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Simple microfluidic devices now have valves

04-04-2014

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have added yet another innovation—miniature valves—to their ever-growing collection of inexpensive, easy-to-manufacture and highly efficient microfluidic devices made from plastic films and double-sided tape. Traditionally, ...

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Ancient whodunit may be solved: The microbes did it!

Methane-producing microbes may be responsible for the largest mass extinction in Earth's history

02-04-2014

Evidence left at the crime scene is abundant and global: Fossil remains show that sometime around 252 million years ago, about 90 percent of all species on Earth were suddenly wiped out — by far the largest of this planet's five known mass extinctions. But pinpointing the culprit has been ...

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Nanotube coating helps shrink mass spectrometers

27-03-2014

Nanotechnology is advancing tools likened to Star Trek's "tricorder" that perform on-the-spot chemical analysis for a range of applications including medical testing, explosives detection and food safety. Researchers found that when paper used to collect a sample was coated with carbon nanotubes, ...

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Cheaper, greener way to make new drugs

25-03-2014

This alternative approach to creating artificial organic molecules, called bioretrosynthesis, was first proposed four years ago by Brian Bachmann, associate professor of chemistry at Vanderbilt University. Now Bachmann and a team of collaborators report that they have succeeded in using the ...

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Lignin breakthroughs serve as GPS for plant research

Biosystems approach offers step-by-step directions for young scientists

13-03-2014

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed the equivalent of GPS directions for future plant scientists to understand how plants adapt to the environment and to improve plants' productivity and biofuel potential. Two articles published in The Plant Cell offer a step-by-step ...

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A shocking diet

Researchers describe microbe that 'eats' electricity

12-03-2014

There have been plenty of fad diets that captured the public's imagination over the years, but Harvard scientists have identified what may be the strangest of them all – sunlight and electricity. Led by Peter Girguis, the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences, and Arpita Bose, ...

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Pond-dwelling powerhouse's genome points to its biofuel potential

21-02-2014

Duckweed is a tiny floating plant that's been known to drive people daffy. It's one of the smallest and fastest-growing flowering plants that often becomes a hard-to-control weed in ponds and small lakes. But it's also been exploited to clean contaminated water and as a source to produce ...

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A faster way to flag bacteria-tainted food — and prevent illness

21-02-2014

The regular appearance of food poisoning in the news, including a recent event that led to the recall of more than 33,000 pounds of chicken, drives home the need for better bacterial detection long before meats and produce make it to the dinner table. On the horizon is a new approach for pathogen ...

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Earwax: A new frontier of human odor information

Odor-producing chemicals in earwax differ according to ethnic origin

17-02-2014

Scientists from the Monell Center have used analytical organic chemistry to identify the presence of odor-producing chemical compounds in human earwax. Further, they found that the amounts of these compounds differ between individuals of East Asian origin and Caucasians. The findings suggest that ...

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New application of physics tools used in biology

11-02-2014

A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory physicist and his colleagues have found a new application for the tools and mathematics typically used in physics to help solve problems in biology. Specifically, the team used statistical mechanics and mathematical modeling to shed light on something ...

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