science + technology news

Whole-genome sequences of 17 of the world’s oldest living people published

Researchers unable to find genes significantly associated with extreme longevity
November 13, 2014

Misao Okawa, the world's oldest living person

Using 17 genomes, researchers were unable to find rare protein-altering variants significantly associated with extreme longevity, according to a study published November 12, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Hinco Gierman from Stanford University and colleagues.

Supercentenarians are the world’s oldest people, living beyond 110 years of age. Seventy-four are alive worldwide; 22 live in the U.S. The authors of this study performed whole-genome sequencing on 17 supercentenarians to… read more

How to store solar energy more cost-effectively for use at night

November 7, 2014

Graphic shows how electrolysis could produce hydrogen as a way to store renewable energy. During the day, solar panels supply surplus electricity for electrolysis, producing hydrogen. At night, hydrogen would be combined with oxygen from the air to generate electricity. (Credit: Jakob Kibsgaard)

There’s currently no cost-effective, large-scale way to store solar energy, but Stanford researchers have developed a solution: using electrolysis to turn tanks of water and hydrogen into batteries. During the day, electricity from solar cells could be used to break apart water into hydrogen and oxygen. Recombining these gases would generate electricity for use at night.

There’s one major problem. Electrolysis uses electricity to crack the chemical bonds that… read more

New world-record efficiency for thin-film silicon solar cells

February 14, 2013

Record efficiency with less than 2 micrometers of silicium (credit: PVLab/EPFL)

EPFL’s Institute of Microengineering has reached a remarkable 10.7% efficiency for a single-junction microcrystalline silicon solar cell, surpassing the previous world record of 10.1% held by the Japanese company Kaneka Corporation since 1998.

The efficiency increase was also achieved with with only 1.8 microns of photovoltaic active material — 100 times less material than with standard wafer-based crystalline silicon PV technology.

The new thin-film… read more

Are you elderly and having memory or concentration problems?

November 7, 2012

800px-Medicine_Drugs.svg

They might be caused by common medications used to treat insomnia, anxiety, itching or allergies, according to Dr. Cara Tannenbaum, Research Chair at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM, Montreal Geriatric University Institute) and Associate Professor of Medicine and Pharmacy at the University of Montreal (UdeM).

Up to 90 percent of people over the age of 65 take at least one prescription medication. Eighteen… read more

Limb regeneration: do salamanders hold the key?

June 24, 2014

Salamander (credit: UCL)

The secret of how salamanders successfully regrow body parts is being unravelled by University College London (UCL) researchers in a bid to apply it to humans.

For the first time, researchers have found that the “ERK pathway” must be constantly active for salamander cells to be reprogrammed, and hence able to contribute to the regeneration of different body parts.

The team identified a key… read more

Migrant workers in China face competition from robots

July 20, 2012

400px-Seagate_Wuxi_China_Factory_Tour

The International Federation of Robotics tracked a 50 percent jump in purchases of advanced industrial robots by Chinese manufacturers in 2011, to 22,600 units, and now predicts that China will surpass Japan as the world’s largest market in two years, Technology Review reports.

Foxconn, said last July that the Taiwan-based manufacturing giant would add up to one million industrial robots to its assembly lines inside of three years.

The… read more

Apple’s first AI paper focuses on creating ‘superrealistic’ image recognition

December 28, 2016

Simulated+Unsupervised learning ft

Apple’s first paper on artificial intelligence, published Dec. 22 on arXiv (open access), describes a method for improving the ability of a deep neural network to recognize images.

To train neural networks to recognize images, AI researchers have typically labeled (identified or described) each image in a dataset. For example, last year, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers developed a deep-learning method to recognize images taken at regular… read more

Moore’s Law threatened by lithography woes

October 9, 2012

707px-Extreme_ultraviolet_lithography_tool

Moore’s Law is losing steam due to delayed introduction of next-generation extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV), said experts at the 2012 International Symposium on Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography, EE Times reports.

