News at Princeton

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Science & Tech

FACULTY AWARD: Ploss receives early-career award for infectious-disease research

Alexander Ploss, a Princeton University assistant professor of molecular biology, has received an Investigators in Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. Ploss will use the five-year, $500,000 award for his topic, "breaking species barriers of human hepatotropic pathogens."

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Zika virus alerts may have prompted uptick in abortion requests in Latin America

A study co-authored by Princeton University researchers found that pregnant women in Latin American countries were more likely to seek an abortion after receiving health alerts about Zika virus. The findings highlight the need for Latin American women to have access to safe and legal reproductive options, especially as Zika continues to spread.

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After legal-ivory experiment, black markets thrive from greater demand, less risk

Researchers from Princeton University and the University of California-Berkeley found that a one-time legal sale of ivory intended to stifle elephant poaching in Africa actually expanded the black market for ivory and led to the slaughter of more elephants. In general, the work suggests that the partial legalization of some illegal products may in fact encourage black-market activity by attracting new customers and by reducing risk for criminals.

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Scoliosis linked to disruptions in spinal fluid flow

A new study in zebrafish by researchers at Princeton University and the University of Toronto suggests that irregular fluid flow through the spinal column brought on by gene mutations is linked to a type of scoliosis that can affect humans during adolescence. Also found in people, these genes damage the hair-like projections called motile cilia that move fluid through the spinal canal and lead to a curvature of the spine.

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PPPL dedicates upgraded fusion reactor, a powerful new 'star on Earth'

Scientists, policymakers and Princeton University administrators gathered May 20 to dedicate the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory's National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX-U), an upgraded spherical tokamak fusion reactor. Now the most powerful facility of its kind in the world, the NSTX-U allows researchers around the world to explore how to create fusion reactions that could provide society with clean, reliable, safe and abundant power.

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Princeton part of $40 million Simons Observatory collaboration to investigate the early universe

Princeton University researchers will have an integral role in the Simons Observatory, a new astronomy facility established with a $38.4 million grant from the Simons Foundation. The observatory will investigate cosmic microwave background radiation to better understand the physics and structure of the universe. The observatory's project manager will be located at Princeton, and Princeton faculty will oversee the development, design, testing and manufacture of many of the observatory's camera components.

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More than 1,200 new planets confirmed using new technique for verifying Kepler data

Scientists from Princeton University and NASA have confirmed that 1,284 objects observed outside Earth's solar system by NASA's Kepler spacecraft are indeed planets. The researchers used an automated technique developed at Princeton that allows scientists to efficiently determine if a Kepler signal is caused by a planet. It is the largest single announcement of new planets to date and more than doubles the number of confirmed planets discovered by Kepler so far.

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Unique Pluto, solar wind interactions similar to those of larger planets

The first analysis of Pluto's interaction with the ubiquitous space plasma known as the solar wind found that Pluto has some unique and unexpected characteristics that are less like a comet and more like larger planets.

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New tool puts a consistent value on experts' uncertainty on climate change models

To bridge the gap between projections of future sea-level rise and the need to prepare for it, a Princeton University researcher and collaborators developed a method that consolidates climate models and the range of opinions that leading scientists have about them into a single, consistent set of probabilities.

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Scherrer receives Hertz Fellowship for graduate study in physics

Princeton University senior and physics major Joseph Scherrer is one of 12 college seniors and first-year graduate students nationwide to be named 2016 Hertz Fellows by the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation. The fellows, who were selected from more than 800 applicants, will receive a stipend and full tuition support valued at $250,000 for up to five years of graduate study in the applied physical, biological and engineering sciences. Scherrer, from Nashville, Tennessee, will begin pursuing a Ph.D. in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2017.

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Gene behind 'evolution in action' in Darwin's finches identified

Scientists from Princeton University and Uppsala University have identified a specific gene that within a year helped spur a permanent physical change in a finch species in response to a drought-induced food shortage. The findings provide a genetic basis for natural selection that, when combined with observational data, could serve as a comprehensive model of evolution.

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Ocean currents push phytoplankton — and pollution — around the globe faster than thought

Princeton University researchers found that ocean currents can carry objects to almost any place on the globe in less than a decade, faster than previously thought. While good for microorganisms such as phytoplankton that are essential to the marine food web, it also means that plastic debris, radioactive particles and virtually any kind of litter can quickly become a problem in areas far from where they originated.

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Trees' internal water pipes predict which species survive drought

A team including Princeton University researchers has found that tree species that can withstand stress to the water-transport system that carries water from the roots to the crown are less susceptible to drought and massive die-off. The findings could help forestry experts, especially in the American West, create early-warning systems and take precautionary steps to reduce a forest's vulnerability to drought.

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Princeton graduate student creates computer program to help stabilize fusion plasmas

A Princeton University graduate student has worked with physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory to develop a method for limiting instabilities that reduce the performance of fusion plasmas. The more instabilities there are, the less efficiently the doughnut-shaped fusion facilities called tokamaks operate.

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Tidal forces explain how an icy moon of Saturn keeps its 'tiger stripes'

Researchers from Princeton University and the University of Chicago show that the mysterious persistence of the massive fissures known as "tiger stripes" on the surface of Saturn's sixth-largest moon, Enceladus, could be sustained by the sloshing of water in the vast ocean beneath the moon's thick ice shell. The findings could help provide a clear objective for future satellite missions to the Enceladus, which scientists suspect could host life.

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John C. Moore, dedicated and influential Princeton mathematician, dies

Princeton University professor emeritus John C. Moore, described as a committed and influential mathematician, died Jan. 1 in Rochester, New York. He was 92. Moore specialized in algebraic topology and had many important concepts named after him.

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Princeton researchers go to the end of the Earth for the world's oldest ice

Researchers led by John Higgins, a Princeton University assistant professor of geosciences, spent seven weeks in Antarctica drilling for ice cores over 1 million years old, which would be the oldest collected. The ice could provide a snapshot of how Earth's climate was — and what it may become.

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Hunt for Big Bang neutrinos may provide fresh insight on origin of universe

At the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Professor Chris Tully is readying a facility to detect neutrinos that appeared one second after the Big Bang, during the onset of the epoch that fused protons and neutrons to create all the light elements in the universe.  

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Princeton physicists share in excitement of gravitational waves Einstein predicted

The announcement Feb. 11 of the detection of gravitational waves, predicted by Albert Einstein some 100 years ago, created a surge of excitement among physicists worldwide, including many with ties to Princeton University. Researchers hope to use the waves to learn more about black holes and other massive objects in the universe, but also to study how the universe was formed and how gravity behaves.

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German W7-X fusion device produces first hydrogen plasma, with PPPL collaborators on hand

The largest and most advanced fusion experiment of its kind in the world launched this week, and it is already producing results. Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory physicists collaborating on the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) stellarator fusion energy device in Greifswald, Germany, were on hand Feb. 3 when German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed a button to produce the reactor's first hydrogen plasma.

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Princeton research benefits sustainability, cybersecurity and other societal goals

Sustainable building materials, a better way of preventing cyberattacks, and a new approach to curbing antibiotic resistance are some of the many faculty-led research projects at Princeton that have the potential to benefit society. These inventions were among those featured at the recent Celebrate Princeton Invention, an annual reception that honors faculty inventors and their research teams. 

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Once thought unstoppable, bacterial superweapon falters with too many targets

Researchers from Princeton University and the University of Basel found that a mechanism used by many disease-causing bacteria that was once thought to be a microbial superweapon can be thwarted if the cells being attacked are numerous enough. Combining computer simulations and laboratory work, the research reveals a unique approach to unraveling biological processes and could provide insight into how cells withstand powerful aggressors.

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3-D footage of nematode brains links neurons with motion and behavior

Princeton University researchers developed an instrument that allowed them to capture among the first 3-D recordings of neural activity in nearly the entire brain of a free-moving animal, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. The findings could provide scientists with a better understanding of how neurons coordinate action and perception in animals. 

