Culture

Chemical engineers have discovered a fundamental flaw in the conventional view of how liquids form bubbles that grow and turn into vapors, which takes place in everything from industrial processes to fizzing champagne.

The findings cast into doubt some aspects of a theory dating back to the 1920s that attempts to describe the underlying molecular mechanism behind a phenomenon called "homogeneous nucleation," said David S. Corti, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Purdue University.

Scientists are a step closer to understanding sunshine. A monumental experiment buried deep beneath the mountains of Italy has provided Princeton physicists with a clearer understanding of the sun's heart -- and of a mysterious class of subatomic particles born there.

Researchers at the University of Leeds and the World Land Trust have warned that growing biofuel crops to make eco-friendly car fuel could actually be harmful to the environment.

Large areas of land in the developing world are being converted to grow crops such as sugar cane and palm oil as part of the global rush to make biofuels which are widely thought to produce less carbon dioxide than conventional transport fuels.

Antibacterial soaps show no health benefits over plain soaps and, in fact, may render some common antibiotics less effective, says a University of Michigan public health professor.

Earth’s surface is a very active place; its plates are forever jiggling around, rearranging themselves into new configurations. Continents collide and mountains arise, oceans slide beneath continents and volcanoes spew. As far as we know Earth’s restless surface is unique to the planets in our solar system. So what is it that keeps Earth’s plates oiled and on the move?

Men with large jaws, flaring cheeks and large eyebrows are sexy, at least in the eyes of our ancestors, researchers at the Natural History Museum have discovered. Facial attractiveness played a major role in shaping human evolution, as studies on our fossil ancestors have shown our choice of sexual partner has shaped the human face.Skeletal craniofacial variables relate to facial appearance.

Permafrost – the perpetually frozen foundation of the north – isn’t so permanent anymore, and scientists are scrambling to understand the pros and cons when terra firma goes soft.A peatland site in Alberta, Canada, that experienced permafrost collapse within the past 100 years. Credit: Merritt Turetsky, Michigan State University

A compelling new paper from the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research explores the community-supported agriculture movement and its survival in the face of economic globalization. Organic food was once an economic haven for small farms who distributed their goods predominantly through local channels such as farmers’ markets and food co-ops. In the contemporary marketplace, however, the vast majority of organic food production occurs on large-scale, industrial farms whose goods flow through global supply chains.

A remarkably simple experiment devised by scientists yields important information about the mechanical properties of thin films--nanoscopically thin layers of material that are deposited onto a metal, ceramic or semiconductor base.

The research results, funded by the National Science Foundation and performed at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, appears in the August 3, 2007, issue of Science.

An international team of astronomers using NASA’s Swift satellite and the Japanese/U.S. Suzaku X-ray observatory has discovered a new class of active galactic nuclei (AGN).

By now, you’d think that astronomers would have found all the different classes of AGN — extraordinarily energetic cores of galaxies powered by accreting supermassive black holes. AGN such as quasars, blazars, and Seyfert galaxies are among the most luminous objects in our Universe, often pouring out the energy of billions of stars from a region no larger than our solar system.

A method for making instant steam, without the need for electricity, promises to be useful for tackling antibiotic resistant ‘superbugs’ like MRSA and C. difficile, as well as removing chewing gum from pavements and powering environmentally friendly cars, reports Nina Morgan in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI. ‘The value of instant steam lies in creating truly portable steam that can be generated intermittently on demand,’ says Dave Wardle, business development director at Oxford Catalysts.

Rotary engines were developed by Wankel of Germany in the 1930s. They never really gained acceptance in the mass markert, aside from Mazda in its RX-7 and later models. But a project team says they can take the Mazda rotary engine block and build an aero engine around it that could be retrofitted to all aircraft - and it will change aviation.

The four-stroke piston engine technology used by the majority of planes in general aviation dates back 60 years.

Scientists at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory have discovered the surprising strength of a sheet of nanoparticles that measures just 50 atoms in thickness.Experiments by scientists at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, have revealed how to drastically change the properties of certain materials by confining their molecules in nanospaces.

Fossils discovered in the oft-painted arroyos of northern New Mexico show for the first time that dinosaurs and their non-dinosaur ancestors lived side by side for tens of millions of years, disproving the notion that dinosaurs rapidly replaced their supposedly outmoded predecessors.

A new National Science Foundation (NSF) report finds the number of U.S. science and engineering (S&E) articles in major peer-reviewed journals flattened in the 1990s, after more than two decades of growth, but U.S. influence in world science and technology remains strong.

The report, Changing U.S. Output of Scientific Articles: 1988 - 2003, finds changes occurred despite continued increases in funding and personnel for research and development. Flattening occurred in nearly all U.S. research disciplines and types of institutions.