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By Admin (from 31/08/2011 @ 11:00:43, in en - Science and Society, read 1541 times)

Magnetics researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) colored lots of eggs recently. Bunnies and children might find the eggs a bit small—in fact, too small to see without a microscope. But these "eggcentric" nanomagnets have another practical use, suggesting strategies for making future low-power computer memories.

For a study described in a new paper, NIST researchers used electron-beam lithography to make thousands of nickel-iron magnets, each about 200 nanometers (billionths of a meter) in diameter. Each magnet is ordinarily shaped like an ellipse, a slightly flattened circle. Researchers also made some magnets in three different egglike shapes with an increasingly pointy end. It's all part of NIST research on nanoscale magnetic materials, devices and measurement methods to support development of future magnetic data storage systems.

Collage of NIST "nano-eggs" — simulated magnetic patterns in NIST’s egg-shaped nanoscale magnets.Credit: Talbott/NIST.

It turns out that even small distortions in magnet shape can lead to significant changes in magnetic properties. Researchers discovered this by probing the magnets with a laser and analyzing what happens to the "spins" of the electrons, a quantum property that's responsible for magnetic orientation. Changes in the spin orientation can propagate through the magnet like waves at different frequencies. The more egg-like the magnet, the more complex the wave patterns and their related frequencies. (Something similar happens when you toss a pebble in an asymmetrically shaped pond.) The shifts are most pronounced at the ends of the magnets.

To confirm localized magnetic effects and "color" the eggs, scientists made simulations of various magnets using NIST's object-oriented micromagnetic framework (OOMMF). (See graphic.) Lighter colors indicate stronger frequency signals.

The egg effects explain erratic behavior observed in large arrays of nanomagnets, which may be imperfectly shaped by the lithography process. Such distortions can affect switching in magnetic devices. The egg study results may be useful in developing random-access memories (RAM) based on interactions between electron spins and magnetized surfaces. Spin-RAM is one approach to making future memories that could provide high-speed access to data while reducing processor power needs by storing data permanently in ever-smaller devices. Shaping magnets like eggs breaks up a symmetric frequency pattern found in ellipse structures and thus offers an opportunity to customize and control the switching process.

"For example, intentional patterning of egg-like distortions into spinRAM memory elements may facilitate more reliable switching," says NIST physicist Tom Silva, an author of the new paper.

"Also, this study has provided the Easter Bunny with an entirely new market for product development."

Source: PhysOrg

 

To produce the neural stem cells, the researchers added small molecules in a chemically defined culture condition that induces hESCs to become primitive neural precursor cells, but then halts the further differentiation process.

Neural Precursor

Cultured, self-renewing primitive neural precursors derived from human embryonic stem cells using molecule inhibitors (credit: UC San Diego School of Medicine).

Because the process doesn’t use any gene transfer technologies or exogenous cell products, there’s minimal risk of introducing mutations or outside contamination, the researchers said.

The scientists were able to direct the precursor cells to differentiate into different types of mature neurons.  ”You can generate neurons for specific conditions like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease or, in the case of my particular research area, eye-specific neurons that are lost in macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa or glaucoma,” said Kang Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.

Stained Neuron

Stained mature neurons, derived from precursor cells, expressing the neurotransmitter dopamine (credit: UC San Diego School of Medicine).

The same method can be used to push induced pluripotent stem cells (stem cells artificially derived from adult, differentiated mature cells) to become neural stem cells, Zhang said.

Their work appears in the April 25 early online edition of the journal PNAS.

