Stories indexed under: Science

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  • Soybean plants A touching story: The ancient conversation between plants, fungi and bacteria Aug. 27, 2014 The mechanical force that a single fungal cell or bacterial colony exerts on a plant cell may seem vanishingly small, but it plays a heavy role in setting up some of the most fundamental symbiotic relationships in biology. In fact, it may not be too much of a stretch to say that plants may have never moved onto land without the ability to respond to the touch of beneficial fungi, according to a new study led by Jean-Michel Ané, a professor of agronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Photo: Section of asphalt resting on two cylindrical samples in lab UW center teams up with five states to address asphalt issues Aug. 22, 2014 More than 80 percent of major roads in the United States are still surfaced with asphaltic mixtures - and the liquid asphalt, a byproduct of oil refining, remains a bit of a chemical mess, an inconsistent, complex mix of hydrocarbons. So to understand how different kinds of asphalt will hold up under the weight of vehicles and the punishment of the elements, road engineers must use physical methods, from ovens to hydraulic testing devices, to inflict stress and extreme temperatures upon the mixtures.
  • UW-Madison chosen for federally funded cloud computing research Aug. 21, 2014 Cloud computing, which allows users of technology to tap into remote, shared infrastructure and services, is a major facet of today’s world. Whether or not we realize it, countless aspects of our daily lives — from social media to drug discovery — are now enabled by cloud computing. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has been chosen to be part of a National Science Foundation-funded project called CloudLab — a joint effort of university and industry teams for the development of cloud infrastructure and fostering the high-level research that it supports.
  • Helping communities prepare for climate change Aug. 21, 2014 Over the last several decades, Wisconsin has seen an increase in extreme weather and variability, and these conditions are likely to become more common in the years ahead. Scientists in the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research (CCR) project a sharp rise in average annual temperatures in coming decades – somewhere between 4 and 9 degrees Fahrenheit – spawning more frequent and intense storms, droughts and heat waves. These trends will challenge cities throughout the state.
  • Waclaw Szybalski Legend in genetics at forefront of book about heroism during 20th century's darkest hours Aug. 20, 2014 Waclaw Szybalski, 92, a genius of genetics who has been repeatedly mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize, grew up as an aspiring scientist during World War II in the eastern part of Poland. Many of Szybalski's most significant wartime roles concerned a decidedly applied type of science: He cooked TNT so the Polish resistance could sabotage rail lines. He participated in smuggling typhus vaccine to Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. And he fed lice and supervised "louse feeders."
  • Ken Cameron Herbarium director receives award for telling the story of plants Aug. 19, 2014 Ken Cameron, director of the Wisconsin State Herbarium, received the Peter Raven Award from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists Aug. 5. Cameron, also a professor of botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a world expert on the orchid family.
  • Photo: Volker Radeloff No one-size-fits-all approach in a changing climate, changing land Aug. 18, 2014 As climate change alters habitats for birds and bees and everything in between, so too does the way humans decide to use land. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Aarhus University in Denmark have, for the first time, found a way to determine the potential combined impacts of both climate and land-use change on plants, animals and ecosystems across the country.
  • Photo: foot on coordination-retraining device Grants fund UW technology projects on the road to commercialization Aug. 15, 2014 An exercise machine that helps stroke victims walk. An advanced technology for assessing the progress of prostate cancer. A faster process for making neural stem cells to investigate new treatments for injury and disease. A cheaper, more beautiful LED light bulb. A game to teach meditation. These projects, and a dozen more, are beneficiaries of the first round of awards by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Discovery to Product, or D2P, program, which began operating in March.
  • Photo: Thomas Givnish New analysis links tree height to climate Aug. 14, 2014 What limits the height of trees? Is it the fraction of their photosynthetic energy they devote to productive new leaves? Or is it their ability to hoist water hundreds of feet into the air, supplying the green, solar-powered sugar factories in those leaves?
