Tech

A research group from the Rovira i Virgili University (URV) in Tarragona has developed a biosensor that can immediately detect very low levels of Salmonella typhi, the bacteria that causes typhoid fever. The technique uses carbon nanotubes and synthetic DNA fragments that activate an electric signal when they link up with the pathogen.

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA—Ozone, the main component of air pollution, or smog, is a highly reactive, colorless gas formed when oxygen reacts with other chemicals. Although ozone pollution is most often associated with outdoor air, the gas also infiltrates indoor environments like homes and offices. Ozone can be released by ordinary copy machines, laser printers, ultraviolet lights, and some electrostatic air purification systems, all of which contribute to increased indoor ozone levels.

A cool, freshly drawn beer – for many a person this is the greatest of pleasures. But, in fact, a bad conscience should haunt us when we drink beer as it is among the most energy-intensive foodstuffs during production. Brewing engineers from the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) are working hard to improve the energy balance of the amber beverage. They are looking into a new process combination that would allow energy savings of up to 20% during brewing.

Microbiologists from the University of Essex, UK have used microbes to break down and remove toxic compounds from crude oil and tar sands. These acidic compounds persist in the environment, taking up to 10 years to break down. Mr Richard Johnson, presenting his research to the Society for General Microbiology's meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, described how, by using mixed consortia of bacteria, they have achieved complete degradation of specific compounds in only a few days.

Aquaculture, once a fledgling industry, now accounts for 50 percent of the fish consumed globally, according to a new report by an international team of researchers. And while the industry is more efficient than ever, it is also putting a significant strain on marine resources by consuming large amounts of feed made from wild fish harvested from the sea, the authors conclude. Their findings are published in the Sept. 7 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The burgeoning research fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology are commonly thought to be highly multidisciplinary because they draw on many areas of science and technology to make important advances.

Research reported in the September issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology finds that nanoscience and nanotechnology indeed are highly multidisciplinary – but not much more so than other modern disciplines such as medicine or electrical engineering that also draw on multiple areas of science and technology.

Using bacteria and inositol phosphate, a chemical analogue of a cheap waste material from plants, researchers at Birmingham University have recovered uranium from the polluted waters from uranium mines. The same technology can also be used to clean up nuclear waste. Professor Lynne Macaskie, this week (7-10 September), presented the group's work to the Society for General Microbiology's meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

Bacteria that generate significant amounts of electricity could be used in microbial fuel cells to provide power in remote environments or to convert waste to electricity. Professor Derek Lovley from the University of Massachusetts, USA isolated bacteria with large numbers of tiny projections called pili which were more efficient at transferring electrons to generate power in fuel cells than bacteria with a smooth surface. The team's findings were reported at the Society for General Microbiology's meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, today (7 September).

By adapting a single protein on the surface of the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus, researchers at the University of British Columbia have turned it into a protein production factory, making useful proteins that can act as vaccines and drugs. Dr. John Smit presented the findings at the Society for General Microbiology's meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Outer space offers a new perspective for measuring economic growth, according to new research by three Brown University economists. In a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, J. Vernon Henderson, Adam Storeygard, and David N. Weil suggest a new framework for estimating a country or region's gross domestic product (GDP) by using satellite images of the area's nighttime lights.

BELTSVILLE, MD—Strawberries are America's fifth-favorite fruit, according to consumption rates. California and Florida grow more than 95% of the nation's strawberries; an additional 12,000 acres are planted in other states. Strawberries are increasingly grown on small-scale farms in direct-to-consumer markets, which are gaining popularity as part of the emerging "local food movement". But how do growing methods designed to ensure successful strawberry production in colder climates affect the environment? Matthew D.

Scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) are developing a new technology for use in underwater acoustics. The new technology uses flashes of laser light to remotely create underwater sound. The new acoustic source has the potential to expand and improve both Naval and commercial underwater acoustic applications, including undersea communications, navigation, and acoustic imaging. Dr. Ted Jones, a physicist in the Plasma Physics Division, is leading a team of researchers from the Plasma Physics, Acoustics, and Marine Geosciences Divisions in developing this acoustic source.

Stereo, Dolby Digital, 5.1 or surround sound – music lovers have to accommodate an increasing number of loudspeakers in their rooms in order to obtain the most perfect sound. Good sound reproduction takes space, at least in the speakers. The loudspeaker membrane must have room to vibrate in order to maintain unimpaired enjoyment. Flat panel loudspeakers can be integrated almost invisibly into the surroundings to keep the multitude of loudspeakers from dominating the room. However, the quality of the sound in conventional models suffers if speakers are installed on walls or in furniture.

A team of scientists has analyzed 29 esparto fields from Guadalajara to Murcia and has concluded that perennial vegetation cover is an efficient early warning system against desertification in these ecosystems. The study has been published in the Ecology magazine.

Giving critically ill hospital patients a daily bath with a mild, soapy solution of the same antibacterial agent used by surgeons to "scrub in" before an operation can dramatically cut down, by as much as 73 percent, the number of patients who develop potentially deadly bloodstream infections, according to a new study by patient safety experts at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and five other institutions.