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Scientists create single-atom bit, smallest memory in the world

November 17, 2013

The scanning tunneling microscope makes single holmium atoms on a platinum surface visible. (Photo: KIT/T. Miyamachi)

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) researchers have taken a big step towards miniaturizing magnetic data memory down to a single-atom bit: they fixed a single atom on a surface so the magnetic spin remained stable for ten minutes.

“A single atom fixed to a substrate is [typically] so sensitive that its magnetic orientation is stable only for less than a microsecond,” said Wulf Wulfhekel of KIT.

A… read more

Better batteries through biology

Could provide two to three times greater energy density --- the amount of energy that can be stored for a given weight --- than today’s best lithium-ion batteries
November 15, 2013

(credit:

MIT researchers have found that adding genetically modified viruses to the production of nanowires, which can serve as one of a battery’s electrodes, could help solve some of the problems in creating lithium-air batteries.

These batteries hold the promise of drastically increasing power per battery weight, which could lead, for example, to electric cars with a much greater driving range. But bringing that promise to reality has… read more

First 3D-printed model of a neuron

November 15, 2013

The Yale Center for Engineering Innovation and Design has produced a model of a lone neuron (pictured) using its 3D printers. “We see a future in which 3D models of nerve cells will be an integral part of doing research and of teaching neurobiology,” said Gordon Shepherd, professor of neurobiology at the Yale School of Medicine.

Yale neuroscientist Gordon Shepherd has created the first 3D-printed neuron with help from the Yale Center for Engineering Innovation and Design (CEID).

“Brain microcircuits have a very complicated 3D architecture,” said Shepherd, a professor of neurobiology at the Yale School of Medicine and author of The Synaptic Organization of the Brain, a classic in the literature of neurobiology.

“The model will give us… read more

How a choice of social learning networks can make us smarter

November 15, 2013

Experiment 1 - GIMP

The secret to why some cultures thrive and others disappear may lie in our social networks* and our ability to imitate, rather than our individual smarts, according to a new University of British Columbia study.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy: Biological Sciences (open access)shows that when people can observe and learn from a wider range of teachers, groups can better maintain technical skills… read more

Does your brain see things you don’t?

Doctoral student shakes up 100 years of untested psychological theory
November 15, 2013

Sanguinetti showed study participants images of what appeared to be an abstract black object. Sometimes, however, there were real-world objects hidden at the borders of the black silhouette. In this image, the outlines of two seahorses can be seen in the white spaces surrounding the black object. (Image courtesy of Jay Sanguinetti)

A new study indicates that our brains perceive objects in everyday life that we may not be consciously aware of.

The finding by University of Arizona doctoral student Jay Sanguinetti challenges currently accepted models, in place for a century, about how the brain processes visual information.

Sanguinetti showed study participants a series of black silhouettes, some of which contained meaningful, real-world objects hidden in the… read more

IBM to take Watson to the cloud, opens to app developers

November 14, 2013

A hypothetical Watson medical app (credit: IBM)

IBM announced today that it will make its IBM Watson technology available to developers in the cloud so they can build apps using Watson.

IBM will be launching the IBM Watson Developers Cloud, a cloud-hosted marketplace for resources including a developer toolkit, educational materials, and access to Watson’s application programming interface (API).

Resources for developers

App providers can use their own company’s data, or access the IBM Watson Contentread more

A simplified graphical approach to machine learning

November 14, 2013

graph_theory

An algorithm that extends an artificial-intelligence technique to new tasks could aid in analysis of flight delays and social networks.

Much artificial-intelligence research is concerned with finding statistical correlations between variables: What combinations of visible features indicate the presence of a particular object in a digital image? What speech sounds correspond with instances of what words? What medical, genetic, and environmental factors are correlated with what diseases?

As… read more

‘Something very big is coming: our most important technology project yet,’ hints Stephen Wolfram

November 14, 2013

something-big-coming

In a blog post Wednesday, Stephen Wolfram said that “recently something amazing has happened” that is “profoundly important in the technological world, and beyond.”

