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Whole-genome sequences of 17 of the world’s oldest living people published

Researchers unable to find genes significantly associated with extreme longevity
November 13, 2014

Misao Okawa, the world's oldest living person

Using 17 genomes, researchers were unable to find rare protein-altering variants significantly associated with extreme longevity, according to a study published November 12, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Hinco Gierman from Stanford University and colleagues.

Supercentenarians are the world’s oldest people, living beyond 110 years of age. Seventy-four are alive worldwide; 22 live in the U.S. The authors of this study performed whole-genome sequencing on 17 supercentenarians to… read more

An artificial retina based on semiconductor nanorods and carbon nanotubes

November 13, 2014

This novel, flexible film that can react to light is a promising step toward an artificial retina. (Credit: American Chemical Society)

An international team of researchers has combined semiconductor nanorods and carbon nanotubes to create a wireless, light-sensitive, flexible film that could potentially act in the place of a damaged retina.

When they tested it with a chick retina that normally doesn’t respond to light, they found that the film absorbed light, sparking neuronal activity.

Patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), for example, could potentially benefit from such a… read more

First comet landing!

November 12, 2014

Rosetta-Philae separation

UPDATE: full coverage (SPACE.com)

The Philae lander has separated from the Rosetta orbiter, according to ESA, and is now on its way to becoming the first spacecraft to touch down on a comet (Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko), with confirmation expected in a one-hour window centered on 16:02 GMT (11:02 AM EST) today (Wed. Nov. 12). The first image from the surface is expected some two hours later.… read more

Stretching when zapped by an electric current, muscle chains could mobilize microbots

November 12, 2014

Actuation of microscale fibers by alternating-current electric fields: (a) Ordered fiber before application of the electric field. (b) Structure during application of the electric field. (Scale bar, 3 micrometers) (Credit: Aayush A. Shah et al./Nature Materials)

University of Michigan (UM) researchers have developed chains of self-assembling particles that could serve as electrically activated muscles that could move microbots (microscopic robots).

These microbots could come in handy in medicine, manufacturing, and other areas. But there are several challenges, like building the microbots and making them mobile.

For the mobile part, Michael Solomon, a UM professor of chemical engineering, and his group started with particles with… read more

A battery made up of billions of nanoscale batteries

November 11, 2014

A billion nanopores could fit on a postage stamp. (Credit: NEES, a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center)

Imagine a battery made up of billions of nanoscale batteries — the ultimate miniaturization of energy storage.

That’s what researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) have invented, using a structure based on a nanopore: a tiny hole in a ceramic sheet that holds electrolyte to carry the electrical charge between nanotube electrodes at either end.

The researchers note in a paper in Nature Nanotechnology that such a… read more

Inkjet-printing electronics: pushing the envelope

November 11, 2014

a) Electonic inks for printing. (b) Inkjet printed shift register circuit. (c) Printed flexible imager (Credit: T.Ng/PARC)

New technology allows you to print electronic devices in the same way your inkjet printer prints a document or photo. Now researchers at Palo Alto Research Center have pushed this technique to another level by building a portable X-ray imager and small mechanical devices.

“It’s a demonstration of how far this technology can go,” said Tina Ng of the Palo Alto Research Center, who will describe these devices at… read more

Doping glass to function like a transistor could lead to super-fast computers

November 11, 2014

Optical fibers (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

British researchers have developed a new glass material that could allow computers to transfer information via light, significantly increasing computer processing speeds and power in the future.

The research by the University of Surrey, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and the University of Southampton, has found it is possible to change the electronic properties of amorphous chalcogenides.

This is a glass material used in… read more

Superintelligence: Bostrom at Berkeley

November 10, 2014

(Credit: C-SPAN)

A video has been posted by Book TV of a talk by Nick Bostrom, a professor, Oxford University, about his book, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, where he posits a future in which machines are more intelligent than humans and questions whether intelligent machines will try to save or destroy us.

