News at Princeton

Monday, July 28, 2014

Science & Tech

Brain's dynamic duel underlies win-win choices

People choosing between two or more equally positive outcomes experience paradoxical feelings of pleasure and anxiety, feelings associated with activity in different regions of the brain, according to research led by Amitai Shenhav, an associate research scholar at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University.

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Video feature: Princeton 'Art of Science 2014' highlights beauty in research

The "Art of Science 2014" exhibit in the Friend Center on the Princeton University campus consists of 44 images and 12 videos of artistic merit created during the course of scientific research. The works, part of a recurring show now in its seventh iteration, were chosen from more than 250 images and 50 videos submitted from over 25 departments across the University. This video offers a cross-section of the artwork on display.

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FACULTY HONOR: Levin elected Lombard Institute foreign member

Simon Levin, Princeton University's George M. Moffett Professor of Biology in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, was elected a foreign member of the Istituto Lombardo Accademia di Scienze e Lettere (Lombard Institute Academy of Science and Letters) in Italy. Levin will be presented with a certificate of appointment at an Oct. 2 ceremony in Milan.

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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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FACULTY AWARD: Carter receives Remsen Award for outstanding achievement in chemistry

Emily Carter, founding director of Princeton University's Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, has been awarded the 2014 Remsen Award by the American Chemical Society Maryland Section for outstanding achievement in chemistry. Carter is Princeton's Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment and a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and applied and computational mathematics. The Remsen Award recognizes her work in pioneering the development of unique tools to study and design materials, most recently for sustainable energy from solar and fuel cells to fusion. The award was established in 1946 to commemorate the career of Ira Remsen, first professor of chemistry and second president of Johns Hopkins University.

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FACULTY AWARD: Klebanov receives Tomassoni Prize for physics

Igor Klebanov, Princeton University's Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics, was awarded the 2014 Caterina Tomassoni and Felice Pietro Chisesi Prize for outstanding achievements in physics. He received the prize during a June 19 ceremony at the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy.

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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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Survey suggests family history of psychiatric disorders shapes intellectual interests

Survey results published by Princeton University researchers in the journal PLoS ONE suggest that a family history of psychiatric conditions such as autism and depression could influence the subjects a person finds engaging. Although preliminary, the findings provide a new look at the oft-studied link between psychiatric conditions and aptitude in the arts or sciences.

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Choreographing dance of electrons offers promise in pursuit of quantum computers

Princeton University engineers Alexei Tyryshkin and Stephen Lyon have choreographed the dance of 100 billion electrons across a silicon crystal — an impressive achievement on its own — and also a stride toward developing the technology for powerful machines known as quantum computers.

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PPPL to launch major upgrade of key fusion energy test facility

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) is getting an earlier-than-expected start on a $94 million project as the next stage of its mission to chart an attractive course for the development of nuclear fusion as a clean, safe and abundant fuel for generating electricity.

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Less knowledge, more power: Uninformed can be vital to democracy, study finds

A Princeton University-based research team reports in Science that uninformed individuals — as in those with no prior knowledge or strong feelings on a situation's outcome — can actually be vital to achieving a democratic consensus. These individuals tend to side with and embolden the numerical majority and dilute the influence of powerful minority factions who would otherwise dominate everyone else. This finding — based on group decision-making experiments on fish, as well as mathematical models and computer simulations — challenges the common notion that an outspoken minority can manipulate uncommitted voters and can ultimately provide insights into humans' political behavior.

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Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos donate $15 million to create center in Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Princeton University alumnus Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive officer of Amazon.com, and alumna MacKenzie Bezos, are donating $15 million to the University to create a center in the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. The gift will establish the Bezos Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics, which will be led by institute co-director David Tank. 

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Nighttime images help track disease from the sky

Princeton University-led researchers report in the journal Science that satellite images of nighttime lights normally used to spot where people live can help keep tabs on the diseases festering among them, too.

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Hasson brings real life into the lab to examine cognitive processing

Princeton University neuroscientist Uri Hasson strives to make research conditions in his lab as true to real life as possible, using uncommon subject matter —including slapstick comedy and high-school melodrama — in his studies. Hasson, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, is exploring the underlying neural mechanisms of both the processes that allow the brain to integrate information over time and those that facilitate communication between people. 

