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Watson provides cancer treatment options to doctors in seconds

February 11, 2013


IBM and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center unveiled Friday the first commercially developed Watson-based cognitive computing breakthroughs.

These innovations stand alone to help transform the quality and speed of care delivered to patients through individualized, evidence based medicine, says IBM.

For more than a year, IBM has partnered separately with WellPoint and Memorial Sloan-Kettering to… read more

Peering into living cells at the nanoscale without chemicals

February 11, 2013

Using a holographic microscope and a rotating laser beam, this image of a full living cell can be computed in minutes. The user can choose any section to see what is inside -- such as the nucleus (left) and its genetic material. (Credit: Yann Cotte & Fatih Toy/EPFL)

Two EPFL researchers have designed a device that combines holographic microscopy and computational image processing to observe living biological tissues at the nanoscale.

Going beyond conventional microscopes, they can acquire images of living cells in just a few minutes at a resolution of less than 100 nanometers — without using contrast dyes or fluorescents, to avoid distortion by the presence of foreign substances.

Being… read more

Researchers control animals’ movements with light

February 11, 2013

Photographs of spinalized zebrafish responding to laser photostimulation (credit: David Kokel/Nature Chemical Biology)

A drug-like molecule called “optovin” has been found to let researchers control movements in mice and fish with flashes of light.

Unlike similar experiments using a light-based technique known as optogenetics, to achieve the neural control, the new method doesn’t require researchers to genetically engineer animals, MIT Technology Review reports.

The techniques is a powerful research tools for understanding the brain, and may one day be… read more

Artificial bone scaffold combines stem cells and plastic to heal broken bones

February 11, 2013

SEM image of a vertical cross-section of the<br />
scaffold shows porous channel formation between 50–600 μ m length, and each channel wall consists of a submicron pore structure; h) (highlighted<br />
in (g)), arrows indicate sub-micrometer pores (f, h). i

To improve bone healing, researchers at Edinburgh and Southampton universities have used a honeycomb scaffold structure, which allows blood to flow through it, enabling stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow to attach to the material and grow new bone.

Over time, the plastic slowly degrades as the implant is replaced by newly grown bone.

The researchers used a pioneering technique to… read more

What comes after the cloud? How about the fog?

February 11, 2013

(Credit: Rick Hyman/iStockphoto)

Startup Symform thinks it can provide better disaster resilience than even data centers hundreds of miles apart. And, says Bassam Tabbara, Symform cofounder and Chief Technical Officer, it can do that in a way that’s extremely cheap — and in some cases free — to its customers, Tekla Perry writes on IEEE Spectrum.

Tabbara describes Symform’s approach as a “decentralized, distributed, virtual, and crowd-sourced” cloud. .… read more

How to lab-test your brain with an iPhone

February 10, 2013

iDichotic test (credit: Bergen fMRI Group)

Suggestion: for better validity, download and try the free iDichotic iOS app first before continuing to read this. I found it very interesting.  — Editor

A new study shows that an iOS (iPhone, iPad, etc.) app yields results on a dichotic listening test that are as reliable as laboratory tests.

Two years ago, psychology researcher Josef Bless was listening to music on his phone when… read more

New flexible classroom design

February 8, 2013

Classroom (credit:

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a classroom design that gives instructors increased flexibility in how to teach their courses and improves accessibility for students, while slashing administrative costs.

The new flexible approach acknowledges the fact that students are now bringing their own laptops to class. The classrooms also include mobile infrastructure, where whiteboards, desks and tables can be reconfigured according to the… read more

Blocking this molecule in the brain could prevent age-related cognitive decline

February 8, 2013


Researchers have discovered a molecule that accumulates with age and inhibits the formation of new neurons. The finding might help scientists design therapies to prevent age-related cognitive decline.

The investigators identified the molecule, called Dickkopf-1 or Dkk1, in the brains of aged mice. By blocking production of Dkk1, “we released a brake on neuronal birth, thereby resetting performance in spatial memory tasks back to levels observed in… read more

A building block for optical quantum networks

February 8, 2013

Quantum device (credit: New Journal of Physics)

Another approach to creating optical quantum networks has been developed by Cal Tech, HP, and University of Washington researchers. (See The quantum internet,)

In an optical quantum network, information is carried between points by photons. It could enable quantum computers that are millions of times faster at solving certain problems than what we are used to today.

This new device, which combines a single… read more

Nanoscale capsule kills cancer cells without harming healthy cells

February 8, 2013

Treatment of apoptin nanocapsules resulted in tumor growth retardation from apoptosis (green)

A degradable nanoscale shell to carry proteins to cancer cells and stunt the growth of tumors without damaging healthy cells has been developed by a team led by researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Tiny shells (about 100 nanometers in length, roughly half the size of the smallest bacterium) are composed of a water-soluble polymer that safely delivers a protein… read more

‘Mind reading’ to predict the success of online games

February 8, 2013


On a first date, couples scrutinize each other’s facial expressions for a clue as to whether the date will turn into a long-term relationship. Game publishers and designers might start doing the same thing.

By analyzing the movements of gamers’ smile and frown muscles in the first 45 minutes of play, Taiwanese researchers have found a way to predict a game’s addictiveness, reports IEEE Spectrum.

“Such… read more

A cheap and easy plan to stop global warming

February 8, 2013

Phytoplankton bloom as a form of geoengineering (credit: Wikimedia Media)

Here is the plan. Customize several Gulfstream business jets with military engines and with equipment to produce and disperse fine droplets of sulfuric acid. Fly the jets up around 20 kilometers-significantly higher than the cruising altitude for a commercial jetliner but still well within their range. At that altitude in the tropics, the aircraft are in the lower stratosphere, reports MIT Technology Review.

The planes spray the… read more

The quantum internet

Quantum information stored in an atom is converted into a photon for transmission
February 7, 2013

The atom’s quantum information is written onto the polarization state of the photon (credit: Harald Ritsch)

A University of Innsbruck research team has directly transferred the quantum information stored in an atom onto a particle of light for the first time.


Thanks to the strange laws of quantum mechanics, quantum computers would be able to carry out certain computational tasks much faster than conventional computers. Among the most promising technologies for the construction of a quantum computer are… read more

Treatment to prevent Alzheimer’s disease moves a step closer

February 7, 2013

RI-OR2-TAT reduces the β-amyloid plaque load and levels of Aβ soluble oligomers in the brains of APP/PS1 transgenic mice. Representative images show amyloid deposits in the cortex region of mouse brains as shown by β-amyloid immunostaining in animals treated with 0.9% saline (left) or 100 nmol/kg RI-OR2-TAT in 0.9% saline (right).

A new drug designed to prevent the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease could enter clinical trials in a few years’  time, according to scientists.

Alzheimer’s disease begins when a protein called amyloid-β (Aβ) starts to clump together in senile plaques in the brain, damaging nerve cells and leading to memory loss and confusion.

Professor David Allsop and Dr Mark Taylor at Lancaster University have… read more

Listening to cells: scientists probe human cells with ultrasound pulses

February 7, 2013

Generation and detection of picosecond strain pulses in an opaque thin film with ultrashort optical pulses (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers from the University of Bordeaux in France used high-frequency sound waves to test the stiffness and viscosity of the nuclei of individual human cells to help answer questions such as how cells adhere to medical implants and why healthy cells turn cancerous.

“We have developed a new non-contact, non-invasive tool to measure the mechanical properties of cells at the sub-cell scale,” says Bertrand Audoin, a professor… read more

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