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Your smartphone and tablet may be making you ADHD-like

Is digital information overload also killing our capacity for contemplative, abstract thought --- permanently altering the wiring and circuitry of our brains?
May 10, 2016

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Smartphones and other digital technology may be causing ADHD-like symptoms, according to an open-access study published in the proceedings of ACM CHI ’16, the Human-Computer Interaction conference of the Association for Computing Machinery, ongoing in San Jose.

In a two-week experimental study, University of Virginia and University of British Columbia researchers showed that when students kept their phones on ring or vibrate and with notification… read more

This five-fingered robot hand is close to human in functionality

Machine learning algorithms allow it to master new tasks autonomously
May 10, 2016

This five-fingered robot hand developed by University of Washington computer science and engineering researchers can learn how to perform dexterous manipulation -- like spinning a tube full of coffee beans -- on its own, rather than having humans program its actions. (credit: University of Washington)

A University of Washington team of computer scientists and engineers has built what they say is one of the most highly capable five-fingered robot hands in the world. It can perform dexterous manipulation and learn from its own experience without needing humans to direct it.

Their work is described in a paper to be presented May 17 at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.… read more

Scientists digitally mimic evolution to create novel proteins

May 10, 2016

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Here’s an innovative idea: create new proteins by simply “sewing” together pieces of existing proteins. That’s exactly what researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine have done to design new “cellular machines” needed to understand and battle diseases.

Published today in the journal Science, the new technique, called SEWING, was inspired by natural evolutionary mechanisms that also recombine portions of the 100,000 different known… read more

Machine learning accelerates the discovery of new materials

May 9, 2016

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Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the State Key Laboratory for Mechanical Behavior of Materials in China have used a combination of machine learning, supercomputers, and experiments to speed up discovery of new materials with desired properties.

The idea is to replace traditional trial-and-error materials research, which is guided only by intuition (and errors). With increasing chemical complexity, the possible combinations have become too large for those trial-and-error… read more

Warning: Your hospital may kill you and they won’t report it

Medical error in hospitals is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer --- an estimated 210,000 to 400,000 deaths a year
May 9, 2016

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Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer — an estimated 210,000 to 400,000 deaths a year among hospital patients — say experts in an open-access paper in the British Medical Journal — despite the fact that both hospital reporting and death certificates in the U.S. have no provision for acknowledging medical error.

Martinread more

New material temporarily tightens skin

“Second skin” polymer could also be used to protect dry skin and deliver drugs
May 9, 2016

“It has to have the right optical properties, otherwise it won’t look good, and it has to have the right mechanical properties, otherwise it won’t have the right strength and it won’t perform correctly,” Robert Langer says (credit: Olivo Labs)

MIT scientists and associates have developed a new material that can temporarily protect and tighten skin, and smooth wrinkles. With further development, it could also be used to deliver drugs to help treat skin conditions such as eczema.

The material is a silicone-based polymer that could be applied on the skin as a thin, imperceptible coating, mimicking the mechanical and elastic properties of healthy, youthful skin.

In tests… read more

This vitamin stops the aging process in organs, say Swiss researchers

A potential breakthrough for regenerative medicine, pending further studies
May 6, 2016

Improved muscle stem cell numbers and muscle function in NR-treated aged mice.<br />
Newly regenerated muscle fibers 7  days  after  muscle  damage  in  aged  mice (left: control group; right: fed NR) (Scale bar = 50 μm). (credit: Hongbo Zhang et al./Science)

EPFL researchers have restored the ability of mice organs to regenerate and extend life by simply administering nicotinamide riboside (NR) to them.

NR has been shown in previous studies to be effective in boosting metabolism and treating a number of degenerative diseases. Now, an article by PhD student Hongbo Zhang published in Science also describes the restorative effects of NR on the functioning of stem cells… read more

Electronic devices that melt in your brain

Bioresorbable devices promise to help eliminate the risks, cost, and discomfort associated with surgical extraction of current devices
May 6, 2016

Cartoon illustration of a four-channel bioresorbable electrode array implanted on the left hemisphere of the brain of a rat for chronic recordings. A flexible cable connects the array to a custom-built circular interface board fixed to the skull using dental cement. (credit: Ki Jun Yu et al./Nature Materials)

Two implantable devices developed by American and Chinese researchers are designed to dissolve in the brain over time and may eliminate several current problems with implants.

