news 2017



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Health - Chemistry - 27.12.2017
Which Imperial research papers topped the charts in 2017?
Harvesting energy from our movements and a method for determining the composition of cement were two of the most widely downloaded papers in 2017. Spiral - Imperial College London's open access repository - allows academics to make journal articles and other research outputs open access, meeting the requirements of the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Computer Science - Chemistry - 26.12.2017
Five AI breakthroughs that could change the face of science
Following years of research, AI is starting to have an impact on the way science is done, as these five Imperial studies from 2017 show. Barely a week has gone by in 2017 without warnings in the media about how Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics is threatening to make all human workers redundant.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 13.12.2017
Even wild mammals have regional dialects
Researchers from Cardiff University's Otter Project have discovered that genetically distinct populations of wild otters from across the UK have their own regional odours for communicating vital information to each other. The findings could have implications for wild mammal conservation efforts. The study, which profiled chemical secretions from the Eurasian otter, suggests that genetically distinct populations of wild mammals have different odour dialects, which may have been driven by geographical separation.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 28.11.2017
Complications at birth associated with lasting chemical changes in the brain
New King's College London research, published today in eLife , shows that adults born prematurely - who also suffered small brain injuries around the time of birth - have lower levels of dopamine in the brain. This chemical change has been linked to lack of motivation and enjoyment in normal life, and changes to attention and concentration, which could all be early signs of more serious mental health issues such as substance dependence and depression.

Chemistry - Health - 09.11.2017
Fatty molecule in human blood controls malaria parasites’ decision to leap to mosquitoes
Depletion of a fatty molecule in human blood propels malaria parasites to stop replicating and causing illness in people and instead to jump ship to mosquitoes to continue the transmission cycle, according to a new study by an international research team co-led by the University of Glasgow. The discovery, published online in Cell, answers a longstanding question about what controls this critical step in the life cycle of Plasmodium falciparum , the parasite responsible for about half a million malaria deaths worldwide each year.

Earth Sciences - Chemistry - 18.10.2017
48-million-year-old wax discovered in a bird fossil
Researchers have analysed a well-preserved preening gland in a 48-million-year-old bird fossil and discovered original oil and wax molecules within it. The fossil is from the famous Messel locality in Germany, well known to preserve birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, insects and leaves with exceptional details.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 12.10.2017
Dealing with disaster - when rooted to the spot
When nature turns nasty plants can't run for cover, they have had to evolve to survive what the environment throws at them. Whether that's drought, flooding, saline soils or extreme temperatures, scientists, led by a team at the University of Nottingham , have now discovered that flowering plants have adopted a single biochemical mechanism to sense multiple environmental stresses, that enhances survival.

Chemistry - 29.09.2017
Helium found in coal seams could aid safe shale gas extraction
Natural deposits of helium gas - best known for its use in party balloons - could help aid the safe production of shale or coal gas, research suggests. The discovery of high levels of helium in UK coal seams could help scientists to monitor the secure recovery of coal or shale gas from underground sites.

Chemistry - Life Sciences - 28.09.2017
University of Birmingham welcomes Indian music superstar
Fuels that are produced from nonpetroleum-based biological sources may become greener and more affordable, thanks to research performed by the University of Birmingham and University of Illinois' Prairie Research Institute that examines the use of a processing catalyst made from palladium metal and bacteria.

Health - Chemistry - 27.09.2017
Researchers uncover the source of diabetic pain
Image (left) shows nerve fibres (green) in a normal mouse, while the loss of nerve fibres in a diabetic mouse is clearly visible in the image on the right. Human diabetic patients show a similar loss of nerve fibres and the activity of HCN2 in these fibres is associated with the development of pain.

Chemistry - Physics - 21.09.2017
Scientist proves theory chemists have waited two decades to understand
Groundbreaking research led by Simon Woodward,a professor of synthetic organic chemistry at the University of Nottingham, has proved how a catalyst (a small atomic-sized 'machine' that knits together new molecules) in organo-copper chemistry works. This is one of the key approaches of modern chemistry to making larger molecules.