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Researchers discover mechanism that halts solar eruptions before they blast into space

Among the most feared events in space physics are solar eruptions, massive explosions that hurl millions of tons of plasma gas and radiation into space. Now researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory have identified a mechanism that may halt eruptions before they leave the sun. 

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Levin wins National Medal of Science for unraveling ecological complexity

Simon Levin, Princeton University's George M. Moffett Professor of Biology and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, will receive a National Medal of Science, the nation's highest scientific honor. Levin will be honored at a White House ceremony in early 2016 along with eight fellow Medal of Science recipients and eight recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

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Chitchat and small talk could serve an evolutionary need to bond with others

Princeton University research suggests that idle conversation could be a social-bonding tool passed down from primates. The researchers found that lemurs use vocalizations far more selectively than previously thought, primarily exchanging calls with individuals with which they have close relationships. The findings could have implications for how scientists understand the evolution of primate vocalizations and human speech.

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PPPL physicists propose new plasma-based method to treat radioactive waste

Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) are proposing a new way to process nuclear waste that would reduce both the cost of disposal and the byproducts from the process. Known as plasma mass filtering, the new mass separation techniques use a plasma-based centrifuge that would supplement chemical techniques.

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Theory of 'smart' plants may explain the evolution of global ecosystems

In a new global theory of land-biome evolution, Princeton University researchers suggest that plants are not passive features of their environments, but may instead actively behave in ways that determine the productivity and composition of their ecosystems.

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Ants build 'living' bridges with their bodies, speak volumes about group intelligence

Researchers from Princeton University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology report for the first time that the "living" bridges army ants of the species Eciton hamatum build with their bodies are more sophisticated than scientists knew. The ants automatically assemble with a level of collective intelligence that could provide new insights into animal behavior and even help in the development of intuitive robots that can cooperate as a group.

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To save the Earth, better nitrogen use on a hungrier planet must be addressed

The global population is expected to increase by two to three billion people by 2050, a projection raising serious concerns about sustainable development, biodiversity and food security, but new research led by Princeton University shows that more efficient use of nitrogen fertilizers may address both environmental issues and crop production.

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UN climate summit can't overlook coal-power financing from emerging countries

When global leaders converge on Paris on Nov. 30 for the 2015 United Nations climate change conference, they should create guidelines and incentives for developing nations to cooperate with one another on lower-carbon energy projects, according to a report led by Princeton University researchers. Failure to do so could contribute to an unchecked expansion of coal energy in developing countries.

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Understanding animal coexistence with a little dung and a lot of DNA

Princeton University researchers deployed a new tool to help solve an old puzzle: How can multiple animals coexist while eating the same resources? They used "DNA metabarcoding" to determine the specific plants that herbivores inhabiting the Kenyan savanna eat. They found that the animals have distinct diets that allow them to inhabit in the same area without strong competition. This correlation of animal diets with specific plant compositions is already changing how people think about biodiversity and species conservation.

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Fly brains reveal the neural pathway by which outside stimuli become behavior

Princeton University researchers used fruit fly brains to capture the process by which the brain identifies behaviorally useful information in the external environment and uses it to determine our actions. The results provide a clear diagram of the stimulus-to-behavior neural process that is frequently carried out by human brains, but has been difficult for scientists to study.

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More rain leads to fewer trees in the African savanna

Princeton University researchers might have finally provided a solution to the ecological riddle of why tree abundance on Africa's grassy savannas diminishes in response to heavy rainfall despite scientists' expectations to the contrary. The researchers found that the ability of grasses to more efficiently absorb and process water gives them an advantage over trees. This raises concerns that the heavy tropical rains that could accompany climate change may lead to fewer trees on savannas.

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UPDATE: Nobel Physics and Chemistry Laureates' research has Princeton roots

Recipients of the 2015 Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry can trace their prize-winning work to their time at Princeton University.

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Summer interns get research experience at PPPL

Twenty-five undergraduates from colleges across the country spent this summer at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory as interns, part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program. In addition, 10 high school students participated in their own internship program. They were paired with staff mentors and assigned to research projects at the lab.

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Storey receives COPSS Presidents' Award for outstanding statisticians 40 or younger

John Storey, Princeton University's William R. Harman '63 and Mary-Love Harman Professor in Genomics and professor in the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, has received the 2015 COPSS Presidents' Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to statistics by a researcher aged 40 or younger. Presented by the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS), the award is one of the most prestigious in the field.

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Q&A with Jonathan Pillow on dissecting the brain using math and neuroscience

Jonathan Pillow, a Princeton University assistant professor of psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, aims to understand the brain by using math and statistics to make sense of the reams of information collected by brain-imaging studies. He sat down to talk about how he got into neuroscience, his approach to teaching, and his latest research published earlier this month in the journal Science.

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As he prepares to leave PPPL in 2016, Smith reflects on five decades in physics and at Princeton

After nearly 50 years on the faculty and staff of Princeton University, A.J. Stewart Smith is stepping down next February from his current post as the University's first vice president for the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Smith has played leading roles as an educator, particle physicist and administrator coordinating vast, vital research efforts.

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After 85-year search, massless particle with promise for next-generation electronics discovered

An international team led by Princeton University scientists has discovered Weyl fermions, elusive massless particles theorized 85 years ago that could give rise to faster and more efficient electronics because of their unusual ability to behave as matter and antimatter inside a crystal.

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Podcast: Are doctors choosing the best treatment for heart attacks?

When a patient has a heart attack, the doctor has to make a choice: either treat the patient with clot-busting drugs or perform invasive surgery. But how do doctors decide which procedure is best, and how do those decisions affect patient outcomes? Princeton professor Janet Currie decided to investigate these questions. She discusses the findings on this episode of WooCast, the Wilson School's podcast series.

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Summer institute encourages university educators to engage students in science

From institutions across the Northeast, researchers and science instructors gathered at Princeton University the week of June 14 for the regional session of the 2015 Summer Institutes on Undergraduate Education in Science where they explored techniques designed to better engage science students and attract students who are apprehensive about entering a laboratory.  

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Bassler receives 2015 Shaw Prize in life science and medicine

Bonnie Bassler, Princeton University's Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology and chair of the Department of Molecular Biology, was named a 2015 Shaw Prize Laureate in life science and medicine June 1. Bassler will share the $1 million prize for her well-known work in quorum sensing, a widespread process that bacteria use for cell-to-cell communication.

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A deadly shadow: Measles may weaken immune system up to three years

The measles virus can cause serious disease in children by temporarily suppressing their immune systems. This vulnerability was previously thought to last a month or two; however, a new study shows that children may in fact live in the immunological shadow of measles for up to three years, leaving them highly susceptible to a host of other deadly diseases.

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Identifying species imperiled by the wildlife trade may require a trip to the market

Princeton University-led research provides a new weapon in the struggle against the devastating wildlife trade: the very markets where animals are bought and sold. The researchers found that species that are disappearing as a result of the pet trade can be identified by changes in their market prices and trade volumes — increasing prices and decreasing availability could mean that wild populations are plummeting. Regular pet-market monitoring could help indicate when a particular species is in trouble so that measures could be taken to monitor and protect its wild population.

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Gravity data show that Antarctic ice sheet is melting increasingly faster

Princeton University researchers "weighed" Antarctica's ice sheet using gravitational satellite data and found that during the past decade, Antarctica's massive ice sheet lost twice the amount of ice in its western portion compared with what it accumulated in the east. Their conclusion — the southern continent's ice cap is melting ever faster.

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Stegosaurus plates provide first solid evidence that male, female dinosaurs looked different

The discovery of a single anatomical difference between males and females of a species of Stegosaurus provides some of the most conclusive evidence that some dinosaurs looked different based on sex, according to new Princeton University research. Existing work had been inconclusive to the point that some paleontologists began to think that male and female dinosaurs did not differ physically from one another.

