Nanogrid structures at the nanoparticle level
Nanogrid structures at the nanoparticle levelCourtesy Perena Gouma, CNSD, SUNY Stony Brook

Oil spills are notoriously difficult to clean up, but nanotechnology may help make cleanup easier in the future.

Nanoscientists have developed a "nanogrid," a large net consisting of metal grids made of a copper tungsten oxide, that, when activated by sunlight, can break down oil from a spill, leaving only biodegradable compounds behind.

The grids resemble non-woven mats of miniaturized ceramic fishing nets are made with a self-assembly process.

Because they work well both in water and air, the grids may also be used for other types of cleanup as well.

More about this topic:

  • Nanogrid research
  • Dr. Perena Gouma's Center for Nanomaterials and Sensor Development:
  • To learn more about nanotechnology, science, and engineering, visit:

    To see other nano stories on Science Buzz tagged #nano visit:


    New science to old question: New science is helping answer questions on the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
    New science to old question: New science is helping answer questions on the assassination of John F. Kennedy.Courtesy Victor Hugo King
    Fifty years after the fateful day in Dallas, Texas, people are still working to find definitive answers to the details of the shooting of President John F. Kennedy.

    What if the current forensic investigation techniques would have been available then? That's a question the Discovery Channel recently posed in producing the show "JFK: Inside the Target Car." Here's a quick summary of things they learned through their experiments. Click here to get more details about how this all was done.

    The Dallas motorcade scene was recreated with modern-day, high tech dummies situated in a car. The dummies were made of materials that have similar properties to human flesh, bone and blood. Sharpshooters then shot the surrogates from the model depository, the grassy knoll, and four other plausible locations that are part of assassination theories.

    Two forensic experts, who had no knowledge that the situation was set up to recreate the shooting in Dallas, examined the evidence. Their finding was that shots came from above and behind the pathway of the car, a finding consistent with the location of the Texas Textbook Depository.

    Up-to-date science was also applied in making a 3-D animated simulation of the assassination scene based on angles of possible bullet paths, information from the Zapruder home movie of the motorcade, and also wind speeds and directions. Based on blood spatters created through those simulations, the origin of the fatal shots had to be from the textbook depository.

    Experts add that while modern science more accurately determine where the shots were fired from, they still cannot determine without doubt if Lee Harvey Oswald was the shooter.

    How do you feel about this new application of science to this dark moment of American history? Does it answer your questions on the assassination? Share your thoughts with other Science Buzz readers.

    Here's a link to the Discovery Channel's website for the show.


    Blue Jeans closeup.jpg: Blue Jeans closeup
    Blue Jeans closeup.jpg: Blue Jeans closeupCourtesy Wikimedia Commons - author: Mark Michaelis

    During the textile manufacturing process, excess dyes are sometimes discharged as wastewater resulting in water pollution downstream. In recent years, particular attention has focused on water pollution in China resulting from indigo dyes used to create the distinctive blue color of denim blue jeans.

    Some nanoscientists are looking at ways to help remove potentially harmful dyes chemicals from water.

    Scientists at Colombia’s Universidad Industrial de Santander and Cornell University have come up with a cheap and simple process using natural fibers embedded with nano particles to quickly remove dye from water.

    The research takes advantage of nano-sized cavities found in cellulose; plant fibers can be immersed in a solution of sodium permanganate and then treated with ultrasound causing manganese oxide molecules grow in the tiny cellulose cavities. The treated fibers are able to quickly break down and remove the dye from the water.

    More about this topic:

  • Cornell University study on fibers and dyes visit:
  • GreenPeace report "Toxic Threads" visit:
  • Popular Science article on indigo dye and water pollutionvisit:
  • China's famed Pearl River under denim threat
  • To learn more about nanotechnology, science, and engineering, visit:

    To see other nano stories on Science Buzz tagged #nano visit:

    Mount Etna, located on the Italian island of Sicily, has been very active lately, as seen in this spectacular video by Boris Behncke, a researcher with Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology. The stratovolcano is formed along the northern boundary of the African Plate as it collides with the Eurasian Plate. The shots of the exploding lava bubbles are fantastic and are reminiscent of a Fourth of July fireworks display. The images with the setting Moon are serenely beautiful. Etna is also blowing some great smoke rings!

    In other volcano news, the rumblings of a new volcano have been detected under a half-mile thick sheet of ice in West Antarctica. Using seismograph data gathered from several field sites across Antarctica researchers - led by Prof. Doug Weins and PhD student Amanda Lough of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri - think the volcano could be the newest in a chain of volcanos migrating under the ice-covered continent. Radar images gathered by researchers from the University of Texas have confirmed volcanic ash encased in the ice near the source of the detected activity. The seismic rumblings originate somewhere between 6 and 9 miles beneath the bedrock surface, too deep to be caused by sub-surface glacial movement or even tectonic activity. The study appears in the advanced online issue of Nature Geoscience.

    Science Daily story


    When someone tells you about your nice features you should tell them how fun it is to excavate. I am talking about features in archaeology, of course. A feature is information that contains a cultural importance and cannot be taken to the lab the way it was found.
    Shell Midden: A group of shells all located together while we were excavating block 1 of the Sheffield Site.
    Shell Midden: A group of shells all located together while we were excavating block 1 of the Sheffield Site.Courtesy SMM

    Examples features are hearths and post-molds. These features are located when the soils have certain qualities in them. Since archaeologists must keep digging to learn more from their block, the feature is destroyed as you dig the feature out. Another example is when artifacts are found together or next to other features. You can see this when artifacts are given context to where they are found. A group of shells found together has more cultural value than individual artifacts by themselves in an excavation unit. Just as how a piece of bone have more meaning when it is found in a fire hearth. As I have said before, the further we excavate down into our blocks we destroy the features, so in order for features to be represented, archaeologists record the features they find as they excavate.

