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Protein ‘filmed’ while unfolding at atomic resolution

Protein ‘filmed’ while unfolding at atomic resolution | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

When proteins get “out of shape”, the consequences can be fatal. They lose their function and in some cases form insoluble, toxic clumps that damage other cells and can cause severe diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Göttingen – in collaboration with Polish colleagues – have now “filmed” how a protein gradually unfolds for the first time. By combining low temperatures and NMR spectroscopy, the scientists visualized seven intermediate forms of the CylR2 protein while cooling it down from 25°C to - 16°C. Their results show that the most instable intermediate form plays a key role in protein folding. The scientists’ findings may contribute to a better understanding of how proteins adopt their structure and misfold during illness.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Radiocarbon Dating: Nature's Timepiece Gets a Tune-Up

Radiocarbon Dating: Nature's Timepiece Gets a Tune-Up | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

It’s relatively easy for scientists to see the signature of droughts and other climate events in the prehistoric past by digging into underground or seafloor sediments, or drilling into ancient ice. In order to say exactly when these events happened, though, you need a reliable natural dating method, and even the best of these is flawed.

 

However, one of the most familiar of these timelines, known as radiocarbon dating, just got a lot more precise. According to a paper published in the journal Science, measurements from the bottom of Japan’s Lake Suigetsu have allowed scientists to improve the technique dramatically.

 

Now, thanks to those lake sediments, scientists can narrow that range down to just 10 years or less -- but only if the sample is between 11,000 and 53,000 years old. Younger and there hasn't been enough breakdown in the radioactive carbon. Older, and the lake's sediments don't go back that far.

 

This impressive achievement comes thanks to Lake Suigetsu’s calm waters, and also from the lucky fact that the plant matter that drifts into the water and sinks to the bottom is light-colored in winter and dark in summer. The result: alternating layers under the lake bottom that make it easy to identify every year, one after the other, going well back into the last Ice Age.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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New report outlines trends in U.S. global competitiveness in science and technology

New report outlines trends in U.S. global competitiveness in science and technology | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

The United States remains the global leader in supporting science and technology (S&T) research and development, but only by a slim margin that could soon be overtaken by rapidly increasing Asian investments in knowledge-intensive economies.


Via Sakis Koukouvis
mdashf's insight:

Is this the answer why USA is a pioneer in innovation when its maths and science standing are not the top 1? Could be, see in the end its what kind of employment you are creating not what basic education level you have as there could be a time lag during which you can pick up your level to a higher one if you are in th right environ !!

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Entrepreneur receives funding for 'tornado' power generator

Entrepreneur receives funding for 'tornado' power generator | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Electrical engineer and entrepreneur Louis Michaud's AVEtec company has received funding from PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel's Breakout Labs program to build an experimental Atmosphere Vortex Engine (AVE). The $300,000 in startup funds is to go towards building a working engine to dispel or prove the viability of using such technology to produce electricity with virtually no carbon footprint.

 

Michaud's idea is to use a fan to blow some of the excess heat produced by conventional power plants, into a cylindrical hollow tower, at an angle. Doing so should create a circular air current, which he says will grow stronger as it moves higher. The higher it goes the more energy it draws due to differences in temperature. The result would be a controlled man-made tornado. To put it to good user, turbines would be installed at the base of the vortex to create electricity. The original test will be conducted at Lambton College in Ontario – the tower will be 131 feet tall with a 26 foot diameter. That should be enough to create a vortex about a foot in diameter – enough to power a small turbine. It's just a proof of concept, Michaud notes on his site, a real-world tower would be about 25 meters in diameter, and would be capable of producing up to 200 megawatts of power using only the excess heat generated by a conventional 500 megawatt plant. Power goes up geometrically, he says, as the size of tower grows. He adds that the cost of producing electricity this way would be about 3 cents per kilowatt hour, well below the typical 4 or 5 cents for coal plants.

 

Michaud has been investigating the idea of harnessing the power of tornado's to provide electricity for several decades but until now has had problems being taken seriously by venture capitalists. He adds that his company built and successfully tested an AVE prototype in 2009, hinting that he has no doubts that the new tower and turbines will work as advertised.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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The world's longest high-speed rail line enters operation in China

The world's longest high-speed rail line enters operation in China | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

China is currently expanding its high-speed rail network across the vast country and has now officially opened the world's longest high-speed rail route, linking the capital Beijing with the southern commercial hub of Guangzhou. Trains will initially travel at 300km/h (187mph), more than halving travel time.

 

A Chinese official has described the route - parts of which were already in operation - as "one of the most technically advanced in the world". The 2,298km route will have 35 stops. They include such major cities as Wuhan and Changsha. The previously 22-hour journey will now take less than 10 hours. The decision was taken to start the passenger service on 26 December to commemorate the birth of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong, state media said.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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