Scientist at Work: James Glazier

James Glazier Anyone who's ever stared at foams atop glasses of beer or soda knows not all bubbles are equal. Some bubbles are big. Some bubbles are small. Some bubbles grow. Others shrink. Some bubbles pop, while other bubbles persevere, buoyed by forces unseen. "We run into foams every day," said Indiana University Bloomington Physics Professor James Glazier, who -- among his diverse portfolio of scientific projects -- has studied the physics of frothy materials. "As foams sit around, bubbles seem to get bigger. People assume that's because bubbles are popping. Bubbles do pop, but that's not why other bubbles get bigger. Gas is actually moving from smaller bubbles to bigger bubbles."  Full Story

Chocolate farmers could benefit from newly sequenced cacao genome

Cacao fruit

A first draft of the cacao genome is complete, a consortium of academic, governmental, and industry scientists announced recently. IU Bloomington scientists performed much of the sequencing work, which is described and detailed at the official website of the Cacao Genome Database project. Despite being led and funded by a private company, Mars Inc., Cacao Genome Database scientists say one of their chief concerns has been making sure the Theobroma cacao genome data was published for all to see -- especially cacao farmers and breeders in West Africa, Asia and South America, who can use genetic information to improve their planting stocks and protect their often-fragile incomes.

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IU physics facility awarded $5 million for cooperative neutron research

Cyclotron LENS

The next generation of neutron research at IU Bloomington has received a $5 million boost from the National Institute for Standards and Technology. A recently awarded NIST grant provides close to $1 million a year for five years to support cooperative research activities between the Low Energy Neutron Source (LENS) at IU Bloomington and NIST's National Center for Neutron Research, located in Gaithersburg, Md. The newly funded agreement between LENS and NIST's NCNR builds on a previous three-year partnership between the two research groups.

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Isaac Newton and the Philosophers' Stone

Miller-Urey original experiment

If two of the greatest scientists who ever lived were dedicated alchemists, then alchemy needs a makeover, a big one, contend Johns Hopkins University chemist Lawrence Principe and his colleague William Newman, a historian of science at Indiana University Bloomington. Back in the day, the two argue, alchemy was not the misguided pseudoscience that most people think it was. Rather, it was a valuable and necessary phase in the development of modern chemistry.

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Bloomington fruit fly facility will expand with HHMI support

Fruit Fly

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has awarded $364,000 to more than double the capacity of the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center (BDSC), an institute of IU Bloomington. The BDSC houses 30,000 Drosophila melanogaster strains and helps develop scientific tools that are used to design new fly strains. The new grant will allow the BDSC to renovate and expand the facility so it can curate 60,000-70,000 different genetic fruit fly variants that are important for research.

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IU chemists develop new "light switch" chloride binder

Folding chloride receptor

Chemists at IU Bloomington have designed a molecule that binds chloride ions -- but can be conveniently compelled to release the ions in the presence of ultraviolet light. Reporting in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (online), IU Bloomington chemist Amar Flood and Ph.D. student Yuran Hua explain how they designed the molecule, how it works and, just as importantly, how they know it works.

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Tiny animal will be used to diagnose environmental problems -- and anticipate dangers to human health

MDIBL coastline

Environmental scientists seeking new ways to sense and diagnose impending environmental and human health disasters returned from Maine in August with new ideas about how to use a common water flea species, Daphnia pulex, as a modern era equivalent to the coal mine canary. The nine-day event at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (MDIBL) was a course for veteran scientists and scientists-in-training -- taught by a diverse array of scholars -- who are collectively creating a new field of science called "environmental genomics," largely centered around water flea genomes.

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Previous issue

William Black

The August 17, 2010, issue of IU Discoveries featured transportation geographer William Black, who has written a new book about how every mode of transportation can be made sustainable in a modern world. Also included were stories about an expansion of the TransPAC network, the energy costs of immune reactions, microbial mutation rates, a new tool to gauge the influence of scholarly publications, science education, and some promising uses for purple coneflower.

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