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Virus Kills Food-Borne Bacteria

by Karin Heineman, Inside Science

While the food we buy may look safe, it’s the bacteria that we can’t see that make it unsafe to eat.

This year, one in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning.

It can cause serious health problems.  Washing and cooking food properly helps to prevent the spread of food-borne illness, but bacteria can still lurk on and inside food.

“It has many routes to get into not only food animal products but also things like leafy greens, and even processed foods,” said Paul Ebner, a microbiologist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

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Graphene-Based Artificial Retina Sensor Being Developed

Researchers at Germany’s Technical University of Munich are developing graphene sensors like the ones depicted above to serve as artificial retinas. The atom-thick sheet of linked carbon atoms is being used because it is thin, flexible, stronger than steel, transparent and electrically conductive. 

TUM physicists think that all of these characteristics and graphene’s compatibility with the body make it a strong contender to serve as the interface between a retinal prosthetic that converts light to electric impulses and the optic nerve. A graphene-based sensor could help blind people with healthy nerve tissue see, they say.

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Txch This Week: Internet Chatter Spots An Epidemic

by Annie Epstein

This week on Txchnologist, we watched MIT engineers move tiny metallic hairs using magnetic fields. The microhairs are made out of nickel mounted on stretchy silicone. Potential applications for the hairs include tunable waterproof coating, anti-glare applications and smart window coating that can control sun allowed into buildings.

Australian National University researchers manipulated wave frequencies and amplitudes to control the movement of particles on the surface of water. The researchers discovered ways to move objects against the direction of a wave. This research could help contain oil spills and even move small boats.

Japanese chemist Yosuke Okamura and his team have created a flexible, sticky coating called nanosheets that is similar to plastic wrap and, when applied to burns, creates a barrier against potentially fatal bacterial infections. The nanosheets can stick without adhesive and are made with a biodegradable polyester called poly(L-lactic acid), or PLLA.

Finally, using nanoscopic pillars of a polyurethane and adhesive mix, researchers at the University of Michigan have created a watermark only visible when a person breathes on it. Soon we’ll be fighting counterfeiting one breath at a time.

Now we’re bringing you the news we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.

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New Technique Lets Scientists See Through Whole Organisms

by Michael Keller

Seeing is believing when it comes to understanding how organisms work. For biologists trying to learn about what’s going on inside a body, one of the biggest obstacles is not being able to put their eyeballs on a part or system without other objects getting in the way. The answer is usually going in with one invasive tool or another, which ends up damaging or destroying the thing they’re trying to investigate. 

Now California Institute of Technology scientists say they have improved upon a solution to clearing up the picture. The technique builds on work that garnered widespread attention last year. In that effort, assistant professor of biology Viviana Gradinaru and her team used detergent and a polymer to make a rodent brain transparent for study in unprecedented detail. 

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