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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

Introducing a new feature of IBM’s Watson: The Debater

Can extract information from Wikipedia, "understand" it, and reason from that information, IBM claims
May 5, 2014

(Credit: IBM)

“Can a computer with access to large bodies of information like Wikipedia extract relevant information, digest and reason on that information and understand the context … and present it in natural language, with no human intervention?”

That’s how John Kelly III, Senior Vice President and Director, IBM Research, introduced a new feature of Watson called “The Debater” (starts at 45:25 in video below) at an April 30, 2014… read more

Shields up! How to build a Star Wars-style laser-deflector shield

In honor of Star Wars Day (May 4) -- "May the fourth be with you"
May 4, 2014

A space laser (adapted from a photograph of the Laser Guide Star adaptive optics system used on a telescope in Chile; credit: European Southern Observatory)

Laser shields, such as those protecting spaceships in the Star Wars film series, are scientifically feasible, three University of Leicester physics students have shown.

Here’s how: a plasma can refract (bend) a beam of radiation. In fact, that’s already done in principle; by refracting radio signals, the ionosphere around our planet enables shortwave radio programs from Europe, for example, to be heard in the U.S.… read more

MRI sensor allows neuroscientists to map neural activity with molecular precision

May 2, 2014

DopamineMRI

MIT researchers have developed a technique that allows them to precisely track neural communication in the brain over time, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) along with a specialized molecular MRI contrast agent.

This is the first time anyone has been able to map neural signals with high precision over large brain regions in living animals, offering a new window on brain function, says Alan Jasanoff, an… read more

NASA’s new Z-2 prototype spacesuit

May 2, 2014

nasa_z2_suit

With 233,431 votes, the “Technology” option has won NASA’s Z-2 Spacesuit design challenge with just over 63% of the total vote. This design now will be incorporated into the final version of the suit, which is expected to be ready for testing by November 2014.

Each new version of the Z-series will advance new technologies that one day will be used in a suit worn by the first astronauts… read more

A new method of producing large volumes of high-quality graphene

May 2, 2014

Graphene powder (credit: Thomas Swan)

A new method of producing industrial quantities of high-quality graphene has been developed by Trinity College Dublin researchers on the AMBER materials-science research team at CRANN.

The researchers say the discovery will “change the way many consumer and industrial products are manufactured.” Potential applications they cite include advanced food packaging, high-strength plastics, super-protective coatings for wind turbines and ships, and batteries with dramatically higher capacity… read more

Serious worldwide threat to public health noted in WHO’s first global report on antibiotic resistance

But a possible future treatment for deadly MRSA hospital-infections is being studied
May 1, 2014

The MRSA superbug (in yellow) is resistant to antibiotics and  can lead to death, but a new polymer-antibiotic combo (credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Antimicrobial resistance (including antibiotic resistance — when bacteria change so antibiotics no longer work) is a serious threat and has gone global, warns the World Health Organization (WHO) in a  report, “Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance.”

“Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades… read more

Graphene’s negative environmental impacts

May 1, 2014

graphene_oxide

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering have found graphene oxide nanoparticles are very mobile in lakes or streams and likely to cause negative environmental impacts if released.

Graphene oxide* nanoparticles are an oxidized form of graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms prized for its strength, conductivity and flexibility. Applications for graphene include everything from cell phones and tablet computers… read more

Droplet lens turns a smartphone into a 160X microscope

May 1, 2014

(Credit: Stuart Hay)

Australian scientists have invented a simple and cheap way of making a high-powered lens that can transform a smart phone into a high-resolution microscope.

Costing less than a cent, the lenses promise a revolution in science and medicine in developing countries and remote areas.

Self-forming liquid drops

The lens fabrication technique was invented by Steve Lee from The Australian National University (ANU) Research School of… read more

The molecular secrets behind resveratrol’s health benefits

May 1, 2014

estradiol-resveratrol

Resveratrol has been much in the news as the component of grapes and red wine associated with reducing “bad cholesterol,” heart disease and some types of cancer. Also found in blueberries, cranberries, mulberries, peanuts and pistachios, resveratrol is associated with beneficial health effects in aging, inflammation and metabolism.

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified one of the molecular pathways that… read more

A new self-assembling graphene-like material for flat semiconductors

May 1, 2014

material_flat_semiconductors

MIT and Harvard University researchers have found a two-dimensional material whose properties are very similar to graphene*, but with some distinct advantages — including the fact that this material naturally has a usable bandgap, which is essential for making devices such as computer chips and solar cells.

The new material, is a combination of nickel and an organic compound called HITP. Its constituents also naturally… read more

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