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Cocktail of chemicals may trigger cancer

Fifty chemicals the public is exposed to on a daily basis may trigger cancer when combined, according to new research by global task force of 174 scientists
June 23, 2015

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A global task force of 174 scientists from leading research centers in 28 countries has studied the link between mixtures of commonly encountered chemicals and the development of cancer. The open-access study selected 85 chemicals not considered carcinogenic to humans and found 50 of them actually supported key cancer-related mechanisms at exposures found in the environment today.

According to co-author cancer Biologist Hemad Yasaei from… read more

Water splitter produces clean-burning hydrogen fuel 24/7

An inexpensive renewable source of clean-burning hydrogen fuel for transportation and industry
June 23, 2015

Unlike conventional water splitters, the device developed in Associate Professor Yi Cui's lab uses a single low-cost catalyst to generate hydrogen bubbles on one electrode and oxygen bubbles on the other (credit: L.A. Cicero/Stanford University)

In an engineering first, Stanford University scientists have invented a low-cost water splitter that uses a single catalyst to produce both hydrogen and oxygen gas 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The researchers believe that the device, described in an open-access study published today (June 23) in Nature Communications, could provide a renewable source of clean-burning hydrogen fuel for transportation and industry.

“We… read more

Scientists create synthetic membranes that grow like living cells

June 23, 2015


Chemists and biologists at UC San Diego have succeeded in designing and synthesizing an artificial cell membrane capable of sustaining continual growth, just like a living cell.

Their achievement will allow scientists to more accurately replicate the behavior of living cell membranes, which until now have been modeled only by synthetic cell membranes without the ability to add new phospholipids.

“The… read more

Micro-tentacles for tiny robots can handle delicate objects like blood vessels

June 23, 2015

A micro-tentacle developed by Iowa State engineers spirals around an ant (credit: Jaeyoun (Jay) Kim/Iowa State University)

Iowa State University engineers have developed microrobotic tentacles that could allow small robots to safely handle delicate objects.

As described in an open-access research paper in the journal Scientific Reports, the tentacles are microtubes just a third of an inch long and less than a hundredth of an inch wide. They’re made from PDMS, a transparent elastomer that can be a liquid or a soft,… read more

Google, Facebook, Amazon advance machine-learning applications

Teaching machines to read/comprehend websites, recognize and group faces, and reject fake reviews
June 22, 2015

Syncing photos to friend in Moments (credit: Facebook)

Three new significant developments in machine-learning were announced last week.

Reading and comprehending natural-language documents

Google DeepMind in London said it has developed a way to teach machines to read natural-language documents and comprehend them, and like Watson, answer complex questions with minimal prior knowledge of language structure — at least for CNN and Daily Mail websites.

As noted by the researchers in an… read more

How to make instant carbon nanoparticles at home for cool biomedical uses

Molasses: check. Honey: check. Pig: um, check.
June 19, 2015

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How would you like to produce carbon nanoparticles small enough to evade the body’s immune system, that reflect light in the near-infrared range for easy detection in the body, and even carry payloads of pharmaceutical drugs to targeted tissues — all in the privacy of your own home?

If so, well, University of Illinois bioengineering professors Dipanjan Pan and Rohit Bhargava have a DIY recipe for you.… read more

A computational algorithm for fact-checking

Yet another "computers can't..." myth busted
June 19, 2015

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Computers can now do fact-checking for any body of knowledge, according to Indiana University network scientists, writing in an open-access paper published June 17 in PLoS ONE.

Using factual information from summary infoboxes from Wikipedia* as a source, they built a “knowledge graph” with 3 million concepts and 23 million links between them. A link between two concepts in the graph can be read as a… read more

The sixth mass extinction is here, say Stanford researchers

June 19, 2015

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There is no longer any doubt: we are entering a mass extinction that threatens humanity’s existence.

