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Future chips may operate at atomic dimensions

April 23, 2014

perovskite

In an effort to shrink down electronic devices to atomic dimensions, researchers from Cornell University and Brookhaven National Laboratory have shown how to switch exotic transition metal oxide material from a metal to an insulator by making the material less than a nanometer thick.

Transition metal oxides seem to have it all: superconductivity, magnetoresistance, and other exotic properties. These possibilities have scientists excited to understand… read more

Laser could trigger rain and lightning

April 22, 2014

Illustration of a high-intensity laser dressed with a secondary laser that helps provide fuel to extend the distance of the primary beam.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida’s College of Optics & Photonics and the University of Arizona have further developed a new technique to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning.

The solution: surround the beam with a second beam to act as an energy reservoir, sustaining the central beam to greater distances than previously possible. The secondary “dress” beam… read more

Building ‘smart’ cell-based therapies

April 22, 2014

building-smart-cell-based-therapies-header

A Northwestern synthetic biology team has created a new technology for modifying human cells to create programmable therapeutics that could travel the body and selectively target cancer and other sites of disease.

Engineering cell-based biological devices that monitor and modify human physiology is a promising frontier in clinical synthetic biology. However, no existing technology has enabled bioengineers to build devices that sense a patient’s physiological state and respond in… read more

Creating spontaneous ‘cell’ division in artificial cell models

April 22, 2014

active_droplet_large

Scientists of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Triest have taken a first step toward the creation of functioning artificial cells by reproducing motility in their computer models, causing the “cells” to divide spontaneously without the action of external forces

The research could provide a better understanding of the development of life on our planet.

Droplets of filamentous material enclosed in a lipid membrane… read more

A neuromorphic-computing ‘roadmap’

April 22, 2014

Professor Jennifer Hasler displays a field programmable analog array (FPAA) board that includes an integrated circuit with biological-based neuron structures for power-efficient calculation.  Hasler’s research indicates that this type of board, which is programmable but has low power requirements, could play an important role in advancing neuromorphic computing. (Credit: Rob Felt)

Electrical engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have  published a roadmap that details innovative analog-based techniques that they believe could make it possible to build a practical neuromorphic (brain-inspired) computer while minimizing energy requirements.

“A configurable analog-digital system can be expected to have a power efficiency improvement of up to 10,000 times compared to an all-digital system,” said Jennifer Hasler, a professor in the Georgia… read more

Preventing an autonomous-systems arms race

April 21, 2014

The Switchblade is a self-guided cruise missile designed to fit into a soldiers rucksack (credit: AeroVironment)

A study by AI researcher Steve Omohundro just published in the Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence (open access) suggests that humans should be very careful to prevent future autonomous technology-based systems from developing anti-social and potentially harmful behavior.

Modern military and economic pressures require autonomous systems that can react quickly — and without human input. These systems will be required to make rational decisions for themselves.… read more

Thinnest-possible nanomembrane produced

May allow for functional waterproof clothing and ultra-rapid filtration
April 18, 2014

Part of a graphene membrane with a multiplicity of pores (black) of precisely defined size (in this case with a diameter of 50 nanometres; photomicrograph (credit: Celebi K. et al. Science 2014)

ETH Zurich, Empa, LG Electronics researchers  have created the thinnest-possible nanomembrane. Made out of graphene, it is extremely light and breathable, and could lead to a new generation of functional waterproof clothing and ultra-rapid filtration.

The stable porous membrane consists of two layers of  graphene, a two-dimensional film made of carbon atoms, on which the researchers etched tiny pores of a precisely defined size to allow for… read more

3D microvascular network allows for repeated self-healing in composite materials

April 18, 2014

microvascular networks

Researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created a 3D vascular system that allows high-performance composite materials such as fiberglass to heal autonomously and repeatedly.

Internal damage in fiber-reinforced composites, which are used in structures of modern airplanes and automobiles, is difficult to detect and nearly impossible to repair by conventional methods. A small, internal crack… read more

CNN’s Spurlock Inside Man explores extreme life extension

April 18, 2014

(Credit: CNN)

In “Futurism,” an episode in CNN’s original series Morgan Spurlock Inside Man on Sunday April 20, Spurlock enters the “brave new world of extreme life extension, embarking on a life-prolonging regimen and trying everything from genome hacking to creating an avatar and uploading his consciousness in preparation for the ‘Technological Singularity.’

“Spurlock’s quest to live forever includes visits with radical futurist Ray Kurzweil, Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Cambrian Genomics in San Francisco, North… read more

First Earth-size planet in ‘habitable zone’ discovered

April 18, 2014

An artistic concept of Kepler-186f based on a collaboration of scientists and artists (credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech)

Astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the “habitable zone” — the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.

Planets have previously been found in the habitable zone, but they are all… read more

Brain abnormalities associated with casual marijuana use

April 17, 2014

Cannabis leaf (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Young adults who used marijuana only recreationally showed significant abnormalities in two key brain regions that are important in emotion and motivation, scientists report.

The study was a collaboration between Northwestern Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

This is the first study to show casual use of marijuana is related to major brain changes. It showed the degree of brain abnormalities in these regions is directly related… read more

Functional brain imaging reliably predicts which vegetative patients have potential to recover consciousness

Up to 40% of severely brain-damaged patients are misdiagnosed in bedside clinical examinations
April 17, 2014

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A functional brain imaging technique known as positron emission tomography (PET) is a promising tool for determining which severely brain damaged individuals in vegetative states have the potential to recover consciousness, according to new research published in The Lancet.

Surprisingly, this is the first time that researchers have tested the diagnostic accuracy of functional brain imaging techniques in clinical practice.

“Our findings suggest that PET imaging can reveal… read more

Low-cost, compact optics that turn a smartphone into a powerful portable microscope

April 17, 2014

Lens-uw-larson

University of Washington (UW) graduate Thomas Larson is developing a lens that will turn any smartphone or tablet computer into a handheld microscope that magnifies by 150 times.

It’s an improved version of his Micro Phone Lens, a pliable lens that magnifies 15 times, or 60x with phone zoom. (Standard laboratory microscopes usually magnify between 50 and 400 times.)

Users simply stick the lens… read more

Drones to extend Internet to remote areas

April 16, 2014

Titan Solera 50 drone (credit: Titan Aerospace)

Two companies have just extended the reach of the  Internet.

Google has acquired Titan Aerospace, a developer of jet-sized drones intended to fly nonstop for years,the New Mexico company has announced. Titan says it could help people by “providing internet connections in remote areas or helping monitor environmental damage like oil spills and deforestation.”

The Wall Street Journal quotes Google as saying the technology could… read more

The lowest-price, easiest-to-use 3D printer yet

April 16, 2014

The Micro 3D printer (credit: MD3)

If you’re on the edge about deciding to get a 3D printer, this Kickstarter campaign for The Micro, billed as the “first truly consumer 3D printer,” may just push you off it.

It already has for more than 9,000 backers, who have pledged an impressive $2.7 million since April 7 — far exceeding the $50,000 goal.

For a pledge of $299, you get the pre-assembled printer… read more

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