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Princeton junior Roberts awarded Truman Scholarship for public service pursuits

Princeton University junior Thomas Roberts has been awarded a 2015 Truman Scholarship, which provides up to $30,000 for graduate study. Roberts, who is from Morris, Minnesota, is majoring in astrophysical sciences and plans to pursue a master's degree in public policy focused on international and global affairs. The award, which was given to 58 students among 688 candidates nationwide, "recognizes college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in the public service."

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James Olsen: Perspective on the world's biggest particle collider coming online again

Numerous Princeton University researchers will be ready once the Large Hadron Collider is "switched on" after a two-year hiatus during which it has been upgraded to run at a higher energy. Princeton physics professor James Olsen, who oversees all physics results for the collider's Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector, discusses the discoveries that lay ahead at the LHC. Having uncovered the Higgs particle during its first run, the collider will now be used to produce insights into some of the universe's foremost mysteries, including the nature of dark matter and a theory known as supersymmetry.

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Schmidt fund awards promote new technologies in computation and health

Two exploratory and promising research projects — a quantum computer based on a recently observed exotic particle and a smartphone that could replace laboratory tests in healthcare settings — have been awarded funding at Princeton University through the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Transformative Technology Fund.

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Antibiotic effectiveness imperiled as use in livestock expected to increase 67 percent by 2030

Princeton University-led research found that antibiotic consumption in livestock worldwide could rise by 67 percent between 2010 and 2030, and possibly endanger the effectiveness of antimicrobials in humans.

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A 'long awaited recognition': Nash receives Abel Prize for revered work in mathematics

Princeton University mathematician John Nash received the 2015 Abel Prize from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for his seminal work on partial differential equations, which are used to describe the basic laws of scientific phenomena. The award is one of the most prestigious in the field of mathematics and includes an $800,000 prize. Nash shares the prize with longtime colleague Louis Nirenberg, a professor emeritus at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

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Cropping Africa's wet savannas would bring high environmental costs

With the global population rising, analysts and policymakers have targeted Africa's vast wet savannas as a place to produce staple foods and bioenergy groups at low environmental costs. But a new study led by Princeton researchers finds that converting Africa's wet savannas into farmland would come at a high environmental cost and fail to meet some existing standards for renewable fuels.

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Ebola outbreak of 2014 may have laid tracks for deadly measles epidemic in Africa

Princeton University and Johns Hopkins University researchers report that the African countries most affected by the 2014 Ebola outbreak could now be highly susceptible to measles epidemics due to severe disruptions in routine health care such as vaccinations.

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Frontier beneath our feet: Seismic study aims to map Earth's interior in 3-D

Princeton geosciences professor Jeroen Tromp and his team have embarked on an ambitious project to use earthquakes to map the Earth's entire mantle, the semisolid rock that stretches to a depth of 1,800 miles, about halfway down to the planet's center and about 300 times deeper than humans have drilled.

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New approach to cancer therapy takes top prize at Innovation Forum

At the Keller Center's 10th annual Innovation Forum on Feb. 25, Mark Esposito, a Princeton University graduate student in molecular biology took the top prize with his pitch for a method to stop the spread of cancer.

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Forum advanced many ideas from lab to market in 10-year history

The Innovation Forum, an annual presentation of technology developed by the University's professors, graduate students and researchers, is sponsored by the Keller Center and the Office of Technology Licensing. Now celebrating its 10th year, the forum has helped launch a wide range of projects from new biomedical devices to high-tech imagers and cameras.

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Researchers find 3-D printed parts to provide low-cost, custom alternatives for lab equipment

The 3-D printing scene, a growing favorite of do-it-yourselfers, has spread to the study of plasma physics. With a series of experiments, researchers at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have found that 3-D printers can be an important tool in laboratory environments.

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Innovation funds awarded to support natural sciences, humanities projects and industry collaborations

Seven innovative projects have been selected to receive Princeton University's Dean for Research innovation funds, which, now in their second year, enable faculty members to pursue bold new ideas.

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Princeton graduate students, postdoc on a mission of learning and restoration in Mozambique

A new video series features the work of Princeton University graduate students and a postdoctoral researcher working in Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park, one of the world's most biologically rich habitats. The videos show how the park provides researchers with invaluable and unforgettable field experience, as well as an opportunity to revive a vast wilderness in critical need of help.

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A gene that shaped the evolution of Darwin's finches

Researchers from Princeton University and Uppsala University in Sweden have identified a gene in the Galápagos finches studied by English naturalist Charles Darwin that influences beak shape and that played a role in the birds' evolution from a common ancestor more than 1 million years ago. The study illustrates the genetic foundation of evolution, including how genes can flow from one species to another, and how different versions of a gene within a species can contribute to the formation of entirely new species.

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Tiny termites can hold back deserts by creating oases of plant life

Princeton University research suggests that termite mounds can help prevent the spread of deserts into semi-arid ecosystems and agricultural lands. The results not only suggest that termite mounds could make these areas more resilient to climate change than previously thought, but could also inspire a change in how scientists determine the possible effects of climate change on ecosystems.

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Rice-sized laser, powered one electron at a time, bodes well for quantum computing

Princeton University researchers have built a rice grain-sized microwave laser, or "maser," powered by single electrons that demonstrates the fundamental interactions between light and moving electrons. It is a major step toward building quantum-computing systems out of semiconductor materials.

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Princeton satellite successfully heads to the 'edge of space' to study the early universe

SPIDER, a stratospheric spacecraft constructed primarily in Princeton's Jadwin Hall, was successfully launched Jan. 1 from Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf. Borne by a helium-filled balloon, SPIDER will orbit Earth at roughly 120,000 feet for 20 days looking for the pattern of gravitational waves produced by the fluctuation of energy and density that resulted from the Big Bang.

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New, tighter timeline confirms ancient volcanism aligned with dinosaurs' extinction

A definitive geological timeline from Princeton University researchers shows that a series of massive volcanic explosions 66 million years ago played a role in the extinction event that claimed Earth's non-avian dinosaurs, and challenges the dominant theory that a meteorite impact was the sole cause of the extinction.

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PPPL and USDA engineers receive a patent for pasteurizing eggs in the shell

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted a patent to a novel technique and device for pasteurizing eggs developed by engineers at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The award marks the 27th patent granted to PPPL inventors since 1994.

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New bird species confirmed 15 years after first observation

A team led by researchers from Princeton University, Michigan State University and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences has confirmed the discovery of a new bird species more than 15 years after the elusive animal was first seen on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

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Unique sense of 'touch' gives a prolific bacterium its ability to infect anything

A study led by Princeton University researchers found that one of the world's most prolific bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, manages to afflict humans, animals and even plants by way of a mechanism not before seen in any infectious microorganism — a sense of touch.

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What makes a tumor switch from dormant to malignant?

Cancer constantly wages war on the human body. Battles are won, lost or sometimes end in a stalemate. This stalemate, known as tumor dormancy, is extremely difficult to study in both cellular and animal models. A new computational model developed in the laboratory of Salvatore Torquato, a professor of chemistry at Princeton University, offers a way to probe the conditions surrounding tumor dormancy and the switch to a malignant state.

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FACULTY AWARD: Sundaresan receives Humboldt Research Award for lifetime achievement

Sankaran Sundaresan, a Princeton University professor of chemical and biological engineering, has been chosen to receive a Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, in recognition of lifetime achievements in research. The award is presented to up to 100 non-German scientists each year who are nominated by their peers in Germany. Sundaresan, whose work involves transport phenomena and process engineering, is invited to spend up to a year cooperating on a long-term research research project with colleagues at an institution in Germany.

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Researchers resolve the Karakoram glacier anomaly, a cold case of climate science

Researchers from Princeton University and other institutions may have hit upon an answer to a climate-change puzzle that has eluded scientists for years, namely why glaciers in the Karakoram range of the Himalayas have remained stable and even increased in mass while glaciers nearby and worldwide have been receding. Understanding the "Karakoram anomaly" could help gauge the future availability of water for hundreds of millions of people.

