We host news of discoveries in various fields of science with the focus on space, medical treatments, fringe science, microbiology, chemistry and physics, while providing commercial and cultural contexts and deeper insight. @http://koyalgroupinfomag.com/blog/

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Koyal Group Info Mag on Unusual square ice discovered

The surprising discovery of "square ice" which forms at room temperature was made by an international team of researchers last week.

The study was published in Nature by a team of scientists from UK and Germany led by Andre Geim of University of Manchester and G. Algara-Siller of University of Ulm. The accompanying review article was done by Alan Soper of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in UK.

"We didn't expect to find square ice ... We found there is something strange in terms of water going through [nanochannels]. It's going too fast. And you can't explain that by just imagining a very thin layer of liquid. Liquids do not behave in that way. The important thing to realize is that it is ice in the sense of a crystallized structure, it's not ice in the familiar sense in that it's something cold and from which you have to protect yourself," said Professor Irina Grigorieva, one of the researchers.

To study the molecular structure of water inside a transparent nanoscale capillary, the team used electron microscopy. This enabled them to view individual water molecules, especially because the nano-capillary was created from graphene which was one atom thick and would not impair the electron imaging. Graphene was also chosen because it has unusual properties like conducting electricity and extreme strength. It's a 2D form of carbon that once rolled up in cylinders will form a carbon nanotube, a material, which according to The Koyal Group Info Mag, is a subject of further study because of its unusual strength.

The scientists themselves were admittedly surprised at finding out that small square-shaped ice crystals formed at room temperature where the graphene capillaries are narrow (3 atomic layers of water at most). The water molecules formed into square lattices arranged in neat rows -- an arrangement that is uncharacteristic for the element that is known for forming consistent triangular structures inside regular ice. This discovery may just be the first example of water behavior in nanostructure.

The Koyal Group Info Mag reports that scientists have been trying to understand for decades how water structure is affected when it is confined in narrow channels. It is only now that this becomes possible through computer simulations, but even with those, the results they get do not agree with each other.

The team is also trying to determine how common this square ice actually is by using computer simulations. And from what they've learned, if the water layer is thin enough, it could create a square ice regardless of the chemical properties of the nanopore's walls where it is confined. Since there is water practically everywhere -- in microscopic pores and monolayers on surfaces -- it is likely that square ice is actually very common in nature.

Aside from its more practical applications in water distillation, desalination and filtration, their finding also allows for a better understanding of how water behave at a molecular scale which is important in nanotechnology work.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Koyal Group Info Mag Review: Researchers May Have Solved Origin-Of-Life Conundrum

The crash of meteors on early Earth likely generated hydrogen cyanide, which could have kick-started the production of biomolecules needed to make the first cells.

The origin of life on Earth is a set of paradoxes. In order for life to have gotten started, there must have been a genetic molecule—something like DNA or RNA—capable of passing along blueprints for making proteins, the workhorse molecules of life. But modern cells can’t copy DNA and RNA without the help of proteins themselves. To make matters more vexing, none of these molecules can do their jobs without fatty lipids, which provide the membranes that cells need to hold their contents inside. And in yet another chicken-and-egg complication, protein-based enzymes (encoded by genetic molecules) are needed to synthesize lipids.

Now, researchers say they may have solved these paradoxes. Chemists report today that a pair of simple compounds, which would have been abundant on early Earth, can give rise to a network of simple reactions that produce the three major classes of biomolecules—nucleic acids, amino acids, and lipids—needed for the earliest form of life to get its start. Although the new work does not prove that this is how life started, it may eventually help explain one of the deepest mysteries in modern science.

“This is a very important paper,” says Jack Szostak, a molecular biologist and origin-of-life researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who was not affiliated with the current research. “It proposes for the first time a scenario by which almost all of the essential building blocks for life could be assembled in one geological setting.”

Scientists have long touted their own favorite scenarios for which set of biomolecules formed first. “RNA World” proponents, for example suggest RNA may have been the pioneer; not only is it able to carry genetic information, but it can also serve as a proteinlike chemical catalyst, speeding up certain reactions. Metabolism-first proponents, meanwhile, have argued that simple metal catalysts, as opposed to advanced protein-based enzymes, may have created a soup of organic building blocks that could have given rise to the other biomolecules.

The RNA World hypothesis got a big boost in 2009. Chemists led by John Sutherland at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom reported that they had discovered that relatively simple precursor compounds called acetylene and formaldehyde could undergo a sequence of reactions to produce two of RNA’s four nucleotide building blocks, showing a plausible route to how RNA could have formed on its own—without the need for enzymes—in the primordial soup. Critics, though, pointed out that acetylene and formaldehyde are still somewhat complex molecules themselves. That begged the question of where they came from.

