own would be interested in receiving formal treatment — similar to the outside assistance people can turn to if they want to quit smoking or tobacco use.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by American University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Making color: When two red photons make a blue photon

Color is strange, mainly due to perception. Setting aside complex brain processes, what we see is the result of light absorption, emission, and reflection. Trees appear green because atoms inside the leaves are emitting and/or reflecting green photons. Semiconductor LED brake lights emit single color light when electrical current passes through the devices.Here’s a question: Can scientists generate any color of light? The answer is not really, but the invention of the laser in 1960 opened new doors for this endeavor. An early experiment injected high-power laser light through quartz and out popped a different color. This sparked the field of nonlinear optics and with it, a new method of color generation became possible: frequency conversion.Not all crystals can perform this trick and only through careful fabrication of certain materials is frequency conversion possible. In a result published in Nature Communications, scientists demonstrate a new microstructure that does what’s called second harmonic generation (SHG), where the output light has twice the frequency as the input. This new device is a factor of 1000 smaller than previous frequency converters.You can’t really get something from nothing here. Physics demands that both energy and momentum are conserved in the frequency-doubling process. …

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How climate change affects microbial life below the seafloor

Oct. 22, 2013 — Traces of past microbial life in sediments off the coast of Peru document how the microbial ecosystem under the seafloor has responded to climate change over hundreds of thousands of years. For more than a decade scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology and their colleagues at MARUM and the University of Aarhus have investigated microbial life from this habitat. This “Deep Biosphere,” reaching several hundred metres below the seafloor, is exclusively inhabited by microbes and is generally considered as stable.Nevertheless, only little is known about how this system developed over millennia and how this microbial life influences the cycling of carbon in the oceans. In a new study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Dr. Sergio Contreras, a palaeoceanographer, and his Bremen colleagues use a careful examination of drill-cores from the continental shelf of Peru to actually show how surprisingly dynamic this deeply buried ecosystem can be.Below the sea floor, consortia of two different domains of microorganisms (archaea and bacteria) tap the energy of methane, which they oxidize by using sulfate. This process is known as the anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) and has been intensively studied by Bremen researchers. Methane, also produced by archaea, emerges from deeper layers of the sediment, while sulfate diffuses slowly from the water column into the sediment. Both reactants meet at the so-called methane oxidation front. Only at this front are concentrations of sulfate and methane high enough for the microbial turnover to take place, and here the AOM process leaves behind mineral and biological fossil signatures. …

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Key genes for increasing oil content in plant leaves identified

Related Links Plant Cell paper: Dual Role for Phospholipid:Diacylglycerol Acyltransferase: Enhancing Fatty Acid Synthesis and Diverting Fatty Acids from Membrane Lipids to Triacylglycerol in Arabidopsis Leaves [http://www.plantcell.org/content/early/2013/09/26/tpc.113.117358.abstract] Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google: Other social bookmarking and sharing tools: | Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Brookhaven National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above. Journal References: Jilian Fan, Chengshi Yan, Changcheng Xu. Phospholipid:diacylglycerol acyltransferase-mediated triacylglycerol biosynthesis is crucial for protection against fatty acid-induced cell death in growing tissues of Arabidopsis. The Plant Journal, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12343 Jilian Fan, Chengshi Yan, Xuebin Zhang and Changcheng Xu1. Dual Role for Phospholipid:Diacylglycerol Acyltransferase: Enhancing Fatty Acid Synthesis and Diverting Fatty Acids from Membrane Lipids to Triacylglycerol in Arabidopsis Leaves[C][W]. The Plant Cell, 2013 DOI: 10.​1105/​tpc.​113.​117358 Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats: APA MLA Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead. enlargeClick on the image to download a high-resolution version. …

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Fat black holes grown up in ‘cities’: Observational result using virtual observatory

Oct. 17, 2013 — Massive black holes of more than one million solar masses exist at the center of most galaxies. Some of the massive black holes are observed as active galactic nuclei (AGN) which attract surrounding gas and release huge amounts of energy.How does a massive black hole get “fat”? One possibility is that mutual interaction between galaxies leads to the growth of a black hole. If this theory is correct, there must be some relationship between properties of an supermassive black hole and environment of its host galaxy. Previous studies revealed that radio-loud AGNs are in the overcrowded region. However, it is still not clear that relation between the mass of an central black hole and the environment around an active galaxy (galaxies hosting AGNs). This is why the research team explored the distribution of galaxies surrounding active galaxies.The research team utilized the “Virtual Observatory” to examine many massive black holes and the environment of active galaxies.The Virtual Observatory is a system to make integrated use of various astronomical databases around the world via sharing over the Internet. The Astronomy Data Center of NAOJ has been developing an original portal site for the virtual observatory. To begin with this research, the team collected the data on more than 10,000 AGN whose black hole mass had been already measured by spectroscopic observation with SDSS (Note 1). …

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