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Mathematical & Physical Sciences (MPS) Discoveries

NSF's public investment in science, engineering, education and technology helps to create knowledge and sustain prosperity. Read here about the Internet, microbursts, Web browsers, extrasolar planets, and more... a panoply of discoveries and innovations that began with NSF support.

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A neuron activated by light Critical tool for brain research derived from "pond scum"
Basic research serendipitously advances brain science
Released  September 30, 2013
Stephen DiMagno in his lab From fundamental science to Innovation Corps: Technology to develop new therapeutic medicines
Researcher founded company that manufactures molecules that become imaging agents for managing cancer, cardiac disease and neurological disorders
Released  August 15, 2013
Diagram showing an experimental polymer and molecular structures of various substances Center Creates Polymers Made From Safe and Renewable Natural Resources
Researchers partner with more than 25 companies to conduct research and development
Released  July 24, 2013
Closeup image of a porous nanostructured particle made from fly ash Recyclable Fly Ash Material Cleans Up Oil Spills
Scientists create zeolites that remove oil from polluted water and return the oil to the processing plant
Released  June 27, 2013
Photo of Joel E. Cohen in class Mathematical Biologist Pushes Frontiers of Knowledge
Corporations, international organizations and other institutions rely on this curiosity-driven researcher to answer societal questions
Released  June 21, 2013
Graphic illustration showing a human head, light and waves Prying Open the Black Box of the Brain
NSF-funded workshop addresses brain structure and function
Released  June 12, 2013
photo of Jill Pipher Math Institute Serves As Bridge for Pure and Applied Mathematics
Best mathematical minds from around the world collaborate on projects with a strong computational component
Released  May 14, 2013
Graphic showing daughter Alfven wave Understanding How Space Turbulence Works
Researcher conducts supercomputer simulations to learn impacts on Earth's magnetic field
Released  April 15, 2013
Schematic illustration of the design concept for self-assembling drug amphiphiles Scientist Studies How to Turn Cancer Drugs Into Their Own Delivery Systems
Key is incorporating water properties into effective nanoscale systems
Released  April 5, 2013
Photo of curve-crease sculpture called Green Balance, created by Erik and Martin Demaine. Computer Scientist Turned Artist
CAREER awardee studies geometric folding algorithms
Released  October 25, 2012
Image of colloidal beads, bright dots, assembled on a liquid droplet forming a 3-D curved structure. Self-healing Curved Crystals
Scientists discover novel method of removing defects by bending, twisting, flexing materials
Released  September 30, 2012
Image of two white starts orbiting one another. Predicting "Cosmic Fireworks" From Our Own Backyard
Using the largest map of the cosmos ever, astronomers have counted nearby double white dwarfs, stars thought to cause an important type of supernova
Released  March 13, 2012
Optical micrograph showing an array of graphene transistors prepared on silicon carbide. Miracle Material
Two-dimensional graphene may lead to faster electronics, stronger spacecraft and much more
Released  May 19, 2011
Photo of Sossina Haile and William Chueh next to the benchtop thermochemical reactor. Future Fuels for Everyone Powered by the Sun
New scheme would use only sunlight, air and water to supply energy for cars, laptops, GPS systems
Released  April 6, 2011
Image of Winslow Homer's 1887 painting For to Be a Farmer's Boy. Capturing the Fugitive...in Art
Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) reveals invisible colors in art masterpieces
Released  April 4, 2011
Top: Scenes From the Life of Saint John the Baptist, Bottom: Cross section of paint layers. What Lies Beneath? Understanding Art Using Science
Scientists are using antibody-based techniques to identify and study the organic compounds used in paintings
Released  March 30, 2011
Image of the LHCb magnet. Strange B Meson Studies at LHCb Provide New Tools for Discovery
Physicists study rare particles to learn why the universe has more matter than antimatter
Released  March 28, 2011
Image of a Greek vase. Deciphering the Elements of Iconic Pottery
What do cutting-edge research into future space travel and the investigation of ancient ceramic pots have in common? More than you'd think.
Released  March 28, 2011
High-resolution image of a sunspot taken at the Sacramento Peak Observatory, New Mexico. How the Sun Gets Its Spots
To prevent solar damage to communication, navigation and other high tech systems, scientists are determining the temperatures, composition and movement of materials inside the sun
Released  January 7, 2011
Photo showing marshmallows representing hairy spheres connected with plastic coffee stirrers. Exotic Discovery Made in Soft Polymer
Novel nanostructure pattern never seen in a plastic material
Released  January 3, 2011
Photo of a banded garden spider waiting for prey to become entangled in its web. Scientists Untangle Spider Web Stickiness
Studying spider silk, NSF-supported researchers learn about the properties of this sticky material, and their findings could lead to new bio-adhesives and glues that work under water
Released  December 3, 2010
Kavli Prize logo Three NSF-Funded Scientists Among Recipients of $3 Million Kavli Prize
Among the latest winners of the Kavli Prize are three scientists who have received NSF funding over the past several years
Released  November 28, 2010
Illustration of sulfur dioxide molecules forming weak bonds with water molecules. The Water Dance
A myriad of methods for watching water molecules in motion advances critical understanding of biology, chemistry and climate science
Released  November 28, 2010
Diagram showing gravitational lensing. Gigantic Gravity "Lenses" Magnify Galaxies Far, Far Away
Submillimeter observatories penetrate cold, dusty galaxies to see stars forming in the primeval past
Released  November 19, 2010
Photo of Jun Yao, a graduate student at Rice University. Electronics Breakthrough Could Revolutionize Memory Chips
Rice University graduate student Jun Yao's research with silicon-oxide circuits could be a game-changer in nanoelectronics
Released  October 8, 2010
Photo of a Blackhawk helicopter lifting off in front of the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope. Observatory Staff Aid in Military Helicopter Crash Rescue
Green Bank Telescope's staff typically spend their days helping scientists carry out their research, but on one dramatic day in February 2010, they helped rescue soldiers from a crashed helicopter
Released  September 10, 2010
Graphic simulation of electron cloud in layer of copper oxide in a cuprate superconductor. Asymmetric Electron Behavior Discovered in High-temperature Superconductors
Finding could eventually lead to cheaper electrical power
Released  August 31, 2010
A 3-D computer model of a stent. Scientists Use Math to Build Better Stents
University of Houston mathematician Sunica Canic and her colleagues build computer models to study stents; their simulations could lead to better designs and also help doctors select the right stents for specific procedures
Released  August 26, 2010
Artistic visualization of the atomic and magnetic moment structure of chromia. Researchers Control Collective Spin States Electrically at Room Temperature
Breakthrough paves way to store and process information in novel spin-electronics
Released  August 16, 2010
Photo of Georgia Tech chemist Nicholas Hud in his laboratory. How Did Life Begin?
Georgia Tech professor Nicholas Hud and his students discover new evidence advancing the theory that certain small molecules may have acted as "molecular midwives" to help the first RNA and DNA molecules to form
Released  July 30, 2010

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