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Immune proteins moonlight to regulate brain-cell connections

When it comes to the brain, "more is better" seems like an obvious assumption. But in the case of synapses, which are the connections between brain cells, too many or too few can both disrupt brain function. Researchers from Princeton University and the University of California-San Diego recently found an immune-system protein that moonlights in the nervous system to help regulate the number of synapses, and could play an unexpected role in conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, type II diabetes and autism.

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Genetic 'instruction set' for antibodies knocks down hepatitis C in mice

A study led by Princeton University researchers found that a triple-punch of antibodies both prevented hepatitis C infection and wiped out the disease after it had established itself in laboratory mice. Instead of delivering the antibodies directly, the researchers administered a genetic "instruction set" that, once in a cell, developed into antibodies that target the portions of the virus that do not mutate.

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Fall foliage season may be later, but longer on warmer Earth

The fall foliage season in some areas of the United States could come much later and possibly last a little longer by the end of the century as climate change causes summer temperatures to linger later into the year, according to Princeton University researchers. The delay could result in a longer growing season that would affect carbon uptake, agriculture, water supplies and animal behavior, among many other areas.

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Neutrino experiment that reaches for the sun has Princeton roots

Princeton University scientists and engineers were directly involved in the recent detection of an elusive subatomic particle forged in the sun's core, which was the crowning achievement of a 25-year international effort to design and build one of the most sensitive neutrino detectors in the world.

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PPPL scientists take key step toward solving a major astrophysical mystery

Magnetic reconnection in the Earth and sun's atmospheres can trigger geomagnetic storms that disrupt cell phone service, damage satellites and blackout power grids. In a new paper, scientists at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and Princeton University have taken a key step toward understanding this unsolved problem in plasma astrophysics.

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Southern Ocean's role in climate regulation, ocean health is goal of $21 million federal grant

A six-year, $21 million program by Princeton University and 10 partner institutions will seek to make the importance and health of the Southern Ocean encircling Antarctica better known scientifically and publicly. The Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling program, or SOCCOM, will create a biogeochemical and physical portrait of the ocean using an expanded computational capacity and hundreds of robotic floats deployed around Antarctica.

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In one of nature's innovations, a single cell smashes and rebuilds its own genome

A study led by Princeton University researchers found that a pond-dwelling, single-celled organism has the remarkable ability to break its own DNA into nearly a quarter-million pieces and rapidly reassemble those pieces when it's time to mate. This elaborate process could provide a template for understanding how chromosomes in more complex animals such as humans break apart and reassemble, as can happen during the onset of cancer.

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Early cerebellum malfunction hinders neural development, possible root of autism, theory suggests

Princeton University researchers offer a new theory that an early-life injury to the cerebellum disrupts the brain's processing of external and internal information and leads to "developmental diaschisis," wherein a loss of function in one brain region leads to problems in another. Applied to autism, cerebellar injury could hinder how other areas of the brain interpret external stimuli and organize internal processes.

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Coal's continued dominance of global industrialization must be made more vivid in climate change accounting

The world's accounting system for carbon emissions, run by the United Nations, disregards capital investments in future coal-fired and natural-gas power plants that will commit the world to several decades and billions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study from Princeton University and the University of California-Irvine.

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Laser device may end pin pricks, improve quality of life for diabetics

Princeton University researchers have developed a way to use a laser to measure people's blood sugar, and, with more work to shrink the laser system to a portable size, the technique could allow diabetics to check their condition without pricking themselves to draw blood.

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Bubbling down: Discovery suggests surprising uses for common bubbles

Anyone who has ever had a glass of fizzy soda knows that bubbles can throw tiny particles into the air. But in a finding with wide industrial applications, Princeton researchers have demonstrated that the bursting bubbles push some particles down into the liquid as well.

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Bhargava receives Fields Medal for influential mathematicians under 40

Princeton University mathematician Manjul Bhargava was awarded the 2014 Fields Medal, one of the most prestigious awards in mathematics, in recognition of his work in the geometry of numbers. The International Mathematical Union (IMU) presents the medal every four years to researchers under the age of 40 based on the influence of their existing work and on their "promise of future achievement."

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Wild sheep show benefits of putting up with parasites

In the first evidence that natural selection favors an individual's infection tolerance, researchers from Princeton University and the University of Edinburgh have found that an animal's ability to endure an internal parasite strongly influences its reproductive success. The finding could provide the groundwork for boosting the resilience of humans and livestock to infection.

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Study shows significant increase in antibiotic use across the world

Global use of antibiotics is surging according to Princeton University researchers who have conducted a broad assessment of antibiotic consumption around the world.

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Diabolical duo: Known breast cancer gene needs a partner to initiate and spread tumors

A team led by Princeton University researchers has found that a gene known as Metadherin promotes the survival of tumor-initiating cells via the interaction with a second molecule called SND1. The finding could suggest new treatment strategies.

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Neural sweet talk: Taste metaphors emotionally engage the brain

Researchers from Princeton University and the Free University of Berlin found that taste-related metaphors such as "sweet" actually engage the emotional centers of the brain more than literal words such as "kind" that have the same meaning. If metaphors in general elicit a similar emotional response, that could mean that figurative language presents a "rhetorical advantage" when communicating with others.

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Collaboration of minds and metal leads to possible shortcut to new drugs

Princeton University researchers merged two powerful areas of research to enable an unprecedented chemical reaction that neither could broadly achieve on its own. The resulting bond formation could provide an excellent shortcut for chemists as they construct and test thousands of molecules to find new drugs.

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Familiar yet strange: Water's 'split personality' revealed by computer model

Using computer models, Princeton University researchers found that as water freezes it takes on a sort of split personality wherein, at very cold temperatures and above a certain pressure, it may spontaneously split into two liquid forms. Finding this dual nature could lead to a better understanding of how water behaves in high-altitude clouds, which could improve the predictive ability of current weather and climate models.

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PPPL receives $4.3 million to increase understanding of the role that plasma plays in synthesizing nanoparticles

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory has received $4.3 million of DOE funding, over three years, to develop an increased understanding of the role of plasma in the synthesis of nanoparticles. Such particles, which are measured in billionths of a meter, are prized for their use in everything from golf clubs and swimwear to microchips, paints and pharmaceutical products.

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Fast and curious: Electrons hurtle into the interior of a new class of quantum materials

Scientists at Princeton University have made a step forward in developing a new class of materials that could be used in future technologies. They have discovered a new quantum effect that enables electrons — the negative-charge-carrying particles that make today's electronic devices possible — to dash through the interior of these materials with very little resistance.  

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Katsevich receives Hertz Fellowship for graduate study in statistics

Princeton University senior and mathematics major Eugene Katsevich is one of 15 college seniors and first-year graduate students nationwide to be named 2014 Hertz Fellows by the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation. The fellows, who were selected from 800 applicants, will receive a stipend and full tuition support valued at $250,000 for up to five years of graduate study in the applied physical, biological and engineering sciences.

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Princeton and PPPL share in $25 million nuclear arms-control project

The National Nuclear Security Administration has named Princeton University and the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory as participants in a new $25 million, five-year project to address technology and policy issues related to nuclear arms control.

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Sinai receives Abel Prize for lifelong influence on mathematics

Yakov Sinai, a Princeton University professor of mathematics, was awarded the 2014 Abel Prize by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for his influential 50-year career in mathematics. The award is one of the most prestigious in the field of mathematics and includes a $1 million prize.

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Dust in the wind drove iron fertilization during ice age

Researchers from Princeton University and ETH Zurich have confirmed that during the last ice age iron fertilization caused plankton to thrive in a region of the Southern Ocean.

