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US has potential to produce more than a billion tons of biomass annually by 2040

Could substantially decrease greenhouse gas emissions and reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil
July 18, 2016


Oak Ridge National Laboratory | 2016 Billion-Ton Report

The U.S. has the potential to sustainably produce at least 1 billion dry tons of nonfood biomass resources annually by 2040, according to the 2016 Billion-Ton Report, jointly released by the U.S. Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. That amount would substantially decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the utility and transportation sectors and (as the domestic bioeconomy… read more

World’s smallest storage device writes information atom by atom

Storage density of 500 terabits per square inch --- 500 times better than the best commercial hard disk drive
July 18, 2016

Atomic data storage scheme (credit: Kavli Institute of Nanoscience)

Scientists at Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University have built a nanoscale data storage device containing 1 kilobyte (8,000 bits) with a storage density of 500 terabits per square inch (Tbpsi) — 500 times denser than the best commercial hard disk drive currently available. Each bit is represented by the position of one single chlorine atom.

“In theory, this storage density would allow all books ever created by… read more

Peering into atomically thin transistors with microwaves, scientists make a radical discovery: a one-dimensional transistor

July 18, 2016

credit: University of Texas at Austin

Physicists at The University of Texas at Austin have had the first-ever glimpse into what happens inside an atomically thin semiconductor device. In doing so, they discovered that a transistor may be possible within a space so small (the edge) that it’s effectively one-dimensional.

Future tech innovations will require finding a way to fit more transistors on computer chips to keep up with Moore’s law, so… read more

Middle-age-plus memory decline may just be a matter of changing focus

MRI study reveals different parts of the brain involved with younger vs. older subjects
July 15, 2016

When middle-aged and older adults were shown a series of faces, red regions of the brain were more active; these include an area in the medial prefrontal cortex that is associated with self-referential thinking. In young adults, by contrast, blue regions -- which include areas important for memory and attention -- were more active during this task. (credit: N. Rajah, McGill University)

Are you middle-aged or older and having problems remembering details, like where you left the keys or parked your car?

Cheer up, it may simply be the result of a change in what information your brain focuses on during memory formation and retrieval, rather than a decline in brain function, according to a study by McGill University researchers.

In the study, published in the journal, NeuroImage,… read more

Mayo Clinic researchers discover drug combination that helps immune system attack cancer cells

July 15, 2016

Effects of combination drug treatment on mouse tumor size in millimeters over 67 days (credit: Soraya Zorro Manrique et al./Oncotarget)

Mayo Clinic researchers have developed a drug combination that could enhance the immune system’s ability to attack cancer cells. The drugs have shown a pronounced therapeutic effect against advanced and metastatic cancers in mice, according to a  study published in the July 12 edition of the online journal Oncotarget.

“Cancers can remain inconspicuous in the body for months to years before causing major problems, leading the immune system… read more

Why your immune system may control your social behavior

Implications for autism-spectrum disorders and schizophrenia
July 15, 2016


In a discovery that raises fundamental questions about human behavior, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have found that the immune system directly affects — and even controls — our social behavior, such as our desire to interact with others. That finding could have significant implications for neurological diseases such as autism-spectrum disorders and schizophrenia, the researchers suggest.

“The brain and the adaptive immune… read more

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

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