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Automated top-down design technique simplifies creation of DNA origami nanostructures

Nanoparticles for drug delivery and cell targeting, nanoscale robots, custom-tailored optical devices, and DNA as a storage medium are among the possible applications
May 27, 2016

The boldfaced line, known as a spanning tree, follows the desired geometric shape, touching each vertex just once. A spanning tree algorithm is used in the new DNA origami method to map out the proper routing path for the DNA strand. (credit: Public Domain)

MIT, Baylor College of Medicine, and Arizona State University Biodesign Institute researchers have developed a radical new top-down DNA origami* design method based on a computer algorithm that allows for creating designs for DNA nanostructures by simply inputting a target shape.

DNA origami (using DNA to design and build geometric structures) has already proven wildly successful in creating myriad forms in 2- and… read more

How to make opaque AI decisionmaking accountable

May 31, 2016

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Machine-learning algorithms are increasingly used in making important decisions about our lives — such as credit approval, medical diagnoses, and in job applications — but exactly how they work usually remains a mystery. Now Carnegie Mellon University researchers may devised an effective way to improve transparency and head off confusion or possibly legal issues.

CMU’s new Quantitative Input Influence (QII) testing tools can generate “transparency reports” that provide the… read more

Cell-phone-radiation study finds associated brain and heart tumors in rodents

May 27, 2016

Glioma in rat brain (credit: Samuel Samnick et al./European Journal of Nuclear Medicine)

A series of studies over two years with rodents exposed to radio frequency radiation (RFR) found low incidences of malignant gliomas (tumors of glial support cells) in the brain and schwannoma tumors in the heart.*

The studies were performed under the auspices of the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP).

Potentially preneoplastic (pre-cancer) lesions were also observed in the brain and heart of male rats… read more

How to erase bad memories and enhance good ones

May 27, 2016

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Imagine if people with dementia could enhance good memories or those with post-traumatic stress disorder could wipe out bad memories. A Stony Brook University research team has now taken a step toward that goal by manipulating one of the brain’s natural mechanisms for signaling involved in emotional memory: a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.

The region of the brain most involved in emotional memory is thought to… read more

Deep learning applied to drug discovery and repurposing

May 27, 2016

Deep neural networks for drug discovery (credit: Insilico Medicine, Inc.)

Scientists from Insilico Medicine, Inc. have trained deep neural networks (DNNs) to predict the potential therapeutic uses of 678 drugs, using gene-expression data obtained from high-throughput experiments on human cell lines from Broad Institute’s LINCS databases and NIH MeSH databases.

The supervised deep-learning drug-discovery engine used the properties of small molecules, transcriptional data, and literature to predict efficacy, toxicity, tissue-specificity, and heterogeneity of response.

“We used LINCSread more

Triggering the protein that programs cancer cells to kill themselves

May 24, 2016

apoptosis

WEHI | Apoptosis

Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Australia have discovered a new way to trigger cell death that could lead to drugs to treat cancer and autoimmune disease.

Programmed cell death (a.k.a. apoptosis) is a natural process that removes unwanted cells from the body. Failure of apoptosis can allow cancer cells to grow unchecked or immune cells to inappropriately… read more

Diamonds closer to becoming ideal power semiconductors

May 24, 2016

A diode array on a natural single crystalline diamond plate. (The image looks blurred due to light scattering by the array of small pads on top of the diamond plate.) Inset shows the deposited anode metal on top of heavy doped silicon nanomembrane, which is bonded to natural single crystalline diamond. (credit: Jung-Hun Seo)

Researchers have developed a new method for doping (integrating elements to change a semiconductor’s properties) single crystals of diamond with boron at relatively low temperatures, without degradation.

Diamonds have properties that could make them ideal semiconductors for power electronics. They can handle high voltages and power, and electrical currents also flow through diamonds quickly, meaning the material would make for energy-efficient devices. And they are thermally conductive, which means… read more

No longer ‘junk DNA’ — shedding light on the ‘dark matter’ of the genome

A new tool called "LIGR-Seq" enables scientists to explore in depth what non-coding RNAs actually do in human cells
May 23, 2016

A plot of human RNA-RNA interactions detected by ligr-seq (credit: University of Toronto)

What used to be dismissed by many as “junk DNA” has now become vitally important, as accelerating genomic data points to the importance of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) — a genome’s messages that do not specifically code for proteins — in development and disease.

But our progress in understanding these molecules has been slow because of the lack of technologies that allow for systematic mapping of their functions.… read more

Cancer-patient big data can save lives if shared globally

May 23, 2016

Data-sharing vision as facilitated by GA4GH through its working groups (credit: GA4GH)

Sharing genetic information from millions of cancer patients around the world could revolutionize cancer prevention and care, according to a paper in Nature Medicine by the Cancer Task Team of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH).

