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NIH explains Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative

April 5, 2013


The National Institute of Health (NIH) has provided further details on the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative announced April 2 by President Obama, aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain.

By accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies, researchers will be able to produce a revolutionary new dynamic picture of the brain that, for the first time, shows how… read more

Detected excess of positrons in cosmic ray flux may be signal of dark matter

Excess of positrons in the cosmic ray flux suggests the possibility
April 4, 2013

From its vantage point ~260 miles (~400 km) above the Earth, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) collects data from primordial cosmic rays that traverse the detector (credit: NASA)

The international team running the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) — located on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS) — today announced the first results in its search for dark matter.

The results, presented by AMS spokesperson Professor Samuel Ting in a seminar at CERN, are to be published in the journal Physical Review Letters. They report the observation of an excess of positrons in the… read more

Using sounds to reveal the shape of the Universe

April 4, 2013

Hubble ultra deep field image (credit: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI) and the HUDF Team)

As the universe expands, it is continually subjected to energy shifts, or “quantum fluctuations,” that send out little pulses of “sound” into the fabric of spacetime. In fact, the universe is thought to have sprung from just such an energy shift.

A recent paper in the journal Physical Review Letters reports a new mathematical tool that should allow one to use these sounds to help reveal the shape of… read more

Ability to ‘think about thinking’ not limited to humans

Another distinction between "humans" and "animals" removed
April 4, 2013

Chimpanzee (credit: Thomas Lersch/Wikimedia Commons)

Humans’ closest animal relatives, chimpanzees, have metacognition — knowing what one knows, according to new research by scientists at Georgia State University and the University at Buffalo.

“The demonstration of metacognition in nonhuman primates has important implications regarding the emergence of self-reflective mind during humans’ cognitive evolution,” the research team noted.

Metacognition is the ability to recognize one’s own cognitive states. For example, a game show… read more

All-optical switching promises terahertz-speed hard drive and RAM memory

April 4, 2013

Magnetic structure in a colossal magneto-resistive manganite is<br />
switched from antiferromagnetic to ferromagnetic ordering during<br />
about 100 femtosecond laser pulse photo-excitation (credit: DOE Ames Laboratory)

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, and the University of Crete in Greece have found a new way to switch magnetism that is at least 1000 times faster than currently used in magnetic memory technologies.

Magnetic switching is used to encode information in hard drives, magnetic random access memory and other computing devices. The discovery, reported in the April 4 issue… read more

Astronomers anticipate 100 billion Earth-like planets

April 4, 2013

Milky Way Galaxy (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

University of Auckland researchers have proposed a new method for finding Earth-like planets in our galaxy and they anticipate that the number will be on the order of 100 billion.

The research supports an earlier estimate based on extrapolations of Kepler data.

The new research uses a technique called gravitational microlensing, currently used by a Japan-New Zealand collaboration called MOA (Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics)… read more

Easing brain fatigue with a walk in the park

April 3, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

An innovative new study from Scotland confirms the observation that you can ease brain fatigue simply by strolling through a leafy park, The New York Times reports.

Researchers have long theorized that green spaces are calming, requiring less of our so-called directed mental attention than busy, urban streets do, but it had not been possible to study the brains of people while they were actually outside, moving… read more

Another step toward quantum computers: using photons for memory

April 3, 2013

one-qubit device

Scientists at Yale University have found a way to use microwave photons to store quantum information.

Photons can carry and hold quantum information for a long time, because they interact weakly with the media they typically travel through — coaxial cables, wires, or air, for example.

The weakness of these interactions prevents the photons from being absorbed by the medium and preserves the quantum… read more

Could robots become ‘aware’ of their own limitations?

April 3, 2013

(credit: Allegra Boverman and Christine Daniloff/MIT)

MIT researchers have developed software for robots that enables them to be more “aware” of their own limitations, such as knowing the whereabouts of an object, or its own location within a room.

Most successful robots today tend to be used either in fixed, carefully controlled environments, such as manufacturing plants, or for performing fairly simple tasks such as vacuuming a room,

But carrying out complicated sequences… read more

Helmet with ultrasound sensors could help firefighters detect objects in the dark

April 3, 2013


A “tactile helmet” with ultrasound sensors has been developed by researchers at the University of Sheffield Center for Robotics. It could provide fire-fighters operating in the dark or other challenging conditions with vital clues about their surroundings.

The helmet has a number of ultrasound sensors that are used to detect the distances between the helmet and nearby walls or other obstacles. These signals are transmitted to… read more

High speed cancer-cell testing

April 3, 2013

(credit: EPFL)

Among a significant percentage of patients, the risk of metastasis of cancer is particularly expressed by the presence of an abnormal amount of protein HER2 on the surface of cancer cells.

A new in vitro system for identification of these proteins in diseased tissues. has been developed by EPFL and Institute of Pathology at the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) scientists. It is extremely fast, precise, inexpensive, and… read more

Robot ants mimic real ant colony behavior

April 2, 2013

This image shows the robot ants (Alices) pursuing a light trail around the constructed maze (credit: Simon Garnier et al./PLOS)

Scientists have replicated the behavior of a colony of ants on the move with the use of miniature robots, as reported in the open access journal PLOS Computational Biology.

The researchers, based at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (Newark, USA) and at the Research Centre on Animal Cognition (Toulouse, France), aimed to discover how individual ants, when part of a moving colony, orient themselves in the… read more

Head-on collisions between DNA-code reading machineries accelerate gene evolution

April 2, 2013


Bacteria appear to speed up their evolution by positioning specific genes along the route of expected traffic jams in DNA encoding. Certain genes are in prime collision paths for the moving molecular machineries that read the DNA code, as University of Washington scientists explain in this week’s edition of Nature.

The spatial-organization tactics that the researchers’ model organism, Bacillus subtilis, takes to evolve and adapt might be… read more

Obama to unveil specifics of Brain Activity Map project

April 2, 2013


President Obama on Tuesday will announce specifics on the Brain Activity Map project Tuesday, The New York Times reports. The initiative, which will officially be known as Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or Brain for short, has been designated a grand challenge of the 21st century by the Obama administration.

The broad new research initiative, starting with $100 million in 2014, is intended to invent and… read more

Designer carbon provides longer battery life

Energ2’s nanostructured carbon anodes can boost lithium-ion battery capacity by 30 percent
April 2, 2013


EnerG2 has developed a carbon anode that improves the storage capacity of lithium-ion batteries by up to 30 percent without requiring a new battery design or a different manufacturing process, MIT Technology Review reports.

EnerG2’s new lithium-ion battery anode is made of a form of carbon in which the atoms have a disorganized, amorphous structure, compared to the crystalline structure of graphite, the material normally… read more

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