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Detecting and zapping Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s with lasers

November 20, 2013

chalmers_laser_brain

It is possible to distinguish aggregations of the proteins believed to cause Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob (“mad cow”) diseases from normal proteins by using a multiphoton laser technique, researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden the Polish Wroclaw University of Technology have discovered.

Today, amyloid protein aggregates are treated with highly toxic chemicals for detection and removal.

With a multiphoton laser, the chemical treatment would be unnecessary,… read more

Biomaterial-delivered chemotherapy could effectively treat brain tumors

November 20, 2013

Polymer structure

A polymer originally designed to help mend broken bones could be successful in delivering chemotherapy drugs directly to the brains of patients suffering from glioblastoma brain tumors, researchers at The University of Nottingham have discovered.

Their study, published in the journal  PLOS ONE (open access), shows that the biomaterial can be easily applied to the cavity created following brain cancer surgery and used to release chemotherapy drugs over several… read more

Printing computer displays and solar cells

November 20, 2013

oleds_fraunhofer

Printable curved computer displays, TV screens, signs, clothing, fluorescent wallpaper, and flexible solar cells will soon be possible using a new printing process for flexible, organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs, say German scientists.

“Almost any surface can be made into a display,” said Dr. Armin Wedel, head of division at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP.

The first curved OLED screens were demonstrated at… read more

Nanomagnets may replace silicon-based transistors in computers, say UC Berkeley researchers

November 20, 2013

As the current passes through a strip of tantalum, electrons with opposite spins separate. This helps in orienting the nanomagnets  on the top of the tantalum strip such that they can be switched easily, which is also called "clocking". Thus information propagates from the input magnet along a chain of magnets and thus we perform nanomagnetic logic.

New work by University of California Berkeley researchers could one day make nanomagnetic switches a viable replacement for the conventional power-consuming transistors found in all computers.

“Increased energy consumption of modern day computers is a major challenge that the computer industry faces,” researcher Debanjan Bhowmik explained to KurzweilAI. Bhowmik is a UC Berkeley graduate student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and the first author of a paper on this… read more

Quantum world record smashed

Qubits survive at room temperature for a world-record 39 minutes
November 19, 2013

A normally fragile quantum state has been shown to survive at room temperature for a world record 39 minutes by Oxford University researchers. An artistic rendition of a 'bound exciton' quantum state used to prepare and read out information stored in the form of quantum bits.<br />
(Credit: © 2013 Stef Simmons with CC BY)

A normally fragile quantum state has been shown to survive at room temperature for a world record 39 minutes, overcoming a key barrier towards building ultrafast quantum computers, the researchers say.

An international team including Stephanie Simmons of Oxford University‘s Department of Materials report in this week’s Science a test performed by Mike Thewalt of Simon Fraser University, Canada and colleagues.

Qubits survive at 25 °C for 39 minutesread more

Bacteria incorporate pieces of old DNA in their own genome, scientists discover

What DNA fragments --- some thousands of years old --- from biological waste and wastewater have hospital bacteria incorporated?
November 19, 2013

bacteria_take_dna

From a bacteria’s perspective, the environment is one big DNA waste yard. Now researchers from Denmark and Norway have shown that bacteria can take up small as well as large pieces of old DNA from this scrapheap and include it in their own genome.

This discovery may have major consequences both in connection with resistance to antibiotics in hospitals and in our perception of the evolution of life itself.… read more

First ‘mini-kidney’ structures from human stem cells generated by Salk scientists

Findings may lead to much-needed therapies for kidney disease
November 19, 2013

For the first time, Salk scientists have grown human stem cells into early-stage ureteric buds, kidney structures responsible for reabsorbing water after toxins have been filtered out. In the laboratory, they used mouse embryonic kidney cells (seen here in red) to coax the human stem cells to grow into the nascent mushroom-shaped buds (blue and green). Their discovery is a major step in developing regenerative techniques for growing replacement human kidneys.<br />
Image: Courtesy of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies

A team of researchers led by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has generated three-dimensional kidney structures from human stem cells for the first time, opening new avenues for studying development and diseases of the kidneys and discovery of new drugs that target human kidney cells.