Source: KurzweilAI.net

 

The ants, which are incredibly resilient, have developed the ability to team together to form a raft to survive the flooding of their habitat. The entire colony links arms and legs and floats above the water‘s surface – incredibly, even the ants on the bottom layer stay dry! Researchers are currently looking into ways to mimic the ants’ water-defying teamwork to develop new materials and robots to help humans. If you don’t believe these ants, check out the incredible video after the jump.

waterproof materials, waterproofing, fire ants, fire ant raft, ant raft, floating ants, floating ant raft, floating fire ant, amazonian ants, robotics research, biomimicry

Nathan Mlot, a mechanical engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and his team have been among the first to research fire ant colonies as a whole instead of focusing on individual ants. It has been previously found that though one ant placed in water starts to flail, a thin layer of air stays around the ant and acts as a personal life raft. When the ants are dropped in water as a colony they lock together with their limbs and mouths and form a steady raft that can survive the swells of a river. The ants were discovered to be haphazardly connected — mouths attached to legs and arms and bodies — with one thing in common, close proximity pushes each ant’s air pocket against the next. With their powers combined, they are not only buoyant but waterproof.

A flood hits a fire ant colony in the Amazon jungle. An amazing chance to see footage on how the species has adapted to water to protect their queen. From the BBC.

Researchers actually had to push the ants eight inches under water before their waterproof seal broke and have been freezing the ant rafts with liquid nitrogen in order to study their structure under a microscope. They are hoping to use the ants’ clinging technology to make more efficient waterproof materials. They also think this tactic — and other ant behaviors — could further robotics. One lone ant can’t float, but one hundred can, so therefore perhaps one hundred simple robots could perform a much more complicated task without having to be complex machines. Researchers like Edward O. Wilson talk about ant colonies as one being; all of the ants work together to get tasks done and without each other, can’t survive. It seems we could learn a lot about togetherness from these tiny little insects.

Source: Inhabitat

 

The group’s results were published in the March 25 issue of Science, the nation’s premier science journal. Liu was lead author on the article, which was titled "Self-Recognition Among Different Polyprotic Macroions During Assembly Processes in Dilute Solution."

Inorganic molecules achieve self-recognition

“Publication of this work in Science is important recognition of the research being conducted in Tianbo’s lab,” said Robert Flowers, department chair and professor of chemistry. “His ability to succeed at such a high level shows that first-rate science is being done at Lehigh.”
Liu’s group has spent several years exploring the fascinating solutions of large, soluble ions called macroions. The behavior of these ions is completely different from the behavior of small ions, such as sodium chloride.

Despite being water-soluble and carrying the same type of charge, macroions tend to attract each other with surprising strength, says Liu, and to form very stable, uniform, single-layered hollow spheres known as “blackberry structures.” The structures are common when ions become large, and they mimic some biological processes such as the virus capsid shell formation.

Forming two distinct blackberry structures

Exciting discoveries have been generated from blackberry solutions. Liu’s group found that, when mixed into the same solution, two different types of 2.5-nm spherical macroions ({Mo72Fe30} and {Mo72Cr30}) with almost identical size, shape and molecular structures tend to form two types of individual blackberries instead of mixed ones.

The macroions—Bucky ball-shaped inorganic compounds—were synthesized by a research team led by Achim Müller, professor of chemistry at the University of Bielefeld, Germany. Müller was a coauthor on the Science article.
This result, says Liu, suggests that even in dilute solutions these two macroions can self-recognize during assembly.

This level of “intelligence,” he adds, is usually believed to be achievable only by complex biological molecules. Self-recognition by large inorganic ions could lead to more opportunities for understanding the nature of biological interactions.

Liu’s group believes the self-recognition results from the very slow formation of the dimers in the first step of the assembly. The slow speed ensures the formation of dimers with the lowest free energy, such as A-A and B-B dimers.
The differences in charge density between the two types of macroions play an important role in the recognition, says Liu, as does their surface water mobility difference.

Source: PhysOrg

 

But there are some compounds that, although they follow the bonding and valence rules, still are thought to not exist because they have unstable structures. Scientists call these compounds "impossible compounds." Nevertheless, some of these impossible compounds have actually been fabricated (for example, single sheets of graphene were once considered impossible compounds). In a new study, scientists have synthesized another one of these impossible compounds -- periodic mesoporous hydridosilica -- which can transform into a photoluminescent material at high temperatures.

