Earth

A team of scientists from Italy and Germany has recently developed a model to predict the friction occurring when a rough surface in wet conditions (such as a road on a rainy day) is in sliding contact with a rubber material (such as a car tire tread block) in an article to be published shortly in the journal EPJE.

It has long been known that distinctive blue flashes--a type of bioluminescence--that are visible at night in some marine environments are caused by tiny, unicellular plankton known as dinoflagellates. However, a new study has, for the first time, detailed the potential mechanism for this bioluminesence.

The unification of quantum mechanics and Einstein's general relativity is one of the most exciting and still open questions in modern physics. General relativity, the joint theory of gravity, space and time gives predictions that become clearly evident on a cosmic scale of stars and galaxies. Quantum effects, on the other hand, are fragile and are typically observed on small scales, e.g. when considering single particles and atoms. That is why it is very hard to test the interplay between quantum mechanics and general relativity. Now theoretical physicists led by Prof.

(UC Santa Barbara –) Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have developed a new and highly efficient way to characterize the structure of polymers at the nanoscale – effectively designing a routine analytical tool that could be used by industries that rely on polymer science to innovate new products, from drug delivery gels to renewable bio-materials.

Using outbreak data from 2003-2010, Kathleen O'Reilly of Imperial College London, UK and colleagues develop a statistical model of the spread of wild polioviruses in Africa that can predict polio outbreaks six months in advance. The authors' findings, published in this week's PLoS Medicine, indicate that outbreaks of polio in Africa over the study period resulted mainly from continued transmission in Nigeria and other countries that reported polio cases, and from poor immunization status.

A team of Canadian researchers has sequenced the genome of Cannabis sativa, the plant that produces both industrial hemp and marijuana, and in the process revealed the genetic changes that led to the plant's drug-producing properties.

Jon Page is a plant biochemist and adjunct professor of biology at the University of Saskatchewan. He explains that a simple genetic switch is likely responsible for the production of THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, the precursor of the active ingredient in marijuana.

UPTON, NY - It's a basic technique learned early, maybe even before kindergarten: Pulling things apart - from toy cars to complicated electronic materials - can reveal a lot about how they work. "That's one way physicists study the things that they love; they do it by destroying them," said Séamus Davis, a physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and the J.G. White Distinguished Professor of Physical Sciences at Cornell University.

New research has found that hurricane activity is 'clustered' rather than random, which has important long-term implications for coastal ecosystems and human population. The research was carried out by Professor Peter Mumby from The University of Queensland Global Change Institute and School of Biological Sciences, Professor David Stephenson and Dr Renato Vitolo (Willis Research Fellow) at the University of Exeter's Exeter Climate Systems research centre.

An amorphous diamond – one that lacks the crystalline structure of diamond, but is every bit as hard – has been created by a Stanford-led team of researchers.

But what good is an amorphous diamond?

"Sometimes amorphous forms of a material can have advantages over crystalline forms," said Yu Lin, a Stanford graduate student involved in the research.

New Haven, Conn.— Rivers and streams in the United States are releasing enough carbon into the atmosphere to fuel 3.4 million car trips to the moon, according to Yale researchers in Nature Geoscience. Their findings could change the way scientists model the movement of carbon between land, water and the atmosphere.

Fluctuations are fundamental to many physical phenomena in our everyday life, such as the phase transitions from a liquid into a gas or from a solid into a liquid. But even at absolute zero temperature, where all motion in the classical world is frozen out, special quantum mechanical fluctuations prevail that can drive the transition between two quantum phases. Now a team around Immanuel Bloch and Stefan Kuhr at Ludwig-Maximilians University (LMU) and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) has succeeded in directly observing such quantum fluctuations (Science, Oct.

Ever since the great Japan tsunami on March 11 washed millions of tons of debris into the Pacific, scientists at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, have been trying to track the trajectory of this debris that can threaten small ships and coastlines. For nearly half a year, Senior Researcher Nikolai Maximenko and Computer Scientific Programmer Jan Hafner had only their state-of-the-art – but still untested – computer model of currents to speculate where the debris might end up.

In 1999, Ahmed Zewail was awarded the nobel prize in chemistry for his studies of chemical reactions using ultrashort laser pulses. Zewail was able to watch the motion of atoms and thus visualize transition states on the molecular level. Watching the dynamics of single electrons was still considered a dream at that time. Thanks to the latest developments in laser technology and intense research in the field of attosecond spectroscopy (1 attosecond = 10-18 s) the research has developed fast. For the first time, Prof.

Should the periodic table bear a warning label in the 21st century or be revised with a lesson about elemental supply and demand? If so, that lesson could start with one element considered a staple of life – phosphorus.

After the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to two scientists in 2010 who had studied the material graphene, this substance has received a lot of attention. Together with colleagues from Korea, Dr. Frederik Wolff-Fabris from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) has now developed and analyzed a material which possesses physical properties similar to graphene. Its structure also resembles iron pnictides, i.e.