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Single-molecule motor sits on a single-atom ball bearing

Can be run forward or in reverse, depending on where electrons are injected
December 31, 2012

The base of the device holds a Ru atom, and the five-armed device can rotate on top of it (credit:

Researchers have created a reversible rotor that sits atop a ball bearing — a single ruthenium atom, Ars Technica reports.

The base of the system involves a boron atom that coordinates three ringed structures that are chemically similar to the bases of DNA. Nitrogens at a corner of these ringed structures coordinate the ruthenium atom, placing it at the peak of a three-sided pyramid.

The ruthenium atom acts… read more

Agricultural robots may reduce costs of organic produce

September 20, 2012

blue_river_7

Blue River Technology has announced $3.1 million in funding for its plans to develop agricultural robots that can automatically kill weeds and thin out plants like lettuce that need adequate room to grow, CNET reports.

It could help reduce the cost of organic produce.

The startup’s prototype Lettuce Bot uses a camera to image the plants beneath it. Machine learning algorithms then identify which ones are desirable and… read more

How to double the power of solar panels

October 16, 2012

Solar collectors: A micrograph shows silicon nanowires produced by Bandgap Engineering. They can help a solar cell absorb more light. (Credit: Bandgap Engineering)

In an attempt to further drop the cost of solar power, Bandgap Engineering has a long-term project to develop a nanowire-based solar cell that could eventually generate twice as much power as conventional solar cells, Technology Review reports.

Meanwhile the company is about to launch a simpler version of the technology, using silicon nanowires that can improve the performance and lower the cost of conventional silicon solar cells.… read more

‘Mind-Control’ gaming devices leak users’ secrets

August 22, 2012

A sequence of credit cards is presented to the user. Her brainwaves from an EEG device (EPOC from Emotiv Systems in this case) are monitored by a computer.

In a study of 28 subjects wearing brain-machine interface devices built by companies like Neurosky and Emotiv and marketed to consumers for gaming and attention exercises, researchers found they were able to extract hints directly from the electrical signals of the test subjects’ brains that partially revealed private information, like the location of their homes, faces they recognized and even their credit card PINs, Forbes reports.

In… read more

Breakthrough: compound generated by low carb/low-calorie diet blocks effects of aging

Discovery suggests way to protect cells from damage caused by oxidative stress
December 10, 2012

salad

Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have identified a novel mechanism by which a type of low-carb, low-calorie diet — called a “ketogenic diet” — could delay the effects of aging: the compound  β-hydroxybutyrate (βOHB), a “ketone body” that is generated during a prolonged low-calorie or ketogenic diet.

Blocking oxidative stress

While ketone bodies such as βOHB can be toxic when… read more

Harnessing the energy of 2,000 suns

April 29, 2013

HCPVT

The Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation has awarded scientists a $2.4 million (2.25 million CHF) grant to develop an affordable photovoltaic system capable of concentrating solar radiation 2,000 times and converting 80 percent of the incoming radiation into useful energy.*

The system would also provide desalinated water and cool air in sunny, remote locations where they are often in short supply.

The prototype HCPVT system… read more

Beam yourself to work in a remote-controlled body

September 26, 2012

beam-robot

To make it more practical for engineers and others living in cheaper places to telecommute to work, Suitable Technologies (a Willow Garage spinoff) has developed a roving telepresence system that is more practical and less awkward to use than previous systems, says founder Scott Hassan, Technology Review reports.

The $16,000 Beam Remote Presence telepresence system, now available, can save on the expense and time of long-haul travel and allows remote workers to be… read more

Stay cool and live longer?

Scientists have known for nearly a century that cold-blooded animals, such as worms, flies and fish all live longer in cold environments, but have not known exactly why
February 20, 2013

C elegans nematode (credit: The Goldstein Lab)

Researchers at the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute have identified a genetic program that promotes longevity of roundworms (nematodes) in cold environments — and this genetic program also exists in warm-blooded animals, including humans.

“This raises the intriguing possibility that exposure to cold air — or pharmacological stimulation of the cold-sensitive genetic program — may promote longevity in mammals,” said… read more

Obama to unveil specifics of Brain Activity Map project

April 2, 2013

brain-rays

President Obama on Tuesday will announce specifics on the Brain Activity Map project Tuesday, The New York Times reports. The initiative, which will officially be known as Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or Brain for short, has been designated a grand challenge of the 21st century by the Obama administration.

The broad new research initiative, starting with $100 million in 2014, is intended to invent and… read more

Where is imagination located in the human brain?

September 18, 2013

Schlegel-mental-workspace-image-high-res.jpg

Imagination lies in a widespread neural network — the brain’s “mental workspace” — that consciously manipulates images, symbols, ideas and theories and gives humans the laser-like mental focus needed to solve complex problems and come up with new ideas, Dartmouth researchers conclude in a new study.

“Our findings move us closer to understanding how the organization of our brains sets us apart from other species and provides… read more

Cosmic radiation found harmful to astronauts during space travel

NASA-funded study shows exposed mice develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
January 2, 2013

This NASA shapeship design may no longer be able to protect astronauts during a trip to and from Mars (credit: NASA)

Cosmic radiation — which would bombard astronauts on deep space missions to places like Mars — could accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, a new study in the open-access journal PLOS ONE shows.

“Galactic cosmic radiation poses a significant threat to future astronauts,” said M. Kerry O’Banion, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Neurobiology and… read more

A 3D-printing pen

February 25, 2013

3doodler

Have you ever wished you could just draw a object in the air and have it magically printed out? 

WoobbleWorks has created 3Doodler (a Kickstarter project), the world’s first “3D printing pen” to do just that.

As you draw, it extrudes ABS plastic (the material used by many 3D printers) in the air or on surfaces — no software or computers required.

The… read more

Rollable, foldable e-devices coming

November 2, 2012

foldable_rollable_edevices

What if a tablet screen were a paper-thin plastic that rolled like a window shade?

University of Cincinnati researchers have now announced experiment verification that such “electrofluidic imaging film” works. The breakthrough is a white, porous film coated with a thin layer of reflective electrodes and spacers that are then subjected to unique and sophisticated fluid mechanics in order to electrically transport the colored ink and clear-oil… read more

Well-connected hemispheres of Einstein’s brain may have contributed to his brilliance

October 6, 2013

Albert Einstein's corpus callosum. Color codes indicate the varying thicknesses of subdivisions of the corpus callosum (credit: Men et al./Brain)

The left and right hemispheres of Albert Einstein’s brain were unusually well connected to each other and this may have contributed to his brilliance, according to a new study [1], the first to detail Einstein’s corpus callosum.

The corpus callosum is the brain’s largest bundle of fibers that connects the two cerebral hemispheres and facilitates interhemispheric communication.

The study was published in the journal Brain. Lead… read more

3D printed car is as strong as steel, half the weight, and nearing production

March 1, 2013

urbee

Picture an assembly line not that isn’t made up of robotic arms spewing sparks to weld heavy steel, but a warehouse of plastic-spraying printers producing light, cheap and highly efficient automobiles.

If Jim Kor’s dream is realized, that’s exactly how the next generation of urban runabouts will be produced, Wired reports. His creation is called the Urbee 2 and it could revolutionize parts manufacturing while creating… read more

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