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Synthetic and biological nanoparticles combined to produce new metamaterials

January 9, 2013

Two different protein cages, cowpea chlorotic mottle virus (blue) and Pyrococcus furiosus ferritin (red), can be used to guide the assembly of binary nanoparticles superlattices through tunable electrostatic interactions with charged gold nanoparticles (yellow). (Credit: Aalto University)

Aalto University scientists have organized synthetic and biological building blocks in a single structure — combining virus particles (and other protein cages) with inorganic nanoparticles to form crystalline layer structures, or superlattices.

The research aims to develop hierarchically structured nanomaterials with tunable optical, magnetic, electronic and catalytic properties. Such nanomaterials are important for applications in sensing, optics, electronics and drug delivery.

By generating biohybrid 3D superlattices of nanoparticles and proteins,… read more

Wanted: Mars colonists to explore red planet

January 9, 2013

mars-one-colony-2023

The Netherlands-based nonprofit Mars One, which hopes to put the first astronauts on the Red Planet in 2023, released its basic astronaut requirements on Jan. 8, setting the stage for a televised global selection process that will begin later this year, Space.com reports.

Anyone who is at least 18 years old can apply to become a Mars colony pioneer. The most important criteria, officials say, are intelligence,… read more

A paper-thin flexible tablet computer

January 9, 2013

papertab

A flexible paper computer developed at Queen’s University in collaboration with Plastic Logic and Intel Labs could one day revolutionize the way people work with tablets and computers.

The PaperTab tablet looks and feels just like a sheet of paper. However, it is fully interactive with a flexible, high-resolution 10.7” plastic display developed by Plastic Logic, a flexible touchscreen, and powered by the second generation… read more

Laser and electric fields generate whirlpools to separate microbes

January 9, 2013

wereley-biochip

Researchers have used the newly developed “rapid electrokinetic patterning” (REP) method for the first time to collect microscopic bacteria and fungi, said Steven T. Wereley, a Purdue University professor of mechanical engineering.

REP combines a laser and electric fields to create tiny centrifuge-like whirlpools to separate particles and microbes by size, a potential lab-on-a-chip system for medicine and research.

The technology could bring innovative sensors… read more

Cheap, easy technique to snip DNA could revolutionize gene therapy

January 8, 2013

The bacterial enzyme Cas9 is the engine of RNA-programmed genome engineering in human cells (credit: Jennifer Doudna/UC Berkeley)

A simple, precise, and inexpensive method for cutting DNA to insert genes into human cells could transform genetic medicine, making routine what now are expensive, complicated and rare procedures for replacing defective genes to fix genetic disease or even cure AIDS.

Discovered last year, two new papers published last week in the journal Science Express demonstrate that the technique also works in human cells.

“The ability… read more

Editing the genome with high precision

New method allows scientists to insert multiple genes in specific locations, delete defective genes
January 8, 2013

mit_editing_genome

Researchers at MIT, the Broad Institute and Rockefeller University have developed a new technique for precisely altering the genomes of living cells by adding or deleting genes.

The researchers say the technology could offer an easy-to-use, less-expensive way to engineer organisms that produce biofuels; to design animal models to study human disease; and  to develop new therapies, among other potential applications.

To create their… read more

How to sequence an entire genome from a single cell

January 8, 2013

genome

The notion that police can identify a suspect based on the tiniest drop of blood or trace of tissue has long been a staple of TV dramas, but scientists at Harvard have now taken the idea a step further. Using just a single human cell, they can reproduce an individual’s entire genome.

The researchers developed a method — dubbed MALBAC, short for Multiple Annealing and… read more

Qualcomm & AT&T look to accelerate the Internet of Things

January 8, 2013

Internet-of-Everything

Qualcomm and AT&T want to make the process of creating Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications easier, ReadWrite Mobile reports.

The companies announced a joint project called the Internet of Everything development platform to decrease time to market for IoT projects

It’s based on Qualcomm’s QSC6270-Turbo chipset and Gobi modem for 3G connections, and… read more

Brief interruptions spawn errors that could be disastrous for professionals

Why you should turn off notifications on your smartphone when you work
January 8, 2013

Avoiding interruptions (credit: iStockphoto)

Short interruptions — such as the few seconds it takes to silence that buzzing smartphone — have a surprisingly large effect on one’s ability to accurately complete a task, according to new research by Michigan State University psychologists.

The study found that interruptions averaging 2.8 seconds long doubled the error rate, while interruptions averaging 4.4 s long tripled the error rate.

Brief interruptions are ubiquitous… read more

Biomolecular movie-making

January 7, 2013

biomovie

Toshio Ando and co-workers at Kanazawa University have developed and used high-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) to achieve direct visualization of dynamic structural changes and processes of functioning biological molecules in physiological solution — creating microscopic movies of unprecedented sub-100-ms temporal resolution and submolecular spatial resolution.

To produce an image, HS-AFM acquires information on sample height at many points by tapping the sample with the sharp tip of a tiny cantilever and… read more

LEGO Mindstorms EV3: the better, faster, stronger generation of robotic programming

January 7, 2013

mindstorms

Lego is back with another generation of MindStorms, the company’s consumer robotics line aimed at introducing application programming to a younger generation, TechCrunch reports.

The new kit includes directions for up to 17 different robots, most of which look like scary-style animals, such as snakes and scorpions.

Mindstorms EV3 marks the first time that users can program directly onto the… read more

Induction of adult cortical neurogenesis by an antidepressant

January 7, 2013

The production of new neurons in the adult normal cortex in response to the antidepressant fluoxetine is reported in a study published online this week in Neuropsychopharmacology.

The research team, which is based at the Institute for Comprehensive Medical Science, Fujita Health University, Aichi, has previously demonstrated that neural progenitor cells exist at the surface of the adult cortex, and, moreover, that ischemia enhances the generation of… read more

Discovery of pathway leading to depression reveals new drug targets

January 7, 2013

brain-cells-anacker

Scientists have identified the key molecular pathway leading to depression, revealing potential new targets for drug discovery, according to research led by King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry.

The study reveals for the first time that the “Hedgehog pathway” regulates how stress hormones, usually elevated during depression, reduce the number of brain cells.

Depression affects approximately 1 in 5 people in the UK at some point in… read more

iSpy vs. gSpy

January 7, 2013

738px-Three_Surveillance_cameras

We are all being watched, whether we like it or not.

It is a battle between you and the government — like Mad Magazine’s Spy vs. Spy comic, but it’s gSpy vs. iSpy, Andy Kessler, author of Eat People, writes in The Wall Street Journal.

There are thousands of toll booths at bridges and turnpikes across America recording your license plate. There are 4,214 red-light cameras… read more

Are you ready for computers as comedians?

January 7, 2013

As verbal interaction between humans and computers becomes more prominent in daily life — from Siri, Apple’s voice-activated assistant technology, to speech-based search engines to fully automated call centers — demand has grown for “social computers” that can communicate with humans in a natural way.

Teaching computers to grapple with humor is a key part of this equation, author Alex Stone writes in The New York Times Sunday Review.… read more

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