He spoke at an event at University of California, Berkeley, hosted by the Machineread more

Beyond Interstellar: new visualizations of the event horizon of black holes

November 10, 2014

Visualization of computer model of plasma around a black hole (credit: UA)

University of Arizona (UA) astrophysicists are taking the special effects in the movie Interstellar a step further, generating what happens when matter flowing into a black hole crosses the event horizon, the point of no return, and then disappears.

To do that, the astrophysicists are using UA’s new supercomputer — nicknamed El Gato — combining knowledge from mathematical equations and astronomical observations to generate visualizations of an… read more

Novel process could let consumers 3D-print metal parts for the first time

November 9, 2014

CAD model of a crescent wrench (left) and the resulting printed part (right) (credit: Torabi Payman et al./3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing)

A novel 3D printing process called Selective Inhibition Sintering (SIS) promises to allow manufacturing of consumer 3D printers* that can print parts made of high-performance metals, which high-cost industrial 3D printers can already do.

The new process, developed at the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies at USC, is based on existing low-cost inkjet printing technology. It differs from traditional research in powder sintering* (a process of… read more

How to store solar energy more cost-effectively for use at night

November 7, 2014

Graphic shows how electrolysis could produce hydrogen as a way to store renewable energy. During the day, solar panels supply surplus electricity for electrolysis, producing hydrogen. At night, hydrogen would be combined with oxygen from the air to generate electricity. (Credit: Jakob Kibsgaard)

There’s currently no cost-effective, large-scale way to store solar energy, but Stanford researchers have developed a solution: using electrolysis to turn tanks of water and hydrogen into batteries. During the day, electricity from solar cells could be used to break apart water into hydrogen and oxygen. Recombining these gases would generate electricity for use at night.

There’s one major problem. Electrolysis uses electricity to crack the chemical bonds that… read more

Astronomers capture best image ever of planet formation

November 7, 2014

ALMA image of the young star HL Tau and its protoplanetary disk. This best image ever of planet formation reveals multiple rings and gaps that herald the presence of emerging planets as they sweep their orbits clear of dust and gas. (Credit: ALMA (NRAO/ESO/NAOJ); C. Brogan, B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF))

Astronomers have captured the best image ever of planet formation around an infant star, using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array’s (ALMA) new high-resolution capabilities.

The image reveals in astonishing detail the planet-forming disk surrounding HL Tau, a Sun-like star located approximately 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus.

The astronomers say ALMA uncovered never-before-seen features in this system, including multiple concentric rings separated by clearly defined gaps.… read more

High-fat diet postpones brain aging in mice

November 6, 2014

Kerala coconuts (credit: Dan Iserman CC)

A new Danish-led research suggests that signs of brain aging can be postponed in mice if they are placed on a high-fat diet. The finding may one day allow for developing treatments for children suffering from premature aging and patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

The new research project, headed by the Center for Healthy Aging, University of Copenhagen, and the National Institute of Health, studied mice having… read more

Brain-to-brain interface via Internet replicated, improved

November 6, 2014

The sender (left) is hooked to an electroencephalography machine that reads brain activity. A computer processes the brain signals and sends electrical pulses via the Web to the receiver (right) across campus.A transcranial magnetic stimulation coil is placed over the part of the brain that controls the receiver’s right hand movements.(Credit: Mary Levin, U of Wash.)

University of Washington researchers have successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people as part of a scientific study following the team’s initial demonstration a year ago, reported on KurzweilAI.

In the newly published study, which involved six people (instead of two), researchers were able to transmit the signals from one person’s brain over the Internet and use these signals to control the hand motions of… read more

‘Direct writing’ nanodiamond patterns from graphite

November 6, 2014

This illustration depicts a new technique that uses a pulsing laser to create synthetic nanodiamond films and patterns from graphite, with potential applications from biosensors to computer chips. (Credit: Purdue University/Gary Cheng)

Purdue University researchers have developed a method to instantly create synthetic nanodiamond films and patterns from graphite using a pulsing laser, with potential applications from biosensors to computer chips.

“The biggest advantage is that you can selectively deposit nanodiamond on rigid surfaces without the high temperatures and pressures normally needed to produce synthetic diamond,” said Gary Cheng, an associate professor of industrial engineering at .

“We do… read more

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