    To record features that are a part of the soil, archaeologists draw and map out the block that they dig with each layer that they dig out. In doing so they will have somewhat of a 3-D map of where the feature was in their block. At the Sheffield site we normally dig ten centimeters per layer and record what we find on the surface. When we find a feature we start digging in five centimeters layers. We dig in smaller layers so that we can record the shape of the feature more accurately. The behavior of how we dig also changes. Sometimes we dig out certain sections of the feature in order to record how the feature looks from the side.
    Fire Hearth Feature: The whitish-grey variations in the wall profile is ash from a past fire hearth. This feature was located at block 1 of the Sheffield Site.
    Fire Hearth Feature: The whitish-grey variations in the wall profile is ash from a past fire hearth. This feature was located at block 1 of the Sheffield Site.Courtesy SMM

    Archeology is ultimately a destructive science and keeping a good record is key for a good analysis. The features we see as we dig will not physically be there when we go analyze our data in the lab. The more data we record from our features the more chances we have of making a cultural connection with our findings. Features are one of the most important parts of archeology because it gives the artifacts and other data more meaning to why they might be there. Without features archeology would just end up as a display of objects without any cultural significance.


    Folks have noticed, and asked about how the winds pick up shortly after sunrise and calm down after sunset. It is the daytime heating of the ground by the sun that leads to this difference between calm nights and windy days.

    The wind usually increases with height above the surface. The wind several thousand feet above the ground is almost always stronger than that experienced near the ground. Friction is a force that causes the wind close to the ground to move more slowly. Friction decelerates the wind in the same way a rough road surface slows you down on a bicycle.

    On many calm nights, there is still wind blowing far overhead. When the sun is up, it warms the surface of the Earth, which in turn warms the atmosphere above it. The warm air rises and the displaced air is replaced by the air above. These thermals mix up the air, bringing the faster moving air from above down near the surface. As the daytime heating goes on, more air from above is mixed down and the wind speed picks up.

    When the sun sets, the ground cools down. This cooling ground conducts heat away from the air that it touches and so the air near the ground cools down, cooling faster than the layers higher in the atmosphere. This creates a stable area with cool air near the ground and warmer air above. As the word suggests, “stable” means it is difficult to move the air layer, keeping the fast moving air above from mixing down to the surface.

    Of course, if there is a low pressure area in the region, the winds will blow day or night.

    Super Typhoon Haiyan engulfing the Philippines: The super storm has reported sustained winds of 195 mph and gusts up to 225 mph!
    Super Typhoon Haiyan engulfing the Philippines: The super storm has reported sustained winds of 195 mph and gusts up to 225 mph!Courtesy NASA
    A massive tropical cyclone has been battering the Philippines since yesterday. Known as Typhoon Haiyan (Cyclone Yolanda in the Philippines) the super storm is said to be about 3.5 times larger than Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans in 2005, with sustained wind speeds of 195 miles per hour and gusts up to 225 mph. That's one powerful typhoon! It reminds me of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. Reports on the number of deaths attributed to Typhoon Haiyan have been sketchy at best due to loss of communications in the area. Check out some of the amazing images at

    This animated piece is a few years old but worth viewing. Here's more info from the Youtube page:

    "Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto has created a beautiful, undeniably scary time-lapse map of the 2053 nuclear explosions which have taken place between 1945 and 1998, beginning with the Manhattan Project's "Trinity" test near Los Alamos and concluding with Pakistan's nuclear tests in May of 1998. This leaves out North Korea's two alleged nuclear tests in this past decade (the legitimacy of both of which is not 100% clear).

    Each nation gets a blip and a flashing dot on the map whenever they detonate a nuclear weapon, with a running tally kept on the top and bottom bars of the screen. Hashimoto, who began the project in 2003, says that he created it with the goal of showing"the fear and folly of nuclear weapons." It starts really slow — if you want to see real action, skip ahead to 1962 or so — but the buildup becomes overwhelming.“

    Glowing ice cream
    Glowing ice creamCourtesy Charlie Harry Francis
    Thanks to a Chinese scientist's work at synthesizing the luminescence protein from jellyfish, a UK food creator, named Charlie Harry Francis has developed an ice cream that glows in the dark. Francis markets home-made ice cream confections (and contraptions) under the aptly named Lick Me I'm Delicious. The very act of licking the ice cream agitates "calcium activated proteins" within the concoction that causes it to light up in a luminescent sort of way. But before you dash out to your favorite ice cream parlor, keep in mind that one scoop of the glorious glowing glop will set you back about $220!

    Boing-Boing report

    New knee ligament discovered

    by Anonymous on Nov. 06th, 2013

    The human knee: a new ligament has been discovered in the leg joint.
    The human knee: a new ligament has been discovered in the leg joint.Courtesy Andrew Scott
    You'd think by now - after centuries of studying it - that we'd know everything there is to know about the human body. But this week surgeons at University Hospital Leuven in Belgium announced the discovery of a new ligament in the knee. Called the anterolateral ligament (ALL) the newly discovered body part attaches between the lower end of the femur and the head of the tibia, reinforcing the connection between the two bones. The unknown ligament came to light as the doctors investigated the causes of difficulties patients suffered during rehabilitation from ACL tears, a common injury among some athletes.

    Interestingly, it was a paper written by a French surgeon in the 19th century that led the doctors to the ligament. The author of an 1879 paper postulated the ALL's existence but it took until now for it to be actually located. The two doctors who discovered it say the ligament exists in about 97 percent of all patients.

    Journal of Anatomy paper
    ScienceDaily story