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[May 9th, 2018] Sci-Tech News Megapack

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    [May 9th, 2018] Sci-Tech News Megapack

    It's been a while since I did one of these. I have some AI/ML stories too, but those are going in the neglected AI thread.

    New CRISPR technology 'knocks out' yeast genes with single-point precision

    The CRISPR-Cas9 system has given researchers the power to precisely edit selected genes. Now, researchers have used it to develop a technology that can target any gene in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and turn it off by deleting single letters from its DNA sequence.

    Such genome-scale engineering - in contrast to traditional strategies that only target a single gene or a limited number of genes - allows researchers to study the role of each gene individually, as well as in combination with other genes. It also could be useful for industry, where S. cerevisiae is widely used to produce ethanol, industrial chemicals, lubricants, pharmaceuticals and more.

    Understanding and optimizing the genome could create yeast strains with increased productivity, said study leader Huimin Zhao, a University of Illinois professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and a member of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the U. of I. Zhao's group published the new findings in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
    Precision measurement of the proton's weak charge narrows the search for new physics

    A new result from the Q-weak experiment at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility provides a precision test of the weak force, one of four fundamental forces in nature. This result, published recently in Nature, also constrains possibilities for new particles and forces beyond our present knowledge.

    "Precision measurements like this one can act as windows into a world of potential new particles that otherwise might only be observable using extremely high-energy accelerators that are currently beyond the reach of our technical capabilities," said Roger Carlini, a Jefferson Lab scientist and a co-spokesperson for the Q-weak Collaboration.

    While the weak force is difficult to observe directly, its influence can be felt in our everyday world. For example, it initiates the chain of reactions that power the sun and it provides a mechanism for radioactive decays that partially heat the Earth's core and that also enable doctors to detect disease inside the body without surgery.
    Revealing the mysteries of superconductors: Team's new scope takes a closer look

    The U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory has successfully demonstrated that a new type of optical magnetometer, the NV magnetoscope, can map a unique feature of superconductive materials that along with zero resistance defines the superconductivity itself.

    That unique feature is the Meissner effect, which is the expulsion of the magnetic field during a material's transition to a superconducting state.

    "The Meissner effect is the hallmark signature of a true superconductor, which separates it from a hypothetical perfect metal with zero resistance," said Ruslan Prozorov, an Ames Laboratory physicist who is an expert in superconductivity and magnetism at low temperatures. "That is fine in textbooks and in principle, but in real superconducting materials the Meissner effect is quite complicated. Robust screening of a magnetic field by a superconducting sample and Meissner expulsion upon cooling in a magnetic field can be confused. This effect is actually very weak and fragile and difficult to observe."

    Until now, physicists have been able to observe the Meissner effect, but were unable to visualize its spatial distribution in the material and how that might vary between different superconducting compounds. Now it is possible to map unique and distinguishing features of the Meissner effect, using a very sensitive magnetoscope that takes advantage of the quantum state of a particular kind of an atomic defect, called nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers, in diamond.
    Unexpected behaviour of atom clouds challenges existing theories

    Experiments with ultra-cold atoms at the TU Wien have shown surprising results: coupled atom clouds synchronize within milliseconds. This effect cannot be explained by standard theories.

    When atoms are cooled down to almost zero temperature, their properties change completely. They can turn into a Bose-Einstein-Condensate, an ultra-cold state of matter, in which the particles lose their individuality and can only be described collectively – as one single quantum object.

    At TU Wien (Vienna), clouds of ultra-cold atoms have been studied for years. They are a perfect model system to study fundamental questions of many-particle quantum physics. Now the research team of Professor Jörg Schmiedmayer (Institute of Atomic and Subatomic Physics, TU Wien) has found remarkable results which cannot be explained by any of the existing theories. When two ultra-cold quantum gases are coupled, they can synchronize spontaneously, oscillating in perfect unison after just a few milliseconds. This means that textbook theories about Bose-Einstein-Condensates have to be revisited. The results have now been published in the journal Physical Review Letters.
    The Milky Way's Speediest Stars Could Solve a 50-Year-Old Mystery

    Ken Shen was racing against the sun. It was 3 A.M. on April 25 and Shen—an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley—was sitting at his kitchen table in his pajamas. At that precise moment the scientists behind the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft released the mission’s second batch of data. And Shen was on a mission to comb that data to find the Milky Way’s fastest-moving stars, then to verify their identities via independent observations on ground-based telescopes. With 30 minutes to go before the sun’s glare started to hit the west coast, Shen managed to find his first target and send its coordinates along to a collaborator at the Lick Observatory near San Jose.

    But he could not crawl back into bed. For the next 24 hours Shen and his colleagues scoured the Gaia data for a handful of candidates to observe with telescopes in South Africa, the Canary Islands, Arizona and California. After a week of careful analysis the researchers were certain they had found three of our galaxy’s fastest stars. Not that they were only interested in speed: such rapid-moving stars were the smoking-gun evidence Shen was seeking for his novel theory of how certain stars explode. On April 30 the team posted their results to the preprint server arXiv and submitted them to The Astrophysical Journal for peer-reviewed publication.
    Intel to preserve Moore's Law with startup land's fresh young blood

    Moore's Law ain't dead yet, but Intel needs startups to keep it alive.

    For several years, observers have noted that straight line predicting the doubling of transistors per chip has slowly bent downwards.

    It hasn’t helped that Intel itself found it hard to shift from 14nm to 10nm production – recently announcing that it will finally come in 2019.

    But that slowdown could be a blip if a range of upstart companies deliver on their promise, which Intel has backed by tossing them some venture funding and expertise.

    "We are the eyes and ears of Intel," explained Wendell Brooks, the head of Intel's investment arm Intel Capital. "We are looking five to ten years down the road."
    Allen Integrated Cell is a powerful tool for visualizing biology in 3D

    What does a cell look like? If you had to draw one, you’d probably do the usual thing: a sort of fried egg with a nucleus yolk and a couple of ribosomes peppered around, maybe a rough endoplasmic reticulum if you’re fancy. But cells are vastly more complicated than that, not to mention three-dimensional. Allen Integrated Cell is a new tool that lets anyone visualize cells the way they actually exist in the body.

    It’s from the Allen Institute for Cell Science, a Seattle research outfit founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen . The institute has been doing research in this direction for some time, but today is the first public release of the Integrated Cell program, which you can try on the web right here.

    The application is focused on stem cells specifically. The 3D models aren’t just based on theory but on direct recording and observation done in-house. There are dozens of cell types, and you can toggle the visibility of numerous proteins and substances that make up the cell.
    Last edited by Rusakov; 05-09-2018, 08:42 PM. Reason: added an additional link.
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