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Princeton's Oppenheimer, an author of upcoming UN climate-change report, available for comment

Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer will be available to comment on the upcoming release of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which will examine the risks and consequences of climate change for humans and nature, and the ways to adapt to them. Oppenheimer is a coordinating lead author of the report, which is the second part of the Fifth Assessment Report from the IPCC, an organization under the auspices of the United Nations that periodically evaluates the effects of climate change.

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What singing fruit flies can tell us about quick decisions

Princeton University researchers have discovered that the pitch and tempo of the male fruit fly's mating song is based on environmental cues rather than a stereotyped pattern. These findings could be substantial for understanding rapid decision-making in more advanced beings such as humans.

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Tattoo removal to crude oil extraction: Research with commercial appeal

The Innovation Forum, sponsored by Princeton's Keller Center for the ninth year, took place Feb. 26 before an audience of nearly 200 people in the University's Carl A. Fields Center. Ten teams pitched the commercial potential of research ranging from advances in medicine to painless tattoo removal.

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Inaugural Dean for Research Innovation Funds inspire bold directions

A new initiative to encourage bold and creative research at Princeton University is poised to bear fruit: The first annual Dean for Research Innovation Funds have been awarded to a group of projects that push the boundaries of research in the natural sciences, encourage research partnerships with industry, and facilitate collaborations between investigators in the arts and the sciences or engineering.

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Tracking genes on the path to genetic treatment

Princeton University and University of Michigan researchers have developed a system that allows computers to "virtually dissect" a kidney in a way that surgery cannot. The machine uses data from an array of gene-activity measurements in patients' kidney biopsies to mathematically separate cells and identify genes that are turned on in a specific cell type.

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In the eye of a chicken, a new state of matter comes into view

Along with eggs, soup and rubber toys, the list of the chicken's most lasting legacies may eventually include advanced materials, according to researchers from Princeton University and Washington University in St. Louis. The researchers report that the unusual arrangement of cells in a chicken's eye constitutes the first known biological occurrence of a potentially new state of matter known as "disordered hyperuniformity," which has been shown to have unique physical properties.

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Princeton's IP Accelerator Fund awarded to four promising technologies

Enhanced cybersecurity, non-scarring tattoo removal, 3-D photography and a laser-scanning device are the four projects selected this year for Princeton University's Intellectual Property Accelerator Fund, which supports discoveries that have significant potential for further development into products or services. The roughly $100,000 each researcher receives enables the prototyping and testing that technologies need to attract interest from startups, or from established companies looking for innovative products.

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Welcome to the DarkSide: Project aims to find particles of dark matter

In a laboratory under a mountain 80 miles east of Rome this fall, a Princeton-led international team switched on a new experiment aimed at finding a mysterious substance that makes up a quarter of the universe but has never been seen. The experiment, known as DarkSide-50, is searching for particles of dark matter, and finding it will solidify our understanding of how the universe formed and shed light on its ultimate fate, researchers say.  

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Unpacking the toolkit of human consciousness

Princeton University psychology professor Michael Graziano has developed a new theory of consciousness he calls the "attention schema theory" that takes a completely different approach to explaining consciousness. In Graziano's theory, awareness is not a non-physical essence. Instead, the brain is an information-processing device that constructs a description of itself as conscious, and also attributes that property of consciousness to others.

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Tiny acts of microbe justice help reveal how nature fights freeloaders

Princeton University researchers have discovered that bacteria prevent layabouts from enjoying the fruit of others' hard work by keeping food generated by the community's productive members away from those microbes that attempt to live on others' leftovers. The process could have uses in agriculture, energy and medicine, as well as provide insight into how species protect themselves from the freeloaders of their kind.

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Opposing phenomena possible key to high-efficiency electricity delivery

Princeton University-led researchers report that the coexistence of two opposing phenomena might be the secret to understanding how materials known as high-temperature superconductors — heralded as the future of powering our homes and communities — actually work. Such insight could help spur the further development of high-efficiency electric-power delivery.

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Princeton and PPPL launch center to study volatile space weather

Researchers at Princeton University and the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory have launched a new center to study the heliosphere, the complex and frequently violent region of space that encompasses the solar system. The Princeton Center for Heliospheric Physics aims to sharpen the capacity to predict solar eruptions and to deepen understanding of the plasma flows and magnetic forces that emanate from the sun.

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Even if emissions stop, carbon dioxide could warm Earth for centuries

Princeton University-led research suggests that even if carbon-dioxide emissions came to a sudden halt, the carbon dioxide already in Earth's atmosphere could continue to warm our planet for hundreds of years. Thus, it might take a lot less carbon than previously thought to reach the global temperature scientists deem unsafe.

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'Tiger stripes' underneath Antarctic glaciers slow the flow

Narrow stripes of dirt and rock beneath massive Antarctic glaciers create friction zones that slow the flow of ice toward the sea, researchers at Princeton University and the British Antarctic Survey have found. Understanding how these high-friction regions form and subside could help researchers understand how the flow of these glaciers responds to a warming climate.

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If a tree falls in Brazil…? Amazon deforestation could mean droughts for western U.S.

Princeton University-led researchers report that the total deforestation of the Amazon could mean 20 percent less rain for the coastal Northwest and a 50 percent reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, resulting in water and food shortages, and a greater risk of forest fires. The research is intended to highlight how the destruction of the Amazon rainforest could affect climate elsewhere.

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Without plants, Earth would cook under billions of tons of additional carbon

Researchers based at Princeton University found that Earth's terrestrial ecosystems have absorbed 186 billion to 192 billion tons of carbon since the mid-20th century, which has significantly contained the global temperature and levels of carbon in the atmosphere.

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Small bits of genetic material fight cancer's spread

Researchers at Princeton University have found that microRNAs — small bits of genetic material capable of repressing the expression of certain genes — may serve as both therapeutic targets and predictors of metastasis, or a cancer’s spread from its initial site to other parts of the body.

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How red crabs on Christmas Island speak for the tropics

Research conducted through Princeton University found that erratic rainfall — which could become more irregular as a result of climate change — could be detrimental to animals that migrate with the dry-wet seasonal cycle. The researchers studied the annual mating migration of the land-dwelling Christmas Island red crab in order to help scientists understand the consequences of climate change for the millions of migratory animals in Earth's tropical zones.

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Nobel Prize for Higgs boson fueled by the work of thousands, including key Princeton physicists

Princeton University researchers have been significantly involved in the 50-year endeavor to observe the Higgs boson, a particle theorized to be crucial to understanding the nature of the world around us. On Oct. 8, the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Peter Higgs and François Englert, two physicists who, in separate 1964 papers, proposed the basis of the particle's existence, the Higgs mechanism.

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Media Advisory: Princeton's Oppenheimer available to comment on release of first part of IPCC Fifth Assessment Report

Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer is available to comment on the Sept. 27 release of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to examine the connection between greenhouse gases and human-made climate change and its consequences, such as extreme heat, intense precipitation and sea-level rise. Titled "Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis," it is the first part of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report.

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Beautiful brushstrokes are drawn from data

A team of researchers including scientists at Princeton University has developed a program that allows graphic artists to quickly and easily produce realistic brushstrokes on their computers.

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Tropical forest carbon absorption may hinge on an odd couple

A Princeton University-based study found that a unique housing arrangement between trees in the legume family and the carbo-loading rhizobia bacteria may determine how well tropical forests can absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The findings suggest that the role of tropical forests in offsetting the atmospheric buildup of carbon from fossil fuels depends on tree diversity.

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Earth's wobble 'fixes' dinner for marine organisms

The cyclic wobble of the Earth on its axis controls the production of a nutrient essential to the health of the ocean, according to a new study in the journal Nature. The discovery of factors that control this nutrient, known as "fixed" nitrogen, gives researchers insight into how the ocean regulates its own life-support system, which in turn affects the Earth's climate and the size of marine fisheries. 

