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New method enables discovery of 3D structures for molecules important to medicine

February 19, 2016

protein crystals ft

Researchers have overcome a long-standing technical barrier to imaging 3D structures of thousands of molecules important to medicine and biology.

The 3D structures of many protein molecules have been discovered using a technique called X-ray crystallography, but the method relies on scientists being able to produce highly ordered crystals containing the protein molecules in a regular arrangement. When X-rays are shone on highly ordered crystals, the X-rays scatter… read more

First detection of super-Earth atmosphere

February 17, 2016

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ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser  | Transit of 55 Cancri e

Astronomers have analyzed the atmosphere of a “super-Earth” exoplanet for the first time, according to The Hubble Space Telescope project, an international cooperation between ESA and NASA. Result: it’s mostly hydrogen and helium.

The data gathered with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and new analysis techniques also revealed that exoplanet 55 Cancri e has a dry atmosphere… read more

IBM Watson AI XPRIZE announced at TED

February 17, 2016

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The IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, a Cognitive Computing Competition was announced on the TED Stage today (Feb 17) by XPRIZE Foundation chairman Peter Diamandis and IBM Watson general manager David Kenny.

It’s a $5 million competition challenging teams from around the world to develop and demonstrate how humans can collaborate with powerful cognitive technologies to tackle some of the world’s grand challenges.

According to IBM, “the… read more

‘Eternal 5D’ data storage could reliably record the history of humankind

Digital documents stored in nanostructured dots in fused quartz crystal for billions of years could survive the end of the human race
February 16, 2016

bible on disc

Scientists at the University of Southampton Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) have developed the first digital data storage system capable of creating archives that can survive for billions of years.

Using nanostructured glass, the system has 360 TB per disc capacity, thermal stability up to 1,000°C, and virtually unlimited lifetime at room temperature (or 13.8 billion years at 190°C ).

As a “highly stable and safe form… read more

Less-distracting haptic feedback could make car navigation safer than GPS audio and displays

Do you find your GPS voice and display distracting? Does your driving sometimes suffer?
February 15, 2016

Prototype vibrotactile actuators (credit: Joseph Szczerba et al./Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society)

Human factors/ergonomics researchers at General Motors and an affiliate have performed a study using a new turn-by-turn automotive navigation system that uses haptic cues (vibrations) to the temples to communicate information to drivers on coming turns (which direction and when to turn), instead of distracting voice prompts or video displays.

They modified a prototype smart-glasses device with motors in two actuators (on the right and left side of the… read more

3D-printing a new lifelike liver tissue for drug screening

Could let pharmaceutical companies quickly do pilot studies on new drugs
February 15, 2016

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University of California, San Diego researchers have 3D-printed a tissue that closely mimics the human liver’s sophisticated structure and function. The new model could be used for patient-specific drug screening and disease modeling and could help pharmaceutical companies save time and money when developing new drugs, according to the researchers.

The liver plays a critical role in how the body metabolizes drugs and produces key proteins, so liver… read more

A black hole on a chip made of a metal that behaves like water

First model system of relativistic hydrodynamics in a metal; energy- and sensing-applications also seen
February 12, 2016

In a new paper published in Science, researchers at the Harvard and Raytheon BBN Technology have advanced our understanding of graphene's basic properties, observing for the first time electrons in a metal behaving like a fluid (credit: Peter Allen/Harvard SEAS)

A radical discovery by researchers at Harvard and Raytheon BBN Technology about graphene’s hidden properties could lead to a model system to explore exotic phenomena like black holes and high-energy plasmas, as well as novel thermoelectric devices.

In a paper published Feb. 11 in Science, the researchers document their discovery of electrons in graphene behaving like a fluid. To make this observation, the team improved methods to create… read more

Now you can learn to fly a plane from expert-pilot brainwave patterns

February 12, 2016

pilot brain patterns

You can learn how to improve your novice pilot skills by having your brain zapped with recorded brain patterns of experienced pilots via transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), according to researchers at HRL Laboratories.

