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  • News in Brief

    Using laser tweezers, chemists nudged two atoms to bond

    For the first time, researchers have played matchmaker between two specific atoms, joining them together to form a molecule.

    Typically, chemists make molecules by mixing up many constituent atoms, some of which stick to each other to form the desired compounds. In the new, supercontrolled chemical reaction, researchers trapped a single sodium atom in one optical tweezer — a device that...

    04/12/2018 - 14:00 Chemistry, Technology
  • News in Brief

    Toxic chemicals turn a new material from porous to protective

    PHOENIX — A new, breathable material that can also block biological or chemical threats could offer comfortable protection for people working in contaminated environments or dangerous military zones.

    The bottom layer of the material, described April 3 at the Materials Research Society spring meeting, features carbon nanotube pores embedded within a flexible synthetic polymer film. These...

    04/05/2018 - 08:00 Materials, Chemistry
  • News

    Birds get their internal compass from this newly ID’d eye protein

    Birds can sense Earth’s magnetic field, and this uncanny ability may help them fly home from unfamiliar places or navigate migrations that span tens of thousands of kilometers.

    For decades, researchers thought iron-rich cells in birds’ beaks acted as microscopic compasses (SN: 5/19/12, p. 8). But in recent years, scientists have found increasing evidence that certain proteins in birds’...

    04/03/2018 - 07:00 Genetics, Chemistry, Animals
  • News

    How honeybees’ royal jelly might be baby glue, too

    Honeybee royal jelly is food meant to be eaten on the ceiling. And it might also be glue that keeps a royal baby in an upside-down cradle.

    These bees raise their queens in cells that can stay open at the bottom for days. A big blob of royal jelly, abundantly resupplied by worker bees, surrounds the larva at the ceiling. Before the food is deposited in the cell, it receives a last-minute...

    04/02/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Chemistry
  • News

    Toxins from the world’s longest animal can kill cockroaches

    Bootlace worms with spooky-stretchy bodies secrete a family of toxins new to scientists. These compounds might inspire novel ways to attack pests such as cockroaches.

    Tests first identified the toxins in mucus coating a bootlace species that holds the record as the world’s longest animal, says pharmacognosist Ulf Göransson of Uppsala University in Sweden. This champion marine worm (...

    03/30/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Chemistry
  • News

    ‘Nanobot’ viruses tag and round up bacteria in food and water

    NEW ORLEANS — Viruses engineered into “nanobots” can find and separate bacteria from food or water.

    These viruses, called bacteriophages or just phages, naturally latch onto bacteria to infect them (SN: 7/12/03, p. 26). By tweaking the phages’ DNA and decking them out with magnetic nanoparticles, researchers created a tool that could both corral bacteria and force them to reveal...

    03/27/2018 - 11:36 Microbiology, Chemistry, Health
  • News

    How bees defend against some controversial insecticides

    Honeybees and bumblebees have a way to resist toxic compounds in some widely used insecticides.

    These bees make enzymes that help the insects break down a type of neonicotinoid called thiacloprid, scientists report March 22 in Current Biology. Neonicotinoids have been linked to negative effects on bee health, such as difficulty reproducing in honeybees (SN: 7/26/16, p 16). But bees...

    03/22/2018 - 14:41 Toxicology, Chemistry, Conservation
  • News

    Extreme cold is no match for a new battery

    A new type of battery can stand being left out in the cold. 

    This rechargeable battery churns out charge even at –70° Celsius, a temperature where the typical lithium-ion batteries that power many of today’s cell phones, electric cars and other devices don’t work. Batteries that withstand such frigid conditions could help build electronics that function in some of the coldest places on...

    03/02/2018 - 07:00 Chemistry, Materials, Technology
  • News

    Household products make surprisingly large contributions to air pollution

    AUSTIN, Texas — To reduce your impact on air quality, you might expect to trade in your gas-guzzling clunker of a car — but you can also unplug those air fresheners. 

    In urban areas, emissions from consumer goods such as paint, cleaning supplies and personal care products now contribute as much to ozone and fine particulate matter in the atmosphere as do emissions from burning gasoline...

    02/15/2018 - 14:00 Chemistry, Pollution
  • News

    5 ways the heaviest element on the periodic table is really bizarre

    The first 117 elements on the periodic table were relatively normal. Then along came element 118.

    Oganesson, named for Russian physicist Yuri Oganessian (SN: 1/21/17, p. 16), is the heaviest element currently on the periodic table, weighing in with a huge atomic mass of about 300. Only a few atoms of the synthetic element have ever been created, each of which survived for less than a...

    02/12/2018 - 09:00 Physics, Chemistry