Cosmology – Hubble does it again: Another oldest galaxy | Is there no end to the universe? Trick question, of course, but the succession of ever older galaxies discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope is provocative. In the newest instance, the galaxy discovered is 13.2 billion light years away, which is the same as saying it is 13.2 billion years old. That puts it about 480 million years after the Big Bang.
[Nature online, Oldest galaxy is lone ranger]
Clean Transport – VW Hybrid achieves about 280 miles per gallon | There’s nothing like competitive pressure among engineers. Make a car that gets better mileage (sorry for the Americanism) than anybody else. It’s a wonderful competition for all concerned. In this case it is the wizards at Volkswagen (Germany) that developed a hybrid (electrical/internal combustion) vehicle that can achieve 100km per liter of fuel.
[The Engineer Blog, Hybrid concept car achieves record fuel economy]
Clean Transport – Split-cycle engine for 50% better fuel economy | The Scuderi Group, specialists in engine design, have announced a new angle on the split-cycle (4 cylinder, split into two pairs) engine that uses a compressor to capture engine heat-energy and achieve much greater fuel economy than similar engine designs.
[Popular Science, New Split-Cycle Engine Design Shown To Improve Fuel Economy by 50 Percent]
Neuroscience – The brain dumps data really fast | Here’s the punch line from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self- Organization (Göttingen, Germany): “Due to the high deletion rate [one bit of data per neuron second], information about sensory input signals can only be maintained for a few spikes. These new findings indicate that the dynamics of the cerebral cortex are specifically tailored to the processing of brief snapshots of the outside world.”
[Max Planck Institute, Out of mind in a matter of seconds]
Neuroscience – The brain reconnects as it grows | Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute (USA) are attempting to map all of the neural connections in the animal brain have discovered that these connections reform (change their switching pattern, so to speak) as the brain develops with age. The picture of the connectome, as they call it, provided some important surprises: Neurons actively seek out partner neurons; the seeking, however, doesn’t go to the neuron but instead to the axonal boutons that already have connections; it is important for future studies to not only consider how neurons grow, but also how other neurons are eliminated during the process.
[EurekAlert, Scripps Research study shows map of brain connectivity changes during development]
Nanomedicine – Nanoparticles created by peptides and growth-factor speed healing | A combination of keratinocyte growth factor and elastin-like peptides were show to self-assemble (fuse) into a nanoparticle that can be used to treat deep-seated wounds more effectively and less expensively than using growth-factor alone.
[EurekAlert, Growth-factor-containing nanoparticles accelerate healing of chronic wounds]
Synthetic Biology – Growing human liver tissue for transplants | Researchers at the University Medical Center (Hamburg, Germany) have successfully grown human liver cells on a synthetic scaffolding (supporting structure) that can be used for replacement tissue in damaged or failing livers. The results are now undergoing confirmation.
[EurekAlert, Scientists grow human liver tissue to be used for transplantation]