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A fuel cell for the home

June 3, 2014

Production of the cell stacks at the Fraunhofer IKTS (credit: Fraunhofer IKTS)

A simple fuel cell for home use has been developed by Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Germany and heater manufacturer Vaillant.

With an output of one kilowatt, they cover the average current consumption for a four-person household.

Fuel cells convert natural gas directly into electrical energy. They are many times more efficient than are combustion engines, such as the car engine.… read more

A Full-Color Screen That Bends

June 8, 2009
(Mark Martinez)

Bendy organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays employing amorphous silicon processes and tools (used to make today’s flat-panel LCD screens) have been developed by Arizona State University researchers.

The development brings bendable color video displays closer to being commercial products.

A fully transparent solar concentrator for windows

August 26, 2014

Solar power with a view: MSU doctoral student Yimu Zhao holds up a transparent luminescent solar concentrator module. (Credit: Yimu Zhao)

Michigan State University researchers have developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to see through the window.

It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC) and can be used on buildings, cell phones, and any other device that has a clear surface.

Research in the production of energy from solar cells placed around… read more

A future cochlear implant with no exterior hardware required

February 13, 2014

(Credit: M. Yip et al.)

A new low-power signal-processing chip that could lead to a cochlear implant that does not require external devices has been developed by researchers at MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratory (MTL), together with physicians from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI).

The chip uses the natural microphone of the middle ear rather than a skull-mounted microphone. The implant would be… read more

A future for drones: automated killing

September 21, 2011

An exercise in autonomous robotics with two model-size planes could presage the future of the American way of war: a day when drones hunt, identify and kill the enemy based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans.

The automated, unpiloted planes worked on their own, with no human guidance, no hand on any control. After 20 minutes, one of the aircraft, carrying a computer that processed… read more

A Gaggle of Robot Movies

May 7, 2003

Robot movies coming out include The Matrix Reloaded (5/15), Terminator 3 (7/2), The Matrix Revolutions (11/11), and I, Robot (7/2/2004). Also next year, watch for Terminator 4, Robocop 4, StarTrek 11, Star Wars III, a Westworld remake, and yes, Tron 2.0.

A Garden of Robotic Delights

July 11, 2003

“The flowers in Cynthia Breazeal’s garden are like no blossoms you’ve ever seen. Fashioned of metal and silicon and embedded with electronic sensors, they are actually robots that react to light and body heat by bobbing, swaying, spinning and changing color….”

The Cyberflora Installation is now showing at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City, through January 2004.

A geek’s guide to China’s Silicon Valley

December 28, 2011

china-map

Zhongguancun (in Beijing), China’s closest equivalent to Silicon Valley, is host to electronics super malls, research centers, publicly-listed tech giants, and hundreds of startups, and is surrounded by top universities.

Other up-and-coming hubs include Hangzhou, Shanghai, Dalian, Chengdu, and Xi’an.

See also: China’s parallel online universe

A gene for Alzheimer’s makes you smarter

February 17, 2010

Young people with a apolipoprotein E gene variant that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s tend to be smarter, more educated and have better memories than their peers, Rush University Medical Center researchers have found.

A gene for forgetting

Could lead to new PTSD treatments
September 20, 2013

mit_memories_fade_away

A new study from MIT reveals a gene that is critical to the process of memory extinction (when older memories are replaced with new experiences).

Enhancing the activity of this gene, known as Tet1, might benefit people with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by making it easier to replace fearful memories with more positive associations, says Li-Huei Tsai, director of MIT’s… read more

A gene that stimulates growth of new brain cells in adults

Discovery could provide new strategy for treating neurodegenerative disease and memory loss
June 16, 2014

Increased length of the hippocampus dentate girus (DG) for TLX gene overexpressed (Tg or transgenic mice) vs control group (WT, or wild type) (credit: Kiyohito Mura et al./PNAS)

Over-expressing a specific gene could prompt growth in adults of new neurons in the hippocampus, where learning and memory are regulated, City of Hope researchers have found.

The study, which used an animal model, found that over-expression of the TLX gene resulted in smart, faster learners that retained information better and longer.

Understanding the link between this gene and the growth of new neurons — or… read more

A Genetic Fountain of Youth

October 2, 2009

By disabling a gene involved in an important biochemical signaling pathway involving a protein called target of rapamycin (TOR), scientists have discovered a way to mimic the anti-aging benefits of caloric restriction, allowing mice to live longer and healthier lives.

This finding offers a promising drug target for combating the many health problems associated with aging.

A Genetic Link for Vision Loss

August 28, 2008

Researchers from multiple institution have identified a genetic link associated with dry macular degeneration, which they say may lead to treatments for the debilitating disease.

A genetically engineered weight-loss implant

Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner --- they're working on it
November 28, 2013

implantable_slimming_aid

ETH-Zurich biotechnologists have constructed an implantable genetic regulatory circuit that monitors blood-fat levels. In response to excessive levels, it produces a messenger substance that signals satiety (fullness) to the body. Tests on obese mice revealed that this helps them lose weight.

According to the WHO, over half the population in many industrialized nations is overweight, one in three people extremely so, with high-calorie and fatty food a lifetime on… read more

A genius explains

February 22, 2005

Daniel Tammet is an autistic savant who can perform mind-boggling mathematical calculations at breakneck speeds.

He can also describe how he does it. Now scientists are asking whether his exceptional abilities are the key to unlock the secrets of autism.

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