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Brain ‘noise’ found to nurture synapses

May 8, 2014

McCabe-CUMC-image-brain-noise

A long-overlooked form of neuron-to-neuron communication called “miniature neurotransmission” plays an essential role in the development of synapses, a study by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has shown.

The findings, made in fruit flies, raise the possibility that abnormalities in miniature neurotransmission may contribute to neurodevelopmental diseases. The findings were published in the journal Neuron.

The primary way in which neurons communicate with each… read more

Astronomers create first realistic virtual universe

May 8, 2014

illustris-simulation

Astronomers have created the first realistic virtual universe using a computer simulation called “Illustris.”

Illustris can recreate 13 billion years of cosmic evolution in a cube 350 million light-years on a side with unprecedented resolution.

“Until now, no single simulation was able to reproduce the universe on both large and small scales simultaneously,” says lead author Mark Vogelsberger (MIT/Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics),… read more

Imaging the crystal edges of 2D molybdenum disulfide

Another step toward novel 2D ultrasmall and ultrafast electronic and photonic devices, replacing silicon
May 8, 2014

Xiang-Zhang-crystal-images

Researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have recorded the first observations of a strong nonlinear optical resonance along the edges of a single layer of two-dimensional molybdenum disulfide, which may enable novel ultrasmall and ultrafast electronic and photonic devicesas well as a catalyst for the hydrogen evolution reaction in fuel cells, desulfurization, andread more

Are you ready for contact with extraterrestrial intelligence?

May 7, 2014

Are-we-ready-for-contact-with-extraterrestrial-intelligence_image_380

Some SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) scientists are considering “Active SETI” to detect possible extraterrestrial civilizations.

Psychologist Gabriel G. de la Torre, professor at the University of Cádiz (Spain) questions this idea, based on results* from a survey taken by students, which revealed a general level of ignorance about the cosmos and the influence of religion on these matters.

Some astrophysicists, such as Stephen… read more

Oculus suggests a massively multiplayer online experience (MMO) for one billion simultaneous users in VR

May 7, 2014

(Credit: Condition-One)

Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe suggested at the Techcrunch Disrupt event Monday May 5 that Oculus and Facebook could in the future build a massively multiplayer online experience (MMO) for one billion simultaneous users in VR, according to The Verge. It could also be a metaverse that joins disparate virtual worlds.

Oculus hopes to convince players that they’re having a “real conversation” with another person. … read more

Humanized pig organs to revolutionize transplantation

Initial focus: the almost 400,000 people who die from lung disease, including cancer, each year
May 7, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

Genome pioneer J. Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI) is teaming up with United Therapeutics Corporation subsidiary Lung Biotechnology Inc. to use synthetic genomic advances to develop humanized pig lungs.

The collaboration will focus on creating organs that are safe and effective for use in human patients in need of transplantation, with an initial focus on lung diseases — addressing specifically the urgent need… read more

Genetic algorithm used to design broadband metamaterial

May 7, 2014

psu_metamaterial

Penn State engineers have used a genetic algorithm to custom-design a metamaterial to absorb energy over a broad band of infrared wavelengths.

The engineers say this allows the metamaterial to shield objects from view by infrared sensors and protect instruments, for example.

“The metamaterial has a high absorption over broad bandwidth,” said Jeremy A. Bossard, postdoctoral fellow in electrical engineering.… read more

Stem cells from teeth can make neuron-like cells and networks

May 6, 2014

mouse-derived dental pulp stem cell

University of Adelaide researchers have discovered that stem cells taken from teeth can grow to form complex networks of neuron-like cells, suggesting a possible therapy for stroke.

Although these cells haven’t developed into fully fledged neurons, researchers believe it’s just a matter of time and the right conditions for it to happen.

“Stem cells from teeth have great potential to grow into new brain or nerve… read more

How to change the crystal structure of graphene from metal to semiconductor

Could lead to smaller, faster microprocessors
May 6, 2014

graphene hexagon Pablo San-Jose ICMM-CSI

A University of Arizona-led team of physicists has discovered how to change the crystal structure of graphene with an electric field — a step toward the possible use of graphene in microprocessors that would be smaller and faster than current, silicon-based technology.

The tricky part is to control the flow of electrons through the material, a necessary prerequisite for using it an electronic circuit.… read more

Bone marrow-on-a-chip unveiled

May 6, 2014

Microscopic view of the engineered bone with an opening exposing the internal trabecular bony network, overlaid with colored images of blood cells and a supportive vascular network that fill the open spaces in the bone marrow-on-a-chip. Credit: James Weaver, Harvard’s Wyss Institute.

A new organ-on-a-chip developed by researchers from Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering reproduces the structure, functions, and cellular make-up of bone marrow, a complex tissue that until now could only be studied intact in living animals.

The device, dubbed “bone marrow-on-a-chip,” gives scientists a much-needed new tool to test the effects of new drugs and toxic agents on whole bone marrow.

Specifically, the device… read more

Functioning of aged brains and muscles in mice made younger

Could reverse cognitive decline from aging in humans
May 6, 2014

Confocal images of coronal subventricular zone (SVZ) sections showing that 22-month-old mice injected with rGDF11 for 4 weeks have (A) enhanced vascularization as well as (B) increased Sox2+ neural stem cell populations, compared with those of control (credit: L. Katsimpardi et al./Science)

A protein known as GDF11 improves brain and skeletal muscle function in aging mice, Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers have shown. The researchers previously demonstrated that GDF11 can make the failing hearts in aging mice appear more like those of young mice.

In two separate papers published online May 4 in the journal Science, Professors Amy Wagers, PhD, and Lee Rubin,read more

Want to live to 90?

May 5, 2014

(Credit: CBS)

A landmark study of retirement community residents who lived past 90 is providing a guide that could help.

They’re  called “the oldest old.” They are people age 90 and above, and they are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population. Now a landmark study of thousands of members of a retirement community in Southern California is revealing factors that may contribute to living longer. Some of the findings are… read more

Neanderthals were not inferior to modern humans, says study

May 5, 2014

Geico got it right (credit: Geico)

The widely held notion that Neanderthals were dimwitted and that their inferior intelligence allowed them to be driven to extinction by the much brighter ancestors of modern humans is not supported by scientific evidence, according to researcher Paola Villa at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Neanderthals thrived in a large swath of Europe and Asia between about 350,000 and 40,000 years ago. They disappeared after our ancestors,… read more

Volvo’s first self-driving cars now being tested live on public roads in Swedish city

100 cars, involving a vehicle manufacturer, real customers, legislators, transport authorities, and a major city
May 5, 2014

volvo-drive-me

Volvo Car Group’s “Drive Me” project — featuring 100 self-driving Volvos on public roads in everyday driving conditions — is moving forward rapidly, with the first test cars now driving around the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

“The test cars are now able to handle lane following, speed adaption, and merging traffic all by themselves,” says Erik Coelingh, Technical Specialist at Volvo Car Group.

“This is an important step… read more

Are we taking AI seriously enough?

AI success would be the biggest event in history, but maybe the last, warn Hawking, Russell, Tegmark, and Wilczek.
May 5, 2014

MQ-9 Reaper unmanned combat air vehicle (credit: General Atomics)

“Dismissing the notion of highly intelligent machines as mere science fiction,” as portrayed in current movies, would be a mistake, and “potentially our worst mistake in history,” write leading scientists Stephen Hawking, Stuart Russell, Max Tegmark, and Frank Wilczek, in The Independent.

AI research is now progressing rapidly, and “will probably pale against what the coming decades will bring, the scientists suggest. “Success in creating AI would be… read more

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