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The most comprehensive 3-D map of the universe

April 29, 2015

A slice through the 3D map of the nearby universe. Our Milky Way galaxy is in the centre, marked by a cross.  The map spans nearly two billion light years from side to side. Regions with many galaxies are shown in white or red, whereas regions with fewer galaxies are dark blue.  (Credit: University of Waterloo)

Astrophysicists have created a 3D map of the universe that spans nearly two billion light years and is the most complete picture of our cosmic neighborhood to date.

The spherical map of galaxy superclusters will lead to a greater understanding of how matter is distributed in the universe and provide key insights into dark matter, one of physics’ greatest mysteries, the astronomers say.

“The galaxy distribution isn’t uniform… read more

A new material for creating artificial blood vessels

Human trials expected in a few years
April 29, 2015

The artificial material (left) combines well with the biomaterial (right) (montage). (Credit: TU Wien)

Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) and Vienna Medical University (MedUni Vienna) researchers have developed artificial blood vessels made from a special elastomer material (thermoplastic polyurethanes) with excellent mechanical properties.

The artificial blood vessels are designed to be broken down by the body and replaced with its own tissue. At the end of this restorative process, a natural, fully functional vessel will be… read more

Three babies given 3-D printed custom-designed airway splints found healthy in follow-up study

April 29, 2015

A baby’s life was saved with this groundbreaking 3-D printed device that restored his breathing (credit: University of Michigan Health System)

Three babies who received groundbreaking 3-D-printed devices that helped keep their airways open are today healthy, off of ventilators, and no longer need paralytics, narcotics and sedation, say researchers have closely followed their cases to see how well the bioresorable splints implanted in all three patients have worked.

The promising results were published in today’s (April 29) issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Kaiba was just a newborn when he… read more

New insight into how the brain makes memories

Linked to autism and Alzheimer’s disease
April 28, 2015


Every time you make a memory, somewhere in your brain a tiny filament called a dendritic spine reaches out from one neuron and forms an electrochemical connection to a neighboring neuron. Now a team of biologists at Vanderbilt University has discovered more about how these connections are formed at the molecular and cellular level.

In a series of experiments described in the April 17 issue of the Journalread more

Neurons constantly rewrite their DNA to store information

May be a key to brain disorders
April 28, 2015

Images of mouse neurons from the hippocampal region of the brain. Levels of the surface receptor GluR1, orange, are shown in unmodified neurons, left, and in those with increased levels of Tet3, right (credit: Huimei Yu, Johns Hopkins Medicine)

Johns Hopkins and UCLA scientists have discovered that neurons use minor “DNA surgeries” to control their activity levels all day, every day. Since these activity levels are important in learning, memory and brain disorders, the researchers think their finding will shed light on a range of important questions.

“We used to think that once a cell reaches full maturation, its DNA is totally stable, including the molecular… read more

DARPA aims to improve memory skills

Research may also help civilians deal with an increasingly information-dense world
April 28, 2015

RAM graphic (credit: DARPA)

A new DARPA research program called Restoring Active Memory Replay (RAM Replay) aims to investigate the role of neural “replay” in the formation and recall of memory.

The goal is to help individuals better remember specific episodic events and learned skills. The military application is to improve rehabilitation and recovery for injured warfighters challenged by impaired memory.

The program is designed to develop “novel,… read more

NASA’s ambitious new effort to detect life on other planets

The key: detecting faint reflected light while filtering out the planet's sun
April 28, 2015

A new program in the search for life beyond our solar system will involve Stanford, UC Berkeley and NASA and will call on the skills of scientists researching life on Earth, other planets in our solar system, and worlds that orbit other stars. (Credit: NASA illustration)

A new interdisciplinary research program from NASA called NExSS (Nexus for Exoplanet System Science) brings together an interdisciplinary team of scientists at ten universities, three NASA centers, and two research institutes to devise new technologies and techniques for detecting life on exoplanets (planets around other stars).

The program brings together planetary scientists, Earth scientists, heliophysicists, and astronomers to identify and search for biosignatures, or signs of life and to explore… read more

Novel polarization forms promise to radically increase data speeds

New technique allows data transmitted on a single laser beam to be scaled to terabits or even petabits
April 26, 2015

Light's polarization is manipulated into novel shapes carrying additional data, according to the CCNY research (credit: CCNY)

As the world’s exponentially growing demand for digital data slows down the Internet and cell phone communication, City College of New York researchers may have just figured out a dramatic new way to increase transmission speed.