He said he and his team have figured out how to take all the things they have been working on in the context of Wolfram|Alpha, Mathematica, CDF and so on — computational knowledge, symbolic programming,… read more

First images and spectra of individual carbon nanotubes in a general environment

November 14, 2013

nanotube

A technique for imaging individual carbon nanotubes and for characterizing their electronic and optical properties has been developed by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley.

The physical structure and electronic properties of each individual species of single-walled carbon nanotubes are governed by chirality, meaning their structure has a distinct left/right orientation or “handedness.”

So achieving chirality-controlled growth… read more

Controlling devices with a beam of light

Could make possible light-activated microrobotic and biomedical devices --- batteries not required
November 14, 2013

Arch-shaped samples were created using a azobenzene-functionalized polymer that deform when irradiated with light (blue). The design of the device triggers an elastic instability when it reaches a certain configuration when irradiated and “snaps” to deliver a large power at millisecond time-scales of actuation. (Credit: M. Ravi Shankar et al./University of Pittsburgh)

University of Pittsburgh and Air Force Research Laboratory researchers are investigating polymers that “snap” when triggered by light, thereby converting light energy into mechanical work and potentially eliminating the need for traditional machine components such as switches and power sources.

“Learning from ideas observed in the natural world, we created mechanical designs that generate ultrafast actuation when triggered with light,” M. Ravi Shankar, lead author of the… read more

IBM to announce low-cost, more-powerful cloud-based Watson

November 14, 2013

IBM Watson computer

On Thursday, IBM will announce that Watson will be available to companies, academics and individual software developers as a cloud product that is “more than twice as powerful via the Internet … and at a small fraction of the previous cost,” The New York Times revealed Wednesday.

In October,  IBM announced that “organizations gaining competitive advantage through high cloud adoption are reporting almost double the revenue… read more

Enhanced carbon nanotubes detect molecules at trace amounts

November 13, 2013

A jungle of coated nanotubes.

Scientists have come up with yet another innovative use of nanotubes: to detect molecules at extremely low concentrations, making it possible to detect trace amounts of toxic biological warfare agents, explosives, and drugs.

The joint research team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich is using three innovative techniques to achieve this:

1. Surface-enhanced Ramanread more

Signal found to enhance survival of new brain cells

Implications for treating neurodegenerative disease, mental illness
November 13, 2013

An illustration of parvalbumin-expressing interneurons delivering lifesaving chemical messengers to newborn neurons via tentacle-like synapses.<br />
Credit: Mingxi Max Song and Gerald Sun

A specialized type of brain cell, parvalbumin-expressing interneuron,  suppresses stem cell activity by  instructing nearby stem cells not to divide, by releasing a chemical signal called GABA. Paradoxically, in the process, it actually encourages the survival of the stem cells’ progeny, Johns Hopkins researchers report.

Understanding how these brain cells “decide” whether to live or die and how to behave is of special interest because changes in… read more

Brain-machine interface allows precise control of coma and general anesthesia or sedation

November 13, 2013

The BMI system records the EEG, segments the EEG into a binary time-series by filtering and thresholding, estimates the BSP or equivalently the effect-site concentration level based on the binary-time series, and then uses this estimate as feedback to control the drug infusion rate.

Researchers have developed a brain-machine interface (BMI) that monitors a patient’s brain activity and adjusts the anesthetic infusion rate to precisely control the level of brain activation in a medically induced coma or for general anesthesia, according to a study published online Oct. 31 in the journal PLoS Computational Biology (open access).

The team includes lead author Maryam Shanechi, a visiting professor and an incoming assistant professor in… read more

Motorola Mobility/Google files patent application for electronic ‘throat tattoo’

November 13, 2013

131112095149-google-neck-tattoo-story-top

Motorola Mobility, owned by Google, has filed a patent application (US20130297301), published last week, for a system “that comprises an electronic skin tattoo* capable of being applied to a throat region of a body.”

The patent application reads:
The electronic skin tattoo can include an embedded microphone; a transceiver for enabling wireless communication with the MCD (mobile communication device); and a power supply configured to receive energizing… read more

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