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New frontier: Chips transfer data at light speed

The computer industry is nearing a crisis: microchips  get smaller and faster but they struggle to transfer data at sufficient speeds.  Electrons flowing through standard chip connections are just too slow. Now researchers have shown how chips with built-in lasers which use multiple wavelengths of light could in the future transmit data at terabit speeds.

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Workings of nearby planetary system revealed

A new observatory still under construction has given astronomers a major breakthrough in understanding a nearby planetary system and provided valuable clues about how such systems form and evolve. Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered that planets orbiting the star Fomalhaut must be much smaller than originally thought. This is the first published science result from ALMA in its first period of open observations for astronomers worldwide.

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Astronomer finds evidence for record-breaking nine planet system

The planetary system around the star named HD 10180 may have more planets in its orbits than our own solar system. Located 130 light years away, the star is not within reach of foreseeable human space travel, but in astronomical distances, it is still considered to be in the solar neighborhood.

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Multitasking: Not so bad for you after all?

Our obsession with multiple forms of media is not necessarily all bad news, according to a new study. Those who frequently use different types of media at the same time appear to be better at integrating information from multiple senses — vision and hearing in this instance — when asked to perform a specific task, new research shows.

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Android vulnerability debugged

Researchers have discovered and neutralized a serious vulnerability present in all versions of Android, the popular operating system developed by Google specifically for smartphones and tablet computers. The vulnerability could have been easily exploited by malicious software applications, with the effect of making devices based on Google’s operating system currently on the market completely unusable.

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New test measures risk intelligence — decision-making in risky situations

Tests exist for evaluating personality, intelligence and memory. However, up to now, it was not easily possible to find out how good someone is at making decisions in risky situations.

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Left hand – right hand, premature babies make the link

From the 31st week of pregnancy, preterm babies are capable of recognizing with one hand an object they have already explored with the other. This ability, known as “intermanual transfer”, has been demonstrated in premature infants. These results show that the corpus callosum, also known as the colossal commissure, i.e. the brain structure involved in information transfer, is functional from this early age.

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Artificial photosynthesis breakthrough: Fast molecular catalyzer

Researchers have constructed a molecular catalyzer that can oxidize water to oxygen very rapidly. In fact, these scientists have managed to reach speeds approximating those of natural photosynthesis. The speed with which natural photosynthesis occurs is about 100 to 400 turnovers per seconds. Scientists have now reached over 300 turnovers per seconds with their artificial photosynthesis. The research findings play a critical role for the future use of solar energy and other renewable energy sources.

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Nutrient and toxin all at once: How plants absorb the perfect quantity of minerals

In order to survive, plants should take up neither too many nor too few minerals from the soil. New insights into how they operate this critical balance have now been determined. The researchers discovered novel functions of the metal-binding molecule nicotianamine.

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Traffic harms Asturian amphibians

Midwife toads and palmate newts are run over and their habitats are fragmented by roads in the Trubia valley (Asturias). According to a Spanish study, alleviating traffic is not enough to minimize the impact on midwife toad populations. The roads are the main cause of fragmenting the habitats of many species, especially amphibians. The toads get run over and the species loses genetic diversity as a result.

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