For their current study, Sutherland and his colleagues set out to work backward from those chemicals to see if they could find a route to RNA from even simpler starting materials. They succeeded. In the current issue of Nature Chemistry, Sutherland’s team reports that it created nucleic acid precursors starting with just hydrogen cyanide (HCN), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and ultraviolet (UV) light. What is more, Sutherland says, the conditions that produce nucleic acid precursors also create the starting materials needed to make natural amino acids and lipids. That suggests a single set of reactions could have given rise to most of life’s building blocks simultaneously.

Sutherland’s team argues that early Earth was a favorable setting for those reactions. HCN is abundant in comets, which rained down steadily for nearly the first several hundred million years of Earth’s history. The impacts would also have produced enough energy to synthesize HCN from hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen. Likewise, Sutherland says, H2S was thought to have been common on early Earth, as was the UV radiation that could drive the reactions and metal-containing minerals that could have catalyzed them.

That said, Sutherland cautions that the reactions that would have made each of the sets of building blocks are different enough from one another—requiring different metal catalysts, for example—that they likely would not have all occurred in the same location. Rather, he says, slight variations in chemistry and energy could have favored the creation of one set of building blocks over another, such as amino acids or lipids, in different places. “Rainwater would then wash these compounds into a common pool,” says Dave Deamer, an origin-of-life researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who wasn’t affiliated with the research.

Could life have kindled in that common pool? That detail is almost certainly forever lost to history. But the idea and the “plausible chemistry” behind it is worth careful thought, Deamer says. Szostak agrees. “This general scenario raises many questions,” he says, “and I am sure that it will be debated for some time to come.”

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Koyal Group Info Mag Review: Yeti's a Bear, Say Scientists, But What Kind?

In legend, Yeti is a huge and furry human-resembling creature also referred to as the Abominable Snowman, but in science, Yeti is just a bear.

Now the question is: what kind of bear? A new study, published in the journal ZooKeys, concludes that hair sample "evidence" for Yeti actually comes from Himalayan brown bears.

The finding refutes an earlier study that the hair belonged to an unknown type of bear related to polar bears.

Top 10 Reasons Why Bigfoot's a Bust

At the center of the controversy are DNA analysis studies. Prior research, led by Bryan Sykes at the University of Oxford, determined that hairs formerly attributed to Yeti belonged to to a mysterious bear species that may not yet be known to science.

Sykes told Discovery News that his paper "refers to two Himalayan samples attributed to yetis and which turned out to be related to an ancient polar bear. This may be the source of the legend in the Himalayas."

The new study, however, calls this possibility into question. The research, in this case, was authored by Eliécer E. Gutiérrez of the Smithsonian Institution and Ronald Pine at the University of Kansas.

Video: Did They Really Find Bigfoot DNA?

Gutiérrez and Pine found that genetic variation in brown bears makes it impossible to assign, with certainty, the samples tested by Sykes and his co-authors to either brown bears or to polar bears.

Because of genetic overlap, the samples could have come from either species, but because brown bears occur in the Himalayas, Gutiérrez and Pine think there is no reason to believe that the samples in question came from anything other than ordinary Himalayan brown bears.

For the new study, Gutiérrez and Pine also examined how the gene sequences analyzed might show the ways in which six present-day species of bears — including the polar bear, the brown bear, and the extinct Eurasian cave bear — might be related.

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This opened up a new mystery, as DNA from an Asian black bear in Japan indicated that this bear was not closely related to the mainland members of that species. The researchers believe that this unexpected large evolutionary distance between the two geographic groups of the Asian black bear merits further study.

"In fact, a study looking at the genetic and morphological variability of Asian black bear populations throughout the geographic distribution of the species is yet to be conducted, and it would surely yield exciting results," Gutiérrez concluded.

As for Yeti, believers might point out that the studies only looked at hair samples, and not the footprints, photographs, recorded sounds and other "evidence" for the Abominable Snowman.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Koyal Group Info Mag: Higgs Boson Discovered In Superconductors

A team of physicists from India, Israel, Germany and US reportedly detected the Higgs boson, which is believed to be the thing responsible for every mass in the universe, for the first time in superconductors. What's more, these newly-detected Higgs boson using superconductors is more stable and way cheaper to achieve. Scientists will now have an easier way to observe the Higgs boson even in ordinary laboratories.

