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‘Let’s create the OS of life’

October 22, 2014

OS Fund

On Monday, Bryan Johnson, the Braintree founder who bootstrapped and then sold the company to eBay for $800M, announced he used his own capital to launch a $100M “OS Fund.”

The fund’s charter is to invest in entrepreneurs, scientists, and inventors who aim to benefit humanity by rewriting the operating systems of life, Johnson says.

OS Fund

As Fortune reports,… read more

Transparent graphene-based sensors open new window into the brain

October 21, 2014

A blue light shines through a clear implantable medical sensor onto a brain model. See-through sensors developed by UW-Madison engineers, should help neural researchers better view brain activity. (Photo credit:  Justin Williams research group)

University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers have developing invisible implantable medical sensor microarrays to allow for seeing brain tissue hidden by implants.

The researchers chose graphene because it allows the electronic circuit elements to be transparent across a large spectrum — from ultraviolet to deep infrared. “It is soft and flexible, and a good tradeoff between transparency, strength and conductivity,” says Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma, a professor of electrical and computer engineering… read more

‘Hidden brain signatures’ of consciousness in vegetative state patients discovered

October 21, 2014

Brain networks in two behaviourally-similar vegetative patients (left and middle), but one of whom imagined playing tennis (middle panel), alongside a healthy adult (right panel) (Credit: Srivas Chennu)

Scientists in Cambridge, England have found hidden signatures in the brains of people in a vegetative state that point to networks that could support consciousness — even when a patient appears to be unconscious and unresponsive. The study could help doctors identify patients who are aware despite being unable to communicate.

Although unable to move and respond, some patients in a vegetative state are able to carry out tasks such… read more

Beyond LEDs: brighter, new energy-saving flat-panel lights based on carbon nanotubes

October 20, 2014

This image shows a planar light source device from the front. (Credit: N.Shimoi/Tohoku University)

Scientists from Tohoku University in Japan have developed a new type of energy-efficient flat light source, based on carbon nanotubes, with very low power consumption of around 0.1 Watt-hours of operation — about a hundred times lower than that of an LED.

In the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, the researchers detail the fabrication and optimization of the device, which is based on a phosphor screen and single-walled carbon nanotubes… read more

A tiny ultrasound-powered chip to serve as medical device

October 20, 2014

Stanford engineers can already power this prototype medical implant chip without wires by using ultrasound. Now they want to make it much smaller. (Credit: Arbabian Lab / Stanford School of Engineering)

Stanford engineers are developing a way to send power — safely and wirelessly — to “smart chips” in the body that are programmed to perform medical tasks and report back the results.

The idea is to get rid of wires and batteries, which would make the implant too big or clumsy.

Their approach involves beaming ultrasound at a tiny device inside the body designed to do three things:… read more

Hagel orders formation of military Expeditionary Ebola Support Team

October 19, 2014

USAMRIIDsoldiers

On Sunday (Oct. 18), U.S. Secretary of Defense  Chuck Hagel ordered his Northern Command Commander, Gen. Chuck Jacoby, to “prepare and train a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could, if required, provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States.”

The team will consist of 20 critical care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease, and five trainers in infectious disease protocols.

Team members will… read more

Bio-inspired ‘nano-cocoons’ trick cancer cells into accepting drug delivery

A less-toxic DNA-based drug delivery system
October 17, 2014

This image illustrates how the nano-cocoon system works. (Credit: Zhen Gu)

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed a drug delivery system consisting of nanoscale “cocoons” made of DNA that target cancer cells and trick the cells into absorbing the cocoon before unleashing anticancer drugs.

The work was done by researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“This drug delivery system is DNA-based, which means it is biocompatible and less toxic to patients… read more

How to build layered 3D graphene-based materials

October 17, 2014

Electron microscopy images of the porous graphene-based structure created by diffusion driven layer-by-layer assembly (Credit: Kyoto University)

Researchers from the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) at Kyoto University have developed a novel but simple technique called “diffusion driven layer-by-layer assembly” to construct graphene into porous three-dimensional structures for applications in devices such as batteries and supercapacitors.

Their study was recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

The problem they addressed is the difficulty of piecing together graphene sheets into useful larger structures. The researchers… read more

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

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