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Designing the exascale computers of the future

July 24, 2014


Several groups in Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), are contributing to the basic science and engineering that will be needed to create the hardware and software for the next generation of supercomputers.

The goal: an exascale machine, performing at least 1018 (sextillian) operations per second — 30 times faster than the current fastest machine in the world, China’s Tianhe-2, capable of an Rmax* of 33.86… read more

A robot with two extra fingers helps you grip stuff

July 23, 2014

The 7-fingered hand can perform tasks that would usually require two hands, such as holding up a tablet computer and typing letters on it (credit: Harry Asad and Faye Wu)

MIT researchers have developed a robot that enhances the grasping motion of the human hand.

The device, worn around your wrist, works like two extra fingers adjacent to the pinky and thumb.

A novel control algorithm enables it to move in sync with the wearer’s fingers to grasp objects of various shapes and sizes. Wearing the robot, a user could use one hand to hold the… read more

Chinese city sealed off after man dies from bubonic plague

July 23, 2014

Yersinia pestis bacteria (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Chinese city of Yumen in Gansu province in China was sealed off Tuesday for nine days (ending today) after a man died of bubonic plague,  South China Post reports, based on a report by China Central Television.

“Other reports said the 38-year-old victim had come across a dead marmot on July 13. He is said to have chopped it up to feed to his dog, but… read more

More-efficient solar-powered steam

Can convert 85 percent of incoming solar energy into steam, eliminating need for complex, costly systems to highly concentrate sunlight
July 22, 2014

solar steam generator - ft

A new carbon-based material structure developed at MIT generates steam from solar energy.

The structure — a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam — is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water.

When sunlight hits the structure’s surface, it creates a hotspot in the graphite, drawing water up through the material’s pores, where it evaporates as steam. The brighter the light,… read more

Noninvasive retinal imaging device detects Alzheimer’s 20 years in advance

Device could be FDA-approved by 2015 and early signs of Alzheimer's could be detected in a regular ophthalmologist exam
July 22, 2014

Retina test for Alzheimers - feat

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center researchers have developed a noninvasive retinal imaging device that can provide early detection of changes indicating Alzheimer’s disease 15 to 20 years before clinical diagnosis.

“In preliminary results in 40 patients, the test could differentiate between Alzheimer’s disease and non-Alzheimer’s disease with 100 percent sensitivity and 80.6 percent specificity, meaning that all people with the disease tested positive and most of the people without… read more

3D-printed-anatomy developers aim to revolutionize medical education

July 22, 2014

Part of the ‘3D Printed Anatomy Series’ thought to be the first commercially available resource of its kind (credit: Monash University)

A kit of 3D-printed anatomical body parts could revolutionize medical education and training, according to its developers at Monash University.

Professor Paul McMenamin, Director of the University’s Centre for Human Anatomy Education, said the simple and cost-effective anatomical kit would dramatically improve trainee doctors’ and other health professionals’ knowledge and could even contribute to the development of new surgical treatments.

“Many medical… read more

One injection stops type 2 diabetes without side effects

Helps keep blood sugar under control and reverses insulin insensitivity
July 21, 2014

In the liver tissue of obese animals with type 2 diabetes, unhealthy, fat-filled cells are prolific (small white cells, panel A). After chronic treatment through FGF1 injections, the liver cells successfully lose fat and absorb sugar from the bloodstream (small purple cells, panel B) and more closely resemble cells of normal, non-diabetic animals. (Credit: Salk Institute)

In mice with diet-induced diabetes — the equivalent of type 2 diabetes in humans — a single injection of the protein FGF1 is enough to restore blood sugar levels to a healthy range for more than two days. The discovery by Salk Institute scientists, published in the journal Nature, could lead to a new generation of safer, more effective diabetes drugs.

The team found that… read more

Powerful new sensor identfies molecules containing fewer than 20 atoms

July 21, 2014

Rice’s SECARS molecular sensor contains an optical amplifier made of four gold discs arranged in a diamond-shaped pattern. A two-coherent-laser setup amplifies the optical signatures of molecules in the center of the structure as much as 100 billion times. (Credit: Y. Zhang/Rice University)

Researchers at Rice University’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) have created a unique sensor that amplifies the optical signature of molecules by about 100 billion times — accurately identifying the composition and structure of individual molecules containing fewer than 20 atoms.

