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Taking 3D printing into the metal age

October 16, 2013

mars_probe_3d_printed

The European Space Agency (ESA)and the EU, together with industrial and educational partners, are developing the first large-scale production methods to 3D-print complex 3D-printed parts made of metal that can withstand temperatures at 1000°C — fit for space and the most demanding applications on Earth.

3D printers are expected to revolutionize the way we live but until recently they could work with only plastic, which… read more

A biomimetic artificial leg with a natural gait

October 16, 2013

(Credit: Michigan Technological University)

Researchers at Michigan Technological University and a Mayo Clinic scientist are working on a microprocessor-controlled ankle-foot prosthesis that comes close to achieving the innate range of motion of this highly complex joint.

It has pressure-sensitive sensors on the bottom of the foot that detect how an amputee is walking. The sensors instantaneously send signals to a microprocessor, which in turn adjusts the prosthesis to make walking more… read more

What does the assistive robot of the future look like?

October 16, 2013

human vs robot face

It depends. Older and younger people have varying preferences about what they would want a personal robot to look like, and they change their minds based on what the robot is supposed to do, a new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology has found.

Participants were shown a series of photos portraying either robotic, human, or mixed human-robot faces and were asked to select… read more

Laser slicing technique lets scientists explore the 3D structure of small objects

Awesome videos alert
October 15, 2013

Yellowjackethead

Penn State scientists have developed a powerful new tool for exploring the three-dimensional structure of small objects.

Using a nanosecond-pulse laser, then-student Benjamin Hall developed a method* to slice 11 identically spaced root samples per second.

“Then I had to take the samples all the way across campus to the root lab to have them analyzed,” Hall says.

“It was easier to buy… read more

Open-source Internet of Things platform could help spur smarter homes and cities

October 15, 2013

open_remote

If you buy several Internet-connected home gadgets — say, a “smart” thermostat, “smart” door lock, and “smart” window blinds — you’ll likely have to control each one with a separate app, meaning it exists in its own little silo.

That’s not how Elier Ramirez does it. In his home, an iPad app controls his lights, ceiling fans, and TV and stereo. Pressing a single button within… read more

A Bitcoin backlash?

October 15, 2013

bitcoin

Governments and established financial institutions are likely to launch a campaign to quash the decentralized digital currency Bitcoin, according to a leading economist and academic. Simon Johnson, a professor of entrepreneurship at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, expects Bitcoin to face political pressure and aggressive lobbying from big banks because of its disruptive nature, MIT Technology Review reports.

The code that supports and… read more

Restoring touch for amputees using a touch-sensitive prosthetic hand

October 15, 2013

prosthetic_limbs

New research at the University of Chicago is laying the groundwork for touch-sensitive prosthetic limbs that one day could convey real-time sensory information to amputees via a direct interface with the brain.

The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (open access) marks an important step toward new technology that, if implemented successfully, would increase the dexterity and clinical viability of… read more

NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally

October 15, 2013

NSA documents

The National Security Agency is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans, according to senior intelligence officials and top-secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, The Washington Post reports.

  • The collection program, which has not been disclosed before, intercepts e-mail address books

read more

Apple’s new headquarters: an exclusive sneak peek

October 14, 2013

apple-cupertino-hq-main1

The site of Apple’s proposed new spaceship-shaped headquarters that goes before the City Council Tuesday for an initial vote “will be one of the most environmentally sustainable developments on this scale anywhere in the world,” according ot Dan Whisenhunt, San Jose Mercury News reports.

Apple Campus 2 promises to bring a world-class real-estate project — along with a lot of traffic congestion — to the heart of… read more

Water discovered in remnants of extrasolar rocky world orbiting white dwarf

October 14, 2013

wateryasteroidscience

Astrophysicists have found the first evidence of a water-rich rocky planetary body outside our solar system in its shattered remains orbiting a white dwarf.

A new study by scientists at the Universities of Warwick and Cambridge analyzed the dust and debris surrounding the white dwarf star GD61 170 light years away.

Using observations obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope and the large telescopes of… read more

Possible breakthrough using graphene for solar cells

Graphene retains its exceptional conductivity and transparency when coated with silicon film
October 14, 2013

graphene_on_glass_substrate

Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) Institute for Silicon Photovoltaics have shown that graphene retains its impressive set of properties when it is coated with a thin silicon film.

These findings may allow for entirely new possibilities to use graphene in thin-film photovoltaics.

Graphene has extreme conductivity and is completely transparent while being inexpensive and nontoxic. This would makes it a perfect candidate material… read more

How a microstructure can self-heal by pulling it apart

Surprising finding could lead to self-healing materials that repair incipient damage before it has a chance to spread
October 14, 2013

A computer simulation of the molecular stucture of palladium, showing the boundaries between microcystalline grains (white lines forming hexagons), shows a small crack (dark horizontal bar just right of bottom center) that mends itself as the grain boundary migrates. This simulation was one of several the MIT researchers used to uncover this new self-healing phenomenon.

Under certain conditions, putting a cracked piece of metal under tension — that is, exerting a force that would be expected to pull it apart — has the reverse effect, causing the crack to close and its edges to fuse together, MIT researchers  have discovered.

The surprising finding could lead to self-healing materials that repair incipient damage before it has a chance to spread.

The… read more

How exercise boosts brain health

October 14, 2013

How exercise stimulates increased hippocampal BDNF gene expression. BDNF is the master regulator of nerve-cell survival, differentiation, and plasticity in the brain. This will lead to improved cognitive function, learning, and memory.

Research has shown that exercise is good for the brain. Now investigators have identified a molecule called irisin that is produced in the brain during endurance exercise and has neuroprotective effects.

Researchers were able to artificially increase the levels of irisin in the blood to activate genes involved in learning and memory. The findings may be useful for designing drugs that use this exercise-induced molecule to guard… read more

A super-resolution window into the center of a cell

October 11, 2013

Focal adhesions and actin-jpeg

A new microscopic technique that can see tiny structures inside the “control center” of the cell for the first time has been developed by researchers at Queen Mary University of London,

It represents a major advance for cell biologists because it will allow them to investigate structures deep inside the cell, such as viruses, bacteria, and parts of the nucleus in depth.

Recent advances in… read more

INFERNOS project: Maxwell’s Demon in nanoscale systems

October 11, 2013

infernos-project

The European INFERNOS (Information, fluctuations, and energy control in small systems) project aims to realize experimentally Maxwell’s Demon* by developing electronic and biomolecular nanodevices that support this principle.

Project partners met earlier this week at the Faculty of Physics of the University of Barcelona. The project is centered on considering information as a thermodynamic parameter.

Its ideas may be applied to different… read more

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