Hospitals, laboratories and research facilities around the world hold huge amounts of this data from cancer patients, but it’s currently held in isolated “silos” that don’t talk to each other, according to… read more

Transistor-based biosensor detects molecules linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s

May 23, 2016

An inexpensive portable biosensor has been developed by researchers at Brazil's National Nanotechnology Laboratory with FAPESP's support. (credit: LNNano)

A novel nanoscale organic transistor-based biosensor that can detect molecules associated with neurodegenerative diseases and some types of cancer has been developed by researchers at the National Nanotechnology Laboratory (LNNano) in Brazil.

The transistor, mounted on a glass slide, contains the reduced form of the peptide glutathione (GSH), which reacts in a specific way when it comes into contact with the enzyme glutathione S-transferase (GST), linked to… read more

Gene helps prevent heart attack, stroke; may also block effects of aging

May turn out to be the "fountain-of-youth gene," say researchers
May 20, 2016

This is an atherosclerotic lesion. Such lesions can rupture and cause heart attacks and strokes. (credit: UVA School of Medicine)

University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered that a gene called Oct4 — which scientific dogma insists is inactive in adults — actually plays a vital role in preventing ruptured atherosclerotic plaques inside blood vessels, the underlying cause of most heart attacks and strokes.

The researchers found that Oct4 controls the conversion of smooth muscle cells into protective fibrous “caps” inside plaques, making the plaques less likely to… read more

British researchers, Google design modular shape-shifting mobile devices

May 20, 2016

Cubimorph & ARA ft

British researchers and Google have independently developed revolutionary concepts for Lego-like modular interactive mobile devices.

The British team’s design, called Cubimorph, is constructed of a chain of cubes. It has touchscreens on each of the six module faces and uses a hinge-mounted turntable mechanism to self-reconfigure in the user’s hand. One example: a mobile phone that can transform into a console when a user launches a game.… read more

Robots learn to cut through clutter

Exploit creative "superhuman" capabilities
May 20, 2016

New software developed by Carnegie Mellon University helps mobile robots deal efficiently with clutter, whether it is in the back of a refrigerator or on the surface of the moon. (credit: Carnegie Mellon University Personal Robotics Lab)

Carnegie Mellon University roboticists have developed an algorithm that helps robots cope with a cluttered world.

Robots are adept at picking up an object in a specified place (such as in a factory assembly line) and putting it down at another specified place (known as “pick-and-place,” or P&P, processes). But homes and other planets, for example, are a special challenge for robots.

When a person reaches… read more

Using animal training techniques to teach robots household chores

May 18, 2016

Virtual environments in which trainers gave directions to robot dog. (credit: Washington State University)

Researchers at Washington State University are using ideas from animal training to help non-expert users teach robots how to do desired tasks.

As robots become more pervasive in society, humans will want them to do chores like cleaning house or cooking. But to get a robot started on a task, people who aren’t computer programmers will have to give it instructions. “So we needed to provide a… read more

Self-healing, flexible electronic material restores functions after multiple breaks

May 18, 2016

Flexible-Insulator-ft

A new electronic material created by an international team headed by Penn State scientists can heal all its functions automatically, even after breaking multiple times. The new material could improve the durability of wearable electronics.

Electronic materials have been a major stumbling block for the advance of flexible electronics because existing materials do not function well after breaking and healing.

“Wearable and bendable electronics are subject to mechanical… read more

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The trillion dollar question nobody is asking the presidential candidates

May 24, 2016

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By , /The Conversation

As it seeks to modernize its nuclear arsenal, the United States faces a big choice, one which Barack Obama should ponder before his upcoming Hiroshima speech.

Should we spend a trillion dollars to replace each of our thousands of nuclear warheads with a more sophisticated substitute attached to a more lethal delivery system? Or… read more

By the year 2040, embryo selection could replace sex as the way most of us make babies

May 9, 2016

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By Jamie Metzl (@JamieMetzl)

(Gattaca 1997)

Human reproduction is about to undergo a radical shift. Embryo selection, in connection with in-vitro fertilization (IVF), will help our species eliminate many genetic diseases, extend healthy lifespans, and enhance people’s overall well-being. Within 20 years, I predict that it will supplant sex as the way large numbers of us conceive of our children.

But while the embryo… read more

Robert Scoble: Life and Tech #48: A New Life 

May 5, 2016

Scoble

By Robert Scoble May 5, 2016

What a month it’s been since I wrote to you last.

I’ve been on a world tour, doing my homework, meeting influencers at conferences and startups. Since I last wrote you I’ve been to Pittsburgh, Quebec City, Napa, London, Palm Springs, New York, Mumbai, New Delhi and New Orleans. Next week I’ll be in Paris. Whew.… read more

Garage Biotech: New drugs using only a computer, the internet and free online data

May 5, 2016

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By
Director of UWA Centre for Software Practice, University of Western Australia

Pharmaceutical companies typically develop new drugs with thousands of staff and budgets that run into the billions of dollars. One estimate puts the cost of bringing a new drug to market at $2.6 billion with others suggesting that it could be double that cost at $5 billion.

One man, Professor Atulread more

Homo Sapiens 2.0? We need a species-wide conversation about the future of human genetic enhancement

May 2, 2016

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By Jamie Metzl (@JamieMetzl)

McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT | Genome Editing with CRISPR-Cas9

After 4 billion years of evolution by one set of rules, our species is about to begin evolving by another.

