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Thursday, May 16, 2024

UC Scoop


Detect earthquakes with your laptop

An assistant professor at UC Riverside has developed an intriguing new way to detect earthquakes.

Elizabeth Cochran, part of the department of earth sciences, proposed that a network of personal computers be used to help detect oncoming seismic disturbances in real time, according to a press release from UC Riverside.

Currently, there is a slight gap between earthquake detecting equipment gathering information and the information being received, Cochran said.

There is a delay of 10 to 15 seconds from when the sensors record an earthquake to when the data is processed at either Caltech in Southern California or UC Berkeley in Northern California, she said.

Software slated for release this summer is being developed that will allow for free public participation in what has been dubbed the Quake-Catcher Network.

The software, which can be downloaded at boinc.berkeley.edu when ready, will link users to create a dense net of measurements of seismological activity. This is possible due to the inexpensive motion sensors found in new laptops.

Because the motion sensors, called accelerometers, are already included in modern personal computers, participating in the project will not cost a significant amount of money.

Having such a network in place could save lives by getting word of earthquakes to people faster.

With a dense grid of detectors in place, an early warning can be sent through the Internet to neighboring cities should an earthquake strike, giving people up to 10 to 20 seconds to prepare themselves before the seismic waves reach them, Cochran said. (newsroom.ucr.edu)


New nanomachines developed to fight cancer

UCLA researchers have developed the first light-powered nanomachine in order to aid the fight against cancer.

The nanoimpeller, as the device is known, captures and stores anticancer drugs inside pores and then, in response to light, releases them into cancer cells.

The researchers based at the Nano Machine Center at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA accomplished this by using mesoporous silica nanoparticles and coating the interiors of pores with azobenzene. Azobenzene is a chemical that can change between two different conformations upon exposure to light.

The study, which appeared in the Mar. 31 edition of the nanoscience journal Small, was led by Jeffrey Zink and Fuyu Tamanoi, both of whom are professors at UCLA and co-directors for the Nano Machine Center for Targeted Delivery and On-Demand Release.

The nanoimpeller was tested on pancreatic and colon cancer cells. The cells were filled with nanoparticles in the dark and then exposed to light, which caused the nanoimpeller to release its anticancer drugs.

The pores of the nanoparticles are versatile; they can be filled with either anticancer drugs or dyes, and their activity can be regulated by the amount of light they are exposed to.

Both Tamanoi and Zink said they were excited by the research, but also said further development is needed to actually inhibit the growth of cancer tumors, according to a UCLA press release.


UC Scoop is compiled by RICHARD PROCTER, who can be reached at campus@californiaaggie.com.


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