Chemists fabricate 'impossible' material

The researchers, led by Professor Geoffrey Ozin of the Chemistry Department at the University of Toronto, along with coauthors from institutions in Canada, China, Turkey, and Germany, have published their study in a recent issue of theJournal of the American Chemical Society.

Like graphene, periodic mesoporous hydridosilica (meso-HSiO1.5) consists of a honeycomb-like lattice structure. Theoretically, the structure should be so thermodynamically unstable that the mesopores (the holes in the honeycomb) should immediately collapse into a denser form, HSiO1.5, upon the removal of the template on which the material was synthesized.

In their study, the researchers synthesized the mesoporous material on an aqueous acid-catalyzed template. When they removed the template, they discovered that the impossible material remains stable up to 300 °C. The researchers attribute the stability to hydrogen bonding effects and steric effects, the latter of which are related to the distance between atoms. Together, these effects contribute to the material’s mechanical stability by making the mesopores resistant to collapse upon removal of the template.

“The prevailing view for more than 50 years in the massive field of micro-, meso-, or macroporous materials is that a four-coordinate, three-connected open framework material (called disrupted frameworks) should be thermodynamically unstable with respect to collapse of the porosity and therefore should not exist,” Ozin told PhysOrg.com. “The discovery that this class of material can indeed exist with impressive stability is not a special effect related to the choice of the template, but rather that intrinsic hydrogen bonding between the silicon hydride O3SiH units and silanol O3SiOH that pervade the pore walls is strong enough to provide the meso-HSiO1.5 open-framework material with sufficient mechanical strength for it to be able to sustain the porosity intact in the as-synthesized template-containing and template-free material. This discovery is the big scientific surprise – so never say never when it comes to chemical synthesis.”

When raising the temperature above 300 °C, the researchers discovered that the mesoporous material undergoes a “metamorphic” transformation. This transformation eventually yields a silicon-silica nanocomposite material embedded with brightly photoluminescent silicon nanocrystals. Because the novel nanocomposite material retains its periodic mesoporous structure, the nanocrystals are evenly distributed throughout the structure. According to the researchers, the origin of the photoluminescence likely arises from quantum confinement effects inside the silicon nanocrystals.

In addition, the researchers found that they could control the photoluminescent properties of the nanocrystals by changing the thermal treatment. They predict that this ability could allow the bright nanocrystals to be used in the development of light-emitting devices, solar energy devices, and biological sensors.

“Now we have a periodic mesoporous hydridosilica in which we can exploit the chemistry of the silicon-hydride bonds that permeate the entire void space of the material,” Ozin said. “Every silicon in the structure has a Si-H bond to play creative synthetic games. This is a big deal in terms of it serving as a novel solid-state reactive host material within which one can perform novel chemistry limited only by one’s imagination, and a myriad new materials will emerge with a cornucopia of opportunities for creative discovery and invention.”

Source: PhysOrg

 

They have built a carbon nanotube synapse circuit whose behavior in tests reproduces the function of a neuron, the building block of the brain.The team, which was led by Professor Alice Parker and Professor Chongwu Zhou in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering, used an interdisciplinary approach combining circuit design with nanotechnology to address the complex problem of capturing brain function.

In a paper published in the proceedings of the IEEE/NIH 2011 Life Science Systems and Applications Workshop in April 2011, the Viterbi team detailed how they were able to use carbon nanotubes to create a synapse.

This image shows nanotubes used in synthetic synapse and apparatus used to create them. (Credit: USC Viterbi School of Engineering).

Carbon nanotubes are molecular carbon structures that are extremely small, with a diameter a million times smaller than a pencil point. These nanotubes can be used in electronic circuits, acting as metallic conductors or semiconductors.

"This is a necessary first step in the process," said Parker, who began the looking at the possibility of developing a synthetic brain in 2006. "We wanted to answer the question: Can you build a circuit that would act like a neuron? The next step is even more complex. How can we build structures out of these circuits that mimic the function of the brain, which has 100 billion neurons and 10,000 synapses per neuron?"

Parker emphasized that the actual development of a synthetic brain, or even a functional brain area is decades away, and she said the next hurdle for the research centers on reproducing brain plasticity in the circuits.