Overlapping and mutually reinforcing revolutions in genetics, information technology, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and other fields are providing the tools that will make it possible to genetically alter our future… read more

In memory of Marvin Minsky [updated]

Originally published Jan. 25, 2016 --- AAAI/Sentient video tribute Mar. 22, 2016 added
April 27, 2016

Marvin Minsky 2008 (Wikimedia Commons)

Ray Kurzweil, January 25, 2016

When I was fourteen I wrote Marvin Minsky a letter asking to meet with him. He invited me to visit him at MIT and he spent hours with me as if he had nothing else to do.

When my daughter Amy was about eleven and we went out for a meal at the Harvest Restaurant in Cambridge with my wife Sonya and his… read more

The Science of Consciousness: Final 2016 conference program

March 25, 2016

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April 25–30, 2016, Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, Tucson, Arizona

“To have a glimpse of what consciousness is would be the scientific achievement before which all others would pale.” – William James

After 23 years, the seminal conference “Toward a Science of Consciousness” is now simply “The Science of Consciousness.” But as consciousness cannot be observed, scientifically explained, nor commonly defined, is there now truly a science of consciousness’? Are we… read more

The Problem of AI Consciousness

March 18, 2016

(credit: Susan Schneider)

Some things in life cannot be offset by a mere net gain in intelligence.

The last few years have seen the widespread recognition that sophisticated AI is under development. Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and others warn of the rise of “superintelligent” machines: AIs that outthink the smartest humans in every domain, including common sense reasoning and social skills. Superintelligence could destroy us, they caution. In contrast, Ray Kurzweil, a… read more

Will this new ‘socially assistive robot’ from MIT Media Lab (or its progeny) replace teachers?

This impressive research raises troubling questions about possible future effects on children (and society) when combined with deep learning and immersive media
March 15, 2016 by Amara D. Angelica

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Researchers in the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab, led by Cynthia Breazeal, PhD, have developed a powerful new “socially assistive” robot called Tega that senses the affective (emotional/feeling) state of a learner, and based on those cues, creates a personalized motivational strategy.

But what are the implications for the future of education … and society? (To be addressed in questions below.)

A… read more

Ray Kurzweil talks with host Neal deGrasse Tyson, PhD: on invention & immortality

part of the week long event series 7 Days of Genius at 92 Street Y
March 9, 2016

92 Street Y - A4

92 Street Y | 7 Days of Genius
Conversation on stage during the week long event series, held at the historic community center.

featured talk | Ray Kurzweil with host Neil DeGrasse Tyson, PhD — on Invention & Immortality

Inventor, author and futurist Ray Kurzweil is joined by astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson, PhD for a discussion of some of the biggest topics of our time. They explore… read more

Here’s how we could build a colony on an alien world

March 2, 2016

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By /The Conversation

If the human race is to survive in the long-run, we will probably have to colonise other planets. Whether we make the Earth uninhabitable ourselves or it simply reaches the natural end of its ability to support life, one day we will have to look for a new home.

Hollywood films such as The Martian and Interstellar give us a… read more

Ask Ray | Ethan Kurzweil debates the role of tech firms in personal privacy

business news report from C • NBC
February 27, 2016

privacy - A1

Dear readers,

My son Ethan Kurzweil — who is a partner at Bessemer Ventures Partners — tracks the future of web innovation, social and legal concerns about privacy, and start-ups who have an edge with their business or consumer applications, like team sourcing or software-as-a-service.

He appeared on C • NBC business affairs show Power Lunch. Episode debated the recent news about the US government and law enforcement… read more

Robert Scoble: Life and Tech #42: Learning from Blab.im’s Founder and CEO

February 26, 2016

Scoble

By Robert Scoble Feb. 25, 2016

“Focus beats resources every day of the week.” That’s what Shaan Puri told me when I met with him this week. He’s the founder and CEO of Blab.im, a video chat service that has gotten fairly popular quickly. For instance, he says that every big Google+ Hangout show has already moved to Blab.

Check… read more

Something mechanical in something living

The mechanical comic vs. BigDog
February 22, 2016

venus bot

By Gregg Murray

Why do people find Army robot BigDog creepy but C-3PO funny? It’s not just because BigDog lugs around equipment for killing people and C-3PO delivers whimsical one-liners. Okay, that may be part of it.

In the 1970s, roboticist Masahiro Mori, building upon a fascinating essay of Sigmund Freud, suggested that as robots become more human-like they induce an increasingly eerie response from human… read more

Robert Scoble: Internet of Things Comes to the Masses

February 12, 2016

Scoble

By Robert Scoble Feb. 4, 2016

Internet of Things, aka “IoT” is all the rage. You know, all these new connected things like Nest thermostats, Hue lights, digital door locks and other devices that have lights, sensors, motors or switches, along with a small computer and are connected to the Internet.

On Monday (Feb. 8), building IoT-based devices is going to get a lot easier… read more

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