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A new way to trap light

Could lead to new types of lasers and sensors
July 11, 2013


MIT researchers have discovered a new method to trap light that could find a wide variety of applications.

There are several ways to “trap” a beam of light — usually with mirrors, other reflective surfaces, or high-tech materials such as photonic crystals.

But the new system, devised through computer modeling and then demonstrated experimentally, pits light waves against light waves:

It sets up… read more

Creating the inner ear from stem cells

Discovery provides new insights into the inner-ear developmental process and potential treatments for hearing loss and balance disorders
July 11, 2013


Indiana University scientists have transformed mouse embryonic stem cells into key structures of the inner ear.

The discovery provides new insights into the sensory organ’s developmental process and sets the stage for laboratory models of disease, drug discovery, and potential treatments for hearing loss and balance disorders.

A research team led by Eri Hashino, Ph.D., Ruth C. Holton Professor of Otolaryngology at Indiana University… read more

RSI announces the world’s most powerful cadmium telluride solar modules

July 11, 2013

Cadmium Telluride Solar Module

RSI has announced a new world record for cadmium telluride photovoltaic module size, achieving a 1.5 square meter module.

The availability of low-cost, large-area CdTe panels coupled with localized manufacturing partners hastens the widespread achievement of grid parity for utility scale solar, the company says.

Conventional cadmium telluride (CdTe) modules measure just 0.72 square meters, a limitation that stems from the use of… read more

5D nanostructured quartz glass optical memory could provide ‘unlimited’ data storage for a million years

"Superman memory crystal" recordings could survive the end of the human race
July 10, 2013


University of Southampton and Eindhoven University of Technology.scientists have developed a new technology that could store vast quantities of information — 360 TB on a disc, about 100 times more than current disk drives — for more than a million years [1].

‘Superman memory crystal’

Using a high speed femtosecond laser, data is written  on self-assembled nanostructures created in fused quartz, and stored in… read more

Crowdfunding campaign aims to deliver nanoparticle chemo via patches

July 10, 2013


Students at the University of York have  launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise enough cash to research a nanoparticle cancer treatment that’s delivered via a patch directly to a tumor.

It uses nanowires that behave like tiny needles. They are calling it the Nanject, Wired U.K. reports.

It’s a technique that has been the subject of research for some time, using… read more

First child born following embryo screening with new genome analysis technique

Validation studies underline accuracy of "next generation sequencing" for embryo selection in IVF
July 10, 2013

In vitro fertilization (credit: iStockphoto)

The first birth has been achieved following the analysis of embryos using a new genome-sequencing technique that promises to revolutionize embryo selection for in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The technique, which has never before been applied in the screening of embryos, was reported July 8 at the annual meeting of the European Societyread more

Let’s make genetically modified food open-source

July 10, 2013


If Monsanto is the Microsoft of food supply, perhaps the time has come for the agricultural equivalent of Linux, the open-source operating system that made computer programming a communal effort, Slate suggests.

“GMO agriculture relies on the relatively new science of bioinformatics (a mixture of bio- and information science), which means that DNA sequences look a lot more like software code than a vegetable garden,” says Slate.… read more

Advanced ‘artificial skin’ senses touch, humidity, and temperature

July 10, 2013

Artificial skin (credit: Technion)

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology scientists have discovered how to make a new kind of flexible sensor that one day could be integrated into “electronic skin” (e-skin) — a covering for prosthetic limbs that would allow patients to feel touch, humidity, and temperature.

Current kinds of e-skin detect only touch, but the Technion team’s invention “can simultaneously sense touch (pressure), humidity, and temperature, as real skin… read more

How to see with your ears

Device offers new alternative to blind people; subjects could "see" letters with 20/400 vision
July 9, 2013

a participant wearing camera glasses and listening to the soundscape (credit: Credit: Alastair Haigh/

A device that trains the brain to turn sounds into images could be used as an alternative to invasive treatment for blind and partially-sighted people, researchers at the University of Bath have found.

“The vOICe” is a visual-to-auditory sensory substitution device that encodes images taken by a camera worn by the user into “soundscapes” from which experienced users can extract information about their surroundings.

It helps… read more

What would you prefer: a robot that takes care of you, or the opposite?

July 9, 2013

Robot butler Nao, a social robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics vs. robot-simulating mom (credit:  Aldebaran Robotics)

To determine how human perception of a robot changes based on its role, Penn State researchers observed 60 interactions between college students and Nao, a social robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics, a French company specializing in humanoid robots.

Each interaction could go one of two ways. The human could help Nao calibrate its eyes, or Nao could examine the human’s eyes like a concerned eye doctor and make suggestions to… read more

Detecting DNA in space

Gene-sequencing chip can survive space radiation on Mars, MIT scientist finds
July 9, 2013


If there is life on Mars, it’s not too farfetched to believe that such Martian species may share genetic roots with life on Earth, based on RNA or DNA.

That’s because more than 3.5 billion years ago, a blitz of meteors ricocheted around the solar system, passing material between the two fledgling planets. This may have left bits of Earth on Mars, and vice versa, creating a shared genetic… read more

How your brain creates the ‘buzz’ that helps ideas spread

Can you predict which of your Twitter and Facebook messages will go viral? UCLA psychologists believe they know how.
July 9, 2013

Psychologists report for the first time that the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC) brain regions are associated with the successful spread of ideas, often called 'buzz' (credit: UCLA)

UCLA psychologists have identified the brain regions associated with the successful spread of ideas, often called “buzz.”

The research has a broad range of implications, the study authors say, and could lead to more effective public health campaigns, more persuasive advertisements, and better ways for teachers to communicate with students.

“Our study suggests that people are regularly attuned to how the things they’re seeing… read more

Legal performance enhancer discovered in the nutrient betaine

July 8, 2013


Betaine — a nutrient found in shellfish and beets — boosts athletic performance by nearly six percent when added to a sports drink, according to a study supervised by Ithaca College’s Exercise and Sport Sciences Chair Thomas Swensen.

“Betaine may contribute to creatine synthesis, which improves, strength, power and short-term performance,” Swensen said. “Future research should elucidate the mechanism of how betaine supplementation improves performance.”… read more

Developing better drugs by detecting how they reach their targets

July 8, 2013


Researchers at Karolinska Institute have developed the first method for directly measuring the extent to which drugs reach their targets in the cell.

Called CETSA (Cellular Thermal Shift Assay), the method could improve the development of new improved drug substances.

Most drugs operate by binding to one or more proteins and affecting their function, which creates two common bottlenecks in the development of drugs:… read more

An all-optical transistor

July 8, 2013

All-optical switch and transistor

Researchers at MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics together with colleagues at Harvard University and the Vienna University of Technology have developed an experimental optical switch that’s controlled by a single photon — the optical analog of a transistor, the fundamental component of a computing circuit.

Optical computing — using light rather than electricity to perform calculations — could could point toward new designs for… read more

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