Science & Technology
Map


Beaker

A single molecule superconductor emerges under pressure

Three decades ago, researchers discovered that certain organic molecules become superconducting at low temperatures. This finding sparked numerous investigations into the properties of these lightweight, low-cost and easy-to-modify materials. Despite much recent progress, chemists remain puzzled by one aspect of these compounds: all known molecular superconductors need the cooperative action of two or more different molecular species to move electrons without resistance.
superconductivity
© 2014 American Chemical Society
The diamond anvil cell used to induce superconductivity in a single-component nickel–organic molecule.
HengBo Cui and Reizo Kato from the RIKEN Condensed Molecular Materials Laboratory in collaboration with Hayao Kobayashi and Akiko Kobayashi from Nihon University have now realized a crucial goal in the search for metal-like organic molecules by uncovering the first molecular superconductor containing only one component.

Superconducting organic crystals are designed around the principle of charge-transfer complexes, where strong interactions between distinct 'donor' and 'acceptor' components move electrons through normally insulating carbon bonds. By squeezing the charge-transfer structures together using diamond anvil cells - tools that allow crystals to be compressed at pressures of up to millions of atmospheres - resistance-free electrical transport can occur at temperatures near absolute zero.

The electron donors and acceptors in molecular superconductors are normally individual ionic compounds. However, Kobayashi's team has recently spearheaded investigations into metal - dithiolate complexes that contain a complete charge-transfer system in a single molecule. These crystals, in which a central gold or nickel acceptor atom is flanked on two sides by extended aromatic donor rings infused with sulfur atoms, have a high intrinsic conductivity and exhibit metallic behavior at low temperatures.
Cloud Lightning

World energy crisis solution? Russian scientists raising funds to rebuild Tesla Tower

tesla coil
© Reuters/Sheng Li
Two Russian physicists are fundraising to realize their project for wireless energy transmission once proposed by brilliant 20th-century scientist Nikola Tesla. Solar panels and an upgraded Tesla Tower could solve global energy hunger, they say.

Leonid and Sergey Plekhanov, graduates of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, claim they have spent years scrutinizing the Nikola Tesla's patents and diaries and they believe that with his most ambitious project - transcontinental wireless energy transmissions - Tesla came very close to unprecedented scientific discovery that could be brought to fruition.

The enthusiasts say they need about $800,000 to reconstruct the famous Wardenclyffe Tower once created by Tesla himself to implement his ideas and find a commercial application for his ideas on long-distance wireless energy transmission.

The Plekhanov brothers are raising money through IndieGogo kickstarter. The campaign will last until July 25. So far the project has managed to collect only 2 percent of the desired sum (about $18,000 out of the desired $800,000 as we publish this article).

According to the authors of the project, as of today all human civilization's electric energy needs could be covered with a single installation of solar panel measured approximately 316 by 316 kilometers (100,000 square kilometers altogether) positioned in a desert somewhere near the equator.

Gold Coins

Russia considers legalizing bitcoin

© AFP/Karen Bleier
The Bank of Russia has signaled it is ready to legalize the world's first mainstream cryptocurrency, despite the big risks and setbacks the digital money has experienced. The Bank's recognition means it can better regulate it, and even collect tax.

"We advocate a careful approach to bitcoin and are monitoring the situation along with the Bank for International Settlements," Gazeta.ru quotes Georgy Luntovsky, the Bank of Russia's Deputy Chairman speaking on Wednesday at the annual International Banking Congress in St. Petersburg.

"One can't ignore this instrument, maybe this is the future," Luntovsky added.

Mr. Luntovsky also said the Central Bank of Russia is studying bitcoins together with the government.

"Maybe at some time we'll take a decision about the legislative regulation of this question," he said.
Telescope

Hubble survey spots two new objects beyond Pluto

KBO's
© NASA, ESA, SwRI, JHUAPL, New Horizons KBO Search Team
The left image shows a KBO about 4 billion miles from Earth. Its position noticeably shifts between exposures taken approximately 10 minutes apart. The image at right shows a second KBO at a similar distance.
Scientists looking for targets beyond Pluto for NASA's New Horizon's spacecraft to visit will get more time on the Hubble Space Telescope, managers decided after a two-week pilot study revealed at least two candidate objects.

The New Horizons team had spent three fruitless years using ground-based telescopes to find a Kuiper Belt Object that will be within range of New Horizons after its July 14, 2015, flyby of Pluto. Last month, scientists got two weeks of observing time on Hubble for initial scans.

The deal was that if they found at least two candidates, they could have another 160 orbits worth of telescope time to ferret out a second suitable target for New Horizons.
Clipboard

Students prefer jolt of pain over sitting and thinking - study

© Zaneapostle.com
Report from psychologists at Virginia and Harvard Universities tackles question of why most of us find it so hard to do nothing

It was not so much how hard people found the challenge, but how far they would go to avoid it that left researchers gobsmacked.

The task? To sit in a chair and do nothing but think. So unbearable did some find it that they took up the safe but alarming opportunity to give themselves mild electric shocks in an attempt to break the tedium.

Two-thirds of men pressed a button to deliver a painful jolt during a 15-minute spell of solitude. One man - an outlier - found thinking so disagreeable he opted for a shock 190 times. Under the same conditions, a quarter of women pressed the shock button. The difference, scientists suspect, is that men tend to be more sensation-seeking than women.