“Conventional methods of data transmission [that] use light … are being exhausted by data-hungry technologies, such as smart phones and cloud computing,” said Giovanni Milione, a PhD student under City… read more

’4-D printing’ objects that morph based on stimuli like water and heat

"3D printing is so last year --- we're onto 4D printing now," say Australian researchers
April 26, 2015

Another dimension: Professor Marc in het Panhuis and PhD student Shannon Bakarich are building objects using 4-D printing, where time is the fourth dimension (credit: University of Wollongong/Paul Jones)

Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) at the University of Wollongong (UOW) are developing 3-D printed materials that morph into new structures under the influence of external stimuli such as water or heat. They refer to this process as “4-D printing,” where the fourth dimension is time.

The researchers are currently exploring a use in manufacturing a valve that actuates… read more

A cheaper magnetic material for cars, wind turbines

April 26, 2015

Scientist Arjun Pathak arc melts material in preparation for producing a new type of magnet (credit: Ames Laboratory)

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory have created a new magnetic alloy that is an alternative to traditional rare-earth permanent magnets.

The new alloy — a potential lower-cost replacement for high-performance permanent magnets found in automobile engines and wind turbines — eliminates the use of one of the scarcest and costliest rare earth elements, dysprosium, and instead uses cerium, the most abundant rare earth.… read more

A fast, high-quality, inexpensive 3-D camera

Overcomes the quality and lighting limitations of the Kinect
April 26, 2015

Motion Contrast 3D prototype scanner

Northwestern University engineers have developed a 3-D capture camera that produces high-quality images and works in all environments, including outdoors, overcoming limitations of Microsoft’s Kinect. It’s also designed to be inexpensive.

The research is headed by Oliver Cossairt, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering,

Both first and second generation… read more

Why declining investment in basic research threatens a US innovation deficit

April 24, 2015

research lab

Declining U.S. federal government research investment — from just under 10 percent in 1968 to less than 4 percent in 2015 — in critical fields such as cybersecurity, infectious disease, plant biology, and Alzheimer’s are threatening an “innovation deficit,” according to a new MIT report to be released Monday, April 27.

U.S. competitors are increasing their investment in basic research. The European Space Agency successfully landed the first spacecraft… read more

Scientists create the sensation of invisibility

Could help reduce stress in challenging social situations
April 24, 2015

Ph.D. student Zakaryah Abdulkarim, M.D., shows how to create the illusion of invisibility in the lab (photomontage). (Credit: Staffan Larsson)

How would it feel to be invisible? Neuroscientists at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet have found out. It can actually changes your physical stress response in challenging social situations, for example.

The history of literature features many well-known narrations of invisibility and its effect on the human mind, such as the myth of Gyges’ ring in Plato’s dialogue The Republic and the science fiction novel The Invisible Man by H.G.… read more

How to create a computer in a test tube

Self-organizing single molecules controlled by light may be the future of computing
April 24, 2015

For the first time a light beam switches a single molecule to closed state (red atoms). At the ends of the diarylethene molecule gold electrodes are attached. This way, the molecule functions as an electrical switch. (Credit: HZDR/Pfefferkorn)

How many individual molecules does it take to automatically create a circuit? The answer: one, if you use light to switch it on and off, say scientists at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the University of Konstanz.

The trick: a strong bond between individual atoms that weakens in one location and forms again precisely when energy is pumped into the structure.

The first molecular switch

These… read more

Researchers in China have created genetically modified human embryos

Public interest group calls for strengthening global policies against human germline modification
April 23, 2015

Human embryos are at the centre of a debate over the ethics of gene editing (credit: Dr. Yorgos Nikas/SPL)

A research team in China has created genetically modified human embryos using the gene-editing technique CRISPR/Cas9, according to a report in the online journal Protein & Cell.

The experiments were conducted by a research team led by Junjiu Huang of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China.

Human germline modification is widely considered unethical for both safety and social reasons. Using germline modification… read more

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