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DNA origami creates a microscopic glowing Van Gogh

Proof-of-concept of nanoscale precision placement of DNA origami for building hybrid nanophotonic devices
July 15, 2016

This reproduction of The Starry Night contains 65,536 glowing pixels and is just the width of a dime across. (credit: Paul Rothemund and Ashwin Gopinath/Caltech)

Using folded DNA to precisely place glowing molecules within microscopic light resonators, researchers at Caltech have created one of the world’s smallest reproductions of Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night. The feat is a proof-of-concept of how precision placement of DNA origami can be used to build hybrid nanophotonic devices at smaller scales than ever before.

DNA origami, developed 10 years ago by Caltech’s research professor Paulread more

Dark energy measured with record-breaking map of 1.2 million galaxies

July 14, 2016

This is one slice through the map of the large-scale structure of the Universe from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and its Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey. Each dot in this picture indi-cates the position of a galaxy 6 billion years into the past. The image covers about 1/20th of the sky, a slice of the Universe 6 billion light-years wide, 4.5 billion light-years high, and 500 million light-years thick. Color indicates distance from Earth, ranging from yellow on the near side of the slice to purple on the far side. Galaxies are highly clustered, revealing superclusters and voids whose presence is seeded in the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang. This image contains 48,741 galaxies, about 3% of the full survey dataset. Grey patches are small regions without survey data. (credit: Daniel Eisenstein and SDSS-III)

A team of hundreds of physicists and astronomers have announced results from the largest-ever, three-dimensional map of distant galaxies, created to make one of the most precise measurements yet of the dark energy currently driving the accelerated expansion of the Universe.

“We have spent five years collecting measurements of 1.2 million galaxies over one quarter of the sky to map out the structure of the Universe over a volume… read more

A biocompatible, transparent therapeutic window to the brain

Skull implant delivers life-saving laser treatments to patients with brain disorders; also treats infections
July 14, 2016

window to brain ft

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a transparent “window to the brain” — a skull implant that is biocompatible, infection-resistant, and does not need to be repetitively replaced.

Part of the ongoing “Window to the Brain” project, a multi-institution, cross-disciplinary effort, the idea is to use transparent skull implants to provide laser diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of brain pathologies, including brain cancers, traumatic… read more

Berkeley Lab scientists grow atomically thin transistors and circuits

Future chips may be based on 2D graphene–MoS heterostructures
July 13, 2016

graphene – MoS 2 heterostructure

In an advance that helps pave the way for next-generation electronics and computing technologies — and possibly paper-thin devices — scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a way to chemically assemble transistors and circuits that are only a few atoms thick.

In addition, their method yields functional structures at a scale large enough to begin thinking about real-world… read more

Allen Brain Observatory launched

Unprecedented window into how the brain perceives the visual world
July 13, 2016

neurons reacting to movie

The Allen Institute for Brain Science today announced the release of the Allen Brain Observatory.

This is standardized survey of cellular-level activity in the mouse visual system. The goal is to empower scientists to “investigate how circuits in the behaving mouse brain coordinate to drive activity and perception, and lays a crucial foundation for understanding perception, cognition and ultimately consciousness.”

The Allen Institute is… read more

FDA places hold on clinical trial of cancer treatment previously reported on KurzweilAI — UPDATE: FDA releases hold

July 13, 2016

T cells ft

Juno Therapeutics, Inc. announced July 7 that it has received notice from the FDA that it has placed a clinical hold on an immune-cell cancer treatment known as the “ROCKET” trial, which was reported on KurzweilAI on Mar. 10, 2016.

The clinical hold was initiated after two patient deaths, which followed the recent addition of fludarabine to the pre-conditioning regimen. Juno has proposed to the FDA to… read more

How birds unlock their ultraviolet vision super-sense

July 12, 2016

spectral filtering ft

Some birds have been found to be as intelligent as mammals. And some that can see ultraviolet (UV) light live in a super-sensory world apart, able to transmit and receive signals between each other in a way that is invisible to many other species.

Now the ability of finches, sparrows, and many other birds to see ultraviolet (UV) light is explained in a study published in the… read more

How to detect early signs of Alzheimer’s with a simple eye exam before symptoms appear

Human clinical trials are set to start in July in Minnesota
July 12, 2016

retina - red wavelength ft

University of Minnesota (UMN) scientists and associates have developed new technology that can detect signs of Alzheimer’s before the onset of symptoms — early enough to give drugs a chance to work — in mice and humans by simply examining the back of their eyes.

