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A jet engine powered by lasers and nuclear explosions?

July 14, 2015

lasers vaporize the radioactive material and cause a fusion reaction — in effect a small thermonuclear explosion.<br />
Lasers vaporize radioactive material and cause a fusion reaction --- in effect a small thermonuclear explosion (credit: Patent Yogi/YouTube)

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded a patent (US 9,068,562) to Boeing engineers and scientists for a laser- and nuclear-driven airplane engine.

“A stream of pellets containing nuclear material such as Deuterium or Tritium is fed into a hot-stop within a thruster of the aircraft,” Patent Yogi explains. “Then multiple high powered laser beams are all focused onto the hot-spot. The pellet is… read more

‘Smart clothes’ for personalized cooling and heating

Could cut energy use of buildings and homes by at least 15 percent
July 14, 2015

Garment-based printable electrodes developed in the lab of Joseph Wang, distinguished professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego, and lead principal investigator of ATTACH. (credit: UC San Diego)

Instead of heating or cooling your whole house, imagine a fabric that will keep your body at a comfortable temperature — regardless of how hot or cold it actually is.

That’s the goal of an engineering project called ATTACH (Adaptive Textiles Technology with Active Cooling and Heating) at the University of California, San Diego, funded with a $2.6M grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’sread more

3-D printed food

July 14, 2015

(credit: Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing by Tod Lipson)

3D printers could revolutionize food processing in the next 10 to 20 years, said Hod Lipson, Ph.D., a professor of engineering at Columbia University, speaking at IFT15: Where Science Feeds Innovation.

“The technology is getting faster, cheaper, and better by the minute. Food printing could be the killer app for 3D printing.”

Lipson, who is co-author of Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing, said 3D… read more

Using graphene-based film for efficient cooling of electronics

Has a thermal conductivity capacity four times higher than copper, can be attached to silicon electronic components
July 13, 2015

Graphene-based film on an electronic component with high heat intensity. (credit: Johan Liu)

A method for efficiently cooling electronics using graphene-based film — with a thermal conductivity capacity four times higher than copper — has been developed by researchers at Chalmers University of Technology. The film can be attached to computer chips and other silicon-based electronic components.

Electronic systems available today accumulate a great deal of heat, mostly due to the ever-increasing demand on functionality. Getting rid of excess… read more

Gene therapy restores hearing in deaf mice

Clinical trials of gene therapy for humans expected within 5 to 10 years
July 13, 2015

The inverted V’s above are sensory hair bundles in the ear, each containing 50 to 100 microvilli tipped with TMC proteins. Gene therapy restores hearing by providing working copies of those proteins. (credit: Gwenaelle Geleoc & Artur Indzhykulian)

Patients with hearing loss will one day have their genome sequenced and their hearing restored by gene therapy, says Jeffrey Holt, PhD,  a scientist in the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and an associate professor of Otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School.

A proof-of-principle study published by the journal Science Translational Medicine takes a step in that direction, restoring hearing in deaf mice. Clinical trials of gene therapy for… read more

IBM announces first 7nm node test chips

July 13, 2015

IBM 7nm node test chip closeup

IBM Research has announced the semiconductor industry’s first 7nm (nanometer) node test chips, which could allow for chips with more than 20 billion transistors, IBM believes — a big step forward from today’s most advanced chips, made using 14nm technology.

IBM achieved the 7 nm node through a combination of new materials, tools and techniques, explained Mukesh Khare, VP, IBM Semiconductor Technology Research in a blog post.… read more

Transhumanist Party presidential candidate to drive ‘Immortality Bus’ across the U.S.

"A journey of science activism against aging & death"
July 13, 2015

(credit: Zoltan Istvan)

Don’t freak out if you see a 40-foot bus resembling a coffin sometime soon. It’s the “Immortality Bus” — a “pro-science symbol of resistance against aging and death” to be driven across the U.S. by futurist and 2016 Transhumanist Party presidential candidate Zoltan Istvan, along with scientists and supporters.

“We’re trying to spread a culture that looks positively at indefinite human lifespans,” Istvan told… read more

How to visually determine thickness at one-nanometer resolution by eye

... way beyond microscopes and even the diffraction limit
July 10, 2015

Composed photo of all samples (bottom row) and adjusted color fields (top row). Residual defects of the samples can be seen at the edges of some samples. (credit: Sandy Peterhänsel et al./Optica)

European scientists have taught volunteers in an experiment how to determine the thickness of a titanium dioxide thin film only a few nanometers thick by simply observing the color it presents under under highly controlled, precise lighting conditions, according to Sandy Peterhänsel, University of Stuttgart, Germany and principal author of an open-access paper in the journal Optica.

