science + technology news

BigBrain: an ultra-high-resolution 3D roadmap of the human brain

June 21, 2013

BigBrain (credit: Montreal Neurological Institute and Forschungszentrum Jülich)

A landmark three-dimensional (3-D) digital reconstruction of a complete human brain, called the BigBrain, shows for the first time the brain anatomy in microscopic detail — at a spatial resolution of 20 microns, smaller than the size of one fine strand of hair — exceeding that of existing reference brains presently in the public domain.

The new tool is made freely available to the broader scientific community to advance… read more

Psychotherapy via Internet found as good as or better than face-to-face

July 31, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Online psychotherapy is just as efficient as conventional therapy, University of Zurich clinical researchers have found in a study of online psychotherapy vs. conventional face-to-face therapy.

And three months after the end of the therapy, patients given online treatment even displayed fewer symptoms.

Six therapists treated 62 patients, the majority of whom were suffering from moderate depression. The patients were divided into two equal groups… read more

AI and robotics researchers call for global ban on autonomous weapons

"If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable"
July 27, 2015

FLI

More than 1,000 leading artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics researchers and others, including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, just signed and published an open letter from the Future of Life Institute (FLI) today calling for a ban on offensive autonomous weapons.

FLI defines “autonomous weapons” as those that select and engage targets without human intervention, such as armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate… read more

A Wikipedia for robots

Allows robots to share knowledge and experience in caring for elders worldwide using a central online database
January 23, 2014

(Credit: TU/e)

European scientists from six institutes and two universities have developed an online platform where robots can learn new skills from each other worldwide — a kind of “Wikipedia for robots.”

The objective is to help develop robots better at helping elders with caring and household tasks.

“The problem right now is that robots are often developed specifically for one task”, says René van de Molengraft, TU/e researcher and… read more

Possible breakthrough using graphene for solar cells

Graphene retains its exceptional conductivity and transparency when coated with silicon film
October 14, 2013

graphene_on_glass_substrate

Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) Institute for Silicon Photovoltaics have shown that graphene retains its impressive set of properties when it is coated with a thin silicon film.

These findings may allow for entirely new possibilities to use graphene in thin-film photovoltaics.

Graphene has extreme conductivity and is completely transparent while being inexpensive and nontoxic. This would makes it a perfect candidate material… read more

Most distant galaxy discovered: 30 billion light years away

October 24, 2013

Galaxy_Large_Tilvi

The most distant spectroscopically confirmed galaxy ever found — one created at about 700 million years after the Big Bang — has been detected by astronomers at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin

“It’s exciting to know we’re the first people in the world to see this,” said Vithal Tilvi, a Texas A&M postdoctoral research associate and… read more

‘Data smashing’ could automate discovery, untouched by human hands

October 28, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

From recognizing speech to identifying unusual stars, new discoveries often begin with comparison of data streams to find connections and spot outliers. But simply feeding raw data into a data-analysis algorithm is unlikely to produce meaningful results, say the authors of a new Cornell study.

That’s because most data comparison algorithms today have one major weakness: somewhere, they rely on a human expert to specify what aspects of the… read more

New microbatteries a boost for electronics

April 19, 2013

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) cross-section of the interdigitated electrodes spanning two<br />
periods. The interdigitated electrodes alternate between anode and cathode. The insets show the magnified electrodes with the nickel scaffold coated<br />
with nickel–tin on the left and lithiated manganese oxide on the right. Scale bars, 50mm and 1mm in the insets. (Credit: Nature Communications)

New microbatteries developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, out-power even the best supercapacitors and could drive new applications in radio communications and compact electronics.

“This is a whole new way to think about batteries,”  said William P. King, the Bliss Professor of mechanical science and engineering. “A battery can [now] deliver far more power than anybody ever thought.… read more

Teleporting information achieved by TU Delft

A key step toward a "quantum internet"
June 2, 2014

(Credit: TU Delft)

Teleporting people through space, as in Star Trek, is impossible by the laws of physics, but researchers at TU Delft‘s Kavli Institute of Nanoscience have succeeded in teleporting information.

Using quantum entanglement, they transferred the information contained in a quantum bit in a diamond to a quantum bit in another diamond three meters away, without the information having traveled through the intervening space.

The… read more

Scientists reverse aging in mice by repairing damaged DNA

Could lead to an anti-aging drug that counters damage from old age, cancer, and radiation
March 26, 2017

Disarming a rogue agent: When the NAD molecule (red), binds to the DBC1 protein (beige), it prevents DBC1 from attaching to and incapacitating a protein critical for DNA repair. (credit: David Sinclair)

A research team led by Harvard Medical School professor of genetics David Sinclair, PhD, has made a discovery that could lead to a revolutionary new drug that allows cells to repair DNA damaged by aging, cancer, and radiation.

In a paper published in the journal Science on Friday (March 24), the scientists identified a critical step in the molecular process related to DNA damage.… read more

Fusion reactors ‘economically viable’ in a few decades, say experts

Could replace nuclear reactors and fossil fuels
October 5, 2015

An illustration of a tokamak with plasma (credit: ITER Organization)

Fusion reactors could become an economically viable means of generating electricity within a few decades, replacing conventional nuclear power stations, according to new research at Durham University and Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, U.K.

The research, published in the journal Fusion Engineering and Design, builds on earlier findings that a fusion power plant could generate electricity at a price similar to that of a fission plant… read more

Texas wind farms increase land surface temperature

May 2, 2012

Wind Farm

A Texas region containing four of the world’s largest wind farms showed an increase in land surface temperature over nine years that researchers have connected to local meteorological effects of the turbines.

The land surface temperature around the west-central Texas wind farms warmed at a rate of .72 degrees Celsius per decade during the study period relative to nearby regions without wind farms, an effect most likely… read more

Craig Venter’s team designs, builds first minimal synthetic bacterial cell

New record for the least number of genes needed for independent cell growth
March 28, 2016

A cluster of JCVI-syn3.0 cells, showing spherical structures of varying sizes (scale bar, 200 nm) (credit: Clyde A. Hutchison III et al./Science)

Just 473 genes were needed to create life in a new synthesized species of bacteria created by synthetic biologists from the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and Synthetic Genomics, Inc.

Knowing the minimum number of genes to create life would answer a fundamental question in biology.

This “minimal synthetic cell,” JCVI-syn3.0, was reported in an open-access paper published last week in the  journal Science. By… read more

Battery breakthrough charges in seconds, lasts for a week

November 25, 2016

Supercapacitor prototype showing flexible design (credit: ACS Nano)

University of Central Florida researchers have developed a radical new supercapacitor design that could one day replace lithium-ion batteries, allowing users to charge a mobile phone in a few seconds and with a charge that lasts a week, according to the researchers. The new battery would be flexible and a fraction of the size of a lithium-ion battery.

The proof-of-concept design is based on a hybrid supercapacitor composed of… read more

Multi-material 3D printer creates realistic neurosurgical models for training

December 12, 2013

A perforator creates a burr hole in the model of a skull. The model, produced using a multimaterial 3D printer, is composed of a variety of materials that simulate the various consistencies and densities of human tissues encountered during neurosurgery. (Credit: American Association of Neurosurgeons)

Researchers* from Malaysia and the UK have used a new multi-material 3D printer to create realistic, low-cost model of the skull for use by students in practicing neurosurgical techniques.

The model uses a variety of materials that simulate the various consistencies and densities of human tissues encountered during neurosurgery.

Neurosurgery is a difficult discipline to master. Trainees may spend as many as 10 years after graduation from medical… read more

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