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The latest artificial heart: part cow, part machine

June 3, 2013


A French company is preparing to test a complex artificial heart that combines biology with machinery, MIT Technology Review reports.

If the “bioprosthetic” device, made by the Paris-based Carmat, proves to be safe and effective, it could be given to patients waiting for a heart transplant. [...]

3D-printing food in space

June 3, 2013


NASA and a Texas company are exploring the possibility of printing food on a 3D printer on deep space missions.

NASA has awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contract to Systems and Materials Research Consultancy of Austin, Texas to conduct a study for the development of a 3D printed food system for long duration space missions.

As NASA ventures farther into space, whether… read more

Apple under the gun as US e-book trial starts

June 3, 2013


Apple appears to face an uphill battle as it goes to trial Monday in New York on ebook price fixing charges brought by the U.S. government, PC World reports.

The DOJ filed the antitrust lawsuit in April last year alleging that Apple and five publishers — Penguin Group, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan — had conspired to raise ebook prices. The publishers, however,… read more

A graphene-based light sensor 1,000 times more sensitive than current sensors

June 3, 2013

graphene FET

A new graphene-based image sensor invented at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore is 1,000 times more sensitive to light than current imaging sensors found in today’s cameras and uses 10 times less energy because it operates at lower voltages, according to researchers.

The new nanoscale sensor is also believed to be the first to be able to detect a broad spectrum of light, from… read more

Biophysicists measure mechanism that determines fate of living cells

May 31, 2013

In this experiment, ligand molecules are tethered by DNA strands to a substrate; the strands have defined tension tolerances and will burst if tension above their tolerance is applied. The integrin-ligand bond activates cellular adhesion only when the tether does not rupture, enabling a measurement to be taken of the molecular force. The cultures show cell adhesion and spreading at a tension tolerance of 43 pico-Newtons but not at 33 pico-Newtons.

University of Illinois biophysicists at the Center for the Physics of Living Cells and the Institute for Genomic Biology have measured the molecular force required to mechanically transmit function-regulating signals within a cell.

The new tension gauge tether (TGT) has broad applications for research into stem cells, cancer, infectious disease, and immunology.


Cells in the human body do not function in isolation. Living cells… read more

Gene therapies for regenerative surgery are getting closer

Genetic techniques show promise in promoting growth of skin, bone and other tissues
May 31, 2013


Experimental genetic techniques may one day provide plastic and reconstructive surgeons with an invaluable tool—the ability to promote growth of the patient’s own tissues for reconstructive surgery.

A review of recent progress toward developing effective gene therapies for use in regenerative surgery appears in the June issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Over the past… read more

Organic polymers create new class of solar energy devices

Rice, Penn State labs lay groundwork for block copolymer solar cells
May 31, 2013

A new version of solar cells created by laboratories at Rice and Pennsylvania State universities could open the door to research on a new class of solar energy devices.

The photovoltaic devices created in a project led by Rice chemical engineer Rafael Verduzco and Penn State chemical engineer Enrique Gomez are based on block copolymers, self-assembling organic materials that arrange themselves into distinct layers. T

hey easily… read more

New nerve and muscle interfaces aid wounded warrior amputees

Advances enable advanced prosthetic control and direct sensory feedback
May 31, 2013


Since 2000, more than 2,000 servicemembers have suffered amputated limbs. DARPA’s breakthrough research with advanced prosthetic limbs controlled by brain interfaces is well documented, but such research is currently limited to quadriplegics. Practical applications of brain interfaces for amputees are still in the future.

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Pebbly rocks testify to old streambed on Mars

May 31, 2013


Detailed analysis and review have borne out researchers’ initial interpretation of pebble-containing slabs that NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity investigated last year: they are part of an ancient streambed.

The rocks are the first ever found on Mars that contain streambed gravels. The sizes and shapes of the gravels embedded in these conglomerate rocks — from the size of sand particles to the size of golf balls… read more

A new material for 3D-printing electrodes

New resin for making electrodes uses lasers for molding into almost any 3-D shape
May 31, 2013

Two microstructures made with the new material, containing the highest concentration of RDGE. Left: Pre-charring. These pyramid and bunny models did not respond to the preferred method of 3-D shaping, so they were created using an alternative process. Right: Post-charring. Notice that the pyramid and bunny shrink significantly less than those made from the material with a lower concentration of RDGE. Credit: Optical Materials Express.

A new resin material that can be molded into complex, highly conductive 3-D structures with features just a few microns across has been developed by Tokyo Institute of Technology and C-MET, Inc.

Combined with state-of-the-art micro-sculpting techniques, the new resin holds promise for making customized electrodes for fuel cells or batteries, or biosensor interfaces for medical uses.

The research team, which includes physicists and chemists from Yokohama… read more

Atheer’s mobile 3D interface is augmented reality on steroids

May 31, 2013

Atheer CTO Allen Yang wearing a prototype visor employing their 3D interface technology (credit: Atheer)

What would happen if you combined the wearability of Google Glass with the gesture-based control of Microsoft Kinect? The answer is a pretty cool wearable interface you can control using your voice or gestures.

Mountain View startup Atheer wants to make it easier, and more natural, to interact with the digital world. A prototype of its interactive 3-D interface shows it is well on its way, Wiredread more

New phase of synaptic development is key to learning problems

Why cramming for an exam leads to diminishing returns
May 31, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Carnegie Mellon University neuroscientists have discovered a new intermediate “labile” phase in neuronal development during which repeated exposure to a stimulus shrinks synapses. .

It’s well known that synapses in the brain, the connections between neurons and other cells that allow for the transmission of information, grow when they’re exposed to a stimulus.

New research from the lab of Carnegie Mellon Associate Professor of … read more

US road safety agency issues policy on driverless cars

May 31, 2013


Self-driving vehicle technology is not yet at a stage that it can be authorized for use by the public for general driving, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation recommendation to state governments, PC World reports.

If a state decides to permit operation of self-driving vehicles other than for testing, at a minimum it should require that a person licensed to drive self-driving vehicles should be seated… read more

Fast new, one-step genetic engineering technology

May 30, 2013


A new, streamlined approach to genetic engineering drastically reduces the time and effort needed to insert new genes into bacteria, the workhorses of biotechnology, scientists are reporting.

Published in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology, the method paves the way for more rapid development of designer microbes for drug development, environmental cleanup and other activities.

Keith Shearwin and colleagues explain that placing, or integrating, a piece of the… read more

ARKYD: a space telescope for everyone

May 30, 2013


Planetary Resources has launched a Kickstarter mission to fund the planned ARKYD  space telescope.

Planetary Resources is planning  a fleet of ARKYD spacecraft to identify asteroids that are ripe for further exploration.

This same capability has numerous other potential applications in education and research. The goals with this Kickstarter mission, according to Planetary Resources:

  • To give students access to space capabilities — Whether studying

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