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Bioethics Commission releases volume one response to the BRAIN Initiative

May 21, 2014

(Credit: Bioethics Commission)

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) has released volume one of its two-part response to President Obama’s request related to the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, entitled Gray Matters: Integrative Approaches for Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society.

“Neuroscience has begun to make important breakthroughs, but given the complexity of the brain, we must better understand it in order to make desired… read more

The biomechanics behind amazing ant strength

Could help design better exoskeletons for humans and robot joints
May 21, 2014

(Credit: OSC)

How can an ant lift objects many times heavier than its own body? Engineers at The Ohio State University combined computational modeling at the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) and lab experiments to find out.

They focused on the ant’s neck — the single joint of soft tissue that bridges the stiff exoskeleton of the ant’s head and thorax. When an ant carries food or any other object,… read more

World’s smallest, fastest nanomotor

They could one day move through the body at high speed to deliver drugs to target cells
May 21, 2014

Nanomotor drug delivery. After coating the nanomotor with biochemicals, the researchers were able to control the speed and rate of drug delivery to a cell in the lab. (Credit: Cockrell School of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin)

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have built the “smallest, fastest, and longest-running” nanomotor  to date — an important step toward developing miniature machines that could one day move through the body to deliver drugs such as insulin for diabetics when needed, or target and treat cancer cells without harming good cells, the scientists say.

Led by Cockrell School of Engineering mechanical engineering assistant… read more

Glasses-free 3D projector

New design could also make conventional 2D video higher in resolution and contrast
May 20, 2014

llustration of concept. A light field projector, build using readily-available optics and electronics, emits a 4D light field onto a screen that expands the field of view so that observers on the other side of the screen can enjoy glasses-free 3D entertainment. No mechanically moving parts are used in either the projector or the screen. Additionally, the screen is completely passive, potentially allowing for the system to be scaled to significantly larger dimensions. (Credit: MIT Media Lab, Camera Culture Group)

Over the past three years, researchers in the Camera Culture group at the MIT Media Lab have steadily refined a design for a glasses-free, multiperspective, 3D video screen, which they hope could provide a cheaper, more practical alternative to holographic video in the short term.

Now they’ve designed a projector that exploits this technology, which they’ll unveil at this year’s… read more

A new way to beam power to medical chips deep inside the body

Wireless system uses the same power as a cell phone to safely transmit energy to chips, paving the way for new "electroceutical" devices to treat illness or alleviate pain
May 20, 2014

A batteryless electrostimulator next to grains of rice (credit: Austin Yee)

A Stanford electrical engineer has invented a way to wirelessly transfer power deep inside the body, and use this power to run tiny electronic medical gadgets such as pacemakers, nerve stimulators, or new sensors and devices yet to be developed.

The discoveries reported Monday May 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) culminate years of efforts by Ada Poon, an assistant professor of electrical engineering,… read more

Scientists discover how to turn light into matter after 80-year quest

May 20, 2014

30757_Hohlraum_cut_away_with_capsule

Imperial College London physicists have discovered how to create matter from light — a feat thought impossible when the idea was first theorized by scientists G. Breit and J. Wheeler in 1934.

Breit and Wheeler suggested that it should be possible to turn light into matter by smashing together only two particles of light (photons), to create an electron and a positron — the simplest method of… read more

An ultra-sensitive chip for early cancer detection

May 19, 2014

icfo-labonachip-2

An international team of researchers, led by ICFO – Institute of Photonic Sciences in Castelldefels, has developed a “lab-on-a-chip” platform capable of detecting very low concentrations of protein cancer markers in the blood, using the latest advances in plasmonics, nano-fabrication, microfluids and surface chemistry.

Currently, most cancers are detected when the tumor is already composed of millions of cancer cells and the disease is starting to advance… read more

How to create high-speed 3D movies of entire worm brains

May 19, 2014

NewsImage_BrainImaging

Researchers at MIT and the University of Vienna have created an imaging system that can generate 3-D movies of entire brains at the millisecond timescale.

It could help scientists discover how neuronal networks process sensory information and generate behavior.

The team used the new system to simultaneously image the activity of every neuron in the worm Caenorhabditis elegans, as well as the entire brain of a… read more

Nanowire-bridging transistors open way to next-generation electronics

May 19, 2014

EM_nanobridge_channel

Taking the next step beyond silicon integrated circuits, engineers at the University of California, Davis have developed a new approach that allows nonsilicon nanowires and other nanostructures to be combined with silicon surfaces.

It shows promise for a new generation of fast, robust electronic and photonic devices.

Bypassing silicon’s limits

Circuits built on conventionally etched silicon have reached their lower size limit, which restricts operation… read more

Mice with MS-like condition walk again after neural stem-cell treatment

May 19, 2014

neural stem cells

When scientists transplanted human neural stem cells into mice with multiple sclerosis (MS), within a remarkably short period of time, 10 to 14 days, the mice had regained motor skills.

Six months later, they showed no signs of slowing down.

Results from the study demonstrate that the mice experience at least a partial reversal of symptoms. Immune attacks are blunted, and the damaged myelin is repaired, explaining their… read more

Bioprinted 3D liver-mimicking device detoxifies blood

May 16, 2014

ucsd-bioprinted-liver

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a 3D-printed device inspired by the liver to remove dangerous toxins from the blood.

The device, which is designed to be used outside the body — much like dialysis — uses nanoparticles to trap pore-forming toxins that can damage cellular membranes and are a key factor in illnesses that result from animal bites and stings, and bacterial… read more

IBM Research discovers new class of industrial polymers with exceptional properties

Combine resistance to cracking, strength higher than bone, ability to reform to their original shape (self-heal) and material; could transform manufacturing and fabrication
May 16, 2014

New Ultra-Strong Polymer Reinforced with Carbon Nanotubes

IBM Research scientists have discovered a new class of polymer materials that demonstrate resistance to cracking, strength higher than bone, and the ability to reform to their original shape (self-heal) and original material.

These materials can also be transformed into new polymer structures to further bolster their strength by 50%, making them ultra-strong and lightweight, and could result in cheaper, lighter, stronger and recyclable materials.… read more

Complex interactions may matter most for longevity, not single factors

May 16, 2014

Rand1_0

A new study of the biology of aging by Brown University biologists shows that complex interactions among diet, mitochondrial DNA, and nuclear DNA appear to influence lifespan at least as much as single factors alone. The findings may help scientists better understand the underlying mechanisms of aging and explain why studies of single factors sometimes produce contradictory results.

“I think the main lesson is that these interaction… read more

Synchronized oscillators may allow for computing that works like the brain

May 15, 2014

oscillating_switch

Computing is currently based on binary (Boolean) logic, but a new type of computing architecture created by electrical engineers at Penn State stores information in the frequencies and phases of periodic signals and could work more like the human brain.

It would use a fraction of the energy necessary for today’s computers, according to the engineers.

To achieve the new architecture, they used a thin film… read more

Microchip-like technology allows single-cell analysis

May 15, 2014

A 3-by-3 grid of compartments, analogous to an integrated circuit (credit: Byeonghwa Lim et al./Nature Communications)

Using components similar those that control electrons in microchips, researchers at Duke University and Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) in the Republic of Korea have designed a new device that can sort, store, and retrieve individual cells for study.

Similar to a random-access memory (RAM) chip, the device moves cells (rather than electrons) and could be scaled up to sort and store hundreds of… read more

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