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Single-chip device to provide real-time ultrasonic 3D images from inside the heart and blood vessels

February 24, 2014

A single-chip catheter-based device that would provide forward-looking, real-time, three-dimensional imaging from inside the heart, coronary arteries and peripheral blood vessels is shown being tested (credit: Georgia Tech Photo, Rob Felt)

The technology for a device that would provide real-time 3D imaging from inside the heart, coronary arteries, and peripheral blood vessels has been developed by Georgia Institute of Technology researchers.

With its volumetric imaging, the new device could better guide surgeons working in the heart and allow more of patients’ clogged arteries to be cleared without major surgery.

The device integrates ultrasound transducers with processing electronics… read more

Researchers create powerful muscles from fishing line, sewing thread

Thermal-powered technology could be used for superhuman exoskeletons, realistic humanoid robot facial expressions, adjustable clothing, temperature-sensitive window control
February 24, 2014

Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have created artificial muscles by twisting and coiling ordinary fishing line (credit: University of Texas at Dallas)

Ordinary fishing line and sewing thread can be cheaply converted to powerful artificial muscles, an international team led by The University of Texas at Dallas has discovered.

The new muscles can lift 100 times more weight and generate 100 times higher mechanical power than a human muscle of the same length and weight. Per weight, they can generate 7.1 horsepower per kilogram, about the same mechanical power… read more

Brain signals from a primate directly move paralyzed limbs in another primate ‘avatar’

February 24, 2014

Neural activity signals recorded from pre-motor neurons (top) are decoded and played back to control limb movements in a functionally paralyzed primate avatar (bottom) --- a step toward making brain-machine interfaces for paralyzed humans to control their own limbs using their brain activity alone (illustration adapted) (credit: Maryam M. Shanechi et al./Nature Communications)

Taking brain-machine interfaces (BMI) to the next level, new research may help paralyzed people move their own limb just by thinking about it.

Previous research has been limited to controlling external devices, such as robots or synthetic avatar arms.

In a paper published online Feb. 18 in Nature Communications, Maryam Shanechi, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Cornell University, working with Ziv Williams,… read more

A new micro-robotic technique for 3D-printing tissues

February 21, 2014

Two-dimensional micro-robotic coding of material composition

A new magnetic micro-robotic technique for assembling components of the complex materials used in tissue engineering* and 3D printing of cell materials has been developed by Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Carnegie Mellon University.

Described in Nature Communications, the technique allows for precise construction of individual cell-encapsulating hydrogels (such as cell blocks).

Described in the Jan. 28, 2014, issue of Nature Communicationsthe research… read more

How to catch a derelict satellite

February 21, 2014

Netting a derelict satellite (artist impression) (credit: ESA)

A future ESA mission called e.DeOrbit plans to capture derelict satellites adrift in orbit, part of ESA’s Clean Space initiative — an effort to control space debris to reduce the environmental impact of the space industry on Earth and space alike.

Risks of space junk

Decades of launches have left Earth surrounded by a halo of space junk: more than 17 000 trackable objects larger than… read more

Altering stem cells to make growth factors needed for replacement tissue inside the body

February 21, 2014

stem_cells_scaffold

By combining a synthetic scaffolding material with gene delivery techniques to direct stem cells into becoming new cartilage, Duke University researchers are getting closer to being able to generate replacement cartilage where it’s needed in the body.

Performing tissue repair with stem cells typically requires applying copious amounts of growth factor proteins — a task that is very expensive and becomes challenging once the developing material is… read more

New algorithm arranges pictures artistically

Should we add graphic designers and art curators to the list of jobs that will be replaced by future computers?
February 21, 2014

butterfly

In an Oxford study last year on jobs being replaced by computerization, the authors recommended that workers “will have to acquire creative and social skills.” The movie Her suggests some “social” skills may soon not be needed, and a new image-design algorithm suggests some “creative” skills won’t be either.

The algorithm, developed by Max Planck Institute for Informatics researchers and running on a computer’s GPU (for… read more

A light switch for pain

February 20, 2014

opsins

A team of Bio-X researchers at Stanford has developed mice whose sensitivity to pain can be dialed up or down simply by shining light on their paws.

The research could help scientists understand and eventually treat chronic pain in humans.

The mice in Scott Delp’s lab, unlike their human counterparts, can get pain relief  from the glow of a yellow light.

“This is an entirely… read more

World’s most powerful terahertz laser chip

February 20, 2014

Terahertz laser chip (credit: University of Leeds)

University of Leeds researchers have taken the lead in the race to build the world’s most powerful terahertz laser chip.

Terahertz waves, which lie in the part of the electromagnetic spectrum between infrared and microwaves, can penetrate materials that block visible light.

They have a wide range of possible uses, including chemical analysis, security scanning, remote sensing of chemical signatures of explosives in unopened envelopes, non-invasive… read more

Are bots taking over Wikipedia?

February 20, 2014

bots-vs featured

As crowdsourced Wikipedia has grown too large — with more than 30 million articles in 287 languages — to be entirely edited and managed by volunteers, 12 Wikipedia bots have emerged to pick up the slack.

The bots use Wikidata — a free knowledge base that can be read and edited by both humans and bots — to exchange information between entries and between the… read more

Gigabit Internet may be coming to 35 US cities

February 20, 2014

Google Fiber projects in the U.S. (credit: Google)

Google has invited cities in nine metro areas around the U.S. — 34 cities altogether — to “work with us to explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber” at gigabit speeds — “100 times faster than what most of us live with today,” said Milo Medin, VP, Google Access, writing on the Google Fiber blog.

“We aim to provide updates by the end… read more

Stretchable, bendable optical interconnections for body sensors and robotic skin

February 20, 2014

bent_optical_circuit

Belgian researchers say they have created the first optical circuit that uses interconnections that are stretchable as well as bendable.The technology has applications like wearable body sensors and robotic skin.

These new interconnections, made of a rubbery transparent material called PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane), guide light along their path even when stretched up to 30% and when bent around an object the diameter of a human finger.

By… read more

New type of MRI ‘whole body’ scan could improve treatment of bone-marrow cancer

February 19, 2014

Patient setup for WB-DWI (credit: Institute of Cancer Research)

A new type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan could improve care for a type of cancer called myeloma and reduce reliance on bone marrow biopsies, which can be painful for patients and often fail to show doctors how far the disease has spread.

The research, published Feb. 18 in the journal Radiology, was carried out by researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The… read more

Intelligent alien life could be found by 2040, says SETI astronomer

February 19, 2014

Artist's rendition of an Earth-like exoplanet Gliese 436b (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

“By 2040 or so, astronomers will have scanned enough star systems to give themselves a great shot of discovering alien-produced electromagnetic signals,” said Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute, Space.com reports.

Shostak spoke at the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) symposium on Feb. 6 at Stanford University.

He will also speak at the Contact conference on March 21–23… read more

Zeroing in on how Alzheimer’s-disease toxins are created

Results may generate new targets for drug development
February 19, 2014

IFT_oligomers

Using the Gordon supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, researchers have achieved new insights into how toxic molecular complexes associated with Alzheimer’s disease are created.

Igor Tsigelny, a research scientist with SDSC, the UCSD Moores Cancer Center, and the Department of Neurosciences, focused on a small peptide called amyloid-beta, which pairs up… read more

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