UA News Science & Technology
Updated: 24 min 21 sec ago
Describing the measurement of temperature across extremely tiny distances such as individual molecules, UA physicists have glimpsed a phenomenon mimicking the actions of Maxwell's Demon, a hypothetical figure in a thought experiment that seemingly defies the laws of thermodynamics. The research project and its unexpected results were several years in the making.
Three UA faculty members have been named Regents' Professors by the Arizona Board of Regents: Neal R. Armstrong in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, Hsinchun Chen in the Eller College of Management, and Xiaohui Fan in the department of astronomy. The title recognizes achievements of national or international distinction.
Applying newly developed analysis techniques to data obtained by NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1989, a team involving two UA planetary scientists discovered that weather phenomena on Uranus and Neptune are confined to the upper 680 miles of atmosphere instead of reaching deeper into the planets' interior as was previously thought.
NASA has granted final approval of the OSIRIS-REx sample return mission led by the UA. The target asteroid, uniquely interesting scientifically, is one of the most potentially hazardous objects known - it has a one-in-2,000 chance of colliding with Earth in the late 22nd century. The asteroid could hold clues to the origin of the solar system.
Taking before and after pictures of the Martian terrain, researchers with the UA-led HiRISE camera have identified nearly 250 fresh impact craters on the Red Planet. The results provide scientists with a better yardstick to estimate how frequently craters are blasted on Mars, allowing them to assess recently formed features with greater accuracy.
A new movement is under way to shift the way in which the UA engages its community partners in outreach initiatives funded by research grants. Where academics of the past sometimes limited their outreach projects, the move today is toward tailored, multi-year culturally responsive initiatives that serve a range of people throughout Arizona and beyond.
UA genomics experts have helped decipher the DNA of the carnivorous bladderwort. This genome is the smallest ever sequenced from a higher plant, and scientists say that nearly all of it - 97 percent - comprises genes that code for proteins, suggesting the majority of noncoding DNA may not be crucial for complex life.
The UA's Dennis Ray will lead the effort of breeding guayule, a rubber-producing plant suited for arid environments, to achieve higher yields and reduced harvest cycle time. Tech Launch Arizona, a technology commercialization center at the UA, assisted with the UA partnership with Yulex Corporation, which is providing the grant.
Using a DNA sequencing technique capable of deciphering all human genes at the same time, UA researchers have discovered genetic mutations underlying seizure disorders in previously undiagnosed children. Efforts are under way to establish a genomics diagnostic center at the UA and extend the capabilities to other areas such as cardiology, immunology and gastroenterology.
The UA-led OSIRIS-REx mission, set to launch in 2016, will scoop up a sample of an asteroid and return it to Earth in 2023. The NASA mission's target asteroid now has a new name - Bennu - the result of a naming contest won by a 9-year-old boy. He was inspired by the spacecraft's "heron-like" appearance. Bennu, an important avian deity in ancient Egypt, often was depicted as a heron.
The Ufree mobile application, created by UA student Stephen Ost and his collaborators, represents the next-generation of collaborative scheduling. Set to launch this summer, users will be able to submit their schedules and receive notifications when their friends are free to meet up.
Researchers at the UA's Tumamoc Hill have digitized 106 years of growth data on individual plants, making the information available for study by people all over the world. Knowing how plants respond to changing conditions over many decades provides new insights into how ecosystems behave.
With the 2015 sesquicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's death approaching, interest in it is rising, and with new scientific tools, UA researchers have turned their attention to one of the last remaining mysteries about what reportedly was the largest traditional funeral in American history - they have determined the precise color of the president's funeral railcar.
Hundreds of MESA after-school program students from across Arizona will compete for awards in a series of engineering and design competitions at the UA. One contest asks that students design a prosthetic arm for a fictional college-bound student, an exercise indicative of the program's goals to cultivate critical thinking while demonstrating how engineering and science are "helping" professions.
The UA spin-off company Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is building on systematic basic research by UA researchers that explored molecular mechanisms underlying tumor growth. The company is embarking on a clinical trial to prevent the occurrence of colorectal cancer or high-risk polyps in colon cancer survivors.
The UA is leading a national movement to track the annual rhythms of plants and animals and the ecological connections between them. This year, the USA National Phenology Network will host the first ever annual Phenology Day on April 20, a free public celebration of desert life cycles. The network has a strong focus on citizen science.
A new chemical process can transform waste sulfur into a lightweight plastic that may improve batteries for electric cars, reports a UA-led team. The new plastic has other potential uses, including in optics. The discovery could provide a new use for the sulfur left over when oil and natural gas are refined into cleaner-burning fuels.
Hardware from a Soviet spacecraft that went silent only seconds after making the first successful soft landing on Mars in 1971 might appear in images taken by the UA-operated HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Features in the images resemble the parachute, heat shield, terminal retrorocket and lander.
Decision-making centers in the brains of insects and mammals share too many similarities to have evolved independently, according to comparative studies led by UA neuroscientist Nick Strausfeld. Recognizing such similarities may help scientists better understand and treat diseases such as Parkinson's.
UA scientists welcome President Barack Obama's NASA budget proposal, specifically its focus on gaining a better understanding of asteroids that could potentially harm Earth. The UA operates the most prolific ground-based system for identifying near-Earth asteroids, and it is tasked by NASA with leading the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft mission to retrieve a sample from an asteroid.