The human brain continually produces new neurons, makes new connections and adapts throughout life, and creating this process through analog circuits will be a monumental task, according to Parker.

She believes the ongoing research of understanding the process of human intelligence could have long-term implications for everything from developing prosthetic nanotechnology that would heal traumatic brain injuries to developing intelligent, safe cars that would protect drivers in bold new ways.

For Jonathan Joshi, a USC Viterbi Ph.D. student who is a co-author of the paper, the interdisciplinary approach to the problem was key to the initial progress. Joshi said that working with Zhou and his group of nanotechnology researchers provided the ideal dynamic of circuit technology and nanotechnology.

"The interdisciplinary approach is the only approach that will lead to a solution. We need more than one type of engineer working on this solution," said Joshi. "We should constantly be in search of new technologies to solve this problem."

Source: ScienceDaily.com

 

A project allowing avatars to visibly age over time is in the works.

The shop is one of several projects Chang uses to explore humanity in technology. Chang, an electronic artist and recently appointed co-director of the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences program at Rensselaer, sees the dialogue between perfection and mortality as an important influence in the growing world of games and simulation.

"There's this transcendence that technology promises us. At its extreme is the notion of immortality that -- with artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual reality -- you could download your consciousness and take yourself out of the limitations of the physical body," said Chang. "But at the same time, that's what makes us human: our frailty and our mortality."

 

In other words, while the "sell" behind technology is often about achieving perfection (with a smart phone all the answers are at hand, with GPS we never lose our way, in Second Life we are beautiful), the risk is a loss of humanity.

That dialogue and tension leads Chang to believe that the nascent world of gaming and simulation could become "a new cultural form" as great as literature, art, music, and theater.

"This is just the beginning; we don't really know what this is going to be, and 'games and simulation' is just the best term we have to describe a much larger form," said Chang. "Twenty years ago nobody knew what the Web was going to be. There was this huge form on the horizon that we were sort of fumbling toward with different technological experiments, artistic experiments; I think this is what's going on with games and simulation right now.

"There are many things that are very difficult to do hands-on -- it's very difficult to simulate a disaster, it's very difficult to manipulate atoms and molecules at the atomic level -- and this is where simulation comes in handy," said Chang. "That kind of learning experience, that way of gaining knowledge that's intuitive, that comes through experience and involvement, can be expanded to many other realms."

As an electronic artist, Chang's own work is at the intersection of virtual environments, experimental gaming, and contemporary media art.

"I'm interested in what you could call evocative and poetic experiences within technological systems -- creating that powerful experience that you can get from great music, theater, books, and paintings through immersive and interactive simulations as well," Chang said. "But I'm also interested in the experiences of being human within technological systems."

Other recent projects include "Becoming," a computer-driven video installation in which the attributes of two animated figures -- each inhabiting their own space -- are interchanged. "Over time, this causes each figure to take on the attributes of the other, distorted by the structure of their digital information."

In "Insecurity Camera," an installation shown at art exhibits around the country, a "shy" security camera turns away at the approach of subjects.

"What I'm interested in is getting at those human qualities that are still there," Chang said. "Some of this has to do with frailty, with fumbling, weakness, and failure. These are things that can get disguised, they can get swept under the rug when we think about technology."

Chang earned a bachelor of arts in computer science from Amherst College, and a master of fine arts in art and technology studies from the Art Institute of Chicago. His installations, performances, and immersive virtual reality environments have been exhibited in numerous venues and festivals worldwide, including Boston CyberArts, SIGGRAPH, the FILE International Electronic Language Festival in Sao Paulo, the Athens MediaTerra Festival, the Wired NextFest, and the Vancouver New Forms Festival, among others. He has designed interactive exhibits for museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History.

Chang teaches a two-semester game development course that joins students with backgrounds in all aspects of games -- computer programming, computer science, design, art, and writing -- in the process of creating games. The students start with a design, and proceed through all the steps of planning, creating art work, writing code, and refining their game.