Looking at Alzheimer’s effects through the eye is a key advantage of the new technology. “The retina of the eye is not just ‘connected’… read more

Locusts engineered as biorobotic sensing machines

A plague of bomb-sniffing cyborg locusts could replace dogs
July 11, 2016

Sensors placed on the insect monitor neural activity while they are freely moving, decoding the odorants present in their environment. (credit: Baranidharan Raman)

Washington University in St. Louis engineers have developed an innovatiave “bio-hybrid nose” that could be used in homeland security applications, such as detecting explosives, replacing state-of-the-art miniaturized chemical sensing devices limited to a handful of sensors.

Compare that to the locust antenna (where their chemical sensors are located): “it has several hundreds of thousands of sensors and of a variety of types,” says Baranidharan Raman,… read more

This deadly soil bug can reach your brain in a day, end up in spinal cord

In Southeast Asia 50 per cent of the population may be positive for melioidosis; staph and acne bacteria may also end up in the spinal cord
July 11, 2016

B. pseudomallei soil-dwelling bacterium endemic in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide, particularly in Thailand and northern Australia (credit: Wikipedia CC)

Imagine a  deadly bacteria that can be picked up by a simple sniff and can travel to your brain and spinal cord in just 24 hours. Or one that could just be quietly sitting there, waiting for an opportune moment. Or maybe just doing small incremental damage ever day over a lifetime … as you lose the function in your brain incrementally.

That’s the grisly finding (in mice), published… read more

Neurons grown from stem cells in a dish reveal clues about autism

Neurons’ activity seemed to improve by adding IGF-1, which is known to enhance connections between neurons
July 8, 2016

Salk researchers have turned the skin cells of people with autism spectrum disorder into neurons. These cells show specific defects compared with those neurons derived from healthy people, including diminished ability to form excitatory connections with other neurons (indicated by red and green dots in the neuron). (credit: Salk Institute)

Why do the brains of up to 30 percent of people with autism spectrum disorder grow faster than usual, early in life? A new study co-led by Salk Institute scientists has used a new stem cell reprogramming technique to find out.

Published July 6, 2016 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the Salk team found that stem cell-derived neurons made fewer connections in a dish compared to cells… read more

Molecular flip in crystals driven by light creates microrobotic propulsion

Could lead to bio-inspired microrobots that deliver drugs to target tissues
July 8, 2016

flipping crystal ft

Hokkaido University researchers have designed a crystal material that continually flips between two positions like a paddle, propelling an attached structure, when stimulated by blue light. It could lead to bio-inspired microrobots that deliver drugs to target tissues, for example.

The team made azobenzene-oleic acid crystals, composed of an organic compound called azobenzene, commonly used in dye manufacturing, and oleic acid, commonly found in cooking oil. Azobenzene molecules… read more

Facebook’s Secret Conversations

This message will self-destruct in __ seconds
July 8, 2016


Facebook began today (Friday, July 8) rolling out a new beta-version feature for Messenger called “Secret Conversations,” allowing for “one-to-one secret conversations … that will be end-to-end encrypted and which can only be read on one device of the person you’re communicating with.”

Facebook suggests the feature will be useful for discussing an illness or sending financial information (as in the pictures above).  You can choose to set a… read more

Robot mimics vertebrate motion

May help develop future therapies and neuroprosthetic devices for paraplegic patients and amputees
July 7, 2016

Pleurobot (credit: EPFL)

École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) scientists have invented a new robot called “Pleurobot” that mimics the way salamanders walk and swim with unprecedented detail.

Aside from being cool (and a likely future Disney attraction), the researchers believe designing the robot will provide a new tool for understanding the evolution of vertebrate locomotion. That could lead to better understanding of how the spinal cord controls the body’s locomotion, which… read more

New tech could have helped police locate shooters in Dallas

Chinese traffic police already testing system
July 7, 2016

(credit: Fox News)

JULY 8, 3:56 AM EDT — Livestreamed data from multiple users with cell phones and other devices could be used to help police locate shooters in a situation like the one going on right now in Dallas, says Jon Fisher, CEO of San Francisco-based CrowdOptic.

Here’s how it would work: You view (or record a video of) a shooter with your phone. Your location and… read more

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