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Category: Chemical Engineering

An RNAmazing research breakthrough

Professor of Bioengineering and Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center Li-Qun (Andrew) Gu and Shi-Jie Chen, joint Professor of Physics, Biochemistry and the MU Informatics Institute and their team recently published “Nanopore electric snapshots of an RNA tertiary folding pathway,” in the prestigious journal Nature Communications. Photos by Amy Parris. Understanding ribonucleic acid (RNA) and its chemical properties and biological mechanisms is a key area of focus in health research. RNA is critical in the processing and movement of genetic information and…

Humans can feel molecular differences between nearly identical surfaces

Credit: CC0 Public Domain How sensitive is the human sense of touch? Sensitive enough to feel the difference between surfaces that differ by just a single layer of molecules, a team of researchers at the University of California San Diego has shown. “This is the greatest tactile sensitivity that has ever been shown in humans,” said Darren Lipomi, a professor of nanoengineering and member of the Center for Wearable Sensors at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, who…

Like holiday enthusiasts, majoid crabs decorate their shells — ScienceDaily

‘Tis the holiday season and it seems homes are festively trimmed at every turn. Ornaments of all shapes and sizes embellish everything from trees to windows and yards. While tinsel originated in 17th century German decorating and modern day Christmas lights can be traced to the Victorian era, the idea of decorating is not an exclusively human trait. Majoid crabs — known as decorator crabs — are well-known among marine scientists for adorning their surface with items secured from their…

3-D-printed minifactories — ScienceDaily

There will soon be nothing that cannot be produced with 3D printing. However, the materials used for this process are still “dead matter” such as plastics or metals. A group of ETH researchers led by Professor André Studart, Head of the Laboratory for Complex Materials, has now introduced a new 3D printing platform that works using living matter. The researchers developed a bacteria-containing ink that makes it possible to print mini biochemical factories with certain properties, depending on which species…

Scientists reduce the chances of life on exoplanets in so-called habitable zones — ScienceDaily

Is there life beyond Earth in the cosmos? Astronomers looking for signs have found that our Milky Way galaxy teems with exoplanets, some with conditions that could be right for extraterrestrial life. Such worlds orbit stars in so-called “habitable zones,” regions where planets could hold liquid water that is necessary for life as we know it. However, the question of habitability is highly complex. Researchers led by space physicist Chuanfei Dong of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma…

Flexible impedance sensor can fit inside urinary catheters; monitor and treat biofilm

Credit: A. James Clark School of Engineering, University of Maryland A long-term, interdisciplinary research collaboration at the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering has made significant progress in detecting and treating bacterial biofilms by developing new chemical compounds, materials, and microsystems that can fight these sources of post-operative infections. In their 10-year collaboration, Professor Reza Ghodssi (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Institute for Systems Research), Professor William Bentley (Fischell Department of Bioengineering; Robert E. Fischell Institute…

Decline in atmospheric carbon dioxide key to ancient climate transition — ScienceDaily

A decline in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels led to a fundamental shift in the behaviour of the Earth’s climate system around one million years ago, according to new research led by the University of Southampton. A team of international scientists used new geochemical measurements, coupled with a model of the ‘Earth system’, to show that the growth and changing nature of continental ice sheets, approximately a million years ago, coincided with a cascade of events that ultimately lowered atmospheric…

A hard material engineers hope to make harder

For thousands of years, people have built civilizations with concrete made from readily available local materials. Just mix and heat, add some sand, stone and water and put it where you want it. Of course, give it time to harden – that is, after you have left your hand print or initials. So it’s no surprise that concrete is the world’s most widely used building material. Twice as much concrete has been used to build Pittsburgh – and everything else…

Engineering Ethics Blog: What Price Medicine?

Last week I had the privilege of attending the American Physical Society Texas Section’s annual regional meeting, held this year at the campus of the University of Texas at Dallas.  Among several invited speakers was a professor of radiology who spoke about the latest medical imaging techniques being developed for observing biological activity on the molecular level.  As interesting as that was, I want to focus on an offhand remark the speaker made.  He has many friends in the medical…