“We measured the brain activity patterns of six commercial and military pilots, and then transmitted these patterns into novice subjects as they learned to pilot an airplane in a realistic flight… read more

Clearing out the clutter: ‘senolytic’ drugs improve vascular health in mice

Reduced calcification of plaques on blood-vessel walls
February 11, 2016

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Mayo Clinic researchers have demonstrated the first study in which repeated treatments to remove senescent cells (cells that stop dividing due to age or stress) in mice improve age-related vascular conditions — and may possibly reduce cardiovascular disease and death.

The researchers intermittently gave the mice a cocktail of two senolytic drugs (ones that selectively induce cell death): dasatinib (a cancer drug, trade… read more

‘We have detected gravitational waves’ — LIGO scientists

February 11, 2016

The gravitational-wave event on Sept. 14, 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC was observed by the two LIGO detectors in Livingston, Loiusiana (blue) and Hanford, Washington (orange). The matching waveforms represent gravitational-wave strain generated by the inferred merger of two inspiraling black holes. (credit: B. P. Abbott et al./PhysRevLett)

On Sept. 14, 2015 at 5:51 a.m. EDT (09:51 UTC) for the first time, scientists observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe, the National Science Foundation and scientists at the LIGO Scientific Collaboration announced today. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window to the… read more

Implantable ‘stentrode’ to allow paralyzed patients to control an exoskeleton with their mind

UC Berkeley spinoff also announces lighter, lower-cost Phoenix exoskeleton
February 10, 2016

(credit: University of Melbourne)

A DARPA-funded research team has created a novel minimally invasive brain-machine interface and recording device that can be implanted into the brain through blood vessels, reducing the need for invasive surgery and the risks associated with breaching the blood-brain barrier when treating patients for physical disabilities and neurological disorders.

The new technology, developed by University of Melbourne medical researchers under DARPA’s Reliable Neural-Interface Technology (RE-NET)read more

Could humans ever regenerate limbs?

February 10, 2016

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Just lopped off your ring finger slicing carrots (some time in the future)? No problem. Just speed-read this article while you’re waiting for the dronebulance. …

“Epimorphic regeneration” — growing digits, maybe even limbs, with full 3D structure and functionality — may one day be possible. So say scientists at Tulane University, the University of Washington, and the University of Pittsburgh, writing in a review article just published in… read more

New cryopreservation procedure wins Brain Preservation Prize

First preservation of the connectome demonstrated in a whole brain
February 9, 2016

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The Brain Preservation Foundation (BPF) has announced that a team at 21st Century Medicine led by Robert McIntyre, PhD., has won the Small Mammal Brain Preservation Prize, which carries an award of $26,735.

The Small Mammalian Brain Preservation Prize was awarded after the determination that the protocol developed by McIntyre, termed Aldehyde-Stabilized Cryopreservation, was able to preserve an entire rabbit brain with well-preserved ultrastructure, including… read more

How to ‘weld’ neurons with a laser

February 9, 2016

An illustration of how a femtosecond laser pulse is delivered to the target point between an axon and a neuronal soma (credit: the authors)

University of Alberta researchers have developed a method of connecting neurons using ultrashort laser pulses. The technique gives researchers complete control over the cell connection process and could lead to new research and treatment methods, including physical reattachment of severed neurons right after injury, the researchers say.

The team’s findings are published in the open-access Nature journal Scientific Reports.

Procedure

After putting two neurons in a special… read more

Powering brain implants without wires with thin-film wireless power transmission system

Avoids risk of infections through skull opening and leakage of cerebrospinal fluid, and allows for free-moving subjects and more flexible uses of brain-computer interfaces
February 8, 2016

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A research team at Toyohashi University of Technology in Japan has fabricated an implanted wireless power transmission (WPT) device to deliver power to an implanted neural interface system, such as a brain-computer interface (BCI) device.

Described in an open-access paper in Sensors journal, the system avoids having to connect an implanted device to an external power source via wires through a hole in the skull, which can… read more

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