Posts from phys.org
PFAS present throughout the Yadkin-Pee Dee river food chainResearchers from North Carolina State University have found per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in every step of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River food chain, even though the river does not have a known industrial input of these compounds. The study examined the entire aquatic ecosystem for PFAS compounds and identified strong links between ecosystem groups that lead to biomagnification, the process that leads to greater concentrations of these substances in animals that sit higher on the food chain—including humans.
New discovery advances optical microscopyNew Illinois ECE research is advancing the field of optical microscopy, giving the field a critical new tool to solve challenging problems across many fields of science and engineering including semiconductor wafer inspection, nanoparticle sensing, material characterization, biosensing, virus counting, and microfluidic monitoring.1
Thousands of tons of ocean pollution can be saved by changing washing habitsA new study has revealed that almost 13,000 tonnes of microfibres, equivalent to two rubbish trucks every day, are being released into European marine environments every year—but this could be reduced by as much as 30% if we made a small change to our laundry habits.
Volcanic glass spray shows promise in controlling mosquitoesAn indoor residual spray made by combining a type of volcanic glass with water showed effective control of mosquitoes that carry malaria, according to a new study. The findings could be useful in reducing disease-carrying mosquito populations—and the risk of malaria—in Africa.
'Whispering gallery' effect controls electron beams with lightWhen you speak softly in one of the galleries of St Paul's cathedral, the sound runs so easily around the dome that visitors anywhere on its circumference can hear it. This striking phenomenon has been termed the 'whispering gallery' effect, and variants of it appear in many scenarios where a wave can travel nearly perfectly around a structure. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now harnessed the effect to control the beam of an electron microscope by light. The results were published in Nature.
Physicists create quantum-inspired optical sensorResearchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, joined by a colleague from Argonne National Laboratory, U.S., have implemented an advanced quantum algorithm for measuring physical quantities using simple optical tools. Published in Scientific Reports, their study takes us a step closer to affordable linear optics-based sensors with high performance characteristics. Such tools are sought after in diverse research fields, from astronomy to biology.
Uncovering the tricks of game changer antibiotic teixobactinUtrecht scientists have discovered how the powerful antibiotic teixobactin kills bacteria. Heralded as a breakthrough drug, the discovery of teixobactin marked a milestone for combating drug-resistant superbugs. However, the way teixobactin binds to its target was hitherto unknown. An international group, led by Dr. Markus Weingarth of Utrecht University, presents the structure of teixobactin 5 June in Nature Communications.
A new catalog of infrared dark cloudsInfrared dark clouds (IRDCs) are dark patches of cold dust and gas seen in the sky against the bright diffuse infrared glow of warm dust in our galaxy. These IRDCs, massive and rich in molecules, are natural sites for star birth—one of the main reasons why astronomers are actively studying them. IRDCs were first detected by two early space infrared missions, the Infrared Space Observatory and the Midcourse Space Experiment, but the IRAC camera on Spitzer revolutionized the field with its dramatically enhanced sensitivity and spatial resolution. IRAC had completed several surveys of the Milky Way before being shut off last February, and astronomers have been using the infrared images to identify and analyze the characteristics of IRDCs. The Submillimeter Array and ALMA facilities, operating with high sensitivity and resolution at submillimeter wavelengths where the cold molecular gas can be characterized, have enabled astronomers to follow up on these newly discovered sources and to determine the gas temperatures, densities and motions, leading to advances in our understanding of the earliest stages of star formation in these stellar nurseries.
Manipulating metals for adaptive camouflageMany species have naturally evolved remarkable strategies to visually adapt to their environments for protection and predation. Researchers have studied adaptive camouflaging in the infrared (IR) spectrum, although the method is highly challenging to develop in the lab. In a new report now published on Science Advances, Mingyang Li and a research team at the National University of Defense Technology in China, developed adaptive thermal camouflage devices that bridged the optical and radiative properties of nanoscopic platinum (Pt) and silver (Ag) electro-deposited Pt films. The metal-based devices maintained large, uniform, and consistent IR tunabilities in the mid-wave IR (MWIR) and long-wave IR (LWIR) atmospheric transmission windows (ATWs). The team multiplexed and enlarged the devices, allowing flexibility for camouflaging capabilities. The technology is advantageous across a variety of camouflage platforms and in many thermal radiation management technologies.
New study reveals cracks beneath giant, methane gushing cratersA paper published in Science in 2017 described hundreds of massive, kilometer-wide craters on the ocean floor in the Barents Sea. Today, more than 600 gas flares have been identified in and around these craters, releasing the greenhouse gas steadily into the water column. Another study, published the same year in PNAS, mapped several methane mounds, some 500 meters wide, in the Barents Sea. The mounds were considered to be signs of impending methane expulsions that created the craters.
Study links malaria risk in deforestation hotspots to demand for agricultural commoditiesA paper recently published in Nature Communications is the first to show a connection between demand from certain developed countries for agricultural commodities and the growing risk of malaria in the countries that supply those goods. The study was conducted by scientists affiliated with the School of Public Health of the University of São Paulo (FSP-USP) in Brazil and colleagues at the University of Sydney in Australia.
Scientists iron out the physics of wrinklingWhen we think of wrinkles, we usually envision the lines etched into our skin, for some an unwelcome reality and for others a proud sign of a life well-lived. In material science, wrinkles can also be either wanted or unwanted. But the physical factors that cause wrinkling to occur are not yet fully understood.
Replacement for PFAS found in soil in New JerseyA team of researchers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has found evidence of chloroperfluoropolyether carboxylates (ClPFPECAs) in New Jersey soils. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes their efforts to test for PFAS replacements and to identify the compounds they have found. Steve Gold and Wendy Wagner with Rutgers Law School have published a Policy Forum piece in the same journal issue outlining the history of PFAS use, its discontinuance, and the work by the team in New Jersey.1
Astronomers unveil the magnetic field of the solar coronaWhile the world has been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) have been hard at work studying the solar corona, the outermost atmosphere of the sun which expands into interplanetary space. This stream of charged particles radiating from the surface of the sun is called the solar wind and expands to fill the entire solar system.