  • Antarctic ice sheet Climate conundrum: Conflicting indicators on what preceded human-driven warming Aug. 11, 2014 When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently requested a figure for its annual report, to show global temperature trends over the last 10,000 years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Zhengyu Liu knew that was going to be a problem. Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science today, Liu and colleagues describe a consistent global warming trend over the course of the Holocene, our current geological epoch, counter to a study published last year that described a period of global cooling before human influence.
  • Photo: Trout Lake Station scientist leading boat tour Science in the Northwoods: Trout Lake Station open house Aug. 8, 2014 The first of August was a gorgeous day in northern Wisconsin: temperatures were in the mid-70s, the waters of Trout Lake were remarkably calm and clear, and the mosquitoes, for the first time this summer, were nowhere to be found. It was the perfect day for Trout Lake Station's 4th annual open house.
  • Manos Mavrikakis Water’s reaction with metal oxides opens doors for researchers Aug. 8, 2014 A multi-institutional team has resolved a long-unanswered question about how two of the world’s most common substances interact. In a paper published recently in the journal Nature Communications, Manos Mavrikakis, professor of chemical and biological engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his collaborators report fundamental discoveries about how water reacts with metal oxides
  • Photo: Hiroshi Maeda Fundamental plant chemicals trace back to bacteria Aug. 7, 2014 A fundamental chemical pathway that all plants use to create an essential amino acid needed by all animals to make proteins has now been traced to two groups of ancient bacteria. The pathway is also known for making hundreds of chemicals, including a compound that makes wood strong and the pigments that make red wine red.
  • Tim Donohue Mining bacterial blueprints yields novel process for creation of fuel and chemical compounds Aug. 4, 2014 A team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has identified the genes and enzymes that create a promising compound — the 19 carbon furan-containing fatty acid (19Fu-FA). The compound has a variety of potential uses as a biological alternative for compounds currently derived from fossil fuels.
  • INFOS imaging equipment Research team warns against overlooking Great Lakes’ currents Aug. 4, 2014 The history of the Great Lakes is one of people who underestimate their destructive power, often with tragic results. From two massive waves that smashed into Chicago’s harbors in 1954 to a rip current that drowned a young swimmer in Port Washington, Wisconsin, in 2012, Lake Michigan and its neighbors have a track record of catching people off guard with dangerous currents.
  • Photo: students with paddleboard Pre-college programs open doors for leadership roles Aug. 4, 2014 Whether their connections were social, academic or professional, former participants in UW-Madison's summer residence programs through University Housing say the camps were essential for creating future opportunities.
  • Mature plant phytochromes Tricking plants to see the light may control the most important twitch on Earth July 29, 2014 Copious corn growing in tiny backyard plots? Roses blooming in December? Thanks to technology that the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Richard Vierstra has been developing for years, these things may soon be possible. And now, new findings out of the genetics professor’s lab promise to advance that technology even further.
  • Mouse intestine New imaging agent provides better picture of the gut July 24, 2014 A multi-institutional team of researchers has developed a new nanoscale agent for imaging the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This safe, noninvasive method for assessing the function and properties of the GI tract in real time could lead to better diagnosis and treatment of gut diseases.
  • Tom Mohs Wisconsin plastics industry has roots in modest, multitalented UW-Madison professor July 24, 2014 “The Graduate” is a running joke in the plastics industry. In that 1967 Dustin Hoffman movie, a character famously — and accurately — summarized the future in one word: “Plastics.” The movie may have been influential, but Tom Mohs, founder of the Madison plastics manufacturer Placon, says he owes nothing to it. “I was already buying my second thermoforming machine when the movie came out,” says Mohs. “No, I owe it to Ron Daggett.”
  • Archaeology at Trempealeau Town meets gown to explore Wisconsin’s Trempealeau mounds July 23, 2014 Why did migrants from Cahokia, the large mound city near St. Louis, move to the present-day village of Trempealeau in western Wisconsin to build flat-topped mounds about 1,000 years ago? That question has intrigued Danielle Benden, senior curator in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Anthropology, for more than a decade.