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Iron Man meets HULC as Lockheed enters exoskeletons race

March 27, 2013

Ekso exoskeleton

Wearable machines that enhance human muscle power are poised to leave the realm of science fiction and help factory workers hoist heavier tools, lighten soldiers’ loads and enable spinal patients to walk, The Daily Item reports.

Lockheed Martin and Parker Hannifin are joining a handful of startups in finding uses and customers for bionic suits inspired by novelist Robert Heinlein’s 1959 “Starship Troopers” and Stan Lee’s Iron… read more

‘Metascreen’ forms ultra-thin invisibility cloak

March 27, 2013

Cloaked cylinder hidden from microwaves (Credit: IOP)

Invisibility cloaks put forward by scientists have been fairly bulky contraptions.

Now University of Texas at Austin researchers have developed a cloak that is just microns thick and can hide 3D objects from microwaves in their natural environment, in all directions and from all of the observers’ positions.

The trick: a new, ultrathin layer called a “metascreen,” made by attaching strips of 66-micron-thick copper taperead more

Guiding stem cells into damaged hearts with MRI and ultrasonics

March 26, 2013

Ultrasound imaging of hMSCs-after


Stem-cell therapy for damaged hearts is a brilliant idea whose time has not yet come. The problem: no way to ensure against faulty initial placement of the stem cells.

Stanford’s Sam Gambhir, PhD, MD, who heads Stanford medical school’s Department of Radiology may have found a way around it.

“You can use ultrasound to… read more

Using carbon nanotubes as qubits for quantum computers

March 26, 2013


A study by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has shown how nanotubes can store information in the form of vibrations.

Using quantum mechanical phenomena, computers could be much more powerful than their classical digital predecessors.

Up to now, researchers have experimented primarily with electrically charged particles. But because nanomechanical devices are not charged, they are much less sensitive to electrical interference.… read more

Online’s range getting wider and deeper as Stanford’s course offerings take advantage of new technology

March 26, 2013


Around 20 Stanford courses will be taught entirely or partially online this spring.

Some courses have been taught before, others are brand new; some are entirely for public consumption, while others are reserved for on-campus students.

The offerings have expanded beyond computer science and engineering to political science, the humanities, and public health, among many other fields.

MOOCs for everyone

Among the… read more

Nanowire solar cells raise efficiency limit

March 26, 2013

The figure shows that the sun's rays are drawn into a nanowire, which stands on a substrate. At a given wavelength the sunlight is concentrated up to 15 times. Consequently, there is great potential in using nanowires in the development of future solar cells. (Credit: Niels Bohr Institute)

A single nanowire can concentrate sunlight up to 15 times the normal intensity, scientists from the Nano-Science Center at the Niels Bohr Institute, Denmark and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have shown.

The nanowires concentrate the Sun’s rays into a very small area by up to a factor of 15. Because the diameter of a nanowire crystal is smaller than the wavelength of the… read more

New solar-cell design combines quantum dots with nanowires

MIT researchers improve efficiency of quantum-dot photovoltaic system by adding a forest of nanowires
March 26, 2013


MIT researchers have boosted solar cell performance with quantum dots by embedding them in a forest of nanowires.

Photovoltaics (PVs) based on tiny colloidal quantum dots have several potential advantages over other approaches to making solar cells: They can be manufactured in a room-temperature process, saving energy and avoiding complications associated with high-temperature processing of silicon and other PV materials.

They can be made… read more

Who lives longest?

March 26, 2013

(Credit: World Life Expectancy)

Life expectancy is an average, and it fluctuates with age as the risks we face change throughout our lifetimes. Both those facts make it a frequently misunderstood statistic, The New York Times reports.

High infant-mortality rates depress the figure substantially. This can lead contemporary observers to the false conclusion that most humans died quite young, even in the not-so-distant past.

Before the Upper Paleolithic, early humans really… read more

Brain mapping reveals neurological basis of decision-making in rats

March 26, 2013


UC San Francisco scientists have discovered how memory recall is linked to decision-making in rats, showing that activity in the hippocampus occurs when rats in a maze are playing out memories that help them decide which way to turn.

The more they play out these memories, the more likely they are to find their way correctly to the end of the maze.

The researchers implanted electrodes directly on… read more

Big banks vs. Bitcoin libertarianism

March 25, 2013


Banks should learn to work with, rather than against, the new role of money in a peer-to-peer landscape, says media theorist and author Douglas Rushkoff writes on Mashable, based on the arguments of his new book, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now.

But many libertarians* would rather bypass, not work with banks.

The hype has never been hotter for the Internet’s crypto-currency Bitcoin, Salonread more

A strange computer promises great speed

March 25, 2013


Academic researchers and scientists at companies like Microsoft, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard have been working to develop quantum computers.

Now, Lockheed Martin — which bought an early version of such a computer from the Canadian company D-Wave Systems two years ago — is confident enough in the technology to… read more

Serotonin receptors offer clues for antidepressants, consciousness

Shapes of binding sites could help drug discovery and the study of consciousness
March 25, 2013


Researchers have deciphered the molecular structures of two of the brain’s crucial lock-and-key mechanisms, Nature News reports.

The two molecules are receptors for the natural neurotransmitter serotonin — which regulates activities such as sleep, appetite and mood — and could provide targets for future drugs to combat depression, migraines or obesity. They could also help in understanding how the physical structures of the brain produce consciousness.… read more

GOP lawmaker seeks ‘virtual Congress’ with telecommuting plan

March 25, 2013


Under a resolution Pearce introduced on Thursday, Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) wants to create a “virtual Congress,” where lawmakers would leverage videoconferencing and other remote work technology to to hold hearings, debate and vote on legislation virtually from their home district offices, The Hill reports.

Pearce says the resolution would eradicate the need for members to jet back and forth from their districts to Washington each weekend. This… read more

The future of education eliminates the classroom, because the world is your class

March 25, 2013

Hypercities (credit: UCLA et at.)

Technology can turn our entire lives into learning experiences via “socialstructed learning,” an aggregation of microlearning experiences drawn from a rich ecology of content and driven not by grades but by social and intrinsic rewards, suggests Marina Gorbis, Executive Director at the Institute for the Future, in Fast Company.

“Today’s obsession with MOOCs is a reminder of the old forecasting paradigm: In the early stages of technology… read more

Nanotools for neuroscience and brain activity mapping

Neuroscientists describe specific technologies for the Brain Activity Map project
March 25, 2013


“Neuroscience — one of the greatest challenges facing science and engineering — is at a crossroads. …There exist few general theories or principles that explain brain function [due partly to] limitations in current methodologies,” say neuroscientists in a new ACS Nano open-access paper, “Nanotools for Neuroscience and Brain Activity Mapping.”

Traditional neurophysiological approaches record the activities of one neuron or a few neurons at a time. Neurochemical… read more

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