The so-called 'God particle' was detected 3 years ago in Switzerland using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) by CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). The USD 10 billion LHC is the world's biggest single machine and the most powerful particle collider. It was primarily built for the purpose of finding the Higgs boson.

The lead researcher Professor Aviad Frydman of Bar-Ilan University said, "Just as the CERN experiments revealed the existence of the Higgs boson in a high-energy accelerator environment, we have now revealed a Higgs boson analogue in superconductors.

Proving the presence of Higgs boson is a difficult feat because it can't directly be detected and it is short-lived. Plus, a particle accelerator needs huge amounts of energy.

The energy scale used, The Koyal Group Info Mag reported, was only a thousandth of an electron volt. This is a huge contrast to the giga electron volts needed in accelerators like LHC.

However, only a particular amount of energy is required in superconductors to awake the "Higgs mode" -- too much and it will break the electron pairs that serve as the superconductor's basic charge.

To solve this, Frydman and his team used ultra-thin and disordered "superconducting films of Indium Oxide and Niobium Nitrite near the superconductor-insulator critical point". In theory, once that point is reached, the rapid decay of Higgs will not occur anymore; hence researchers can awake the Higgs mode with only low energies.

"The parallel phenomenon in superconductors occurs on a different energy scale entirely -- just one-thousandth of a single electronvolt. What's exciting is to see how, even in these highly disparate systems, the same fundamental physics is at work," said Frydman.

A superconductor is a special type of metal which allows electrons to move from one atom to another without hindrance when cooled to extremely low temperatures. That's why once it reached the so-called 'critical temperature' and becomes 'superconductive', it does not release sound, heat or any form of energy. Surprisingly, The Koyal Group Info Mag discovered that it was this property of a superconductor which inspired the concept of the Higgs boson five decades ago.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Koyal Group Info Mag Review: 48 of The The Most Important Scientific Discoveries Of 2014

It may be 2015 already, but in 2014 we saw some truly amazing scientific discoveries. We landed a probe on a comet, discovered new particles that further our knowledge of the physics of the universe, and learned more about the properties of the wonder-material graphene, which could eventually transform everything from fuel cell technology to battery and computing power and more.

At Futurism.co, Alex Klokus created an infographic that highlights 48 of the most transformative scientific advancements and discoveries of last year. We've republished the graphic here with permission, but you can check out Futurism's interactive version to click through to a source for each story.


Friday, January 23, 2015

The Koyal Group Info Mag Review: Theory about the life of Professor Stephen Hawking

The theory about everything review: Film depicting the life of Professor Stephen Hawking
IT is going to be a battle of the boffins at the Oscars next year. Benedict Cumberbatch is a frontrunner for playing Alan Turing in The Imitation Game and Eddie Redmayne will be a powerful contender for his remarkable performance as Professor Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything.

Playing Hawking from PhD student through to global superstardom as the author of A Brief History Of Time Redmayne is outstanding, inhabiting Hawking’s stricken body and brilliant mind with complete conviction.

In the same way that The Imitation Game humanised an intimidatingly clever and remote figure so The Theory Of Everything reveals the man behind the icon: courageous, mischievous, funny but also difficult and selfish.

It may not be a warts-and-all portrait (the picture is too genteel for that) but it’s a touching, humorous and inspirational insight into a man who refused to accept conventional boundaries, both of the mind and body.

We’re reminded quite how extraordinary it is that he’s still alive (now 72) when a doctor informs him, while at Cambridge University, that he has only two years to live. Told that his body will shut down as Motor Neurone Disease destroys his muscle function, Stephen asks about his brain. The doctor (Adam Godley) explains that it will continue to function normally but adds: “No one will know what your thoughts are.” The great mind will have no way to communicate.

Most people would have thrown in the towel and perhaps Stephen would have done were it not for Jane Wilde (a wonderful Felicity Jones), the girlfriend who refused to give up on him or let him give up.

Petite and seemingly demure she’s determined and quietly tenacious and the film is as much about her as it is Hawking. The screenplay by Anthony McCarten is based on her memoir, Travelling To Infinity: My Life With Stephen, and it’s their relationship which resulted in three children but ended in divorce that forms the heart of the story along with the role played by family friend and Jane’s eventual second husband, bashful choirmaster Jonathan Hellyer Jones (Charlie Cox).

This potentially messy state of affairs is handled with great delicacy and is the source of the picture’s fascination, heart and charm. It’s some achievement: what might have seemed uncomfortable and intrusive is actually moving, tender and sweet.