Astronomy / Space - Chemistry - 13.09.2017
Inferno world with titanium skies
An international team of astronomers has detected titanium oxide in the atmosphere of an exoplanet for the first time. The results provide unique information about the chemical composition and the temperature and pressure structure of the atmosphere of this unusual and very hot world. The clear detection of the molecule is a major observational advancement - it is an exciting time in exoplanetary science.

Physics - Chemistry - 31.07.2017
Formation of porous crystals observed for the first time
Scientists at the University of Bristol have, for the first time, observed the formation of a crystal gel with particle-level resolution, allowing them to study the conditions by which these new materials form. The study showed that the mechanism of crystal growth follows the same strategies by which ice crystals grow in clouds, an analogy which could improve our understanding of these fundamental processes In addition, this novel mechanism allowed the research team to spontaneously form sponge-like nanoporous crystals in a continuous process.

Chemistry - Astronomy / Space - 26.07.2017
Has Cassini found a universal driver for prebiotic chemistry at Titan?
An important type of molecule that helps produce complex organic material has been detected within Titan's hazy upper atmosphere by a UCL-led team as part of the international Cassini-Huygens mission. In the study, published in Astrophysical Journal Letters , scientists identified negatively charged molecules called 'carbon chain anions' in the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon.

Astronomy / Space - Chemistry - 04.07.2017
Little Cub gives astronomers rare chance to see galaxy demise
The Little Cub galaxy (circled) which is being stripped of gas by its larger neighbour. Credit: SDSS Collaboration A primitive galaxy that could provide clues about the early Universe has been spotted by astronomers as it begins to be consumed by a gigantic neighbouring galaxy. The Little Cub galaxy - so called because it sits in the Ursa Major or Great Bear constellation - is being stripped of the gas needed to continue forming stars by its larger companion.

Chemistry - Astronomy / Space - 04.07.2017
Surprise organic molecule detection paints complex picture of Saturnian moon
Scientists reveal the first detection of a molecule from Enceladus with a ground-based telescope, with implications for the search for life. Saturn's moon Enceladus has peaked scientists' interest since water-rich plumes were discovered gushing from around its south pole. The discovery was made by the Cassini spacecraft, which has since flown through the plumes and sampled organic compounds.

Astronomy / Space - Chemistry - 08.06.2017
Organic compound found in early stages of star formation
Organic compound found in early stages of star formation
Scientists seeking to understand the origins of life have found a new organic compound in the material from which a star like the Sun is forming. Researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) are part of a team that have for the first time detected methyl isocyanate (or CH3NCO) in a solar-type protostar, the kind from which our Sun and the Solar System formed.

Earth Sciences - Chemistry - 05.06.2017
Scientists analysing Martian mudstones reveal chemistry of ancient lake in study
Scientists analysing Martian mudstones reveal chemistry of ancient lake in study
Imperial's Professor Sanjeev Gupta talks about the chemistry of rocks on Mars and what they reveal about a lake that has long since dried up. Professor Gupta, from Imperial College London's Department of Earth Science and Engineering , is part of NASA's Curiosity mission. Every day, analyses data on the geology of Mars that is beamed back from the Mars Science Laboratory mission's remote-controlled Curiosity rover.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 30.05.2017
Just how old are animals?
Just how old are animals?
The origin of animals was one of the most important events in the history of Earth. Beautifully preserved fossil embryos suggest that our oldest ancestors might have existed a little more than half a billion years ago. Yet, fossils are rare, difficult to interpret, and new, older fossils are constantly discovered.

Chemistry - Life Sciences - 23.05.2017
Himalayan powerhouses: how Sherpas have evolved superhuman energy efficiency
Himalayan powerhouses: how Sherpas have evolved superhuman energy efficiency
Sherpas have evolved to become superhuman mountain climbers, extremely efficient at producing the energy to power their bodies even when oxygen is scarce, suggests a new study led by University of Cambridge and UCL researchers, published today in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) .
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