EUV systems need light sources that are nearly 20 times more powerful than the ones used today to lay down patterns on next-generation chips that target sizes as small as 14 nm. Lithography experts said that… read more

Autonomous taxis could be cheaper and improve the environment, says Berkeley Lab study

July 6, 2015

Self-driving car concept (credit: Google)

It’s the year 2030. A fleet of driverless taxis roams throughout your city, ready to pick you up and take you to your destination at a moment’s notice. As a result, greenhouse gases are now 63 to 82 percent lower than with a privately owned hybrid car and 90 percent lower than a 2014 gasoline-powered private vehicle. …

Those numbers are from a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory… read more

This Is how Dennis Tito plans to send people to Mars

February 28, 2013

Mars-Capsule_220213.m

If Dennis Tito has his way, two people will leave our planet in January 2018 and make a trip to Mars and back, with a quick flyby, SpaceRef reports.

The project is being spearheaded by a non-profit organization, the Inspiration Mars Foundation.

Tito’s mission will be facilitated by donors, not investors.

Tito and a group of coauthors from NASA and several aerospace companies… read more

Memory capacity of brain is 10 times more than previously thought

The brain’s memory capacity is in the petabyte range, as much as the entire Web, data from the Salk Institute show; may lead to more energy-efficient computers
January 20, 2016

Salk scientists computationally reconstructed brain tissue in the hippocampus to study the sizes of connections (synapses). The larger the synapse, the more likely the neuron will send a signal to a neighboring neuron. The team found that there are actually 26 discrete sizes that can change over a span of a few minutes, meaning that the brain has a far great capacity at storing information than previously thought. Pictured here is a synapse between an axon (green) and dendrite (yellow). (credit: Salk Institute)

Salk researchers and collaborators have achieved critical insight into the size of neural connections, putting the memory capacity of the brain far higher than common estimates. The new work also answers a longstanding question as to how the brain is so energy efficient, and could help engineers build computers that are incredibly powerful but also conserve energy.

“This is a real bombshell in the field of neuroscience,” says … read more

The man behind the Google brain: Andrew Ng and the quest for the new AI

May 9, 2013

Artificial.intelligence

There’s a theory that human intelligence stems from a single algorithm.

The idea arises from experiments suggesting that the portion of your brain dedicated to processing sound from your ears could also handle sight for your eyes. This is possible only while your brain is in the earliest stages of development, but it implies that the brain is — at its core — a general-purpose machine that can be tuned… read more

Mayo Clinic researchers extend lifespan by up to 35 percent in mice

February 3, 2016

Aged mice with and without senescent cell clearance (credit: Mayo Clinic)

Researchers at Mayo Clinic have discovered that senescent cells — cells that no longer divide and accumulate with age — shorten lifespan by as much as 35 percent in normal mice.

Removing these aging cells delays tumor formation, preserves tissue and organ function, and extends lifespan without observed adverse effects, the researchers found, writing Feb. 3 in Nature.

“Cellular senescence is a biological mechanism that functions as… read more

A better brain implant: listening to single neurons

November 12, 2012

SEM image of a fully assembled, functional microthread electrode (credit: Takashi Kozai)

A thin, flexible electrode developed at the University of Michigan is 10 times smaller than the nearest competition and could make long-term measurements of neural activity practical.

This kind of technology could also be used eventually to send brain-computer-interface (BCI) signals to prosthetic limbs, overcoming inflammation caused by larger electrodes, resulting in damage to both the brain and the electrodes.

Existing electrodes are stiff and enormous… read more

Pupil dilation reveals sexual orientation in new Cornell study

August 7, 2012

Blue Eye Macro

There is a popular belief that sexual orientation can be revealed by one’s pupil dilation when viewing attractive people, but there has been no scientific evidence.

Now Cornell University researchers have confirmed it in an experiment, using a specialized infrared lens to measure pupillary changes in participants watching erotic videos.

Pupils widened most to videos of people who participants found attractive, thereby revealing where they were on… read more

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