A synthetic molecule that makes cocaine feel less good to mice also may represent a new class of drugs that could address cravings and dampen the drug’s results more specifically and with fewer side effects than current medications. / Fish can carry mercury from gold mining operations hundreds of kilometers, elevating mercury levels in children far downstream from Peruvian Amazonian mining operations. / There are lots of places in the brain to turn pain on, but mice have an area in their amygdalae that counterintuitively turns pain off. The amygdala is considered the home of negative emotions, so scientists hope the area will give insight into how the brain manages pain, explaining things like the placebo effect. 


All those studies showing how MRIs of your brainwaves can tell all your secrets? Um, maybe not so much. / You can introduce a genetic “barcode” to a collected DNA sample to guarantee that a sample taken in the field, transported to a lab, and processed for genetic identification (a process called “DNA fingerprinting”) is genuine. / Biomedical engineers are developing a massive fluid dynamics simulator that can model blood flow through the full human arterial system at subcellular resolution. / The black middle class turns out to be very hard to find. / Speaking of which, as bad as the racial wealth gap is generally, it’s worse for families with children


The coal ash from a Kentucky power plant released in a 2008 spill had a content of uranium and its deadly breakdown products three times higher than public reports had shown. / When hexagonal iron sulfide (found naturally on Earth but more commonly in meteors) exists at high temperatures it becomes both a magnet and an insulator. If scientists can learn to control that strange behavior with electricity, they may be able to use the intrinsic spin of electrons to store and manipulate data: This is called spin electronics, or spintronics. Stay tuned. / Shipping data over light waves, using amplitude, wavelength, and polarization yields lots of paths for data communication but still doesn’t provide enough bandwidth to prevent information bottlenecks. Spin angular momentum and orbital angular momentum, properties of light waves both spinning on axes like a rotating planet and traveling along orbital paths like orbiting planets, lead to “Vortex Microlaser” communication, in which nanoscale lasers will produce laser light on which information can be transmitted in the relationship between orbital and spin angular momentum. Quantum theory gets involved, too, but if we tried to explain it we would cry. * Reusing low-saline oilfield water that’s been mixed with surface water to irrigate farms in California’s Kern County does not pose major health risks, it turns out.  


Rising senior Rohin Maganti was among the 396 undergraduates from around the country awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, a federally endowed award supporting careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. Maganti is Duke’s eighty-fifth Goldwater scholar. / The John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute has announced two new interdisciplinary humanities labs: the Amazon Humanities Lab, which will focus on the amazing heterogeneity of the Amazon region, and the Manuscript Migration Lab, treating the manuscripts held by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as artifacts and considering legal, cultural, and ethical questions they raise. / Nearly all the world’s governments have tried in one way or another to address the problems of plastics in the environment, often focusing on plastic bags. It’s not clear how well that’s working. An analysis by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions gathers all those policies and research into their effectiveness into a searchable database. / To help companies address the need to understand and work with their data, the Pratt School of Engineering is launching an online Graduate Certificate in AI Foundations for Product Innovation (AIPI). / Duke will receive a $20 million gift from the Grainger Family Descendants Fund,  “on the recommendation of an anonymous 1979 Duke graduate who serves as an adviser to the fund.” The gift will support research and education to find solutions to planetary environmental issues. / John Brown, director of the Duke University Jazz Program and professor of the practice of music, has been named vice provost for the arts, succeeding the retiring Scott Lindroth, who will return to teaching full time. / At the Nasher Museum, retiring director Sarah Schroth is succeeded by Trevor Schoonmaker, deputy director of curatorial affairs and Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art. / Gregory J. Victory, formerly director of the Career Center at Tufts University, has been named Fannie Mitchell Executive Director of the Duke Career Center and assistant vice president of Student Affairs. / Duke Performances has a new director in Bobby Ascher, formerly director of programming at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, Conn. / John Blackshear, after serving as associate vice provost of undergraduate education and dean of academic affairs for Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, has now become dean of students and associate vice president of student affairs.

* Didn't Read?/Too Long? Well, we did, and now we're all smarter.


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