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Hubble sees cloudy ‘super-Earth’ 40 light-years away

January 2, 2014

GJ1214b

Two teams of scientists using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope report they have characterized the atmospheres of a pair of planets with masses intermediate between gas giants, like Jupiter, and smaller, rockier planets, like Earth.

A survey by NASA’s Kepler space telescope mission previously showed that objects in this size range are among the most common type of planets in our Milky Way galaxy. The researchers described their… read more

Vapor nanobubbles rapidly detect malaria through the skin

One portable device able to screen up to 200,000 people per year, operated by non-medical personnel
January 2, 2014

nanobubble_malaria

Rice University researchers have developed a noninvasive technology that accurately detects even a single malaria-infected cell among a million normal cells through the skin in seconds with a laser scanner.

The “vapor nanobubble” technology requires no dyes or diagnostic chemicals, there is no need to draw blood, and there are zero false-positive readings.

The diagnosis and screening will be supported by a low-cost, battery-powered portable device that… read more

Vitamin E may delay decline in mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s Disease, study finds

January 1, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

New research published online first in the Jan. 1 Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that alpha tocepherol (fat-soluble Vitamin E and antioxidant), may slow functional decline — problems with daily activities such as shopping, preparing meals, planning, and traveling — in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease and decrease caregiver burden.

Vitamin E did not show delay of cognitive or memory deterioration in the research.

“Since the cholinesterase… read more

A step toward simulating a worm brain in a computer

December 31, 2013

(Credit: OpenWorm Project)

The OpenWorm Project — an open-source project dedicated to creating a virtual C. elegans nematode in a computer by reverse-engineering its biology—  has now developed software that replicates the worm’s muscle movement.

You can explore that with the OpenWorm browser, or the iOS OpenWorm 3D Browser app.

The ultimate scientific goal of OpenWorm: understanding how the worm brain works via a full  digital… read more

Tech predictions for businesses in 2014: mobility, wearables, intelligent assistants, gestural computing, facial recognition

December 31, 2013

Ready for facial recognition in stores? (Credit: Warner Brothers)

J. P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research serving Infrastructure & Operations Professionals offers these predictions for 2014 for businesses:

  • Mobility: Customers will actively shun businesses that lack mobile applications to enrich their experiences.
  • Wearables: will come to the enterprise, often in customer-facing situations. Google Glass could be the next big App Platform.
  • Intelligent assistants:  Intelligent agents like Siri and

read more

World’s first green piglets born in China, sheep next

December 30, 2013

glowing_piglets

In Guangdong Province in Southern China, ten transgenic piglets have been born this year, in  and under a black light, they glow a greenish tint.

A technique developed by reproductive scientists from the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine was used to quadruple the success rate at which plasmids carrying a fluorescent protein from jellyfish DNA were transferred into the… read more

First human implant of world’s smallest, minimally invasive cardiac pacemaker

December 30, 2013

Micra Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS), world's smallest heart pacemaker (credit: Medronic)

Medtronic, Inc. has announced the first-in-human implant of the world’s smallest pacemaker: the Micra Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS).

The device was implanted in a patient in Linz, Austria as part of the Medtronic global pivotal clinical trial. The Micra TPS is an investigational device worldwide.

At one-tenth the size of a conventional pacemaker, and comparable in size to a large vitamin, the Micra TPS is delivered… read more

RIKEN to develop exascale supercomputer by 2020

December 30, 2013

Tianhe-2-supercomputer

RIKEN has announced plans to develop a new exascale supercomputer, meaning it will compute at least one quintillion (a million trillion) floating point operations per second — 30 times faster than the current fastest supercomputer, China’s Tianhe-2.

The new supercomputer is scheduled to begin working in 2020.

Funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, it is expected to “keep Japan… read more

The best neuroscience images of 2013

December 27, 2013

Brainbow - featured

The brain bank science blog (by a group of Manchester, UK-based scientists) has posted 12 images from 2013 that are as much fantastic works of art as neuroscience. Shown here: “Brainbow,” a transgenic system designed to label different types of brain cells in a festive panoply of colors.

More

Reflected hidden faces in photographs revealed in pupil

What do your Instagram and Facebook photos reveal?
December 27, 2013

corneal reflections - featured

The pupil* of the eye in a photograph of a face can be mined for hidden information, such as reflected faces of the photographer and bystanders, according to research led by Dr. Rob Jenkins, of the Department of Psychology at the University of York and published in PLOS ONE (open access).

The researchers say that in crimes in which the victims are photographed, such as hostage… read more

New data-compression method reduces big-data bottleneck

Outperforms and enhances JPEG, handles both analog and digital signals
December 26, 2013

warped_clocks_for_Mchin_release

A new “warping” data compression method that outperforms existing techniques has been developed byUCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science researchers, based on the graphic art technique of anamorphism.

The JALALI-LAB group, led by Bahram Jalali, holder of the Northrop Grumman Opto-Electronic Chair in Electrical Engineering, discovered that it is possible to achieve data compression by stretching and warping the data using a… read more

Graphene + magnetic field creates exotic new quantum electronic states

Could make graphene suitable for quantum computing for high-priority computational tasks
December 26, 2013

mit_graphene_magfield

MIT research has found additional potential for graphene that could make it suitable for exotic uses such as quantum computing.

Under an extremely powerful magnetic field and at extremely low temperature, the researchers found, graphene can effectively filter electrons according to the direction of their spin, something that cannot be done by any conventional electronic system.

The trick:

  • Turn on a powerful magnetic field

read more

Liquid crystal ‘flowers’ that can be used as lenses

December 24, 2013

bright field liquid crystal flower

A team of material scientists, chemical engineers and physicists from the University of Pennsylvania has made another advance in their effort to use liquid crystals as a medium for assembling structures.

In their earlier studies, the team produced patterns of “defects,” useful disruptions in the repeating patterns found in liquid crystals, in nanoscale grids and rings. The new study adds a more complex pattern out of an even simpler… read more

DNA motor ‘walks’ along nanotube, transports nanoparticle cargo

December 24, 2013

Molecular model of a nanoparticle-functionalized, DNAzyme-based motor on an RNA-decorated nanotube track. The DNAzyme motor consists of a catalytic core (green) and recognition arms (red). Cadmium sulfide nanocrystals (yellow) and carbon nanotubes (black) are used as a model system for the cargo and a one-dimensional track.

Researchers have created a new type of molecular motor made of DNA and demonstrated its potential by using it to transport a nanoparticle along the length of a carbon nanotube.

The design was inspired by natural biological motors that have evolved to perform specific tasks critical to the function of cells, said Jong Hyun Choi, a Purdue University assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

Controllableread more

The brain’s visual data-compression algorithm

December 24, 2013

jancke_cerebral_cortex__c__jancke

Researchers have assumed that visual information in the brain was transmitted almost in its entirety from its entry point, the primary visual cortex (V1).

“We intuitively assume that our visual system generates a continuous stream of images, just like a video camera,” said Dr. Dirk Jancke from the Institute for Neural Computation at Ruhr University.

“However, we have now demonstrated that the visual cortex suppresses… read more

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