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Scientists create the sensation of invisibility

Could help reduce stress in challenging social situations
April 24, 2015

Ph.D. student Zakaryah Abdulkarim, M.D., shows how to create the illusion of invisibility in the lab (photomontage). (Credit: Staffan Larsson)

How would it feel to be invisible? Neuroscientists at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet have found out. It can actually changes your physical stress response in challenging social situations, for example.

The history of literature features many well-known narrations of invisibility and its effect on the human mind, such as the myth of Gyges’ ring in Plato’s dialogue The Republic and the science fiction novel The Invisible Man by H.G.… read more

How to create a computer in a test tube

Self-organizing single molecules controlled by light may be the future of computing
April 24, 2015

For the first time a light beam switches a single molecule to closed state (red atoms). At the ends of the diarylethene molecule gold electrodes are attached. This way, the molecule functions as an electrical switch. (Credit: HZDR/Pfefferkorn)

How many individual molecules does it take to automatically create a circuit? The answer: one, if you use light to switch it on and off, say scientists at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the University of Konstanz.

The trick: a strong bond between individual atoms that weakens in one location and forms again precisely when energy is pumped into the structure.

The first molecular switch

These… read more

Researchers in China have created genetically modified human embryos

Public interest group calls for strengthening global policies against human germline modification
April 23, 2015

Human embryos are at the centre of a debate over the ethics of gene editing (credit: Dr. Yorgos Nikas/SPL)

A research team in China has created genetically modified human embryos using the gene-editing technique CRISPR/Cas9, according to a report in the online journal Protein & Cell.

The experiments were conducted by a research team led by Junjiu Huang of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China.

Human germline modification is widely considered unethical for both safety and social reasons. Using germline modification… read more

Google’s Project Fi aims to speed up mobile communications by tapping into free WiFi hotspots

April 23, 2015

Project Fi

Google has introduced Project Fi, a new hybrid wireless service intended to help speed up mobile voice, text, and data by tapping into one million free, open Wi-Fi hotspots that Google has verified as fast and reliable.

“Similar to our Nexus hardware program, Project Fi enables us to work in close partnership with leading carriers, hardware makers, and all of you to push the boundaries of what’s… read more

Charged holes in graphene increase energy storage capacity

April 23, 2015

This image shows zigzag and armchair defects in graphene (credit: Rajaram Narayanan/Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego)

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have discovered a method to increase the amount of electric charge that can be stored in graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon, which could increase battery storage capacity.

The research, published in the journal Nano Letters, may provide a better understanding of how to improve the energy storage ability (energy density) of capacitors for potential uses… read more

Interactive biotechnology learning and design using games and remote-control labs

April 22, 2015

biotic game with controller

Stanford Engineering | Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford, and his team have created three related projects that begin to define the new field of interactive biotechnology.

Stanford bioengineers have developed a new approach to teaching and experimenting, using “interactive biotechnology,” with  “Biotic processing units” (BPUs) that allow for remotely interacting with biological materials and performing experiments.

“Biotechnology today is very similar to where computing… read more

How to identify which cancer drugs work best for each patient

Implantable device could allow doctors to test cancer drugs in patients before prescribing chemotherapy
April 22, 2015

At top, the researchers can use this device to measure how far a given drug spreads over time. At bottom, they used the device to measure the spread of four different cancer drugs. (credit: Oliver Jonas et al/Science)

More than 100 drugs have been approved to treat cancer, but predicting which ones will help a particular patient is an inexact science at best. Now a new implantable device developed at MIT can carry small doses of up to 30 different drugs promises to allow researchers to measure how effectively each one kills the patient’s cancer cells.