That’s the conclusion of a new study by a group of scientists including Paul Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies in biology and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Ehrlich and his co-authors call for fast action to conserve threatened species, populations and habitat, but… read more

Tissue scaffold technology could help rebuild large organs

June 18, 2015

Membrane interactions of the protein–polymer-surfactant complexes. Schematic showing that in solution, the polymer–surfactant corona surrounding myoglobin (cyan) adopts a compact conformation with the hydrophobic nonylphenyl tails (red) buried by the poly(ethylene glycol) chains (yellow). Contact with the hydrophobic phospholipid bilayer results in a conformational reorganization of the corona that allows the alkyl chains to anchor the complex to the cell membrane. (credit: James P.K. Armstrong et al./Nature Communications)

Researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Liverpool have developed a new tissue scaffold (support structure) technology that could one day make it possible to engineer large organs.

Currently, tissue engineering has been limited to growing small pieces of tissue, because larger dimensions reduce the oxygen supply to the cells in the center of the tissue.

The team of researchers, led by Adamread more

A lifelike bionic hand

June 18, 2015

bebionic small hand perfectly mimics the functions of a real hand via 14<br />
different precision grips (credit: Steeper)

Nicky Ashwell has become the first UK user to receive what the makers call “the world’s most lifelike hand” — the  Stepper bebionic small. The myoelectric device uses miniaturized components designed to provide true-to-life movements, mimicking the functions of a real hand.

The Bebionic small hand works using sensors triggered by the user’s muscle movements that connect to individual motors in each finger and  microprocessors.… read more

How to control GMOs with molecular ‘lock and key’

June 18, 2015


UC Berkeley researchers have developed a low-cost, easy method of biocontainment of bacteria to contain accidental spread of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The used a series of lock-and-key genetic mutations (in addition to the GMO mutations) that render the microbe inactive unless the right molecule (the key) is added to to the expressed protein to enable its viability.

The work appears this week in the journal ACS Syntheticread more

Reducing the heat generated by the billions of transistors in computers

June 17, 2015

Fermi surface and band structure of (Sr1−xLax)3Ir2O7  (Sr1-xLax)3Ir2O7 for x=0.057.  Fermi surface map featuring two electron pockets (red dashed ellipses) around eachMpoint. Brillouin zone boundary for the distorted (undistorted) lattice is marked by white (grey) dashed boxes. (credit: Junfeng He et al./Nature Materials)

An exotic property that could warp the electronic structure of a material to reduce heat buildup and improve performance in ever-smaller computer components has been observed for the first time in X-ray studies with at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Heat is an obstacle to packing more computing power into ever-smaller devices; excess heat can cause devices to… read more

World’s thinnest light source made from graphene

Can be integrated into chips, paving the way to atomically thin, flexible, and transparent displays and graphene-based on-chip optical communications
June 17, 2015

Illustration of light emission from electrically biased suspended graphene (credit: Young Duck Kim/Columbia Engineering)

The first on-chip visible light source using graphene as a filament has been developed by a team of scientists from Columbia Engineering, Seoul National University (SNU), and Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS).

The scientists attached small strips of graphene to metal electrodes, suspended the strips above the silicon substrate, and passed a current through the filaments to cause them to heat… read more

Magnetically controlled ‘nanoswimmer’ could deliver drugs via bloodstream

June 17, 2015

Schematic of 3-link nanoswimmer with undulation motion driven by oscillating magnetic field  (credit: Bumjin Jang et al./Nano Letters)

ETH Zurich and Technion researchers have developed an elastic “nanoswimmer” polypyrrole (Ppy) nanowire about 15 micrometers (millionths of a meter) long and 200 nanometers thick that can move through biological fluid environments at almost 15 micrometers per second. To propel the nanowire “tail,” two hinged ferromagnetic nickel sections of the wire undulate, controlled by an oscillating magnetic field, causing the tail to allow also undulate and move forward.

The nanoswimmers… read more

Hemp nanosheets could be better than graphene for making the ideal supercapacitor

June 16, 2015

hemp fiber

As hemp makes a comeback in the U.S. after a decades-long ban on its cultivation, scientists are reporting that fibers from the plant can pack as much energy and power as graphene, long-touted as the model material for supercapacitors, according to David Mitlin, Ph.D.

Supercapacitors are energy storage devices that have huge potential to transform the way future electronics are powered. Unlike today’s rechargeable batteries, which sip up energy… read more

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