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Princeton's new computing research center builds research capacity

After several years of planning and more than a year of construction, Princeton University's High-Performance Computing Research Center opened its doors this week. Situated on the Forrestal campus, the facility gives researchers on campus new capacity to tackle some of the world's most complex scientific challenges.

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Princeton technique puts chemistry breakthroughs on the fast track

Scientists can now take that "a-ha" moment to go with a method Princeton University researchers developed — and successfully tested — to accomplish "accelerated serendipity" and speed up the chances of an unexpected yet groundbreaking chemical discovery.

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Blocked holes can enhance rather than stop light going through, engineers find

Conventional wisdom would say that blocking a hole would prevent light from going through it, but Princeton University engineers have discovered the opposite to be true. A research team has found that placing a metal cap over a small hole in a metal film does not stop the light at all, but rather enhances its transmission.

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Media Advisory: Princeton's Oppenheimer offers comments on IPCC’s special report on extreme events and disasters and new focus on human toll of climate change

The significant feature of the special report, "Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation," released Nov. 18 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is its focus on governmental responses to climate disasters including those related to climate change, according to Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton University professor  and a coordinating lead author of the report.

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Massive volcanoes, meteorite impacts delivered one-two death punch to dinosaurs

A cosmic one-two punch of colossal volcanic eruptions and meteorite strikes likely caused the mass-extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous period that is famous for killing the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, according to two Princeton University reports that reject the prevailing theory that the extinction was caused by a single large meteorite.

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Harm not those strangers that pollinate, study warns

Princeton University researchers found that invasive species can become essential to the very ecosystems threatened by their presence, taking on important biological roles — such as flower pollination — once held by the species the interlopers helped eliminate. As a result, campaigns to curb invasive animal populations should include efforts to understand the role of the invasive species in question and, if necessary, reintroduce missing native animals.

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Event foregrounds science education as key to future of New Jersey

Science deans and educators from New Jersey's universities and colleges came to Princeton University Monday, Nov. 14, to meet with each other and with business and government leaders to discuss ways to revive the state's economy and create jobs through programs in science, technology, engineering and math.

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Erratic, extreme day-to-day weather puts climate change in new light

Princeton University researchers report the first climate study to focus on variations in daily weather conditions, which found that day-to-day weather has grown increasingly erratic and extreme, with significant fluctuations in sunshine and rainfall affecting more than a third of the planet. These swings could have consequences for ecosystem stability and the control of pests and diseases; industries such as agriculture and solar-energy production; and could affect what scientists can expect to see as the Earth's climate changes.

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City lights could reveal extraterrestrial civilization

Researchers from Princeton and Harvard universities have suggested a straightforward method to aid in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence — see who's left the light on. A paper submitted to the journal Astrobiology presents a mathematical algorithm to detect and observe from Earth the artificial light that would emanate from alien cities.

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Savannas, forests in a battle of the biomes, Princeton researchers find

Climate change, land use and other human-driven factors could pit savannas and forests against each other by altering the elements found by Princeton University researchers to stabilize the two. Without this harmony, the habitats, or biomes, could increasingly encroach on one other to the detriment of the people and animals that rely on them.

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PPPL scientists bring mysterious magnetic process down to earth

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) are recreating magnetic reconnection, one of the most common but least understood phenomena in the universe. The experiments seek to unravel the secrets of magnetic reconnection and ultimately provide benefits including improved prediction of solar outbursts and dangerous geomagnetic storms; increased understanding of the formation of the sun and stars; and greater control of the nuclear fusion reactions that PPPL researchers are studying as a clean fuel for generating electric power.

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Obama to nominate Princeton's Bassler for National Science Board

President Barack Obama will nominate Princeton University molecular biologist Bonnie Bassler to serve as a member of the National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation, the major source of federal funding for scientific research.

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Impact study: Princeton model shows fallout of a giant meteorite strike

Princeton University researchers have developed a new model that can not only more accurately simulate the seismic fallout  from a large meteorite striking the Earth, but also help reveal new information about the surface and interior of planets based on past collisions.

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'Darkest' world enlightens astronomers about mysterious light-gobbling planet

Recent research involving Princeton astrophysics postdoctoral researcher David Spiegel identifies the "darkest" planet yet observed and sets a new standard in determining just how much light "hot Jupiter" planets -- scorching balls of hydrogen and helium already known for being non-reflective -- can keep to themselves.

