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How teachers’ myths about the brain are hampering teaching

October 17, 2014

Photographs of the left and right midsagittal sections of Einstein’s brain with original labels (Falk et al., 2013), reproduced here with permission from the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, MD. The red circles indicate two breaches on each<br />
hemisphere of Einstein’s corpus callosum that have different shapes, which may have been introduced when the two hemispheres were<br />
separated in 1955.

Teachers in the UK, Holland, Turkey, Greece and China were presented with seven “neuromyths” and asked whether they believe them to be true.

A quarter or more of teachers in the UK and Turkey believe a student’s brain would shrink if they drank less than six to eight glasses of water a day, while around half or more of those surveyed believe a student’s brain is only 10 per… read more

Why your hospital may be unable to prevent spread of Ebola

October 17, 2014

Ebola particle (credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Challenging reassurances by CDC director Tom Frieden, M.D. Thursday in congressional testimony, a group of infectious disease experts has suggested that conventional U.S. medical centers are unprepared and ill equipped to manage Ebola, in an open-access article published Thursday in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The authors recommend that a national network of specialized containment and treatment facilities tied to biosafety level-4 laboratories or airport… read more

Precision control of 3D printing of metals at specific microscale locations and crystal-structure orientations

October 16, 2014

ORNL researchers have demonstrated the ability to precisely control the structure and properties of 3-D printed metal parts during formation. The electron backscatter diffraction image shows variations in crystallographic orientation in a nickel-based component, achieved by controlling the 3-D printing process at the microscale. (Credit: ORNL)

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have demonstrated a additive manufacturing method for controlling the structure and properties of metal components at the microscale with precision unmatched by conventional manufacturing processes.

“We can now control local material properties, which will change the future of how we engineer metallic components,” said Ryan Dehoff, staff scientist and metal additive manufacturing lead at the Department of Energy’s… read more

Open-source solar-powered 3D printers can go almost anywhere

October 16, 2014

Quasi-portable Solar 3D Printer<br />
The quasi-portable solar-powered RepRap on a cart meant for schools or small businesses. (Credit: Debbie King)

Open-source solar-powered 3D printers could bring 3D printing to remote areas, Professor Joshua Pearce at Michigan Technological University has proposed.

One version features an array of solar photovoltaic panels and a stand-alone printer that could be stationed in a sunny schoolyard and print anything from consumer toys to science lab equipment.

The second system is smaller and fits in a suitcase, based on a RepRap… read more

World’s thinnest piezoelectricity generator

Could lead to wearable electronic devices based on MoS2 that are transparent, extremely light, and very bendable and stretchable
October 16, 2014

Positive and negative polarized charges are squeezed from a single layer of atoms, as it is being stretched. (Credit: Lei Wang / Columbia Engineering)

Researchers from Columbia Engineering and Georgia Institute of Technology reported Wednesday (Oct. 15) that they have made the first experimental observation of piezoelectricity (generation of electricity from mechanical stress) and the piezotronic effect (using piezoelectricity as a semiconductor gate to control current flow in a device) in an atomically thin material, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) — potentially resulting in devices that are optically transparent, extremely… read more

Mars One design not feasible, MIT researchers find

October 15, 2014

The non-profit company Mars One plans to establish the first human settlement on Mars by 2025. Pictured is an artist's rendering of a series of habitats. Solar panels (in the foreground), would supply the colony's electricity, while a system to extract water from the soil (in the background) would supply drinking water. (Credit: Bryan Versteeg / Mars One)

MIT researchers have developed a detailed settlement-analysis tool to assess the feasibility of the Mars One plans to establish the first human colony on Mars by 2025,  finding that new technologies will be needed to keep humans alive on Mars.

Mars One —  considered by some to be essentially a Dutch-made reality TV show — claims that the entire mission can be built upon technologies that already… read more

Hypersensitive ‘smart’ material created from neural proteins

October 15, 2014

The height of the new protein brush, made from neurofilament-derived proteins, can be precisely controlled with protein-digesting enzymes, or proteases. The protease thrombin cut the brush superficially at the red cross marks, resulting in a negligible change to the height of the brush. The protease clostripain cut the brush much more deeply at the yellow cross marks, and thus had a more measurable effect on height. (Credit: Sanjay Kumar)

UC Berkeley scientists have taken proteins from nerve cells and used them to create a “smart” material that is extremely sensitive to its environment.

This marriage of materials science and biology could give birth to a flexible, sensitive coating that is easy and cheap to manufacture in large quantities.

