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A Kinect-powered depression detector

April 2, 2013

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Using a Kinect depth camera and some ingenious computer vision algorithms, SimSensei can diagnose whether you’re depressed or not with 90% accuracy, MIT Technology Review reports.

The system uses an interactive digital avatar to conduct a verbal interview with the person being screened for depression.Skeletal polygonal overlays map the depressed human’s posture, gaze direction, and even “smile level.”

A knack for bashing orthodoxy

September 21, 2011

“It’s highly plausible that in the universe there are God-like creatures,” says evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, but belief in the supernatural strikes him as incurious, which is perhaps the worst insult he can imagine. “Religion teaches you to be satisfied with nonanswers,” he says. “It’s a sort of crime against childhood.”

His first children’s book, The Magic of Reality, appears this fall.

He talks of the possibility that… read more

A Land Rover That Drives Itself

October 3, 2007

Talos, a Land Rover that drives itself, is MIT’s entry in the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) “Urban Challenge” robotic car race, which will take place on November 3, in Victorville, CA.

MIT’s Talos is equipped with numerous laser range finders, radar units, Global Positioning Systems, and video cameras, and novel software that runs on 10 quad-core computers in the Land Rover’s trunk to make sense of the… read more

A Laser Gets at the Layers

August 18, 2004

A new “selective plane illumination microscope” uses a slice of laser light to illuminate an intact specimen one thin layer at a time, building a high-resolution picture of the entire specimen without cutting it.

Samples can be kept alive and studied for hours or days while tissues develop and differentiate. The scientists say the microscope has better resolution than other living-sample imaging techniques, like multiphoton microscopy.

A laser that could find and zap tumors

Also penetrates the skull for brain tumors, researchers say
August 2, 2012

Femtosecond laser (credit: University of Tennessee Space Institute)

Researchers at the Center for Laser Applications at the University of Tennessee Space Institute have invented a system that uses lasers to find, map, and non-invasively destruct cancerous tumors.

The technology uses a femtosecond laser (creating pulses lasting one-quadrillionth of a second). The high speed enables the laser to quickly focus in on a specific region without overheating.

“Using ultra-short light pulses gives us the ability… read more

A layer of microspheres can slow sound waves

Potential to shrink devices, create new types of sensors
August 5, 2013

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MIT researchers have created two-dimensional arrays of micrograins that can funnel acoustic waves, much as specially designed crystals can control the passage of light or other waves.

The granular material behaves much like a crystal, with its close-packed grains mimicking the precise, orderly arrangement of crystalline atoms.

The researchers say the findings could lead to a new way of controlling frequencies in electronic devices… read more

A less-expensive way to duplicate the complicated steps of photosynthesis in making fuel

January 23, 2014

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Argonne National Laboratory researchers have found a new, more efficient, less-expensive way to make fuel — principally, hydrogen — from sunlight and water: linking a synthetic cobalt-containing catalyst to an organic light-sensitive molecule called a chromophore.

Chromophore molecules, such as chlorophyll, are involved in capturing light for photosynthesis.

Currently, the most efficient methods we have for  making fuel involve rare and expensive metal catalysts, such… read more

A light switch for pain

February 20, 2014

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A team of Bio-X researchers at Stanford has developed mice whose sensitivity to pain can be dialed up or down simply by shining light on their paws.

The research could help scientists understand and eventually treat chronic pain in humans.

The mice in Scott Delp’s lab, unlike their human counterparts, can get pain relief  from the glow of a yellow light.

“This is an entirely… read more

A Light Switch for the Brain

April 5, 2007

Scientists have developed a light-triggered switch to control brain cells, which could aid in the development of therapies for epilepsy and other diseases–and shed light on the neural code.

A ‘light switch’ in the brain illuminates neural wiring

April 10, 2013

Virus-induced optogenetic labeling of neurons. Right: closeup of rectangular area.  (Credit: Sheng-Jia Zhang et al./Science)

In a vivid example of how neuroscientists are meticulously tracing the microwiring of the brain, Norwegian researchers have used an optogenetic light switch to see (literally) which neurons communicate with each other in one small section of the brain.

The researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)’s Kavli Institute of Systems Neuroscience use a virus that acts as a… read more

A Link To Longevity: Cholesterol-bearing Molecules

November 7, 2003

Centenarians tend to have larger than average cholesterol-carrying molecules, says a new study. It adds to evidence suggesting that the size of lipoproteins, both good and bad, may play a significant role in heart disease and diabetes and thus longevity. It also found that subjects with cardiovascular problems were less likely to have large lipoproteins.

A Little Black Box to Jog Failing Memory

March 9, 2010

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Sensecam, which contains a digital camera and an accelerometer to measure movement, can be used for life-logging and as a memory aid for people with Alzheimer’s and other memory disorders.

A little device that’s trying to read your thoughts

April 4, 2012

iBrain (credit: NeuroVigil)

Neuroscientist Philip Low is attempting to use his iBrain single-channel EEG recording device to help Stephen Hawking communicate by just thinking.

“The idea is to see if Stephen can use his mind to create a consistent and repeatable pattern that a computer can translate into, say, a word or letter or a command for a computer,” he said.

Low’s company, NeuroVigil, plans to repeat the study… read more

A long-lasting, water-based nuclear-energy-powered battery

Could be used in cars, emergency devices, and spaceships
September 19, 2014

Schematic diagram and photograph of the Pt-nanoporous TiO2 electrode (credit: Baek Hyun Kim & Jae W. Kwon/Scientific Reports)

University of Missouri (MU) researchers have developed a prototype of an efficient nuclear-energy-powered* battery that does not require recharging and could be a reliable energy source in automobiles and space vehicles.

Betavoltaics [a battery technology that generates electrical power from beta-particle radiation] has been studied as an energy source since the 1950s,” said Jae W. Kwon, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and… read more

A look inside Leap Motion, the 3D gesture control that’s like Kinect on steroids

June 27, 2012

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Leap Motion‘s motion-tracking system is more powerful, more accurate, smaller, cheaper, and just more impressive than Kinect.

The Leap uses a number of camera sensors to map out a workspace of sorts — it’s a 3D space in which you operate as you normally would, with almost none of the Kinect’s angle and distance restrictions.

Currently the Leap uses VGA camera sensors, and the workspace… read more

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