Ideas and Discoveries

  • UW computer scientists enhance robotic manufacturing Jan. 20, 2015 Some industrial robots are hulking, highly specialized pieces of machinery that are cordoned off by cages from human factory workers.
  • Carbon nanotube finding could lead to flexible electronics with longer battery life Jan. 14, 2015 University of Wisconsin-Madison materials engineers have made a significant leap toward creating higher-performance electronics with improved battery life — and the ability to flex and stretch. Led by materials science Associate Professor Michael Arnold and Professor Padma Gopalan, the team has reported the highest-performing carbon nanotube transistors ever demonstrated. In addition to paving the way for improved consumer electronics, this technology could also have specific uses in industrial and military applications.
  • Deer account for almost half of long-term forest change, study finds Jan. 2, 2015 A study released this week has linked at least 40 percent of species changes in the forests of northern Wisconsin and Michigan over the past 60 years to the eating habits of white-tailed deer.
  • Pecatonica without the ‘P’: Project cuts phosphorus levels in river Dec. 23, 2014 Conservation experts and farmers alike are rather pleased with the news out of southwestern Wisconsin. A seven-year pilot project in the 12,000-acre Pleasant Valley subwatershed of the Pecatonica River has helped to reduce the amount of phosphorus and sediment entering the river after major storms by more than a third.
  • Muddy forests, shorter winters present challenges for loggers Dec. 22, 2014 Stable, frozen ground has long been recognized a logger’s friend, capable of supporting equipment and trucks in marshy or soggy forests. Now, a comprehensive look at weather from 1948 onward shows that the logger’s friend is melting. The study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Environmental Management, finds that the period of frozen ground has declined by an average of two or three weeks since 1948.
  • Image: Portion of eukaryotic cell illustration New theory suggests alternate path led to rise of the eukaryotic cell Dec. 12, 2014 As a fundamental unit of life, the cell is central to all of biology. Better understanding how complex cells evolved and work promises new revelations in areas as diverse as cancer research and developing new crop plants.
  • Photo: Hand holding small device Internet of Things Lab focuses on tech-savvy inventions Dec. 8, 2014 If six young technologists at University of Wisconsin-Madison have their way, bike thieves around campus will face a new obstacle: bikes capable of “talking” to Internet-connected bike racks.
  • Collaboration yields new organic sweet corn variety Dec. 4, 2014 When the time comes for Wisconsin’s organic farmers to decide which crops to plant next year, they’ll have a tasty new variety of sweet corn — with a particularly sweet name — among their choices. The new variety, called “Who Gets Kissed?,” is the first in a series of organic, open-pollinated sweet corns being developed through a plant-breeding project led by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA). Farmers and professional breeders are also involved.
  • Open-source tools will benefit military and Wisconsin vehicle makers Dec. 3, 2014 Dan Negrut, a University of Wisconsin-Madison associate professor of mechanical engineering, has received a $1.8 million grant from the Army to harness the power of supercomputers to set up a simulation software infrastructure and allow both military and civilian vehicle makers to better understand — and predict — how vehicles will respond to deformable terrain, such as sand, mud or riverbeds.
  • Image: galaxy Letting off steam: Gas discharge terminates galaxy’s star formation Dec. 3, 2014 With the help of a radio telescope in the French Alps, an international team of astronomers, including two from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has observed a never-before-seen stage of galactic evolution. Writing in this week’s Nature, a group that includes UW-Madison astronomers Aleks Diamond-Stanic and Christy Tremonti, reports measurements of dense, cold hydrogen gas being blasted from a distant star-forming galaxy, the first direct observation of the “blow out” phase of a galaxy’s evolution.
  • Telescopes hint at neutrino beacon at the heart of the Milky Way Nov. 26, 2014 Thanks to a confluence of data from a suite of vastly different telescopes, there are tantalizing clues that the massive black hole at the core of the Milky Way may be a cosmic accelerator. In a recent paper published in the journal Physical Review D, a team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison physicist Yang Bai reports a correlation of IceCube data with a recorded burst of X-rays from Sagittarius A, an object at the center of our galaxy that is believed to be a supermassive black hole.
  • Grasshoppers signal slow recovery of post-agricultural woodlands, study finds Nov. 24, 2014 New research by Philip Hahn and John Orrock at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on the recovery of South Carolina longleaf pine woodlands once used for cropland shows just how long lasting the legacy of agriculture can be in the recovery of natural places. By comparing grasshoppers found at woodland sites once used for agriculture to similar sites never disturbed by farming, Hahn and Orrock show that despite decades of recovery, the numbers and types of species found in each differ.
  • Full color 3-D printing takes top prize in Collegiate Inventors Competition Nov. 20, 2014 Innovative 3-D printing technology came out on top as Spectrom - developed by a University of Wisconsin-Madison team that includes Cedric Kovacs-Johnson, Charles Haider and Taylor Fahey - won first place in the undergraduate category of the Collegiate Inventors Competition.
  • ‘Active learning’ takes center stage at School of Nursing Nov. 20, 2014 The classroom is changing. Massive lecture halls used to mean you could sit quietly in the back, with rows of fellow students perched above a lecturing professor. But you won’t find any lecture halls in the School of Nursing’s Signe Skott Cooper Hall. For students at the new Active Learning Classroom (ALC), the learning is — well, active.
  • Crops play a major role in the annual CO2 cycle increase Nov. 19, 2014 In a study published Wednesday, Nov. 19, in Nature, scientists at Boston University, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and McGill University show that a steep rise in the productivity of crops grown for food accounts for as much as 25 percent of the increase in this carbon dioxide (CO2) seasonality.
  • Photo: Astronaut Reid Wiseman injects a fixative solution onto the seedlings. UW team’s plants return to Earth after growing in space Nov. 6, 2014 Researchers at Simon Gilroy's lab in the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison expect to greet a truck this afternoon that is carrying small containers holding more than 1,000 frozen plants that germinated and grew aboard the International Space Station.
  • Greater use of social media gets science, scientists noticed, study says Nov. 6, 2014 In September, a group of UW-Madison professors and their colleagues published a study in the journal Journalism & Mass Communications Quarterly showing a connection between “h-index” — a measure of the quality of a researcher’s work and influence — and whether the scientists interact with reporters and get mentioned on Twitter.
  • They know the drill: UW leads the league in boring through ice sheets Oct. 30, 2014 Hollow coring drills designed and managed by UW-Madison’s Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDDO) program are used to extract ice cores that can analyze the past atmosphere. Shaun Marcott, an assistant professor of geoscience at UW-Madison, was the first author of a paper published today in the journal Nature documenting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between 23,000 and 9,000 years ago, based on data from an 11,000-foot hole in Antarctica.
  • Astronomy students Report, experts analyze surging STEM activity at UW-Madison Oct. 30, 2014 A recent report on instructional activity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines at the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows significant advances in enrollment and degrees since 2000, which campus experts attribute to a number of factors, including job placement, greater career opportunities and enhanced teaching methods.
  • See-through sensors open new window into the brain Oct. 20, 2014 Developing invisible implantable medical sensor arrays, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has overcome a major technological hurdle in researchers’ efforts to understand the brain. The team described its technology, which has applications in fields ranging from neuroscience to cardiac care and even contact lenses, in the Oct. 20 issue of the online journal Nature Communications.