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More than a sign of sleepiness, yawning may cool the brain

A Princeton-led study is the first involving humans to show that yawning frequency varies with the season, a dispartity that indicates that yawning could serve as a method for regulating brain temperature.

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Black hole, star collisions may illuminate universe's dark side

Princeton and New York University research reported in the journal Physical Review Letters this month presents a ready-made method for detecting the collision of stars with an elusive type of black hole that is on the short list of objects believed to make up dark matter, the invisible substance thought to constitute much of the universe. Such a discovery could serve as observable proof of dark matter and provide a much deeper understanding of the universe's inner workings.

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Gene flux can foretell survival for trauma patients, Princeton study finds

Princeton research reported in the Sept. 13 issue of the journal PLoS Medicine shows for the first time that people recovering from a serious injury -- regardless of age, gender or previous health -- exhibit similar gene activity as their condition changes, which doctors can use to predict and prepare for a patient's deterioration.

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Word association: Princeton study matches brain scans with complex thought

Princeton researchers have for the first time matched images of brain activity with categories of words related to the concepts a person is thinking about. Reported in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, the results could lead to a better understanding of how people consider meaning and context when reading or thinking.

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In the early life of an embryo, a monster lurks

Research based at Princeton University has revealed that newly fertilized cells only narrowly avoid degenerating into fatal chaos. At the same time, scientists have discovered that embryos have acquired a mechanism to contain this dangerous instability, a finding that could help biologists unravel other mysteries about the first hours of life.

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Scientists shed light on the private lives of electrons

A Princeton University researcher and his international collaborators have used lasers to peek into the complex relationship between a single electron and its environment, a breakthrough that could aid the development of quantum computers.

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Photonic neuron may compute a billion times faster than brain circuits

Seven Princeton undergraduate students have participated in a research collaboration between Princeton University and Lockheed Martin, the aerospace and defense technology corporation, to produce fiber optic-based computational devices that work similarly to neurons, but are a billion times faster.

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High social rank comes at a price, researchers find

Being at the very top of a social hierarchy may be more costly than previously thought, according to a new study of wild baboons led by a Princeton University ecologist. A new study has found that in wild baboon populations, the highest-ranking, or alpha, males have higher stress-hormone levels than the highly ranked males below them, known as beta males -- even during periods of stability.

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Onstott's discovery of worms in Earth's depths raises questions about life in space

After digging holes in the Earth's crust for nearly two decades, Princeton University geoscientist Tullis Onstott is now making headlines for unearthing "worms from hell." Onstott's research team, which he led with Gaetan Borgonie of the University of Ghent in Belgium, recently made a startling discovery: microscopic roundworms known as nematodes living nearly two-and-a-half miles beneath the Earth's surface in several South African gold mines.

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Engineers work to ease Internet data flow as demand for video grows

Demand continues to soar for movies, television shows, amateur videos, and video calls delivered via the Internet and mobile networks. Over the past few years, Princeton electrical engineer Mung Chiang and his team have methodically pieced together a replica of the global Internet and mobile networks to develop new ideas and systems that will help ensure that the networking infrastructure of the future will meet consumer demand.

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Princeton researchers solve problem filling space -- without cubes

Princeton University chemist Salvatore Torquato and colleagues have solved a conundrum that has baffled mathematical minds since ancient times -- how to fill three-dimensional space with multi-sided objects other than cubes without having any gaps. The discovery could lead to scientists finding new materials and could lead to advances in communications systems and computer security.

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Shostack gives $10 million to endow Project X fund, giving freedom to 'tinkerers'

Seeking to provide "tinkerers" with freedom to explore hunches and passions, businesswoman and philanthropist Lynn Shostack has given $10 million to permanently endow the Project X innovation fund in Princeton University's School of Engineering and Applied Science.

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Researchers find new 'molecular motors' that bacteria use to transport proteins

Joshua Shaevitz, an assistant professor from the Department of Physics and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University, along with Mingzhai Sun, a postdoctoral associate at Princeton, and scientists from the Université Aix-Marseille in France, have discovered a new type of molecular machine used by bacteria for intracellular protein transport and gliding motility. 

