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Complex interactions may matter most for longevity, not single factors

May 16, 2014

Rand1_0

A new study of the biology of aging by Brown University biologists shows that complex interactions among diet, mitochondrial DNA, and nuclear DNA appear to influence lifespan at least as much as single factors alone. The findings may help scientists better understand the underlying mechanisms of aging and explain why studies of single factors sometimes produce contradictory results.

“I think the main lesson is that these interaction… read more

Synchronized oscillators may allow for computing that works like the brain

May 15, 2014

oscillating_switch

Computing is currently based on binary (Boolean) logic, but a new type of computing architecture created by electrical engineers at Penn State stores information in the frequencies and phases of periodic signals and could work more like the human brain.

It would use a fraction of the energy necessary for today’s computers, according to the engineers.

To achieve the new architecture, they used a thin film… read more

Microchip-like technology allows single-cell analysis

May 15, 2014

A 3-by-3 grid of compartments, analogous to an integrated circuit (credit: Byeonghwa Lim et al./Nature Communications)

Using components similar those that control electrons in microchips, researchers at Duke University and Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) in the Republic of Korea have designed a new device that can sort, store, and retrieve individual cells for study.

Similar to a random-access memory (RAM) chip, the device moves cells (rather than electrons) and could be scaled up to sort and store hundreds of… read more

‘Hyperbolic metamaterials’ closer to reality

May 15, 2014

Hyperbolic metamaterial

Researchers have taken a step toward practical applications for “hyperbolic metamaterials” — ultra-thin crystalline films that could bring optical advances including powerful microscopes, quantum computers, and high-performance solar cells.

Metamaterials have engineered surfaces that contain features, patterns or elements, such as tiny antennas or alternating layers of nitrides that enable unprecedented control of light. Under development for about 15 years, metamaterials owe their unusual potential… read more

The Internet of Things will thrive by 2025 but raise privacy, complexity concerns, experts say

May 15, 2014

(Credit: IBM)

The Internet of Things will make substantial inroads into many aspects of everyday life in the next decade, according to predictions by more than 1,600 experts cited in a report (summarized here) about the future of the Internet by the Pew Research Center Internet Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center.

According to futurist Paul Saffo, managing director of… read more

Transistors that wrap around tissues and morph with them

May 14, 2014

implanted_devices-utdallas

Electronic devices that become soft when implanted inside the body and can deploy to grip 3-D objects, such as large tissues, nerves and blood vessels have been created by researchers from The University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Tokyo.

These biologically adaptive, flexible transistors might one day help doctors learn more about what is happening inside the body, and also could be used to… read more

Scientists discover protein that can slow brain tumor growth in mice

May 14, 2014

MRI image of glioblastoma (credit: Wikipedia commons)

Biochemists have identified a protein that can be used to slow down or speed up the growth of glioblastoma brain tumors in mice.

A preclinical study led by Eric J. Wagner, Ph.D., and Ann-Bin Shyu, Ph.D., of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and Wei Li, Ph.D., of Baylor College of Medicine appear in Nature.

“Our work could lead to… read more

A DNA-based nanosensor that detects cancer by its pH

May 13, 2014

dna_nanosensor

Bioengineers at the University of Rome, Tor Vergata and the University of Montreal have used DNA to develop a tool that detects and reacts to chemical changes caused by cancer cells. It may one day be used to deliver drugs to tumor cells.

The researchers’ nanosensor measures pH variations at the nanoscale, indicating how acidic (a lower pH level) or alkaline (a higher pH level).… read more

How to smuggle killer drugs into cancer cells

May 13, 2014

killer drug

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed an anti-cancer drug-delivery method that essentially smuggles the drug into a cancer cell before triggering its release.

“This is an efficient, fast-acting way of delivering drugs to cancer cells and triggering cell death,” says Dr. Ran Mo, lead author of a paper on the work and a postdoctoral researcher in the joint biomedical engineering program at North Carolina State University and the… read more

Robotics experts to debate ‘killer robots’ policies at UN

May 13, 2014

Crusher unmanned ground combat vehicle (credit: National Robotics Engineering Center of Carnegie Mellon University)

A leading robotics expert, Professor Noel Sharkey from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Computer Science, will speak to the United Nations in Geneva from May 13–16 to help global leaders understand the pros and cons of lethal autonomous weapons systems.

Sharkey is holding a debate with Professor Ronald Arkin from the Georgia Institute of Technology at the UN’s Convention of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva to… read more

West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse is underway

May 13, 2014

ThwaitesShelf

Antarctica’s fast-moving Thwaites Glacier will likely disappear in a matter of centuries, potentially raising sea level by more than a half-a-meter (two feet), National Science Foundation-funded researchers at the University of Washington have concluded

Data gathered by NSF-funded airborne radar, detailed topography maps, and computer modeling were used to make the determination.

The glacier acts as an ice dam, stabilizing and regulating movement toward the sea… read more

Astronomers find Sun’s sibling star

May 12, 2014

HD 162826

A team of researchers led by astronomer Ivan Ramirez of The University of Texas at Austin has identified the first “sibling” of the sun — a star almost certainly born from the same cloud of gas and dust as our star.

Ramirez’s methods will help astronomers find other solar siblings, which could lead to an understanding of how and where our sun formed, and how our solar… read more

Anti-aging gene also enhances cognition

Could have broad therapeutic implications
May 12, 2014

How Klotho enhances cognition (credit: Dena B. Duval/Cell)

A variant of the gene KLOTHO is known for its anti-aging effects in people fortunate enough to carry one copy. Now researchers find that it also benefits brain function by increasing overall levels of klotho in the bloodstream and brain.

But the improvements in learning and memory associated with klotho elevation aren’t strictly tied to aging. They do occur in aging mice, but also in young animals, according to… read more

Regenerating plastic material grows back after damage

May 12, 2014

regenerating_plastic

University of Illinois researchers have developed self-repairing materials that not only heal, but also regenerate.

Until now, self-repairing materials (such as the “terminator” polymer) could only bond tiny microscopic cracks. The new materials fill in large cracks and holes by regrowing material.

“We have demonstrated repair of a nonliving, synthetic materials system in a way that is reminiscent of repair-by-regrowth as seen in some living systems,”… read more

Can robots be trusted to know right from wrong?

May 12, 2014

HAL 9000 (credit: Warner Bros.)

Is it possible to develop “moral” autonomous robots with a sense for right, wrong, and the consequences of both?

Researchers from Tufts University, Brown University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute think so, and are teaming with the U.S. Navy to explore technology that would pave the way to do exactly that.

“Moral competence can be roughly thought about as the ability to learn,… read more

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