"Think of it as a foundation into developing games that you can take into experimental game design and stretch beyond it," Chang said.

As the "new cultural form" evolves, Chang sees ample room for exploration.

For example, said Chang, virtual reality, in which experiences are staged in a wholly digital world, leads to different implications than augmented reality, in which digital elements overlay the physical world. One implication of virtual reality -- in which, as in Second Life, users can experiment with their identity -- lies in research which suggests that personal growth gains made within the virtual world transfer to the real world. One implication of augmented reality -- in which users may add digital elements that only they can access -- is the possibility of several people sharing the same physical world while experiencing divergent realities.

In the near term, the most immediate implications for the emerging form are, as might be expected, in entertainment and education.

"What's already happening is this enrichment of the notion of what entertainment is through games," Chang said. "When you talk about games, you often have ideas of simple first-person shooter or action games. But within the realm of entertainment is an immense diversity of possibilities -- from complex emotional dramatic story-based games to casual games on your cell phone. There's this range of ways of playing from competitive, multiplayer, social to creative. This is just within the entertainment realm."

Source: Science Daily

 

The new form of carbon, which they call T-carbon, has very intriguing physical properties that suggest that it could have a wide variety of applications.

The scientists, Xian-Lei Sheng, Qing-Bo Yan, Fei Ye, Qing-Rong Zheng, and Gang Su, from the Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China, have published their study on the first-principles calculations of T-carbon in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.
Allotropes are formed when the atoms in a substance that contains only one type of atom are arranged differently.

Although many substances have multiple allotropes, carbon has the greatest number of known allotropes. The three best-known carbon allotropes are amorphous carbon (such as coal and soot), graphite, and diamond. Since the 1980s, scientists have been synthesizing newer allotropes, including carbon nanotubes, graphene, and fullerenes, all of which have had a significant scientific and technological impact.

With more recent advances in synthetic tools, scientists have been investigating a wide variety of new – and sometimes elusive – carbon allotropes. In light of these investigations, Sheng, et al., write in their study that it appears that we might be entering the era of carbon allotropes.

Here, the scientists explained how to obtain a new carbon allotrope by substituting each carbon atom in diamond with a carbon tetrahedron (hence the name “T-carbon”). They were inspired by the substitution of each carbon atom in methane with a carbon tetrahedron, which forms tetrahedrane.

“[Our study] adds a possible new allotrope of carbon with amazing properties,” Su told PhysOrg.com. “T-carbon has bond angles different from graphite and diamond, but the interesting structure is still quite stable and has the same group symmetry as diamond, thereby widening people’s vision and knowledge on carbon bonding.”

Each unit cell of the T-carbon structure contains two tetrahedrons with eight carbon atoms. As the scientists’ calculations showed, T-carbon is thermodynamically stable at ambient pressure and is a semiconductor. T-carbon is one-third softer than diamond, which is the hardest known natural material. The new carbon allotrope also has a much lower density than diamond, making it “fluffy.”

The scientists also calculated that T-carbon has large interspaces betweenatoms compared to other forms of carbon, which could make it potentially useful for hydrogen storage. In addition, the unique physical properties of this new carbon allotrope make it a promising material for photocatalysis, adsorption, and aerospace applications.
“We believe that, if obtained, T-carbon is so fluffy that it can be used to store hydrogen, lithium, and other small molecules for energy purposes,” Su said. “It can be used as photocatalysis for water-splitting to generate hydrogen, or as an adsorption material for environmental protection. As it has very low density but a high modulus and hardness, it is quite suitable for aerospace materials, sports materials like a tennis racket, golf club, etc., and cruiser skin, and so forth.”

The scientists also noted that T-carbon could have astronomical implications as a potential component of interstellar dust and carbon exoplanets.

New carbon allotrope could have a variety of applications

The structure of the new carbon allotrope, T-carbon, is shown from different directions. T-carbon is obtained by replacing each carbon atom in diamond with a carbon tetrahedron. Image credit: Sheng, et al. ©2011 American Physical Society.

