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Los Alamos carbon-nanotube catalyst could jumpstart e-cars, green energy

June 6, 2013

A high-resolution microscopic image of a new type of nanostructured-carbon-based catalyst developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory that could pave the way for reliable, economical next-generation batteries and alkaline fuel cells. (Photo credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory)

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have designed a new type of nitrogen-doped carbon-nanotube catalyst that could pave the way for reliable, economical next-generation batteries and alkaline fuel cells, providing for practical use of wind- and solar-powered electricity, as well as enhanced hybrid electric vehicles.

The new material has the highest oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) activity in alkaline media of any non-precious metal catalyst developed to date. This activity… read more

Stanford software engineering MOOC aims at future startup CEOs

Instructors hope to provide people worldwide with crucial skills for starting their own companies
June 6, 2013

Balaji S. Srinivasan & Vijay S. Pande (credit: Stanford)

Vijay Pande, professor of chemistry at Stanford and colleague, Balaji Srinivasan, both with strong research and entrepreneurial backgrounds, taught a traditional classroom course in software engineering winter quarter aimed at future chief technology officers.

It was so successful they’re now going to go virtual, and starting June 17 they will begin teaching a 10-week massive open online course titled Startup Engineering. The idea is to reach thousands… read more

Intel Capital fund to accelerate human-like senses on computing devices

June 6, 2013

Senz3D (credit: Creative Technology)

At the COMPUTEX conference in Taiwan Tuesday, Intel Corporation executives detailed progress toward the company’s vision to integrate human-like sensing technology into devices, ultimately delivering more natural, intuitive and immersive computing experiences.

To help realize this vision, Intel Capital, Intel’s Global Investment and M&A Organization, announced a $100-million investment fund over the next 2–3 years to accelerate the development of software and applications — touch applications, imaging,… read more

Using your WiFi for gesture recognition

June 5, 2013

A hand gesture changes the TV channel using WiSee technology (credit: University of Washington)

University of Washington computer scientists have developed gesture-recognition technology called “WiSee” that uses ambient Wi-Fi signals to detect specific movements (to turn off lights or flip through songs, for example )without needing sensors on the human body or cameras.

The team includes Shwetak Patel, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering and of electrical engineering and his lab.

By using an adapted Wi-Fi router… read more

Device allows visually impaired to read and move around freely

June 5, 2013

(Credit: Orcam)

OrCam, an Israeli start-up, has developed a camera-based system that gives the visually impaired the ability to read easily and move around freely.

It has an introductory price of $2,500, available in late 2013 and early 2014.

OrCam reads text and recognizes faces, locates bus numbers, monitors traffic lights, and identifies objects, products and places, and uses sound (via bone conduction) to convey information, the company… read more

Omni brings full-body VR gaming to Kickstarter

June 5, 2013


The Omni is a new virtual reality gaming device that launched a funding campaign Tuesday in  Kickstarter and, in a matter of hours, more than doubled its goal of $150,000, Digital Trends reports.

As of early Wednesday, the funding total is at more than $492,000. There are still 48 days left to go too, and the hope is that units will start shipping in January 2014.… read more

New method of mass-producing high-quality DNA molecules

June 5, 2013


A new method of manufacturing short, single-stranded DNA molecules can solve many of the problems associated with current production methods.

The new method can be of value to development of drugs consisting of DNA fragments and to DNA nanotechnology research.

The novel technique for manufacturing short, single-stranded DNA molecules — or oligonucleotides — has been developed by researchers at Karolinska Institute in Sweden and… read more

Brain makes its own version of Valium, Stanford scientists discover

June 5, 2013

(Credit: iStock)

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found that a naturally occurring protein secreted only in discrete areas of the mammalian brain may act as a Valium-like brake on certain types of epileptic seizures.

The protein is known as diazepam binding inhibitor, or DBI. It calms the rhythms of a key brain circuit and so could prove valuable in developing novel, less side-effect-prone… read more

Manipulating memory in the hippocampus by controlling production of a protein

Protein modification may help control Alzheimer's and epilepsy, TAU researchers find
June 5, 2013

latency - secs

In the brain, cell-to-cell communication is dependent on neurotransmitters, chemicals that aid the transfer of information between neurons.

Several proteins have the ability to modify the production of these chemicals by either increasing or decreasing their amount, or promoting or preventing their secretion. One example is tomosyn, which hinders the secretion of neurotransmitters when in abnormal amounts.

Dr. Boaz Barak of Tel Aviv University‘s Sagol School of Neuroscience,… read more

Peering deeply into sub-cellular structures

June 5, 2013

(credit: Yale University)

A dream of scientists has been to visualize details of two types of important fast-moving sub-cellular cytoskeletal structures — microtubules and actin — within our cells.

Now two groups of researchers have independently succeeded in doing that. Their research could prove vital in the study of cancer and other diseases.

Imaging microtubules in real time

Yale University researchers have developed a way to generate accurate… read more

Bell Labs invents lensless camera

June 4, 2013

Lensless camera (credit: Gang Huang, Hong Jiang, Kim Matthews, Paul Wilford)

Researchers at Bell Labs in New Jersey say they’ve used compressive sensing to build a camera that needs no lens and uses only a single sensing pixel to take photographs, MIT Technology Review reports.

What’s more, the images from this camera are never out of focus.

The invention could revolutionize optical, infrared and millimeter-wave imaging

This revolutionary lensless camera has a number of advantages over… read more

A step closer to artificial livers

Researchers identify compounds that help liver cells grow outside the body
June 4, 2013


MIT engineer Sangeeta Bhatia and colleagues have have identified a dozen chemical compounds that can help liver cells maintain their normal function while grown in a lab dish and also multiply to produce new tissue.

Cells grown this way could help researchers develop engineered tissue to treat many of the 500 million people suffering from chronic liver diseases such as hepatitis C, according… read more

First atomic images of molecules before and after reaction

June 4, 2013

Atom image

A technique for snapping an atomic-scale picture of a chemical before and after it reacts has been developed by chemists and physicists at the University of California, Berkeley.

Using a modified state-of-the-art atomic force microscope (AFM), the scientists have taken the first atom-by-atom pictures, including images of the chemical bonds between atoms, clearly depicting how a molecule’s structure changed during a reaction.

Until now,… read more

Silicon-hydrogel electrodes improve lithium-ion battery performance

Inexpensive silicon-based electrodes dramatically improve the charge storage capacity of lithium-ion batteries
June 4, 2013

battery electrode 

Stanford University scientists have dramatically improved the performance of lithium-ion batteries by creating novel electrodes made of silicon and conducting polymer hydrogel, a spongy substance similar to the material used in soft contact lenses and other household products.

“Developing rechargeable lithium-ion batteries with high energy density and long cycle life is of critical importance to address the ever-increasing energy storage needs for portable electronics, electric… read more

Advanced paper could allow for inexpensive biomedical and diagnostic devices

June 4, 2013

Droplets of water, motor oil, ethylene glycol and n-hexadecane solvent bead up on a superamphiphobic paper sample prepared at the Georgia Institute of Technology. (photo credit: Gary Meek)

By modifying the underlying network of cellulose fibers, etching off surface “fluff” and applying a thin chemical coating, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have created a new type of paper that repels a wide variety of liquids — including water and oil.

The paper takes advantage of the “lotus effect” — used by leaves of the lotus plant — to repel liquids through the creation… read more

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