Monthly Archives: June 2015

Electrical engineers break power and distance barriers for fiber optic communication

Electrical engineers have broken key barriers that limit the distance information can travel in fiber optic cables and still be accurately deciphered by a receiver. Photonics researchers at the University of California, San Diego have increased the maximum power — and therefore distance — at which optical signals can be sent through optical fibers. This advance has the potential to increase the data transmission rates for the fiber optic cables that serve as the backbone of the internet, cable, wireless and landline networks. The research is published in the June 26 issue of the journal Science. The new study presents a solution to a long-standing roadblock to increasing data transmission rates in optical fiber: beyond a threshold power level, additional power increases irreparably distort the information travelling in the fiber optic cable.

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Neutron star’s echoes give astronomers a new measuring stick

In late 2013, when the neutron star at the heart of one of our galaxy’s oddest supernovae gave off a massive burst of X-rays, the resulting echoes — created when the X-rays bounced off clouds of dust in interstellar space — yielded a surprising new measuring stick for astronomers. Circinus X-1 is a freak of the Milky Way. Located in the plane of the galaxy, Circinus X-1 is the glowing husk of a binary star system that exploded a mere 2,500 years ago. The system consists of a nebula and a neutron star, the incredibly dense collapsed core of the exploded star, still in the orbital embrace of its companion star.2015062411182900

Nanoparticle ‘wrapper’ delivers chemical that stops fatty buildup in rodent arteries

In what may be a major leap forward in the quest for new treatments of the most common form of cardiovascular disease, scientists at Johns Hopkins report they have found a way to halt and reverse the progression of atherosclerosis in rodents by loading microscopic nanoparticles with a chemical that restores the animals’ ability to properly handle cholesterol. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that clogs, stiffens and narrows the blood vessels, greatly diminishing their ability to deliver blood to the heart muscle and the brain. The condition, known as atherosclerotic vessel disease, is the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes that claim some 2.6 million lives a year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.betterrnaint

A report on the work, published online in the journal Biomaterials, builds on recent research by the same team that previously identified a fat-and-sugar molecule called GSL as the chief culprit behind a range of biological glitches that affect the body’s ability to properly use, transport and purge itself of vessel-clogging cholesterol.