The optical properties of thin films are the… read more

3-D-printed robot is hard inside, soft outside, and capable of jumping without hurting itself

July 10, 2015

Robot nine layers rigid to flexible-ft

Engineers at Harvard University and the University of California, San Diego, have created the first robot with a 3D-printed body that transitions from a rigid core to a soft exterior. The robot is capable of more than 30 untethered jumps at a time and is powered by a mix of butane and oxygen.

The researchers describe the robot’s design, manufacturing and testing in the July… read more

Self/Less movie features uploading … to an existing human body

July 10, 2015

selfless ft

In Self/Less, a science-fiction thriller to be released in the U.S. today, July 10, 2015, Damian Hale, an extremely wealthy aristocrat (Ben Kingsley) dying from cancer, undergoes a $250 million radical medical procedure at a lab called Phoenix Biogenic in Manhattan to have his consciousness transferred into the body of a healthy young man (Ryan Reynolds).… read more

Neuroscientists create organic-computing ‘Brainet’ network of rodent and primate brains — humans next

Rodent network performs sophisticated image processing and avatar-control tasks, presaging future hybrid digital-analog parallel-processing organic computers
July 10, 2015


Duke University neuroscientists have created a network called “Brainet” that uses signals from an array of electrodes implanted in the brains of multiple rodents in experiments to merge their collective brain activity and jointly control a virtual avatar arm or even perform sophisticated computations — including image pattern recognition and even weather forecasting.

Brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) are computational systems that allow subjects to use their… read more

A graphene microphone and loudspeaker that operate at up to 500 kilohertz

Practical uses for graphene in breakthrough future products
July 9, 2015

graphene microphone ft

University of California, Berkeley, physicists have used graphene to build lightweight ultrasonic loudspeakers and microphones, enabling people to mimic bats or dolphins’ ability to use sound to communicate and gauge the distance and speed of objects around them.

More practically, the wireless ultrasound devices complement standard radio transmission using electromagnetic waves in areas where radio is impractical, such as underwater, but with far greater fidelity than current ultrasound or sonar… read more

Crowdsourcing neurofeedback data

Crowdsourcing brain data with hundreds of adults could be a new frontier in neuroscience and could lead to new insights about the brain
July 9, 2015

In front of an audience, the collective neurofeedback of 20 participants were projected on the 360° surface of the semi-transparent dome as artistic video animations with soundscapes generated based on a pre-recorded sound library and improvisations from live musicians (credit: Natasha Kovacevic et al./PLoS ONE/Photo: David Pisarek)

In a large-scale art-science installation called My Virtual Dream in Toronto in 2013, more than 500 adults wearing a Muse wireless electroencephalography (EEG) headband inside a 60-foot geodesic dom participated in an unusual neuroscience experiment.

As they played a collective neurofeedback computer game where they were required to manipulate their mental states of relaxation and concentration, the group’s collective EEG signals triggered a catalog of… read more

A graphene-based molecule sensor

One of the first devices to use the unique electronic and optical properties of graphene for a practical application
July 9, 2015

Shining infrared light on a graphene surface makes surface electrons oscillate in different ways that identify the specific molecule attached to the surface (credit: EPFL)

European scientists have harnessed graphene’s unique optical and electronic properties to develop a highly sensitive sensor to detect molecules such as proteins and drugs — one of the first such applications of graphene.

The results are described in an article appearing in the latest edition of the journal Science.

The researchers at EPFL’s Bionanophotonic Systems Laboratory (BIOS) and the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO, Spain) used graphene to improve… read more

Omnidirectional wireless charging up to half a meter away from a power source

July 8, 2015

Omnidirectional wireless-charging system can charge multiple numbers of mobile devices simultaneously in a one-cubic-meter range. Above: charging transmitter; below: a Samsung Galaxy Note with embedded receiver. (credit: KAIST)

A group of researchers at KAIST in Korea has developed a wireless-power transfer (WPT) technology that allows mobile devices in the “Wi-Power” zone (within 0.5 meters from the power source) to be charged at any location and in any direction and orientation, tether-free.

The WPT system is capable of charging 30 smartphones with a power capacity of one watt each or 5 laptops with 2.4 watts.

The research… read more

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