“There is a long-standing puzzle in astronomy known as the ‘carbon crisis’ in interstellar dust,” Su said. “Observations by the Hubble telescope revealed that the carbon budget in dust is deep in the red, and there is not sufficient carbon in dust to account for the light distortions.”

In addition, the exoplanet WASP-12b has recently been found to have a large amount of carbon, making it the first carbon-rich exoplanet ever discovered. Since the structure of the carbon in WASP-12b is still unclear, T-carbon might also be one of possible candidates for this carbon planet.
To investigate T-carbon further, the researchers would like to synthesize the new allotrope in the lab, although they say that this would likely be very difficult.

“A synthesis of T-carbon in the lab poses a great challenge for materials scientists and chemists,” Su said. “We suggest the following ways: using the CVD technique under a negative pressure environment; detonation on diamond or graphite; crystallization of amorphous tetragonal carbon; or stretching cubic diamond under extremely large strength.”

Source: PhysOrg

 

Automakers are now one step closer to being able to replace this long-standing technology with laser igniters, which will enable cleaner, more efficient, and more economical vehicles.

In the past, lasers strong enough to ignite an engine's air-fuel mixtures were too large to fit under an automobile's hood. At this year's Conference on Lasers and Electro Optics (CLEO: 2011), to be held in Baltimore May 1 - 6, researchers from Japan will describe the first multibeam laser system small enough to screw into an engine's cylinder head.

Equally significant, the new laser system is made from ceramics, and could be produced inexpensively in large volumes, according to one of the presentation's authors, Takunori Taira of Japan's National Institutes of Natural Sciences.

According to Taira, conventional spark plugs pose a barrier to improving fuel economy and reducing emissions of nitrogen oxidessmog. (NOx), a key component of

Spark plugs work by sending small, high-voltage electrical sparks across a gap between two metal electrodes. The spark ignites the air-fuel mixture in the engine's cylinder—producing a controlled explosion that forces the piston down to the bottom of the cylinder, generating the horsepower needed to move the vehicle.

Engines make NOx as a byproduct of combustion. If engines ran leaner – burnt more air and less fuel – they would produce significantly smaller NOx emissions.

Spark plugs can ignite cleaner fuel mixtures, but only by increasing spark energy. Unfortunately, these high voltages erode spark plug electrodes so fast, the solution is not economical. By contrast, lasers, which ignite the air-fuel mixture with concentrated optical energy, have no electrodes and are not affected.

Lasers also improve efficiency. Conventional spark plugs sit on top of the cylinder and only ignite the air-fuel mixture close to them. The relatively cold metal of nearby electrodes and cylinder walls absorbs heat from the explosion, quenching the flame front just as it starts to expand.

Lasers, Taira explains, can focus their beams directly into the center of the mixture. Without quenching, the flame front expands more symmetrically and up to three times faster than those produced by spark plugs.

Equally important, he says, lasers inject their energy within nanoseconds, compared with milliseconds for spark plugs. "Timing – quick combustion – is very important. The more precise the timing, the more efficient the combustion and the better the fuel economy," he says.

Lasers promise less pollution and greater fuel efficiency, but making small, powerful lasers has, until now, proven hard. To ignite combustion, a laser must focus light to approximately 100 gigawatts per square centimeter with short pulses of more than 10 millijoules each.

"In the past, lasers that could meet those requirements were limited to basic research because they were big, inefficient, and unstable," Taira says. Nor could they be located away from the engine, because their powerful beams would destroy any optical fibers that delivered light to the cylinders.

Taira's research team overcame this problem by making composite lasers from ceramic powders. The team heats the powders to fuse them into optically transparent solids and embeds metal ions in them to tune their properties.

Ceramics are easier to tune optically than conventional crystals. They are also much stronger, more durable, and thermally conductive, so they can dissipate the heat from an engine without breaking down.

Taira's team built its laser from two yttrium-aluminum-gallium (YAG) segments, one doped with neodymium, the other with chromium. They bonded the two sections together to form a powerful laser only 9 millimeters in diameter and 11 millimeters long (a bit less than half an inch).

