Living systems owe their existence to a pair of information-carrying molecules: DNA and RNA. These fundamental chemical forms possess two features essential for life: they display heredity — meaning they can encode and pass on genetic information, and they can adapt over time, through processes of Darwinian evolution.
A long-debated question is whether heredity and evolution could be performed by molecules other than DNA and RNA.
World's first completely plastic solar cell (image: Virginie Drujon-Kippelen)
Imagine owning a television with the thickness and weight of a sheet of paper. It will be possible, someday, thanks to the growing industry of printed electronics. The process, which allows manufacturers to literally print or roll materials onto surfaces to produce an electronically functional device, is already used in organic solar cells and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) that form the displays of cellphones.
Experimental setup of electro-bioreactor and solar panel (Credit: Image courtesy of University of California - Los Angeles)
Imagine being able to use electricity to power your car — even if it’s not an electric vehicle. Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have for the first time demonstrated a method for converting carbon dioxide into liquid fuel isobutanol using electricity.
Another year, another chance for scientists here to pop the champagne corks. In a draft budget released today at the opening session of the annual National People’s Congress, China has earmarked 32.45 billion yuan ($5.14 billion) for basic research in 2012—up 26% from last year’s appropriation