Scientists Grow Nano Blood Vessels

Traditional heart bypass surgeries require using veins from the leg to replace damaged blood vessels. Using a nanotechnology developed by Virginia Commonwealth University researchers, doctors soon could be using artificial blood vessels grown in a laboratory to help save half a million lives every year. The new technology produces a natural human blood vessel grown around a scaffold, or tube, made of collagen. Using a process called electrospinning, VCU scientists are making tubes as small as one millimeter in diameter. That’s more than four times smaller than the width of a drinking straw and six times smaller than the smallest commercially available vascular graft.

FDA approves wheelchair by Segway inventor Kamen

IbotThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the sale of a new wheelchair that enables users to operate on two wheels, allowing them to better negotiate obstacles like stairs and uneven pavement. Powered by a rechargeable battery that can operate up to a full day on a single charge, the wheelchair uses an integrated system of electronic, sensor and software components to automatically adjust itself according to the seat’s movement and the user’s center of gravity. These components are accompanied by a backup system to assure the safety of the user. It was invented by Dean Kamen, founder of DEKA Research and Development Corporation, best known for the two-wheeled Segway transporter.

NASA uses ‘extremophile’ microbes to grow nanostructures

NASA scientists have invented a biological method to make ultra-small structures that could be used to produce electronics 10 to 100 times smaller than today’s components. As part of their new method, scientists use modified proteins from ‘extremophile’ microbes that live in near-boiling, acidic hot springs to grow mesh-like structures so small that an electron microscope is needed to see them.
“Our innovation takes advantage of the innate ability of proteins to form into ordered structures and for us to use genetic engineering to change nature’s plans, transforming these structures into something useful,” said one of the project’s lead researchers.

Accidental finding could lead to full-spectrum solar cell

Researchers have found that the electrical properties of the semiconductor indium nitride are different from what been previously thought — by a wide margin. The result is that an alloy incorporating the material can convert virtually the full spectrum of sunlight — from the near infrared to the far ultraviolet — to electrical current. “It’s as if nature designed this material on purpose to match the solar spectrum,” said one researcher involved.

Exceptionally Bright Eruption on Io Rivals Largest in Solar System

Routine monitoring of volcanic activity on Jupiter’s moon Io has turned up the largest eruption to date on Io’s surface or in the solar system. The eruption took place in February 2001, though image analysis was only recently completed by a team of University of California, Berkeley, astronomers. Their results are published in the November issue of the planetary sciences journal Icarus. “The Surt eruption appears to cover an area of 1,900 square kilometers, which is larger than the city of Los Angeles and even larger than the entire city of London,” said the lead researcher. “The total amount of energy being released by the eruption is amazingly high, with the thermal output from this one eruption almost matching the total amount of energy emitted by all of the rest of Io, other volcanoes included.”

Image shows Mars glows in X-rays

This image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory has given scientists their first look at X-rays from Mars. In the sparse upper atmosphere of Mars, about 75 miles above its surface, the observed X-rays are produced by fluorescent radiation from oxygen atoms. X-rays from the Sun impact oxygen atoms, knock electrons out of the inner parts of their electron clouds, and excite the atoms to a higher energy level in the process. The atoms almost immediately return to their lower energy state and may emit a fluorescent X-ray in this process with an energy characteristic of the atom involved ? oxygen in this case. A similar process involving ultraviolet light produces the visible light from fluorescent lamps.

Researchers Develop Chemical Switch to Control Biomolecular Motor

Researchers have created a tiny motor that they can turn on and off at will, bringing scientists one step closer to using such devices to repair cellular damage, manufacture medicines and attack cancer cells. As reported in this month’s Nature Materials, the researchers have developed a chemical switch that gives them control over a biomolecular motor just 11 nanometers, or 11 billionths of a meter, in size ? hundreds of times smaller than the width of a human hair.

Ultracold Gas Shows Strange Behavior

Researchers have created an ultracold gas that has the startling property of bursting outward in a preferred direction when released. According to the scientists, studying the properties of the “lopsided” gas could yield fundamental insights into how matter holds itself together at the subatomic level. Also, the research team leader said their data suggests the possibility that the gas is exhibiting a never-before-seen kind of superfluidity — a property in which matter at extremely low-temperatures behaves in unusual ways

Magnetic processes in space can accelerate electrons to near light speed

A chance observation of high-energy electrons emanating from a tiny region of space where the sun and Earth’s magnetic fields intertwine provides the first solid evidence that a process called magnetic reconnection accelerates electrons to near the speed of light in the Earth’s magnetosphere and perhaps throughout the universe where magnetic fields entangle.

Tapping Probe and Organic Films Could Store Data by the Terabit

Imagine having all of the information recorded on a stack of 1,540 CDs on a disk the size of a single CD. Or visualize having all of the information recorded on a stack of 154 CDs written on a one-inch square chip. New probe microscopy techniques and new organic materials could be combined in next generation data storage technology for unprecedented data density.

Experiment could reveal ‘extra dimensions,’ exotic forces

Physicists have devised a new experiment that will be used in the quest for exotic forces in nature and “additional spatial dimensions.” The researchers have shown what they say is a new way to measure a phenomenon known as the Casimir effect ? findings that also could have implications for the design of microscopic machines that contain tiny parts on the size scale of nanometers ? or billionths of a meter. The Casimir effect, predicted in 1948 by Dutch physicist Hendrick Casimir, is a force that pushes together two plates of metal placed near each other in empty space ? or a vacuum. The closer the plates are to each other, the stronger the force.