Such a device could eliminate much of the guesswork… read more

High-speed MRI technique captures complex vocal movements at 100 frames per second

Demonstrated with Wizard of Oz song "If I Only Had a Brain"
April 22, 2015

High-speed MRI

Beckman Institute | New Super-Fast MRI Technique: Singing ‘If I Only Had a Brain’

Scientists at the University of Illinois Beckman’s Biomedical Imaging Center (BIC) have developed a real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique capable of showing dynamic images of vocal movement at 100 frames per second — the fastest MRI speed in the world, according to the scientists.

“Typically, MRI is able to acquire maybe 10 frames… read more

New WiFi system uses LED lights to boost bandwidth tenfold

April 21, 2015

LED transmission system-ft

Researchers at Oregon State University have invented a new technology called WiFiFO (WiFi Free space Optic) that can increase the bandwidth of WiFi systems by 10 times, using optical transmission via LED lights.

The technology could be integrated with existing WiFi systems to reduce bandwidth problems in crowded locations, such as airport terminals or coffee shops, and in homes where several people have multiple WiFi devices.

Experts… read more

Acoustically driven controls go beyond a smartphone’s touch screen

April 21, 2015

Acoustruments doll-ft

Overcoming the limits of touch screens, Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research researchers have developed an inexpensive alternative: a hardware toolbox of physical knobs, sliders, and other mechanisms that can be readily added to any device.

The researchers drew inspiration from wind instruments in devising these mechanisms, which they call “Acoustruments.” The idea is to use simple 3-D-printable plug-in plastic tubes and other structures to connect the… read more

How to communicate human emotions to a hand through air

Another "computers can't...." myth bites the dust
April 21, 2015

University of Sussex researchers used a system called UltraHaptics to stimulate areas of the hand to evoke different emotions. A soft structure was used to keep the hand position steady. (credit: SCHI Lab, University of Sussex)

A University of Sussex-led study has shown that human emotions can be transferred to another person by stimulating different parts of the hand with short blasts of air to convey feelings such as happiness, sadness, excitement, or fear.

The “UltraHaptics” system sends air pulses to the area around the thumb, index finger and middle part of the palm to generate excitement; slow, moderate stimulation of the outer palm and… read more

Disney Research 3-D printer can combine fabrics, wiring

April 20, 2015

layered fabric 3D printed objects-ft

A team from Disney Research, Carnegie Mellon University and Cornell University have devised a 3-D printer that layers together laser-cut sheets of fabric to form soft, squeezable objects such as phone cases and toys. These objects can have complex geometries and incorporate circuitry that makes them interactive.

“Today’s 3-D printers can easily create custom metal, plastic, and rubber objects,” said Jim McCann, associate… read more

Nano ‘sandwich’ improves rechargeable lithium batteries

April 20, 2015

Molybdenum disulfide sheets-ft

The key to better cellphones and other rechargeable electronics may be tiny “sandwiches” made of nanosheets of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), according to Kansas State University assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering Gurpreet Singh and his research team.

The research is focused on improving rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The team has focused on lithium cycling of sheets, which Singh describes as a “sandwich” of… read more

Ultra-high-res nondestructive 3-D imaging of biological cells with picosecond ultrasound

April 20, 2015

conventional vs picosecnd-ultrasonic

A team of researchers in Japan and Thailand reports the first known nondestructive 3-D scan of a single biological cell using a revised form of “picosecond* ultrasound.”

This new technique can achieve micrometer (millionth of a meter) resolution of live single cells, imaging their interiors in slices separated by 150 nanometers (.15 micrometer), in contrast to the typical 0.5-millimeter (500 micrometers) spatial resolution of a standard medical MRI scan.… read more

A thumbnail track pad

Unobtrusive wearable sensor could operate digital devices or augment other device interfaces
April 17, 2015

NailO

Researchers at the MIT Media Laboratory are developing a new wearable device that turns the user’s thumbnail into a miniature wireless track pad (for controlling the position of a cursor on a screen, for example).

They envision that the technology could let users control wireless devices when their hands are full — answering the phone while cooking, for instance.

It could also augment other interfaces, allowing someone texting… read more

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