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Motor oil of the future may come from veggies

Vegetable oil similar to the stuff you use to cook your food may one day fill your car?s engine. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have developed a chemically modified version of the edible oil that shows promise as a cleaner, renewable alternative to petroleum-based motor oil, while enhancing its protective properties. Veggie motor oil could eventually be produced cheaper than petroleum-based oil and may help reduce this country?s dependence on foreign oil, the researchers say.

Optical trap provides new insights into motor molecules

When it comes to nanotechnology, many researchers turn to nature for inspiration. Of particular interest to nanoengineers is the naturally occurring protein kinesin – one of several ”motor molecules” that facilitate movement in living cells. A mere ten-millionth of an inch long, kinesin is the workhorse of the cell, hauling chromosomes, neurotransmitters and other vital cargo along tiny tracks called ”microtubules.” While one end of a kinesin molecule holds onto its cargo, the other end uses a strange two-headed structure to grab the microtubule and pull the cargo forward.