Thursday, March 31, 2011


Artificial Leaf Turns Sunlight Into a Cheap Energy Source

"Nearly all the energy we use on this planet starts out as sunlight that plants use to knit chemical bonds. Now, for the first time, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created a potentially cheap, practical artificial leaf that does much the same thing. The new device is a silicon wafer about the shape and size of a playing card. Different catalysts coat each side of the wafer. The silicon absorbs sunlight and passes that energy to the catalysts to split water into molecules of hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2). Hydrogen is a fuel that can be either burned or used in a fuel cell to create electricity, reforming water in either case. This means that, in theory, anyone with access to water can use it to create a cheap, clean, and available source of fuel." Full news article @ Science

Friday, March 25, 2011


Going Viral: Exploring the Role Of Viruses in Our Bodies

"In the past decade, scientists have come to appreciate the vast bacterial world inside the human body. They have learned that it plays a role in regulating the energy we take in from food, primes the immune system, and performs a variety of other functions that help maintain our health. Now, researchers are gaining similar respect for the viruses we carry around." Full News Focus @ Science

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Aristotle as the first Systems Scientist...

A Talk with Armand Leroi

"For me, the answer is absolutely clear. It's Aristotle. And it's a surprising answer because even though I suppose some biologists might know, should they happen to read their fassier textbooks, that Aristotle was the Father of Biology, and he is usually given a little bit of credit for that. Most people would say, "Yes, he was the Father of Biology, but basically he got everything wrong." And that I think is a canard. I think it's completely untrue. The thing about Aristotle and this is why I love him, is that his thought was so systematic, so penetrated, and so vast, and yet he's undeniably a scientist." Full interview and video @ Edge 340

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Living Inspired

"Where does the inspiration for something new originate? For scientists and engineers, sometimes it appears in the cross-fertilization of known concepts from diverse fields or the rare flash of a new idea, but more often it comes from leveraging what is already known by building on things that work well. Increasingly, researchers are turning to nature for inspiration, by looking to organisms that do things we are unable to do on our own or do them better than we can—often functioning with an economical use of limited resources and energy. Animals that fly, explore deep under water, can see without light, or even stick to glass walls are all being studied with the hope of developing new materials, structures, or devices that may enhance our everyday lives.

Under the provocative and intriguing title of Bulletproof Feathers, Robert Allen (an engineer at the University of Southampton) brings together highlights from recent research in the broad areas of bioinspiration and biomimicry to explain, in simple terms, how physical scientists and engineers are increasingly using the study of the natural world as a starting point. " Full review @ Science

Friday, March 11, 2011


3D Reaction-Diffusion Patterns

"Spatially periodic, temporally stationary patterns that emerge from instability of a homogeneous steady state were proposed by Alan Turing in 1952 as a mechanism for morphogenesis in living systems and have attracted increasing attention in biology, chemistry, and physics. Patterns found to date have been confined to one or two spatial dimensions. We used tomography to study the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction in a microemulsion in which the polar reactants are confined to aqueous nanodroplets much smaller than the scale of the stationary patterns. We demonstrate the existence of Turing patterns that can exist only in three dimensions, including curved surfaces, hexagonally packed cylinders, spots, and labyrinthine and lamellar patterns." Full article @ Science

Thursday, March 10, 2011


From Signals to Patterns

"We now have a wealth of information about the molecular signals that act on cells in embryos, but how do the control systems based on these signals generate pattern and govern the timing of developmental events? Here, I discuss four examples to show how mathematical modeling and quantitative experimentation can give some useful answers. The examples concern the Bicoid gradient in the early Drosophila embryo, the dorsoventral patterning of a frog embryo by bone morphogenetic protein signals, the auxin-mediated patterning of plant meristems, and the Notch-dependent somite segmentation clock." Full paper @

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