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2012 Research Press Releases

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How Stars Look Young When They're Not: The Secret of Aging Well
How Stars Look Young When They're Not: The Secret of Aging Well 20 December 2012The aging of star clusters is linked more with their lifestyle than with how old they actually are, according to a new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope study coauthored by Steinn Sigurdsson, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State. "Our observations of star clusters have shown us that, although they all formed over ten billion years ago, some of them are still young at heart," Sigurdsson said.
New Tool Is Probing the Structure of the Milky Way's Heart
New Tool Is Probing the Structure of the Milky Way's Heart 19 December 2012The discovery that hundreds of stars are rapidly moving together in long, looping orbits around the center of our Galaxy has been announced by a team of scientists including a Penn State University astronomer and others collaborating in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III). "The stars near the nucleus of the Milky Way appear to form a bar-like structure thousands of light years in size," said Donald Schneider, a Distinguished Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State and a coauthor of the study. "In this investigation, we were able to accurately measure the motions of a set of stars located in the Galaxy's bar and to gain some insight into the dynamics of the central, dense regions of the Milky Way." Schneider is the Survey Coordinator and Scientific Publications Coordinator for the SDSS-III.
Flexible Silicon Solar-Cell Fabrics May Soon Become Possible
Flexible Silicon Solar-Cell Fabrics May Soon Become Possible 06 December 2012For the first time, a silicon-based optical fiber with solar-cell capabilities has been developed that has been shown to be scalable to many meters in length. The research opens the door to the possibility of weaving together solar-cell silicon wires to create flexible, curved, or twisted solar fabrics. The findings by an international team of chemists, physicists, and engineers, led by John Badding, a professor of chemistry at Penn State University, will be posted by the journal Advanced Materials in an early online edition on 6 December 2012 and will be published on a future date in the journal's print edition.
The Beginning of Everything: A New Paradigm Shift for the Infant Universe
The Beginning of Everything: A New Paradigm Shift for the Infant Universe 28 November 2012A new paradigm for understanding the earliest eras in the history of the universe has been developed by scientists at Penn State University. Using techniques from an area of modern physics called loop quantum cosmology, developed at Penn State, the scientists now have extended analyses that include quantum physics farther back in time than ever before -- all the way to the beginning.
Wormholes from Centuries-Old Art Prints Reveal the History of the "Worms"
Wormholes from Centuries-Old Art Prints Reveal the History of the "Worms" 20 November 2012By examining art printed from woodblocks spanning five centuries, Blair Hedges, a professor of biology at Penn State University, has identified the species responsible for making the ever-present wormholes in European printed art since the Renaissance. The hole-makers, two species of wood-boring beetles, are widely distributed today, but the "wormhole record," as Hedges calls it, reveals a different pattern in the past, where the two species met along a zone across central Europe like a battle line of two armies.
Hepatitis C Treatment's Side Effects Can Now Be Studied in the Lab
Hepatitis C Treatment's Side Effects Can Now Be Studied in the Lab 16 November 2012The adverse side effects of certain hepatitis C medications can now be replicated and observed in Petri dishes and test tubes, thanks to a research team led by Craig Cameron, the Paul Berg Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn State University. "The new method not only will help us to understand the recent failures of hepatitis C antiviral drugs in some patients in clinical trials," said Cameron. "It also could help to identify medications that eliminate all adverse effects."
The Great Space Coaster: Expansion of the Universe Now Measured in an Era before Dark Energy Takes Over
The Great Space Coaster: Expansion of the Universe Now Measured in an Era before Dark Energy Takes Over 13 November 2012For the past five-billion years, the expansion of the universe has been powered by a mysterious repulsive force known as "dark energy." Now, thanks to a new technique for measuring the three-dimensional structure of the distant universe, scientists in an international team within the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-III), including an astronomer at Penn State University, have made the first measurement of the rate of this cosmic expansion as it was just three-billion years after the Big Bang.
Gene Required for Nerve Regeneration Now Identified
Gene Required for Nerve Regeneration Now Identified 01 November 2012A gene that is associated with regeneration of injured nerve cells has been identified by scientists at Penn State University and Duke University. The team, led by Melissa Rolls, an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State, has found that a mutation in a single gene can entirely shut down the process by which axons -- the parts of the nerve cell that are responsible for sending signals to other cells -- regrow themselves after being cut or damaged.
When cosmic rays and Earth collide
When cosmic rays and Earth collide 30 October 2012This article, written by Barbara Kennedy and featuring the work of Penn State scientist Stephane Coutu, originally appeared in the Centre Daily Times (CDT) on 28 October 2012 in the bimonthly "Focus on Research" column, which highlights different research projects being conducted at Penn State.