The report from psychologists at Virginia and Harvard Universities is one of a surprising few to tackle the question of why most of us find it so hard to do nothing. In more than 11 separate studies, the researchers showed that people hated being left to think, regardless of their age, education, income or the amount they used smartphones or social media.

Comment: To learn more about how your brain works and to join the cognitive revolution, see the Cognitive Sciences discussion section of our forum.

Laptop

NSA labels all German Tor users as 'extremists'

© www.torproject.org
The NSA has been revealed to mark and consider potential "extremists" all users of the internet anonymizer service Tor. Among those are hundreds of thousands of privacy concerned people like journalists, lawyers and rights activists.

Searching for encryption software like the Linux-based operating system Tails also places you on the NSA grid, as Lena Kampf, Jacob Appelbaum and John Goetz revealed on the German site Tagesschau. The report is based on analysis of the source code of the software used by NSA's electronic surveillance program XKeyscore.

Tor is a system of servers, which routes user requests through a layer of secured connections to make it impossible to identify a user's IP from the addresses of the websites he/she visits. The network of some 5,000 is operated by enthusiasts and used by hundreds of thousands of privacy-concerned people worldwide. Some of them live in countries with oppressive regimes, which punish citizens for visiting websites they deem inappropriate.
Bulb

Hacker-proof Russian tablet disconnects communication modules and sensors on demand

russian hack proof tablet
© RIA Novosti / Sergey Mamontov
A prototype of a Russian tablet, built using the Android-derived operating system RoMOS for the Russian Defense Ministry, which is apparently one featuring a physical disconnection of communication modules described by the OS developer TsNII EISU.
A clever hacker can turn a modern mobile device into a spy, surveilling its owner. But there is a straightforward response to it. A new Russian tablet thwarts hackers by physically disconnecting communication modules and sensors on demand.

The blunt-but-effective approach may sound like overkill, but the developer, a Russian research institute specializing in creating communication systems and providing IT security solutions for the military hopes their potential clients would appreciate it.

The device, dubbed 'Rupad' by some media, is meant for the Russian armed forces, law enforcement agencies and secret services. The 'kill communications' button it features affects GPS, 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth modules, as well as its two cameras, microphone and even speaker, Deputy director for development at TsNII EISU, Dmitry Petrov, told RIA Novosti.
Galaxy

'I'm not real' - "Neutron Star" refutes its own existence

A team of scientists studying the x-ray emissions of a so-called neutron star tell us that the existing theoretical models cannot explain what they are seeing. Astronomers say that neutron stars are very small yet massively dense objects that spin at incredibly fast speeds with rotation periods no more than hundreds of seconds and sometimes faster than a dentist drill. However, according to new research, a so-called neutron star has been observed with a rotation period of 5.4 hours, an anomalously slow speed. The neutron star is also unusual in that it is paired to form a binary with a red giant and the magnetic field of the neutron star is incredibly strong. No one has ever seen a neutron star, and they are an inferred entity. Wal Thornhill weighs in with his thoughts regarding the Electric Universe model.

Info

Israeli's chemical scanner could change shopping

SCiO
© GizMag
The SCiO Pocket Molecular Sensor.
Tel Aviv - An Israeli inventor has created a scanner that he says could change the way we shop and take care of ourselves - by reading the chemical makeup of foods, drugs and other items we use.

The tiny gadget is still limited to a few key applications. But creator Dror Sharon envisions a machine that will compile a massive collection of data that will allow users to analyze the physical matter that exists around them.

"We wanted to find applications where people have the most visceral connection to the world," said Sharon, CEO and co-founder of Consumer Physics.

His gadget, called the SCiO, is an infrared spectrometer the size of a thumb drive. It is being marketed for three applications - food, pharmaceuticals and horticulture, or the health of plants. Simply by pointing and clicking a miniature digital wand, users can see how many calories are in a piece of cheese or determine when a tomato will reach peak ripeness.

Its name evokes the Latin verb "to know."

These features may seem more fun than life-changing at this point. But ultimately, advocates say, the SCiO could have life-saving uses, such as identifying contaminated foods or determining whether a drug is counterfeit.
Eye 1

Human stem cells lead to corneal regrowth, improved vision in mice

Eye
© Piotr Krzeslak/Thinkstock.com
In an exciting new study, researchers have discovered a way to collect cells for the regeneration of corneal tissue - the clear membrane covering the pupil that directs light into the back of the eye.

The research team from Boston reported that purified human stem cells were used to improve long-term vision in mice. Currently, the team is waiting for FDA-approval to begin patient clinical trials.

This collaborative research effort was led by Natasha Frank, MD, and Markus Frank, MD, using work done at Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Schepens Eye Research Institute, Boston Children's Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System.

In some people blood vessels grow onto the cornea, vision clouding known as corneal blindness results. This condition is caused when limbus stem cells, located behind the cornea, are destroyed by injury, infection or autoimmune disease. Outcomes are inconsistent, but limbal stem cell transplants from an uninjured eye or deceased organ donor have had promising results.

"Previously published work on limbal epithelial cell grafts showed that when more than three percent of transplanted cells were stem cells, transplants were successful - less than three percent and the transplants were not," said HSCI Affiliated Faculty member Natasha Frank.

"The question in the field then was whether we could enrich the limbal stem cells. But until this study there was no specific marker that could isolate these cells," added Frank.
Top