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Perspective on: The future of fusion

Stewart Prager, director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, discusses the lab's new initiatives and the challenges involved in the effort to create fusion energy.

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Report: Direct removal of carbon dioxide from air likely not viable

Technologies for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere are unlikely to offer an economically feasible way to slow human-driven climate change for several decades, according to a report issued by the American Physical Society and led by Princeton engineer Robert Socolow. The report "Direct Air Capture of CO2 with Chemicals," was issued by a committee of 13 experts co-chaired by Socolow and Michael Desmond, a chemist at BP.

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Princeton engineers make breakthrough in ultrasensitive sensor technology

Princeton researchers have invented an extremely sensitive sensor that opens up new ways to detect a wide range of substances, from biological markers of cancer to hidden explosives.

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Aging rates similar across primates, study finds

Members of a research team that included Princeton's Jeanne Altmann, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology emeritus, led by scientists from Duke University and Iowa State University, and brought together by the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) says the team has conducted the first-ever multi-species comparison of human aging patterns against those in wild chimps, gorillas and other primates, and their findings suggest that the human data on aging falls within the primate continuum. The findings were published in the March 11 issue of the journal Science.

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Quantum engineers remove roadblock in developing next-generation technologies

Alireza Shabani, a postdoctoral research associate in chemistry at Princeton University, and an international team of scientists have removed a major obstacle in the quest to engineer quantum systems that will play a major role in the computers, communication networks and biomedical devices of the future. Through a method known as compressive sensing, the researchers say they could drastically simplify the measurement of quantum systems.

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From wind power to electric cars, engineer Powell helps industry chart energy resources

Warren Powell, a professor of operations research and financial engineering at Princeton University, has used his expertise in applied mathematics to help the U.S. freight industry streamline the movement of goods and services around the country, making American companies more competitive and environmentally friendly. Now, as concerns about the environmental impacts of fossil fuel use have grown and new technologies have emerged, Powell has shifted his focus to study problems related to energy.

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Researchers develop improved method to visualize biologic molecules, reinstate classic model

Princeton researchers have developed a new method to better understand how an embryo's basic molecular makeup helps ensure that the embryo's development occurs reliably every time. A team led by Thomas Gregor, an assistant professor of physics and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University, and Shawn Little, a visiting postdoctoral research associate in the laboratory of Professor Eric Wieschaus in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton, has published in the March 1 issue of the journal PLoS Biology results of research into the fruit fly Drosophila that introduces a method for making precise measurements of biologic units (so-called mRNA molecules) that play a key role in development.

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Math may help calculate way to find new drugs for HIV and other diseases

Using mathematical concepts, Princeton researchers have developed a method of discovering new drugs for a range of diseases by calculating which physical properties of biological molecules may predict their effectiveness as medicines.

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Scientists discover mechanism involved in breast cancer's spread to bone

In a discovery that may lead to a new treatment for breast cancer that has spread to the bone, a Princeton University research team has unraveled a mystery about how these tumors take root. What the Princeton research has uncovered is the exact mechanism that lets traveling tumor cells disrupt normal bone growth.

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'Air laser' may sniff bombs, pollutants from a distance

Princeton University engineers have developed a new laser-sensing technology that may allow soldiers to detect hidden bombs from a distance and scientists to better measure airborne environmental pollutants and greenhouse gases.

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State-of-the-art Frick Chemistry Lab, now open, advances new frontier of research

There is a fresh buzz of excitement surrounding the new Frick Chemistry Laboratory, and it isn't just the building's striking facade that has people talking. Princeton researchers say the new home of the University's Department of Chemistry presents the perfect staging area to break scientific ground, to engage students by actively involving them in cutting-edge work, and -- according to the department's leader -- to provide "the best education in undergraduate chemistry in the world."

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Princeton scientists construct synthetic proteins that sustain life

In a groundbreaking achievement that could help scientists "build" new biological systems, Princeton University scientists have constructed for the first time artificial proteins that enable the growth of living cells.

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Inaugural Schmidt Fund awards enable innovative explorations in sensors and electronics

A project that could enable the development of revolutionary electronics and a separate project that could dramatically improve diabetes monitoring and treatment are the first two research efforts to be supported at Princeton University from the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Transformative Technology Fund. Google CEO and Princeton alumnus Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy, created the $25 million endowment fund at Princeton in 2009.

