science + technology news

Quantum Computing Playground lets you run a simulated quantum computer

May 27, 2014

Quantum Computing Playground (credit: Google)

Google engineers have developed a simulated quantum computer called Quantum Computing Playground that allows you to write, run, and debug software using quantum algorithms.

Quantum Computing Playground runs in a Chrome browser with a simple interactive interface. A scripting language called QScript includes debugging and 3D quantum-state visualization features.

You can efficiently simulate quantum registers up to 22 qubits and run Grover’s and Shor’s algorithms. There’s also a… read more

New sensor could lead to low-cost medical imaging and night vision using smartphones and cameras

May 26, 2014

SEM image showing C60 fullerene nanorod photoconductor fabricated by depositing C60 nanorod film onto pre-patterned gold electrodes. Inset: SEM image showing C60 nanorods bridging 10-micron-wide electrodes. (Credit: Rinku Saran et al./Scientific Reports)

Low-cost medical and security cameras could be possible in the future thanks to a new multispectral light sensor developed by University of Surrey researchers. The sensor can detect the full spectrum of light, from ultraviolet (UV) to visible and near-infrared light.

“Until now … multiple sensors were required to measure different ranges of the light spectrum, significantly increasing cost,” said lead researcher Richard Curry, PhD. from the… read more

Hacking Higher Ed

May 25, 2014

U of People

How much would it cost to educate all those currently priced out of education? “Realistically, only a drop in the bucket in relation to the billions floating within the higher education industry,” says Shai Reshef, founder and president of University of the People, a free, non-profit, online university.

Reshef joined five other guests on Radio Open Source, a weekly WBUR radio program produced by… read more

Bioinspired drones of the future

May 25, 2014

Bat-inspired flying robot (credit: Sharon Swartz/Kenny Lab/Brown University)

Using mechanisms adopted by birds, bats, insects and snakes, 14 research teams have developed ideas for improving drone-flying performance in complex urban environments.

The research teams presented their work May 23 in a special open-access issue of IOP Publishing’s journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics devoted to bio-inspired flight control. Here are a few examples.

An algorithm developed by Hungarian researchers allows multiple drones… read more

‘Roombots’ transform into movable furniture and objects

May 24, 2014

Movable table with Roombot feet (credit: EPFL)

EPFL scientists have developed LEGO-like adaptive robotic modules called “Roombots” that can change their shape to create reconfigurable, movable furniture and objects.

Like LEGO bricks, Roombots can be stacked upon each other to create various structures and combined with furniture and other objects, changing shape and functionality during the day as needed.

“It could be very useful for disabled individuals to be able to ask objects… read more

‘Thermal Touch’ will turn any surface into an AR touch screen

May 23, 2014

"Thermal Touch" makes any surface or object touchable (credit: Metaio)

Metaio (as in meta I/O) has developed a prototype of a system called  “Thermal Touch” that the Germany-based company says would allow a user of a future wearable headset to make any object touchable.

The prototype system combines a thermal infrared and standard camera connected to a tablet PC (in the future, Metaio assumes, these cameras would be built into augmented reality (AR) glasses).

The system… read more

Would you eat ‘eco-friendly’ meat created from stem cells?

May 23, 2014

cells to food

In a paper in the Cell Press journal Trends in Biotechnology, Cor van der Weele of Wageningen University in The Netherlands and coauthor Johannes Tramper describe a potential meat manufacturing process, starting with a vial of cells taken from a cell bank and ending with a pressed cake of minced meat.

Cor van der Weele  point out that the rising demand for meat around the world is… read more

Added drug allows rapamycin to slow aging without risking diabetes

May 23, 2014

This graphic outlines how rapamycin can mimic the effects of dietary restriction (credit: Oregon State University)

New research at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University suggests a fix for serious side effects of rapamycin*, a drug that appears to mimic the ability of dietary restriction to slow the aging process.