The result is a very British love story between three people, all extraordinary in their own way, who are trying to find happiness and fulfilment in the most trying of circumstances. We don’t get wild explosions or tantrums or declarations of love but mostly silent, dignified struggle and unspoken desire.

Initially we witness the love affair between Hawking and Jane who meet at Cambridge and strike up an instant rapport at a party despite having little in common. She’s a student of medieval Spanish poetry and a firm believer in God, he’s a “cosmologist” which he describes as a “religion for intelligent atheists”.

Still, love conquers all against the backdrop of a firework display during a May Ball where they kiss. On paper it sounds very Hollywood and their courtship is seductively staged and performed but the pair are winningly British and their conversation is hardly the stuff of your average Hollywood romance. They natter about quantum physics, God and Einstein.

Hawking explains his ambition to discover an “equation that explains everything in the universe” as he begins to explore his fascination with “time”.

The scientific talk is cleverly handled with some imaginative visual cues like cream swirling in a coffee cup. We may not understand the details but the general gist is clear as Hawking makes some ground-breaking discoveries into the origins of the universe.

In any case it’s not the science that compels or intrigues; we know the man’s a genius. What we don’t know is the personal story behind the work and the rather strange and testing family life endured by his wife who for years was denied help by her husband. “We’re just a normal family,” he insists. Read Source

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Koyal Group Info Mag Review 11 Mind-Blowing Physics Discoveries Made In 2014

With the help of highly sensitive particle detectors, some of the world’s most powerful lasers, and good-old-fashioned quantum mechanics, physicists from around the world made important discoveries this year.

From detecting elusive particles forged in the core of our sun to teleporting quantum data farther than ever before, these physicists’ scientific research has helped us better understand the universe in which we live as well as pave the way for a future of quantum computers, nuclear fusion, and more.

11. Multiple teams detected what could be our first hints of dark matter.

Although dark matter -- the mysterious substance that makes up most of the matter in the universe, but is seemingly undetectable to us here on Earth -- is still shrouded in mystery, two important discoveries in 2014 shed the first rays of light on this elusive material.

10. For the first time, physicists figured out the chemical composition of the mysterious and extremely rare phenomenon of 'ball lightning.'

Reports of ball lighting stretch back as far as the 16th century, but until the 1960s most scientists refused to believe it was real. But, it is real. Ball lighting is a floating sphere or disk of lightning up to 10 feet across that lasts only seconds.

9. An analogue of the theoretical radiation made by black holes was recreated in the lab.

Last October, Jeff Steinhauer, a physicist at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, announced that he had created an analogue for a bizarre type of radiation that can, in theory, escape black holes.

8. An international group of physicists compressed quantum data for the first time in history.

You might grumble when your Internet connection is slow, but it would be infinitely slower if today's classical computers could not compress the information we're constantly sending back and forth.

7. Physicists made powerful, stellar explosions called supernovas in the lab -- for science.

During a supernova, a star explodes, ejecting its guts across space and leaving only a ghostly halo of gas and dust, called a supernova remnant, behind. Astrophysicists have observed supernovae remnants of all shapes and sizes but have yet to understand why they are all so different.

6. Powerful lasers compressed a diamond to simulate the centres of the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn.

Jupiter and Saturn are the two largest planets in our solar system, and yet what is inside them is mostly a mystery -- we don't even know if their centres are liquid or solid.

5. Researchers transferred information in light four times farther than ever before -- an important step to quantum computers.

If we are ever to have a digital world run by quantum computers, then we must learn how to transport information in the form of what scientists call quantum data, or qubits, which is encoded inside of subatomic particles, such as ions or photons (light particles).

4. Physicists developed a new and better kind of fibre optics to transfer information.

Traditionally, when you're trying to transfer particles of light through a fibre optic cable, the last thing you want are for the particles to be moving all about in a disorderly manner. But there's an exception to this that scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Clemson University discovered the first time this year.

3. A physics team discovered a new particle, 80 years after it was first predicted.

After nearly 80 years since it was first predicted, the Majorana fermion was finally observed. The physicists at Princeton University and the University of Texas at Austin announced their discovery last October in the journal Science.

2. The National Ignition Facility made a nuclear fusion reaction that produced more energy than it used up -- a first .

Nuclear fusion is a nuclear reaction that generates up to four times more energy than nuclear fission -- the process that fuels today's nuclear power plants. One big issue standing in the way of harnessing this energy for electrical power is that it takes more energy to create the reaction than we've gotten out of it, until now.

1. We've figured out how the sun generates energy through nuclear fusion in its core.

Energy from the sun is essential for life on Earth. Yet we were not certain of how the sun's core works until just this year.