Jody Victor: OSU Researchers’ Improve High Temp Properties of “Super” Alloys

At the Ohio State University have made a discovery that could change jet engine technology making it more powerful, efficient and environmentally friendly. A problem with these so called super alloys is that microscopic defects grow inside the alloys and weakening them. The Ohio State researchers, in the journal Nature Communications, describe how a process in which they can tailor make an alloy for conditions like a jet engine would produce. Tailoring an alloy involves exposing it to high heat and pressure. This process not only prevents the forming of the micro defects, it also increases the strength of the alloy.

The engineers at OSU have called the process “phase transformation strengthening.” The process decreased alloy deformation by half in their study.

Strong, heat-resistant alloys enable turbine engines to run cleanly and efficiently. When an engine can run at very high temperatures, it consumes its fuel more thoroughly and produces lower emissions. Most modern alloys are designed at the atomic level and this research sought to fill a gap in knowledge of how exotic metal based materials deform under high stress.

The Ohio State University Professor Published Book on Teeth

This Ohio State University professor isn’t a dentist, but rather an anthropologist who has studied teeth to learn about our ancestors. Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg is a professor of anthropology at The Ohio State University who studies fossilized teeth to answer questions about the life history, growth, and diet of primates and our human ancestors, as well as the relationships between different species.

In a new book, What Teeth Reveal About Human Evolution (Cambridge University Press, 2016), she gives a broad overview of what scientists have learned about our ancestors from studying fossilized teeth.

As for the teeth of humans living today – well, it is a good thing we have modern dentistry.

In the book, she noted that 99 percent of humans’ evolutionary history was spent eating foods that were hunted or gathered. Our current diets of soft, processed and sugary foods are nothing like the diets for which our teeth are adapted. In addition to having much higher rates of cavities and plaque, modern humans are much more likely to have misaligned teeth that require orthodontic treatment or surgery. In fact, third molar impaction became 10 times more common after the Industrial Revolution than it was previously.

One reason that teeth provide so much information is simply that they are available. Teeth are the most preserved skeletal remains found in fossils. They are small and very mineralized, making them resistant to decomposition and able to maintain their original qualities, she said. Teeth also contain a record of a lot of aspects of their own development, including their chemistry and pathology.

Researchers like Guatelli-Steinberg learn a lot about early humans and our ancestors through an examination of teeth.

OSU Researchers Study Violence and Find Its Spreads like Disease

A new study of U.S. adolescents provides some of the best evidence to date of how violence spreads like a contagious disease.
Researchers found that adolescents were up to 183 percent more likely to carry out some acts of violence if one of their friends had also committed the same act.

But the spread of violence doesn’t just stop at friends – results suggest the contagion extends by up to four degrees of separation – from one person to a friend, to the friend’s friend and two more friends beyond.

Results showed that participants in the study were 48 percent more likely to have been in a serious fight, 183 percent more likely to have hurt someone badly, and 140 percent more likely to have pulled a weapon on someone if a friend had engaged in the same behavior.

This study is the first to show how far violent behavior may spread within a social network, Bond said. The findings showed that the influence of one person’s violent act can spread up to two degrees of separation (friend of a friend) for hurting someone badly, three degrees (friend of a friend’s friend) for pulling a weapon on someone, and four degrees for serious fights. The influence declines with each degree of separation, but is still noticeable.

Researchers think that one important factor of this study could be to demonstrate the value of anti-violence programs.

Ohio State Researchers Capture “Waste Heat” in New Experiment

The same researchers who pioneered the use of a quantum mechanical effect to convert heat into electricity have figured out how to make their technique work in a form more suitable to industry.

Many electrical and mechanical devices, such as car engines, produce heat as a byproduct of their normal operation. It’s called “waste heat,” and its existence is required by the fundamental laws of thermodynamics.

But a growing area of research called solid-state thermoelectrics aims to capture that waste heat inside specially designed materials to generate power and increase overall energy efficiency.

In Nature Communications, engineers from The Ohio State University describe how they used magnetism on a composite of nickel and platinum to amplify the voltage output 10 times or more – not in a thin film, as they had done previously, but in a thicker piece of material that more closely resembles components for future electronic devices.

In this latest advance, they’ve increased the output for a composite of two very common metals, nickel with a sprinkling of platinum, from a few nanovolts to tens or hundreds of nanovolts – a smaller voltage, but in a much simpler device that requires no nanofabrication and can be readily scaled up for industry.

While the composite is not yet part of a real-world device, Researchers are confident the proof-of-principle established by this study will inspire further research that may lead to applications for common waste heat generators, including car and jet engines. The idea is very general, he added, and can be applied to a variety of material combinations, enabling entirely new approaches that don’t require expensive metals like platinum or delicate processing procedures like thin-film growth.

OSU Researchers Get to Bottom of Long Held Belief About Food Cost and Health

Consumers believe healthy food must be more expensive than cheap eats and that higher-priced food is healthier – even when there is no supporting evidence, according to new research.

The results mean not only that marketers can charge more for products that are touted as healthy, but that consumers may not believe that a product is healthy if it doesn’t cost more, researchers say. For example, people in one study thought eye health was a more important issue for them when they were told about an expensive but unfamiliar food ingredient that would protect their vision. If the same ingredient was relatively cheap, people didn’t think the issue it treated – eye health – was as important.

The results appear online in the Journal of Consumer Research.

The study was conducted to examine the lay theory that we have to pay more to eat healthfully. Lay theories are the common-sense explanations people use to understand the world around them, whether they are true or not. Messages consistent with the “healthy = expensive” lay-theory are all around us. One example is the “Whole Paycheck” nickname people have given to Whole Foods, which touts itself as “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store.”

There are certainly categories of food where healthy is more expensive, such as some organic and gluten-free products, researchers stated. But it is not necessarily true all the time. The researchers conducted five related studies, all with different participants. The results all point to the lay-theory of “healthy = expensive” is not only something consumers believe, but act on.

While these results may be concerning for consumers there is a remedy. Consumers need to become scientists themselves, collecting data and making comparisons before drawing conclusions. It makes shopping easier to believe the overarching lay-theory that expensive food must be healthy because it’s expensive. While this kind of circular thinking is a logical fallacy, it quickly puts consumers at ease with their choices. Getting past easy comfort and making informed choices is the best way around this particularly false folk theory.