The composite generates two laser beams that can ignite fuel in two separate locations at the same time. This would produce a flame wall that grows faster and more uniformly than one lit by a single laser.

The laser is not strong enough to light the leanest fuel mixtures with a single pulse. By using several 800-picosecond-long pulses, however, they can inject enough energy to ignite the mixture completely.

A commercial automotive engine will require 60 Hz (or pulse trains per second), Taira says. He has already tested the new dual-beam laser at 100 Hz. The team is also at work on a three-beam laser that will enable even faster and more uniform combustion.

The laser-ignition system, although highly promising, is not yet being installed into actual automobiles made in a factory. Taira's team is, however, working with a large spark-plug company and with DENSO Corporation, a member of the Toyota Group.

Source: physorg

More information: CLEO: 2011 presentation CMP1, "Composite All-Ceramics, Passively Q-switched Nd:YAG/Cr4+:YAG Monolithic Micro-Laser with Two-Beam Output for Multi-Point Ignition," by Nicolaie Pavel of Romania's National Institute for Laser, Plasma and Radiation Physics; Takunore Taira and Masaki Tsunekane of Japan's Institute for Molecular Science; and Kenji Kanehara of Nippon Soken, Inc., Japan, is at 1:30 p.m. Monday, May 2 in the Baltimore Convention Center.

Provided by Optical Society of America

 
By Admin (from 15/08/2011 @ 15:00:34, in en - Science and Society, read 1778 times)

A federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled Friday that a provision in President Obama's health care law requiring citizens to buy health insurance is unconstitutional, but the court didn't strike down the rest of the law.

The decision is a major setback for the White House, which had appealed a ruling by a lower court judge who struck down the entire law in January. But given that another appeals court, in Cincinnati, has upheld the law, it is increasingly clear that the Supreme Court will have the final say.

"We strongly disagree with this decision and we are confident it will not stand," White House spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said in a statement.

On Friday, the divided three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with 26 states that filed a lawsuit to block Obama's signature domestic initiative. The panel said that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority by requiring Americans to buy insurance or face penalties.

"This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority," the panel said in the majority opinion.

The majority also said that a basic objective of the law is to "make health insurance coverage accessible and thereby to reduce the number of uninsured persons." Without the individual mandate, the majority said, the law "retains many other provisions that help to accomplish some of the same objectives as the individual mandate."

The decision is a review of a sweeping ruling by a Florida judge, who not only struck down a requirement that nearly all Americans carry health insurance, but he also threw out other provisions ranging from Medicare discounts for some seniors to a change that allows adult children up to age 26 to remain on their parents' coverage.

The states urged the 11th Circuit to uphold U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson's ruling, saying in a court filing that letting the law stand would set a troubling precedent that "would imperil individual liberty, render Congress's other enumerated powers superfluous, and allow Congress to usurp the general police power reserved to the states."

The Justice Department countered that Congress had the power to require most people to buy health insurance or face tax penalties because Congress has the authority to regulate interstate business. It said the legislative branch was exercising its "quintessential" rights when it adopted the new law.

During oral arguments in June, the three-judge panel repeatedly raised questions about the overhaul and expressed unease with the insurance requirement. Each of the three worried aloud if upholding the landmark law could open the door to Congress adopting other sweeping economic mandates.

The arguments unfolded in what's considered one of the nation's most conservative appeals courts. But the randomly selected panel represents different judicial perspectives. None of the three is considered either a stalwart conservative or an unfaltering liberal.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the only private group to join the 26 states in the lawsuit, cheered the decision.

"Small-business owners across the country have been vindicated by the 11th Circuit's ruling that the individual mandate in the health-care law is unconstitutional," said Karen Harned, executive director of the group's legal center.

"The court reaffirmed what small businesses already knew - there are limits to Congress' power. And the individual mandate, which compels every American to buy health insurance or pay a fine, is a bridge too far," she said.

Source: foxnews.com - The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 
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