The work, published Oct. 14 in the journal Nature Communications, could lead to new types of biological sensors, flow… read more

Creating e-noses using fruit flies

"Surprisingly capable of distinguishing chemicals that they have not evolved to process"
October 15, 2014

Schematic of olfactory sensory functions in a fly's head (credit: Thomas Nowotny et al./Bioinspiration and Biomimetics)

The “nose” (sensors on the antennas) of the common fruit fly (drosophila melanogaster) could soon be used to detect illegal drugs and explosives, based on new research that has revealed the fly’s impressive ability to detect a wide range of smells, as described in an open-access paper published today (October 15) in the  journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.

The researchers, from the University of Sussex, Monash University, and… read more

Bioinspired coating for medical devices avoids clotting and suppresses bacterial infection

Repels blood and bacteria, including biofilms
October 15, 2014

This Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) image shows how red blood cells coagulate to form a blood clot, which is a common and life-threatening risk associated with the use of implanted medical devices. (Credit: James Weaver, Harvard’s Wyss Institute)

A team of Harvard scientists and engineers has developed a new surface coating for medical devices that in tests repelled blood from more than 20 medically relevant substrates and also suppressed biofilm formation.

The study was reported in Nature Biotechnology.

Avoiding blood clotting and bacterial infcction

The problem they addressed was that any device implanted in the body (or in contact with flowing blood) could result in… read more

Microrobots armed with new force-sensing system to probe cells

October 14, 2014

This image shows a "microforce-sensing mobile microrobot" juxtaposed against a U.S. penny. The device is being developed at Purdue University  (Credit: Purdue University)

Purdue University researchers have designed and built a “vision-based micro force sensor end-effector” to measure forces on cells by being attached to microrobots, like a tiny nose.

A camera is used to measure the probe’s displacement while it pushes against cells, allowing for a simple calculation that reveals the force applied. Researchers already know the stiffness of the probe. When combined with displacement, a simple calculation reveals the force… read more

Nanoparticles that glow in color-coded light and can be magnetically manipulated

October 14, 2014

Elemental mapping of the location of iron atoms (blue) in the magnetic nanoparticles and cadmium (red) in the fluorescent quantum dots provide a clear visualization of the way the two kinds of particles naturally separate themselves into a core-and-shell structure. (Credit: MIT)

A team of researchers has achieved a long-sought goal of creating nanoparticles that can emit a colorful fluorescent glow in a biological environment and also be precisely manipulated into position within living cells.

The new technology, reported this week in the journal Nature Communications, could make it possible to track the position of the nanoparticles as they move within the body or inside a cell and also manipulate them precisely… read more

Alzheimer’s-in-a-dish is ‘first clear evidence’ for amyloid hypothesis

Promises to revolutionize drug discovery for neurodegenerative disorders
October 13, 2014

A confocal microscope image of an amyloid-beta deposit (orange) in 3D neural cell culture (credit: Se Hoon Choi et al/Nature)

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers have created the first “Alzheimer’s-in-a-dish” — a 3D petri dish capable of reproducing the full course of events underlying the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s has been thought to result from the buildup of inflammatory plaque formed by the beta-amyloid protein and from another protein, tau, which entangles neurons.

The new research provides the first clear evidence supporting the hypothesis that deposition of… read more

Nanocasting custom-shaped metal nanoparticles in DNA molds

DNA-based programmable assembly to form precise 3D nanomaterials for disease detection, environmental testing, electronics, and beyond
October 13, 2014

nanocasting ft

Extending 3D printing of metals to the nanoscale, researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have developed a new method of forming 3D metal nanoparticles in prescribed shapes and dimensions using DNA as a construction mold.

The ability to mold inorganic nanoparticles out of materials such as gold and silver in precisely designed 3D shapes is a significant breakthrough that has the potential to… read more

Advances in ‘laser solid forming’ to produce 3D-printed metallic parts

October 13, 2014

Inconel 718 nickel-chromium alloy casing for an aircraft engine by hybrid manufacturing with LSF and casting (credit: Weidong Huang and Xin Lin/3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing)

Researchers Weidong Huang and Lin Xin from China’s Northwestern Polytechnical University describe their progress with 3D-printed metallic parts, using laser solid forming (LSF) technology, in an open-access (until Nov. 9) review article in 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

The authors review research advances toward the goal of developing LSF — an additive manufacturing technique that uses laser… read more

High-speed fluorescence for 1,000-times-faster LEDs

Future uses include telecommunication lasers and as single-photon sources for quantum cryptography
October 13, 2014

Plasmonics_Nanocube

Duke University researchers have made fluorescent molecules emit photons of light 1,000 times faster than with previous designs — a speed record, and a step toward realizing superfast light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for nanophotonic devices, such as telecommunication lasers and as single-photon sources for quantum cryptography.

The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for the discovery 20 years ago of how to make blue LEDs, leading… read more

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