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Movement of marine life follows speed and direction of climate change

New research based at Princeton University shows that the trick to predicting when and where sea animals will relocate due to climate change is to follow the pace and direction of temperature changes, known as climate velocity.

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Poor concentration: Poverty reduces brainpower needed for navigating other areas of life

Research based at Princeton University found that poverty and all its related concerns require so much mental energy that the poor have less remaining brainpower to devote to other areas of life.

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PPPL teams up with USDA to produce new egg pasteurization method

Researchers at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have developed a novel technique and device for rapidly pasteurizing eggs in the shell without damaging the delicate egg white. The process could lead to a sharp reduction in illnesses caused by egg-borne salmonella bacteria, a widespread public health concern.

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Stunning images of Andromeda demonstrate the world's most powerful astronomical camera

Stunning images of the Andromeda Galaxy are among the first to emerge from a new wide-field camera installed on the enormous Subaru Telescope called the Hyper-Suprime Cam (HSC), which is the result of an international collaboration between Princeton University astrophysicists and Japanese and Taiwanese scientists.

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Cool heads likely won't prevail in a hotter, wetter world

Researchers from Princeton University and the University of California-Berkeley report that even slight spikes in temperature and precipitation greatly increase the risk of personal and civil violence, and suggest that more human conflict is a likely outcome of climate change.

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Evolution picks up hitchhikers

In a twist on "survival of the fittest," Princeton University researchers have discovered that evolution is driven not by a single beneficial mutation but rather by a group of mutations, including ones called "genetic hitchhikers" that are simply along for the ride.

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A sound idea: Innovative lens takes shape as commercial product

On a late night in February 2011, two Princeton University researchers packed a small object into a box and set it out for the morning mail. The engineers had spent four years developing a new type of microscope lens that focuses in response to sound waves. They were sending their invention to their first customer. Two years and a lot of hard work later, their invention, the TAG Optics Lens 2.0, has a customer base spanning from Japan to Germany.

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Exercise reorganizes the brain to be more resilient to stress

A research team based at Princeton University found that physical activity reorganizes the brain so that its response to stress is reduced and anxiety is less likely to interfere with normal brain function.

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Altitude sickness may hinder ethnic integration in the world's highest places

Princeton University research suggests that ethnic segregation — and potential ethnic tension — in nations straddling the world's steepest terrains may be reinforced by the biological tolerance different peoples have to altitude, according to one of the first studies to examine the effect of elevation on ethnic demographics

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Is there an invisible tug-of-war behind bad hearts and power outages?

Researchers from Princeton University and Germany's Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization report the first purely physical experimental evidence that an invisible and chaotic tug-of-war known as a chimera state could occur naturally within any process that relies on spontaneous synchronization, including clock pendulums, power grids and heart valves.

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Princeton researchers help protect New York from climate change

Four Princeton University researchers took part in the June 11 report, "A Stronger, More Resilient New York," a comprehensive analysis of New York City's climate risks and proposed steps for preparing for future climate events.

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Pebbles and sand on Mars best evidence that a river ran through it

Pebbles and sand scattered near an ancient Martian river network may present the most convincing evidence yet that the frigid deserts of the Red Planet were once a habitable environment traversed by flowing water, scientists with NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission and Princeton University report in the journal Science.

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Alumnus Donoho receives Shaw Prize in mathematics

Princeton University alumnus David Donoho, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Humanities and Sciences and a professor of statistics at Stanford University, today was named the 2013 Shaw Laureate in mathematics. A member of Princeton's Class of 1978, Donoho was recognized for his work to get a more detailed analysis out of large numerical data sets.

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Media Advisory: Lost in space — Cancellation of NASA's Kepler mission would hinder exploration of extrasolar planets, Princeton's Bakos says

The potential cancellation of the NASA Kepler satellite mission would mark the end of an unparalleled source of information about planets and planetary systems outside of Earth's solar system, known as exoplanets, according to Princeton University astrophysicist Gáspár Bakos, who studies exoplanets and has discovered more than 40.

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Studying the unseen activity in bacteria chatter and a nation's bereavement

Princeton University senior Sofia Quinodoz took on two theses that pertain to an unseen and not fully understood action that is nonetheless felt by those it afflicts, be it in the form of an infection or the void of a loved one suddenly erased.

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Printable 'bionic' ear melds electronics and biology

Using 3-D printing tools, scientists at Princeton University have created a functional ear that can "hear" radio frequencies far beyond the range of normal human capability.

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New analysis suggests wind, not water, formed mound on Mars

Researchers based at Princeton University, the California Institute of Technology and Ashima Research suggest that Mars' roughly 3.5-mile high Mount Sharp most likely emerged as strong winds carried dust and sand into Gale Crater where the mound sits. If correct, the research could dilute expectations that the mound is the remnant of a massive lake, which would have important implications for understanding Mars' past habitability.

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Physicists, biologists unite to expose how cancer spreads

A multi-institutional study including researchers from Princeton University's Physical Sciences-Oncology Center found that cancer cells that can break out of a tumor and invade other organs are more aggressive and nimble than nonmalignant cells.

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PPPL and Princeton scientists developing novel system for verifying nuclear warheads

Scientists at Princeton University and the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) are developing a unique process to verify that nuclear weapons to be dismantled or removed from deployment contain true warheads. The system would do so without measuring classified information that could lead to nuclear proliferation if the data were to be leaked.

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Princeton neuroscientists ready to play leadership role in federal BRAIN Initiative

Princeton University neuroscientists are poised to play a leading role in revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain as outlined in President Barack Obama's BRAIN Initiative.

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Bad decisions arise from faulty information, not faulty brain circuits

Princeton University researchers have found that bad decisions might be the fault of faulty information, rather than errors in the brain's decision-making process.

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Subconscious mental categories help brain sort through everyday experiences

Princeton University researchers found that the brain breaks experiences into the "events," or related groups that help us mentally organize the day's many situations, using subconscious mental categories it creates. These categories are based on how the considers people, objects and actions are related in terms of how they tend to — or tend not to — pop up near one another at specific times.

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Student work fuels effort to make smartphones smarter

Most term papers are evaluated by one or two people, but Carlee Joe-Wong's will be checked by hundreds. The paper, completed in 2010 as part of a junior-year independent project at Princeton University, has evolved into a research project involving wireless operators like AT&T and 1,000 participating wireless customers with mobile data plans. Along the way, it has also led to the development of a popular free app.

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Princeton's Polyakov wins 2013 Fundamental Physics Prize

Alexander Polyakov, Princeton University's Joseph Henry Professor of Physics, was honored with the 2013 Fundamental Physics Prize for his lasting work in field and string theory. The $3 million prize was presented during a March 20 ceremony in Geneva by the Fundamental Physics Foundation.

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Bacterial byproduct offers route to avoiding antibiotic resistance

As public health officials sound the alarm about the global spread of drug-resistant bacteria, researchers are working to develop more effective antibiotics to counter this dangerous trend. Now, results from a team including a Princeton University scientist offer a possible solution that uses the bacteria's own byproducts to destroy them.

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Where the wild things go … when there's nowhere else

The presence of endangered cats and primates in swamp forests might be seriously overlooked. Princeton research concludes that swamp forests beg further exploration as places where endangered species have preserved their numbers — and where humans could potentially preserve them into the future.

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March of the pathogens: Parasite metabolism can foretell disease ranges under climate change

Princeton University researchers developed a model that can help determine the future range of nearly any disease-causing parasite under climate change, even if little is known about the organism. Their method calculates how the projected temperature change for an area would alter the creature's metabolism and life cycle.

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Genomic detectives crack the case of the missing heritability

Despite years of research, the genetic factors behind many human diseases and characteristics remain unknown, and has been called the "missing heritability" problem. A new study by Princeton University researchers, however, suggests that heritability in humans may be hidden due only to the limitations of modern research tools, but could be discovered if scientists know where (and how) to look.  