The findings were reported November 17, 2013 in Nature Cell Biology.

Diseases affecting the kidneys represent a major and… read more

New hologram technology created by nanoantennas on a ‘metasurface’

A potentially revolutionary new technology for advanced sensors, high-resolution displays, and information processing
November 19, 2013

Laser light shines through the metasurface from below, creating a hologram 10 microns above the structure. (Xingjie Ni, Birck Nanotechnology Center)

Researchers have created tiny holograms using a “metasurface” capable of the ultra-efficient control of light, representing a potential new technology for advanced sensors, high-resolution displays and information processing.

The metasurface, thousands of V-shaped nanoantennas formed into an ultrathin gold foil, could make possible “planar photonics” devices and optical switches small enough to be integrated into computer chips for information processing, sensing and telecommunications, said Alexander Kildishev, associate research professor… read more

A precise new quantitative brain-scan measurement method

Can quantify the volume of specific brain tissues, a critical measurement of the progression of brain diseases
November 19, 2013

The image is of the macromolecule tissue volume (MTV)  map in a  3D view within a human brain.

An interdisciplinary Stanford team has developed a new method for quantitatively (using numbers) measuring human brain tissue using MRI (which formerly provided mostly qualitative, such as “bright” or “dark,” information).

The team members measured the volume of large molecules (macromolecules) within each cubic millimeter of the brain. Their method may improve how doctors diagnose and treat neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

“We’re moving from qualitative… read more

Engineered glowing worms detect neural effects of drugs

November 18, 2013

Neurons in the worms (marked by arrows) glow as the animals sense attractive odors. (Credit: Image courtesy of Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and The Rockefeller University in New York has developed a novel system to image brain activity in multiple awake and unconstrained worms.

The technology makes it possible to study the genetics and neural circuitry associated with animal behavior,  but it can also be used as a high-throughput screening tool for drug development targeting autism, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and other… read more

A durable, low-cost water splitter made of silicon and nickel

New fuel cells can more efficiently generate electricity when the sun isn't shining or demand is high
November 18, 2013

his image shows two electrodes connected via an external voltage source splitting water into oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (H2). The illuminated silicon electrode (left) uses light energy to assist in the water-splitting process and is protected from the surrounding electrolyte by a 2-nm film of nickel. (Illustration: Guosong Hong, Stanford University)

Stanford researchers have developed an inexpensive, corrosion-free device that uses light to split water into oxygen and clean-burning hydrogen.

The goal is to supplement solar cells with hydrogen-powered fuel cells that can generate electricity when the sun isn’t shining or demand is high.

The novel device — a silicon semiconductor coated in an ultrathin layer of nickel — could help pave the way for large-scale production of… read more

New video series aims to popularize transhumanism; Kickstarter launched

November 18, 2013

BIOPS

The newly formed British Institute of Posthuman Studies (BIOPS), A UK think-tank that aims to popularize transhumanism, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the £65,000 needed to produce a series of six in-depth, animated video investigations of transhumanist themes and ideas during 2014.

BIOPS has created Posthuman: An Introduction to Transhumanism (below), a series introduction focusing on superlongevity (Aubrey de Grey’s ideas), superintelligence (Ray Kurzweil’s),… read more

New Fox science fiction show Almost Human features androids

November 17, 2013

Almost human poster

Almost Human is a new Fox TV series set in 2048 when humans in the Los Angeles Police Department are paired up with lifelike androids. It features a detective with a bionic leg paired with an android capable of emotion.

The series premiered November 17, 2013 on Fox. Full episodes are also viewable here.

Executive-produced by J.J. Abrams (Fringe, Lost, and the Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises),… read more

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

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