Laboratory mice that have received rapamycin have reduced the age-dependent decline in spontaneous activity, demonstrated more fitness, improved cognition and cardiovascular health, had less cancer, and lived substantially longer than… read more

Bioethics Commission releases volume one response to the BRAIN Initiative

May 21, 2014

(Credit: Bioethics Commission)

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) has released volume one of its two-part response to President Obama’s request related to the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, entitled Gray Matters: Integrative Approaches for Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society.

“Neuroscience has begun to make important breakthroughs, but given the complexity of the brain, we must better understand it in order to make desired… read more

The biomechanics behind amazing ant strength

Could help design better exoskeletons for humans and robot joints
May 21, 2014

(Credit: OSC)

How can an ant lift objects many times heavier than its own body? Engineers at The Ohio State University combined computational modeling at the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) and lab experiments to find out.

They focused on the ant’s neck — the single joint of soft tissue that bridges the stiff exoskeleton of the ant’s head and thorax. When an ant carries food or any other object,… read more

World’s smallest, fastest nanomotor

They could one day move through the body at high speed to deliver drugs to target cells
May 21, 2014

Nanomotor drug delivery. After coating the nanomotor with biochemicals, the researchers were able to control the speed and rate of drug delivery to a cell in the lab. (Credit: Cockrell School of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin)

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have built the “smallest, fastest, and longest-running” nanomotor  to date — an important step toward developing miniature machines that could one day move through the body to deliver drugs such as insulin for diabetics when needed, or target and treat cancer cells without harming good cells, the scientists say.

Led by Cockrell School of Engineering mechanical engineering assistant… read more

Glasses-free 3D projector

New design could also make conventional 2D video higher in resolution and contrast
May 20, 2014

llustration of concept. A light field projector, build using readily-available optics and electronics, emits a 4D light field onto a screen that expands the field of view so that observers on the other side of the screen can enjoy glasses-free 3D entertainment. No mechanically moving parts are used in either the projector or the screen. Additionally, the screen is completely passive, potentially allowing for the system to be scaled to significantly larger dimensions. (Credit: MIT Media Lab, Camera Culture Group)

Over the past three years, researchers in the Camera Culture group at the MIT Media Lab have steadily refined a design for a glasses-free, multiperspective, 3D video screen, which they hope could provide a cheaper, more practical alternative to holographic video in the short term.

Now they’ve designed a projector that exploits this technology, which they’ll unveil at this year’s… read more

A new way to beam power to medical chips deep inside the body

Wireless system uses the same power as a cell phone to safely transmit energy to chips, paving the way for new "electroceutical" devices to treat illness or alleviate pain
May 20, 2014

A batteryless electrostimulator next to grains of rice (credit: Austin Yee)

A Stanford electrical engineer has invented a way to wirelessly transfer power deep inside the body, and use this power to run tiny electronic medical gadgets such as pacemakers, nerve stimulators, or new sensors and devices yet to be developed.

The discoveries reported Monday May 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) culminate years of efforts by Ada Poon, an assistant professor of electrical engineering,… read more

Scientists discover how to turn light into matter after 80-year quest

May 20, 2014


Imperial College London physicists have discovered how to create matter from light — a feat thought impossible when the idea was first theorized by scientists G. Breit and J. Wheeler in 1934.

Breit and Wheeler suggested that it should be possible to turn light into matter by smashing together only two particles of light (photons), to create an electron and a positron — the simplest method of… read more

An ultra-sensitive chip for early cancer detection

May 19, 2014


An international team of researchers, led by ICFO – Institute of Photonic Sciences in Castelldefels, has developed a “lab-on-a-chip” platform capable of detecting very low concentrations of protein cancer markers in the blood, using the latest advances in plasmonics, nano-fabrication, microfluids and surface chemistry.

Currently, most cancers are detected when the tumor is already composed of millions of cancer cells and the disease is starting to advance… read more

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