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A biocompatible shape-changing material controlled by patterns and heat

Can be used as cell-culture substrates or implantable materials that contract and expand
December 12, 2013

A two-layer material designed to morph into a specific shape when heated to a specific temperature range.

The materials created by Rice University polymer scientist Rafael Verduzco and his colleagues start as flat slabs, but morph magically into shapes that can be controlled by patterns that were formed into their layers.

Materials that can change their shape based on environmental conditions are useful for optics, three-dimensional biological scaffolds, and controlled encapsulation and release of drugs, among other applications, according to the researchers.… read more

A Biofuel Process to Replace All Fossil Fuels

July 27, 2009

A process that could make 20,000 gallons of biofuel per acre per year, replacing all fossil fuels used for transportation, has been developed by Joule Biotechnologies.

Joule Biotechnologies grows genetically engineered microorganisms in specially designed photobioreactors. The microorganisms use energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide and water into ethanol or hydrocarbon fuels.

A biology-friendly robot programming language

October 25, 2012

PaR-PaR-robot1

For researchers in the biological sciences, however, the future training of robots has been made much easier thanks to a new program called “PaR-PaR” (Programming a Robot).

Nathan Hillson, a biochemist at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), led the development of PaR-PaR, a simple high-level, biology-friendly, robot-programming language that allows researchers to make better use of liquid-handling robots… read more

A biomimetic artificial leg with a natural gait

October 16, 2013

(Credit: Michigan Technological University)

Researchers at Michigan Technological University and a Mayo Clinic scientist are working on a microprocessor-controlled ankle-foot prosthesis that comes close to achieving the innate range of motion of this highly complex joint.

It has pressure-sensitive sensors on the bottom of the foot that detect how an amputee is walking. The sensors instantaneously send signals to a microprocessor, which in turn adjusts the prosthesis to make walking more… read more

A Bionic Eye Comes to Market

March 8, 2011

Argus II.  Photo: Second Sight

Second Sight’s Argus II, the first retinal prosthesis has received European approval for clinical and commercial use, with FDA approval expected in 2012.

The $115,000 device uses a camera mounted on a pair of glasses to capture images, and corresponding signals are fed wirelessly to a chip implanted near the retina. These signals are sent to an array of implanted electrodes that stimulate retinal cells, producing light in the patient’s field of… read more

A Bitcoin backlash?

October 15, 2013

bitcoin

Governments and established financial institutions are likely to launch a campaign to quash the decentralized digital currency Bitcoin, according to a leading economist and academic. Simon Johnson, a professor of entrepreneurship at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, expects Bitcoin to face political pressure and aggressive lobbying from big banks because of its disruptive nature, MIT Technology Review reports.

The code that supports and… read more

A Black Box for People

April 8, 2004

Stanford University and NASA/Ames scientists have developed the CPOD, which typically keeps track of the wearer’s heart performance, blood pressure, respiration, temperature, blood oxygen levels, and movements.

The device can store data for eight-hour periods for later downloading or send it wirelessly in real time.

While developed for astronauts, it also has possible terrestrial uses. EMT’s at an accident scene could quickly gain information about a victim’s condition.… read more

A blood test offers clues to longevity

May 19, 2011

New blood tests that can gauge the length of telomeres in the human body are now going on sale, marketed by some laboratories as revealing the subject’s biological age.

Experts disagree on the relevance of telomere length as an indicator of biological age.

Some of the labs offering the test call it more of a warning flag than an indicator of the biological age. Certain telomere experts, such… read more

A blueprint for how to build a human brain

April 3, 2014

Image of the human fetal brain, reference atlas, color-coded by structure (credit: Allen Institute)

Researchers at the Allen Institute for Brain Science have generated a blueprint for how to build a human brain at unprecedented anatomical resolution.

This first major report using data from the  the BrainSpan Atlas of the Developing Human Brain is published in the journal Nature this week. The data provide insight into diseases like autism that are linked to early brain development, and to the origins of human… read more

A Blueprint For ‘Smart’ Health Care

August 2, 2007

New technology from the University of Florida and IBM creates the first-ever roadmap for widespread commercial development of “smart” devices that, for example, take a person’s blood pressure, temperature or respiration rate the minute a person steps into his or her house — then transmit it immediately and automatically to doctors or family.

A Blueprint to Regenerate Limbs

August 19, 2008

To find clues to the salamander’s remarkable ability to regrow damaged limbs and organs, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have sequenced the genes most highly expressed during limb-bud formation and growth.

They found that at least 10,000 genes were transcribed during regeneration, with a few thousand that don’t resemble known genes. They plan to make a gene chip designed to detect levels of some of these… read more

A Book With 90,000 Authors

July 21, 2008

German publisher Bertelsmann plans to publish a book with the most credited individual authors ever–approximately 90,000: “The One-Volume Wikipedia Encyclopedia,” containing the 25,000 most popular articles on German Wikipedia.

A boost for quantum reality

May 9, 2012

joint_measurement_n_qubits

In a controversial paper in Nature Physics, theorists claim they can prove that wavefunctions — the entity that determines the probability of different outcomes of measurements on quantum-mechanical particles — are real states.

The paper is thought by some to be one of the most important in quantum foundations in decades. The authors say that the mathematics leaves no doubt that the wavefunction is not just a statistical tool, but rather, a… read more

A Bot That Knows Where It’s Going

May 24, 2002

Evolution Robotics’ new ER1 mobile robot can learn on the fly, enabling it to roam around new environments entirely on its own.

Following simple commands, it can recognize an ever-changing environment by processing 30 still-frame photos a minute looking for a picture that matches its memory. It comes with a digital camera and speech recognition, and voice response systems.

A brain area unique to humans is linked to strategic planning/decision making/multitasking

January 30, 2014

human brain region

Oxford University researchers have identified a specific area of the human brain that appears to be unlike anything in the brains of some of our closest relatives.

MRI imaging of 25 adult volunteers was used to identify key components in the area of the human brain called the ventrolateral frontal cortex, and how these components were connected up with other brain areas. The results were then compared with equivalent… read more

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