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Scientists find gene linked to congenital heart defect

A gene that can cause congenital heart defects has been identified by a team of scientists, including a group from Princeton University. The discovery could lead to new treatments for those affected by the conditions brought on by the birth defect. 

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Princeton named cybersecurity hub by national security agencies

The federal government granted Princeton University special status as a hub for cybersecurity research. Universities with this status are designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research. The program is administered by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

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Carbon Mitigation Initiative receives $11 million through extended partnership with BP

In a continuing research partnership to identify ways to tackle the world's climate problem, Princeton’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI) has received a commitment of $11 million from BP as part of an extension of their partnership first announced in October 2008.

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Linking geometric problems to physics could open door to new solutions

A Princeton scientist with an interdisciplinary bent has taken two well-known problems in mathematics and reformulated them as a physics question, offering new tools to solve challenges relevant to a host of subjects ranging from improving data compression to detecting gravitational waves.

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New study finds common brain organization among disparate mammals

Matthias Kaschube, a lecturer in physics and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University, has published in the Nov. 4 online edition of Science Express results of research into the factors determining development of the brain's neural circuits.

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Unique duality: Princeton-led team discovers 'exotic' superconductor with metallic surface

A new material with a split personality -- part superconductor, part metal -- has been observed by a Princeton University-led research team. The discovery may have implications for the development of next-generation electronics that could transform the way information is stored and processed. 

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Font focus: Making ideas harder to read may make them easier to retain

Publishing ideas in a hard-to-read typeface may make concepts harder to learn but easier to retain, according to a new study by researchers from Princeton University and Indiana University.

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Wild Scottish sheep could help explain differences in immunity

Strong immunity may play a key role in determining long life, but may do so at the expense of reduced fertility, a Princeton University study has concluded.

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Genetics work could lead to advances in fertility for women

Princeton scientists have identified genes responsible for controlling reproductive life span in worms and found they may control genes regulating similar functions in humans.  

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Wake-up call: Researchers find sleepy fibroblasts are surprisingly lively

After years of research, a team of Princeton University scientists has discovered that cells known as fibroblasts when in "sleep" mode are working much harder than previously thought to fend off destructive chemicals. The findings of a new study suggest that other cells may be similarly misunderstood and more important to the human body's longevity than scientists have realized.

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New sensor derived from frogs may help fight bacteria and save wildlife

Princeton engineers have developed a sensor that may revolutionize how drugs and medical devices are tested for contamination, and in the process also help ensure the survival of two species of threatened animals.

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Biologists find that a gene's location affects evolutionary change

A gene's location on a chromosome plays a significant role in shaping how an organism's traits vary and evolve, according to findings by scientists at Princeton University and New York University. 

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WMAP project completes satellite operations

After nine years of scanning the sky, the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) space mission has concluded its observations of the cosmic microwave background, the oldest light in the universe. The spacecraft not only has given scientists their best look at this remnant glow, but also firmly established the scientific model that describes the history and structure of the universe.  

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U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu visits PPPL

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu discussed with staff at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) Sept. 27 how scientists must come to the country's aid in times of need, and how nuclear energy -- both fission and fusion -- could be solutions to the world's energy challenges. The Nobel-Prize winning scientist described the lab as being at the center of the intellectual "birth" and "coming of age" of plasma and fusion science.

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Video simulations of real earthquakes made available to worldwide network

A Princeton University-led research team has developed the capability to produce realistic movies of earthquakes based on complex computer simulations that can be made available worldwide within hours of a disastrous upheaval. 

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3-D computer simulations help envision supernovae explosions

A Princeton-led team has found a way to make computer simulations of supernovae exploding in three dimensions, which may lead to new scientific insights.

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Emily Carter, prominent scientist and engineer, selected to lead Andlinger Center

Emily Carter, a Princeton professor of engineering and applied mathematics, and eminent physical chemist, has been appointed the founding director of the University's Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.

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Princeton researchers join nationwide project to boost energy efficiency of buildings

Princeton University researchers will participate in a $122 million research project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop technologies and educational programs to make buildings more energy efficient. 

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Elements of new Frick lab join to create 'best infrastructure' for chemistry

Gazing skyward from the first floor of the four-story atrium, visitors to Princeton University's newly completed Frick Chemistry Laboratory observe reflections of light playing with shadow. 

