Microbubbles stable for a year

MicrobubbleResearchers from Harvard University and Unilever have shown that they can make one-micrometer sized bubbles stable for up to a year using surfactants that form a “buckyball” type structure on the bubble surface.

‘Studying the stability for a year is unusual: I don’t think anybody has followed microbubble stability for that long,’ Marjorie Longo, a professor of chemical engineering and materials science at UC Davis tells Chemistry World.

Such microbubbles could be used for new kinds of materials that are light and strong, or for targeting drugs towards tumors (something that UC Davis biomedical engineer Kathy Ferrara is working on).

I like it but I don’t believe it: “Survivor: Geologist”

Highly Allochthonous reprints a column from South African humorist James Clarke on a supposed attempt by “a big American TV company” to make a Survivor-type reality show with geologists working in the field.

But the camera crew noticed that even after drinking “gallons” the camera crew continued talking in “an obscure jargonised language about “breccia”, and “lahars”, none of which made for good reality TV.

The only rise in tension came when the seismologist and the structural geologist got into a yelling match over the best recipe for chilli.

Whole thing here. Which scientific discipline would make for a good reality show? “Survivor: Large Hadron Collider?”

Teen Biotech Challenge Winners Announced

The winners of the 2008 Teen Biotech Challenge have been announced. The competition encourages high school students to explore the impact of biotechnology in the world by developing web pages on a particular topic.

The winners will receive their awards tonight at a banquet in Freeborn Hall. The competition is organized by Biotech SYSTEM, a consortium of Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties and sponsored by the UC Davis Biotechnology Program, the UC Biotechnology Research and Education Program and regional biotechnology companies and business organizations.

The 2008 winners are:

Ag & Industrial focus area:

A monkey model for Huntington’s Disease

Continuing our animal research theme, the Times of London reports that researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta have bred genetically-modified monkeys that develop Huntington’s disease, a devastating and invariably fatal neurodegenerative disease.

Times science editor Mark Henderson notes that the work was immediately attacked by animal rights campaigners. But the balance between animal welfare and the opportunity to learn more about an incurable, fatal disease is clear, he says.

Protecting researchers from animal rights activists

The Sacramento Bee published an op-ed piece by Vice Chancellor Stan Nosek and Dallas Hyde, director of the California National Primate Research Center at UC Davis, on Saturday drawing attention to the increasing problem of “animal rights” activism and the steps the university is taking to protect medical researchers and their work.

Recent months have seen incidents at UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz including attempted fire-bombings, vandalism, harassment and intimidation. In Santa Cruz, six masked intruders tried to break into a biology professor’s house during a child’s birthday party.

A View From the New Bay Bridge

The Sacramento Bee’s Ngoc Nguyen took a tour of the new Bay Bridge currently under construction and the Bee has some nice video of the structure on its website. CalTrans is now working on the suspension span of the bridge, which will be the largest self-supported suspension bridge in the world with a 500-foot tower and a single cable anchoring the entire structure. (Print story here.)

Nguyen toured the bridge with a group of civil engineers attending the conference on Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering and Soil Dynamics held in Sacramento this week (the conference also included an equipment show at UC Davis’s Center for Geotechnical Modeling).

Polar Bear listing breaks new legal ground

Following the listing of the polar bear as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act, because of the threat to its habitat from global climate change, m’learned friends representing both conservatives and conservationists are sharpening their pencils and getting ready to litigate, according to Science magazine. But a UC Davis law professor argues that the likely legal mess could force us to build better tools for fighting climate change.

Several environmental groups are preparing to use the ruling to argue that cuts in greenhouse gases are now legally required to protect the polar bear, whereas conservative legal groups are planning to challenge the ruling itself.

Better Bottle Stopper is Competition Topper

A design for a high-tech closure for wine bottles that would allow the wine to breathe much like traditional bark corks won the $15,000 first prize in the annual Big Bang! Business Plan Competition at UC Davis. The contest is run by students in the Graduate School of Management.

Mississippi State is Challenge X winner

A team of students from Mississippi State University are the winners of the 2008 Challenge X competition to design and build a fuel-efficient vehicle based on a Chevy Equinox. A team from UC Davis, mentored by Professor Andy Frank, was among the 17 teams competing over the past four years of Challenge X.

The UC Davis team is the only one in the competition to take the approach of using a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that can run on gasoline, battery power and recharge from the wall.

Earthquake equipment show video

A nice report on yesterday’s earthquake engineering equipment show from Vic Lee of ABC-7. Good Day Sacramento also have a piece on the T-Rex ground shaking truck from the University of Texas, although it’s hard to link to individual pieces in their video library.