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The effective collective: Grouping could ensure animals find their way in a changing environment

Princeton University researchers report in the journal Science that collective intelligence is vital to certain animals' ability to evaluate and respond to their environment. The results should prompt a close examination of how endangered group or herd animals are preserved and managed because wild animals that depend on collective intelligence for migration, breeding and locating essential resources could be imperiled by any activity that diminishes or divides the group, such as overhunting and habitat loss.  

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Reconcilable differences: Study uncovers the common ground of scientific opposites

Princeton University researchers developed a mathematical framework that strips away the differences between scientific laws and theories to reveal how the ideas are compatible. In a recent report in the journal Physical Review Letters, the authors explain how the mathematical model finds common ground between the famously at-odds physics equations that govern classical and quantum mechanics.  

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From dark hearts comes the kindness of mankind

The kindness of mankind most likely developed from our more sinister and self-serving tendencies, according to Princeton University and University of Arizona research that suggests society's rules against selfishness are rooted in the very exploitation they condemn.

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Don't read my lips! Body language trumps the face for conveying intense emotions

Be it triumph or crushing defeat, exhilaration or agony, body language more accurately conveys intense emotions, according to Princeton University research that challenges the predominance of facial expressions as an indicator of how a person feels.

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Nursing gerbils unravel benefit of multiple mothers in collective mammals

In mammals such as rodents that raise their young as a group, infants will nurse from their mother as well as other females, a dynamic known as allosuckling. Ecologists have long hypothesized that allosuckling lets newborns stockpile antibodies to various diseases, but the experimental proof has been lacking until now.

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PPPL teams with South Korea on the forerunner of a commercial fusion power station

The U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has joined forces with researchers in South Korea to develop a pre-conceptual design for a pioneering fusion facility in that Asian nation. The proposed device, called K-DEMO, could be completed in the mid- to late 2030s as the final step before construction of a commercial fusion power plant that would produce clean and abundant energy for generating electricity.

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Embracing data 'noise' brings Greenland's complex ice melt into focus

Princeton University researchers developed an enhanced approach to capturing changes on the Earth's surface via satellite that could provide a more accurate account of how geographic areas are changing as a result of natural and human factors. In a first application, the technique revealed sharper-than-ever details about Greenland's massive ice sheet, including that the rate at which it is melting might be accelerating more slowly than predicted.

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Synthetic fuels could eliminate entire U.S. need for crude oil, create 'new economy'

The United States could eliminate the need for crude oil by using a combination of coal, natural gas and non-food crops to make synthetic fuel, a team of Princeton researchers led by chemical and biological engineering professor Christodoulos Floudas has found.

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Quick, high-volume test offers fast track in search for Alzheimer's drugs

Princeton University researchers report that an efficient, high-volume technique developed at Princeton for testing potential drug treatments for Alzheimer's disease uncovered an organic compound that restored motor function and longevity to fruit flies with the disease.

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In financial ecosystems, big banks trample economic habitats and spread fiscal disease

Researchers from Princeton University, the Bank of England and the University of Oxford applied methods inspired by ecosystem stability and contagion models to banking meltdowns and found that large national and international banks wield an influence and potentially destructive power that far exceeds their actual size. As a result, the capital that current regulations require large banks to maintain should be based on the institution's systemic importance.

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John Templeton Foundation grant supports Princeton neuroscientists to study cognitive control

Princeton neuroscientists have been awarded a $4 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to explore how the human brain enables us to pursue goals and juggle priorities in an environment full of distractions.

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Princeton researchers identify unexpected bottleneck in the spread of herpes simplex virus

New research suggests that just one or two individual herpes virus particles attack a skin cell in the first stage of an outbreak, resulting in a bottleneck in which the infection may be vulnerable to medical treatment.

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Far from random, evolution follows a predictable genetic pattern, Princeton researchers find

Princeton University research suggests that knowledge of a species' genes — and how certain external conditions affect the proteins encoded by those genes — could be used to determine a predictable evolutionary pattern driven by outside factors. Scientists could then pinpoint how the diversity of adaptations seen in the natural world developed even in distantly related animals.

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Synthetic liver enzyme could result in more effective drugs with fewer side effects

Medicines could be made to have fewer side effects and work in smaller doses with the help of a synthetic enzyme developed at Princeton University that makes drug molecules more resistant to breakdown by the human liver.

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Slow-moving rocks better odds that life crashed to Earth from space

Microorganisms that crashed to Earth embedded in the fragments of distant planets might have been the sprouts of life on this one, according to new research from Princeton University, the University of Arizona and the Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) in Spain. The researchers provide the strongest support yet for "lithopanspermia," the idea that life came to Earth — or spread from Earth to other planets — via meteorite-like planetary fragments cast forth by disruptions such as volcanic eruptions and collisions with other matter.

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Leland named University's first director of research integrity and assurance

Stuart Leland has been named Princeton University's first director for research integrity and assurance, to which he brings 20 years of experience in laboratory research and in research compliance. His appointment was effective Aug. 15.

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Bakos: Perspective on the hunt for extrasolar planets

Gáspár Bakos, Princeton University assistant professor of astrophysical sciences, brings his research on exoplanets and small telescopes together with a network of six, fully automated telescopes he developed that scan the sky every night for planets outside Earth's solar system — with 41 planets and counting discovered so far.

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Princeton study reveals the brain's mysterious switchboard operator

Princeton University researchers report that a mysterious region deep in the human brain could be where we sort through the onslaught of stimuli from the outside world and focus on the information most important to our behavior and survival.

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Upgrading the Internet for the mobile age

A team of Princeton University researchers, led by Assistant Professor of Computer Science Michael Freedman, has released a plan to cut through that tangle and provide a simple solution to many of the problems involved with the Internet's growing pains. Called Serval, the system makes a small change to the way programs download and manage data that could have a big impact on the future development of the Web.

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Four Princeton researchers receive inaugural Simons Investigators award

Princeton University researchers Sanjeev Arora, Manjul Bhargava, Amit Singer and Frans Pretorius netted four of the 21 inaugural Simons Investigators awards recently presented to outstanding scientists nationwide in mathematics, physics and computer science. Princeton received the most awards of any institution.

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Innovation promises to cut massive power use at big data companies in a flash

A team of Princeton University engineers has a solution that could radically cut power use. Through a new software technique, researchers from the School of Engineering and Applied Science have opened the door for companies to use a new type of memory in their servers that demands far less energy than the current systems.

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Princeton researchers contribute to search for elusive Higgs particle

A team of Princeton University physicists and students have made major contributions to the hunt for the Higgs boson, a particle much smaller than an atom theorized to be crucial to understanding the nature of the world around us.

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Media Advisory: Princeton experts offer comments on CERN's quest for the Higgs boson

On July 4, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) will announce the latest results in the multinational search for the Higgs boson, a particle thought to be a key to understanding how fundamental particles such as quarks and electrons acquire mass. Princeton University researchers involved in the search for the Higgs boson are available to comment on the announcement and provide background on the project.

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Princeton researchers working at forefront of 'exascale' supercomputing

Scientists at Princeton University are composing the complex codes designed to instruct a new class of powerful computers that will allow researchers to tackle problems that were previously too difficult to solve. These supercomputers, operating at a speed called the "exascale," will produce realistic simulations of dazzlingly complex phenomena in nature such as fusion reactions, earthquakes and climate change.

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Nanotechnology breakthrough could dramatically improve medical tests

A laboratory test used to detect disease and perform biological research could be made more than 3 million times more sensitive, according to Princeton University researchers who combined standard biological tools with a breakthrough in nanotechnology.

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Out of the mouths of primates, facial mechanics of human speech may have evolved

Two recent studies based at Princeton University suggest that the oral-facial component of human speech evolved from lip smacking, a friendly back-and-forth gesture performed by primates such as chimpanzees, baboons and macaques. The studies suggest a separate neural control for facial mechanics in primates that could help illuminate the neurological basis of speech disorders in humans.