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Sculpture in chemistry lab bonds science and art

Kendall Buster has delved into art and science over the course of her career. The work she created for Princeton University's new Frick Chemistry Laboratory has emerged from both of her worlds.

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Campus sustainability efforts expand over summer

Along streams and lakes and inside offices and classrooms, Princeton students, faculty and staff could be found working this summer to help the University meet its long-term sustainability goals.

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Princeton builds research ties with historically black universities

Collaborating with a Princeton engineering professor this summer, Max Fontus realized that working with scientists from other fields of research results in a cross-pollination of ideas that lays the foundation for great progress in science. Fontus and two other visiting junior faculty were paired up with Princeton engineering faculty this summer as part of the Leadership Development Institute, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported project intended to bolster research capacity and strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics research and education at historically black colleges and universities.

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Possible discovery of earliest animal life pushes back fossil record

In findings that push back the clock on the scientific world's thinking about when animal life appeared on Earth, Princeton scientists may have discovered the oldest fossils of animal bodies, suggesting that primitive sponge-like creatures were living in ocean reefs about 650 million years ago. The shelly fossils, found beneath a 635 million-year-old glacial deposit in South Australia, represent the earliest evidence of animal body forms in the current fossil record by at least 70 million years.

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Princeton-led team comes up with new insights on malaria cycle

Manuel Llinás, an assistant professor of molecular biology and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University, and members of his laboratory have published results of new research into the metabolism of the malarial parasite, published on Thursday, Aug. 5 in Nature.

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Princeton-led team finds new building block in cells

Zemer Gitai, an assistant professor of molecular biology at Princeton University, members of his laboratory, and scientists from the California Institute of Technology have published results in Nature Cell Biology of new research into how a metabolic enzyme in bacteria forms cytoplasmic filaments that affect bacterial cell shape. The study was published online July 18.   

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Redundant genetic instructions in 'junk DNA' support healthy development

Seemingly redundant portions of the fruit fly genome may not be so redundant after all. New findings from a Princeton-led team of researchers suggest that repeated instructional regions in the flies' DNA may contribute to normal development under less-than-ideal growth conditions by making sure that genes are turned on and off at the appropriate times. If similar regions are found in humans, they may hold important clues to understanding developmental disorders.

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Computers intersect with sociology to sift through 'all our ideas'

Sociologist Matthew Salganik has teamed up with Princeton computer scientists to develop a new way for organizations to solicit ideas from large groups of people and simultaneously have those same people vote on the merit of the ideas generated by the group. Called "All Our Ideas," the survey tool melds concepts from sociology and computer science to allow an organization to quickly set up a free website where large numbers of people can contribute and rank ideas. The system could help governments tap into public opinion and provide sociologists with a new research tool.

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Princeton scientists find unusual electrons that go with the flow

On a quest to discover new states of matter, a team of Princeton University scientists has found that electrons on the surface of specific materials act like miniature superheroes, relentlessly dodging the cliff-like obstacles of imperfect microsurfaces, sometimes moving straight through barriers. 

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Gubser looks to strings for answers, bringing the public along, too

Steven Gubser, a Princeton professor of physics, is one of the world's leading experts in string theory, a dazzlingly complex and still controversial branch of modern theoretical physics. Gubser's cool, relaxed style and straightforward manner mask a fierce determination to make sense of the world and to bring along on his journey of discovery those who may not be privy to his knowledge. 

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Project X innovation fund supports bold thinkers and 'tinkerers'

Project X, a fund provided by Lynn Shostack in memory of her late husband David Gardner, a 1969 Princeton graduate, is intended to give faculty members in the engineering school the freedom to pursue hunches and unconventional ideas, even if those ideas are outside their direct expertise.

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Perspective on: Imagination and optimism in scientific discovery

Roberto Car, the Ralph W. Dornte *31 Professor in Chemistry and a faculty fellow of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science, discusses how he developed a theory that changed the course of research in computational science. He also focuses on how he came to love science and how he uses imagination, optimism and creativity in his work.

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Virus 'explorers' probe inner workings of the brain

Imagine an exceedingly complex circuit board. Wires often split -- seemingly at random -- and connect in strange and unexpected ways. This is how Princeton University researchers developing a new method for studying brain connectivity see the brain.

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