The new single-molecule imaging method, described  in the journal Nature Communications, uses a form of Raman spectroscopy in combination with optical amplifier, making the sensor… read more

Is our universe a bubble in the multiverse?

July 21, 2014

Screenshot from a video of Matthew Johnson explaining the related concepts of inflation, eternal inflation, and the multiverse (see<br />
Credit: Image courtesy of Perimeter Institute

Researchers at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics are working to bring the multiverse hypothesis — we are living in one universe of many — into the realm of testable science.

Perimeter Associate Faculty member Matthew Johnson and his team are looking for clues for the existence of multiverses (a.ka. parallel universes) in the cosmic microwave background data, assumed to be left over from… read more

Generating electricity from water droplets

Camping-cooler-size device could charge a cellphone in 12 hours
July 18, 2014


MIT researchers discovered last year that when water droplets spontaneously jump away from superhydrophobic (water-repelling) surfaces during condensation, the droplets can gain electric charge in the process.

Now the same team has demonstrated that this process can generate small amounts of electricity, which could lead to devices that can charge cellphones or other electronics using just the humidity in the air. As a side benefit, the system… read more

Unusual 3D nanostructure could benefit nanoelectronics, gas storage

July 18, 2014

3-D boron nitride featured

An unusual three-dimensional porous nanostructure called pillared boron nitride (PBN) could achieve a balance of strength, toughness, and ability to transfer heat that could benefit nanoelectronics, gas storage, and composite materials that perform multiple functions, Rice University engineers have discovered.

Their findings were published online July 14 in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C.

The 3-D prototypes they made (using computer simulations) fuse one-dimensional boron nitride… read more

Smallest Swiss cross made of 20 single atoms

A step towards next-generation atomic-scale storage devices
July 17, 2014

20 bromine atoms positioned on a sodium chloride surface using the tip of an atomic force microscope at room temperature, creating a Swiss cross with the size of 5.6nm. The structure is stable at room temperature and was achieved by exchanging chlorine with bromine atoms. (Credit: Department of Physics, University of Basel)

University of Basel physicists with teams from Finland and Japan were able to place 20 single bromine atoms on a fully insulated surface at room temperature to form the smallest “Swiss cross,” taking a step towards next-generation atomic-scale storage devices.

Nature Communications has published their results.

Ever since the 1990s, physicists have been able to directly control surface structures by moving and positioning single atoms to… read more

The world’s first photonic router

A step toward building quantum computers
July 17, 2014

Illustration of the photonic router the Weizmann Institute scientists created. At the center is the single atom (orange) that routes photons (yellow) in different directions. (Credit: Weizmann Institute)

Weizmann Institute scientists have demonstrated the first photonic router — a quantum device based on a single atom that enables routing of single photons, a step toward overcoming the difficulties in building quantum computers.

A photonic switch

At the core of the device is an atom that can switch between two states. The state is set just by sending a single particle of light — or… read more

New chip-chemistry process could help extend Moore’s Law

July 17, 2014

The photo resist finish is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. The chemical reaction triggered by that process step is similar to what happens to film material in a film camera the moment you press the shutter button. The photo resist finish that’s exposed to UV light will become soluble. The exposure is done using masks that act like stencils in this process step. When used with UV light masks create the various circuit patterns on each layer of the microprocessor. (Credit: Intel)

An Intel-Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab) collaboration has found a new way to create smaller features for future generations of microprocessors by modifying the chemistry of photoresists, which are used to generate the patterns on a chip.

The researchers believe their results could be easily incorporated by companies that make resist, and could be incorporated into manufacturing lines as early as 2017.

The… read more

‘Nano-pixels’ promise thin, flexible, high-resolution displays

July 16, 2014

Oxford University technology can draw images 70 micrometers across, each image is smaller than the width of a human hair. The researchers have shown that using this technology they can create 'nano-pixels' just 100 nanometers in size that could pave the way for extremely high-resolution and low-energy thin, flexible displays for applications such as 'smart' glasses, synthetic retinas, and foldable screens. (Credit: Oxford University

A new discovery will make it possible to create pixels just a few hundred nanometers across that could pave the way for extremely high-resolution and low-energy thin, flexible displays for applications such as smart glasses, synthetic retinas, and foldable screens.

A team led by Oxford University scientists found that by sandwiching a seven-nanometer-thick layer of a phase-change material called GST between two layers of a transparent electrode,… read more

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