Early-Earth Cells Modeled to Show How First Life Forms Might Have Packaged RNA
Early-Earth Cells Modeled to Show How First Life Forms Might Have Packaged RNA 14 October 2012Researchers at Penn State University have developed a chemical model that mimics a possible step in the formation of cellular life on Earth four-billion years ago. Using large "macromolecules" called polymers, the scientists created primitive cell-like structures that they infused with RNA -- the genetic coding material that is thought to precede the appearance of DNA on Earth -- and demonstrated how the molecules would react chemically under conditions that might have been present on the early Earth. The journal Nature Chemistry will post the research as an Advance Online Publication on 14 October 2012.
New Black Hole Discovered in Our Galaxy
New Black Hole Discovered in Our Galaxy 05 October 2012A tsunami of high-energy X-rays streaming toward Earth from a rare X-ray nova has revealed the presence of a previously unknown black hole located toward the center of our Milky Way galaxy. A team of scientists including Penn State astronomers detected the X-ray event with NASA's Swift satellite, whose science and flight operations are controlled by Penn State University from the Mission Operations Center near the University Park campus.
Pinpointing accuracy: Research helps solidify evidence in court
Pinpointing accuracy: Research helps solidify evidence in court 02 October 2012This article, written by Barbara Kennedy and featuring the work of Penn State scientist Cedric Neumann, originally appeared in the Centre Daily Times (CDT) on 30 September 2012 in the bimonthly "Focus on Research" column, which highlights different research projects being conducted at Penn State.
Case of Missing Quasar Gas Clouds Now Solved
Case of Missing Quasar Gas Clouds Now Solved 01 October 2012The case of the missing quasar gas clouds has been solved by a worldwide research team led by Penn State University astronomers Nurten Filiz Ak and Niel Brandt. The discovery is being announced today in a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal, which describes 19 distant quasars whose giant clouds of gas seem to have disappeared in just a few years.
DNA Analysis Aids in Classifying Single-Celled Algae
DNA Analysis Aids in Classifying Single-Celled Algae 19 September 2012For nearly 260 years -- since Carl Linnaeus developed his system of naming plants and animals -- researchers classified species based on visual attributes like color, shape and size. In the past few decades, researchers found that sequencing DNA can more accurately identify species. A group of single-celled algae -- Symbiodinum -- that live inside corals and are critical to their survival -- are only now being separated into species using DNA analysis, according to biologists.
Wolf Mange Part of Nature's Cycle
Wolf Mange Part of Nature's Cycle 10 September 2012Mange and viral diseases have a substantial, recurring impact on the health and size of reintroduced wolf packs living in Yellowstone National Park, according to a team of Penn State ecologists.
In Touch With...Peter Hudson
06 September 2012Director of Huck Institutes champions a collaborative approach to research in the life sciences.
Huge Study of Human Genome Includes Penn State Research
Huge Study of Human Genome Includes Penn State Research 05 September 2012The first integrated understanding of how the human genome functions will be published this week -- the triumphant result of a collaborative five-year project involving more than 440 researchers working in 32 labs worldwide. The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements project, known as ENCODE, will publish simultaneously on 6 September 2012 a massive number of scientific papers, including 1 main integrative paper and 5 others in Nature; 18 in Genome Research; 6 in Genome Biology; and other affiliated papers in Science, Cell, and other scientific journals.
Science Research Led in Gulf of Mexico by Penn State Biologist to be Honored with U.S. Award
Science Research Led in Gulf of Mexico by Penn State Biologist to be Honored with U.S. Award 30 August 2012A research project deep in the Gulf of Mexico, led by Penn State University Professor of Biology Charles Fisher, the project's lead scientist, and James Brooks of TDI Brooks International, the project's manager, has been honored with the Excellence in Partnership award by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP), an organization established by the U.S. Congress.
Darwin Discovered to Be Right: Eastern Pacific Barrier is Virtually Impassable by Coral Species
Darwin Discovered to Be Right: Eastern Pacific Barrier is Virtually Impassable by Coral Species 27 August 2012A coral species that is found in abundance from Indonesia eastward to Fiji, Samoa, and the Line Islands rarely crosses the Eastern Pacific Barrier toward the coast of the Americas, according to a team of researchers led by Iliana Baums, an assistant professor of biology at Penn State University.
Video: Penn State Astronomer Christopher Palma Explains the Science Behind the Question "What Time is It?"
Video: Penn State Astronomer Christopher Palma Explains the Science Behind the Question "What Time is It?" 23 August 2012In this video shot at the Arboretum at Penn State, astronomer Chris Palma explains the science behind the question "What time is it?"

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