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Transparent Carbon Ribbons Keep Glass Ice-Free

Chemists have developed a clear coating for glass that can keep ice from forming on it. Their material is composed of tiny strips of the atom-thick sheets of linked carbon atoms called graphene and a thin topcoat of polyurethane to protect them.

The result is a see-through layer 250 times thinner than a human hair that heats when electricity is applied. The Rice University researchers say the graphene-packed material could be used on windshields, radar domes and building windows to prevent ice and fog from sticking. It also opens up the possibility of future windows with invisible graphene-based electronic circuits directly on or in the glass.

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New “Incredibly Potent” Antibiotic Made By Altering Workhorse Medicine

by Michael Keller

An antibiotic whose effectiveness has been on the wane in recent years after bacteria started developing resistance to it might get a new lease on life thanks to some serious chemistry work. 

Vancomycin, an antibiotic derived from a soil-dwelling bacterium originally found in Borneo, has been used to treat a range of bacterial infections over the last 56 years. It works by latching onto bacterial cell walls and preventing them from sealing closed. This leaves the microbes leaky and unable to survive. The drug has been used successfully to treat infections by bacteria that had developed resistance to other antibiotics.

But since at least the late 1980s, several types of bacteria have been evolving defenses against the drug. All that it takes for the microorganism to develop resistance is an alteration in a single amino acid in the cell wall for the drug to be much less successful at binding to it. That alteration has shown up in several bacterial species within the genera Enterococcus and Staphylococcus, two common sources of debilitating or fatal infections around the world.

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science tech optics engineering invisable cloak surgery transportation lens focal_point

Cloaking System Could Make Blind Spots, Surgeons’ Hands Disappear

by Michael Keller

Scientists investigating the principles of how light behaves have developed a simple way to make objects disappear right before your eyes. It’s not magic; it’s optics.

University of Rochester researchers have used a set of lenses to manipulate focal lengths and create a region that is invisible when peering through the looking glass. They set up four lenses in a way that maintains cloaking in the region even when viewed from several degrees off of straight on.

The team says their system is the first to offer flexibility in viewing angles with a simple, inexpensive design.

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Gourds Of War: Pumpkin-Chucking Machines Put Physics In Action

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by Michael Keller

The leaves have started changing in the northern latitudes. Crops are coming in from the fields and harvest festivals are popping up on the season’s calendar in many communities. Smells of cinnamon and nutmeg are beginning to waft out of bakeries and breweries.

Autumn is in the air and nothing says fall has arrived like throwing squashes hundreds or thousands of feet across an empty field. The event is called pumpkin chucking (or punkin chunkin, as some rhyme-focused adherents like to say), and it now attracts thousands of competitors and spectators at international events every year.

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