University of Pennsylvania researchers have developed an electrode and an electrode array, both made of layers of silicon and molybdenum that can measure physiological characteristics (like neuron signals) and dissolve at a known rate (determined by the material’s thickness). The team used the… read more

Bee model could be breakthrough for autonomous drone development

May 5, 2016

A visualization of the model taken at one time point while running. Each sphere represents a computational unit, with lines representing the connection between units. The colors represent the output of each unit. The left and right of the image are the inputs to the model and the center is the output, which is used to guide the virtual bee down a simulated corridor. (credit: The University of Sheffield)

A computer model of how bees use vision to avoid hitting walls could be a breakthrough in the development of autonomous drones.

Bees control their flight using the speed of motion (optic flow) of the visual world around them. A study by Scientists at the University of Sheffield Department of Computer Science suggests how motion-direction detecting circuits could be wired together to also detect motion-speed, which is crucial… read more

WiFi capacity doubled at less than half the size

Could transform telecommunications by increasing speed and reducing size of cell phones, WiFi, and other devices
May 5, 2016

Bottom: photograph of the CMOS circulator integrated circuit on a printed circuit board, interfaced with off-chip inductors. Inset: microphotograph of CMOS circulator integrated circuit. (credit: Negar Reiskarimian, Columbia Engineering)

Columbia University engineering researchers have developed a new “circulator” technology that can double WiFi speed while reducing the size of wireless devices. It does this by requiring only one antenna (instead of two, for transmitter and receiver) and by using conventional CMOS chips instead of resorting to large, expensive magnetic components.

Columbia engineers previously invented a “full-duplex” radio integrated circuit on… read more

A robot for ‘soft tissue’ surgery outperforms surgeons

Let's say you're having intestinal surgery. Which do you choose: human or robot surgeon?
May 4, 2016

The STAR robot suturing intestinal tissue (credit: Azad Shademan et al./Science Translational Medicine)

Can a robot handle the slippery stuff of soft tissues that can move and change shape in complex ways as stitching goes on, normally requiring a surgeon’s skill to respond to these changes to keep suturing as tightly and evenly as possible?

A Johns Hopkins University and Children’s National Health System research team decided to find out by using their  “Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot” (STAR)… read more

More evidence that you’re a mindless robot with no free will

How we may confabulate reality and rationalize irrational behavior
May 4, 2016

(Credit: iStockphoto)

The results of two Yale University psychology experiments suggest that what we believe to be a conscious choice may actually be constructed, or confabulated, unconsciously after we act — to rationalize our decisions. A trick of the mind.

“Our minds may be rewriting history,” said Adam Bear, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology and lead author of a paper published April 28… read more

Astronomers discover potentially habitable planets just 40 light years from Earth

Best targets so far for search for extraterrestrial life
May 3, 2016

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Astronomers have detected three exoplanets just 40 light years from Earth whose sizes and temperatures are comparable to those of Earth. The planets may be the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the solar system.

The results were published Monday (May 2) in the journal Nature.

Because the system is relatively close to Earth, co-author Julien de Wit, a postdoc at MIT, says scientists… read more

IBM makes quantum computing available free on IBM Cloud

You can run real or simulated experiments on an IBM quantum processor
May 3, 2016

Layout of IBM's five superconducting quantum bit device. In 2015, IBM scientists demonstrated critical breakthroughs to detect quantum errors by combining superconducting qubits in latticed arrangements, and whose quantum circuit design is the only physical architecture that can scale to larger dimensions. Now, IBM scientists have achieved a further advance by combining five qubits in the lattice architecture, which demonstrates a key operation known as a parity measurement – the basis of many quantum error correction protocols. (credit: IBM Research)

IBM Research has announced that effective Wednesday May 4, it is making quantum computing available free to members of the public, who can access and run experiments on IBM’s quantum processor, via the IBM Cloud, from any desktop or mobile device.

IBM believes quantum computing is the future of computing and has the potential to solve certain problems that are impossible to solve on today’s supercomputers.

The… read more

The world’s tiniest, most powerful nanoengine

Could lead to nanorobots small enough to enter living cells to fight disease
May 3, 2016

Expanding polymer-coated gold nanoparticles (credit: Yi Ju/University of Cambridge NanoPhotonics)

University of Cambridge researchers have developed the world’s tiniest engine, capable of a force per unit-weight nearly 100 times higher* than any motor or muscle.

The new nano-engines could lead to nanorobots small enough to enter living cells to fight disease, the researchers say.

Professor Jeremy Baumberg from the Cavendish Laboratory, who led the research, has named the devices “actuating nanotransducers” (ANTs). “Like real ants, they produce large… read more

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