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Got mass? Princeton scientists observe electrons become both heavy and speedy

A Princeton University-led team of scientists has shown how electrons moving in certain solids can behave as though they are a thousand times more massive than free electrons, yet at the same time act as speedy superconductors.

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To spread, nervous system viruses sabotage cell, hijack transportation

Princeton University researchers have found that herpes and other viruses that attack the nervous system may thrive by disrupting cell function in order to hijack a neuron's internal transportation network and spread to other cells.

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Wireless 'tooth tattoo' detects harmful bacteria

Using silk strands pulled from cocoons and gold wires thinner than a spider's web, researchers at Princeton University have created a removable tattoo that adheres to dental enamel and could eventually monitor a patient's health with unprecedented sensitivity.

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Folding light: Wrinkles and twists boost power from solar panels

Taking their cue from the humble leaf, researchers have used microscopic folds on the surface of photovoltaic material to significantly increase the power output of flexible, low-cost solar cells.

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Geological record shows air up there came from below

The influence of the ground beneath us on the air around us could be greater than scientists had previously thought, according to new Princeton University research that links the long-ago proliferation of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere to a sudden change in the inner workings of our planet.

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Schmidt Fund awards support transformative technologies

A nitrogen sensor that can monitor environmental change, a "no-frills" quantum computer and a laboratory small enough to fit inside a single cell are the three technologies selected to receive support this year at Princeton University from the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Transformative Technology Fund.

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Cancer collaboration could someday help dogs and their humans

In pursuing cancer treatment for her dog, Olga Troyanskaya, a computational biologist at Princeton University, started a research collaboration with canine oncologist Karin Sorenmoto with the potential to learn more about cancer, possibly leading to new treatments for dogs and humans as well.

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Plans for dams on Mekong River could spell disaster for area fisheries

A massive expansion of hydropower planned for the Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia could have a catastrophic impact on the river's fishery and millions of people who depend on it, according to a new study by researchers including scientists from Princeton University.

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With 'Power in a Box,' Princeton students win national competition

Converting a standard shipping container into a sustainable source of energy for remote or disaster-torn regions, a team of Princeton University students took top honors in an 18-month national competition that culminated April 21 and 22 on the Washington, D.C., Mall.

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FACULTY AWARD: Three Princeton faculty elected members of the American Philosophical Society

Princeton University faculty members Bonnie Bassler, Brent Shaw and Christopher Sims were among 35 new members recently elected to the American Philosophical Society (APS), the nation's oldest scholarly organization.

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Expectation of extraterrestrial life built more on optimism than evidence, study finds

Princeton University researchers have found that the expectation that life — from bacteria to sentient beings — has or will develop on other planets as on Earth might be based more on optimism than scientific evidence.

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Yeast cell reaction to Zoloft suggests alternative cause, drug target for depression

Princeton University researchers have observed a self-degradation response to the antidepressant Zoloft in yeast cells that could help provide new answers to lingering questions among scientists about how antidepressants work, as well as support the idea that depression is not solely linked to the neurotransmitter serotonin.

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PPPL scientists propose a solution to a critical barrier to producing fusion

Physicists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory have discovered a possible solution to a mystery that has long baffled researchers working to harness fusion. If confirmed by experiment, the finding could help scientists eliminate a major impediment to the development of fusion as a clean and abundant source of energy for producing electric power.

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Persisting in a search for new cancer treatment

Molecular biology major Kristan Scott focused his senior thesis on a mutant gene linked not only to colorectal cancer but also to the cancer’s ability to resist chemotherapy. Working with special yeast cells created in the lab of his thesis adviser, Senior Lecturer Alison Gammie, Scott helped figure out the combination of cancer treatments that restored sensitivity to chemotherapy — a result that suggests a potential new chemotherapeutic approach for treating certain cancers.

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Study reveals impact of socioeconomic factors on the racial gap in life expectancy

A Princeton University report reveals that disparities in socioeconomic characteristics can account for 80 percent of the life-expectancy divide between black and white men, and for 70 percent of the imbalance between black and white women. The study is one of the first to put a number on how much of the divide can be attributed to racial differences in factors such as income, education and marital status.

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Princeton, Max Planck Society launch new research center for plasma physics

Princeton University and the Max Planck Society of Germany have joined forces in a scientific collaboration that is designed to accelerate progress in cutting-edge research ranging from harnessing nuclear fusion to understanding solar storms.

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Koel applies science of surface chemistry to fusion research at PPPL

The fusing together of atoms releases vast amounts of energy, but the process can take place only at extremely high temperatures. For fusion to be the basis of the power plant of the future, scientists need to find ways to keep the process from cooling. By using his expertise in surface chemistry, chemical and biological engineering professor Bruce Koel is working with scientists at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab to address this goal.

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Detection of cosmic effect may bring universe's formation into sharper focus

A project initiated at Princeton made the first observation of a cosmic effect theorized 40 years ago that could provide astronomers with a more precise tool for understanding the forces behind the universe's formation and growth, including the enigmatic phenomena of dark energy and dark matter.

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Princeton scientists identify neural activity sequences that help form memory, decision-making

Princeton University researchers have used a novel virtual reality and brain imaging system to detect a form of neural activity underlying how the brain forms short-term memories that are used in making decisions.

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Alice Chang: Perspective on the future of Princeton mathematics

In a perspective on the future of mathematics at Princeton, Sun-Yung Alice Chang, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Mathematics and chair of the Department of Mathematics, discusses the department's current and burgeoning strengths, its recent popularity with students, and the effort to attract more women to a traditionally male-dominated field.

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Natural levels of nitrogen in tropical forests may increase vulnerability to pollution

Waterways in remote, pristine tropical forests located in the Caribbean and Central America contain levels of nitrogen comparable to amounts found in streams and rivers flowing through polluted forests in the United States and Europe. This discovery by a Princeton University-led research team raises questions about how tropical forests might respond if they were to become exposed to additional nitrogen through water and air pollution.

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Princeton sound lab pushes boundaries of realism in audio with support from Sony

Princeton University researchers, with support from Sony Corp., are embarking on a three-year effort designed to advance the possibilities of recording technology and realistic sound reproduction.

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'Universal' vaccines could finally allow for wide-scale flu prevention

Princeton University-based researchers have found that an emerging class of long-lasting flu vaccines called "universal" vaccines could for the first time allow for the effective, wide-scale prevention of flu by limiting the virus' ability to spread and mutate. A computational model the team developed showed that the vaccines could achieve unprecedented control of the flu virus both seasonally and during outbreaks of highly contagious new strains.

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Princeton system tracks drought to aid disaster relief

In a development that could assist with disaster relief and water development projects in stricken regions of Africa, researchers at Princeton University have developed a way to use historical records and satellite data to accurately map drought conditions across the continent.

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Less is more: Study of tiny droplets could have big impact on industrial applications

A study led by researchers at Princeton University has yielded insights into how liquid spreads along flexible fibers, which could allow for increased efficiency in various industrial applications.

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'Storm of the century' may become 'storm of the decade'

Researchers from Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology report that projected increases in sea level and storm intensity brought on by climate change would make devastating storm surges — the deadly and destructive mass of water pushed inland by large storms — more frequent in low-lying coastal areas. Regions such as the New York City metropolitan area that currently experience a disastrous flood every century could instead become submerged every one or two decades.

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Wildlife and cows can be partners, not enemies, in search for food

Princeton University researchers conducted two large-scale studies in Kenya that offer the first experimental evidence that allowing cattle to graze on the same land as wild animals can result in healthier, meatier bovines by enhancing the cows' diet. The findings put to pasture the long-held convention that wild animals compete with cows for food, and could help spare wildlife from encroaching ranches. 

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Princeton researchers awarded funds to develop promising technologies

Five Princeton faculty teams are the new recipients of support from a University fund designed to help propel promising discoveries out of the laboratory into products and technologies that can benefit society.

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