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NSA tracks about five billion mobile-phone location records every day

December 5, 2013

(Credit: Verizon and NSA)

Based on the Edward Snowden documents, the NSA logs almost five billion mobile phone location records every day around the world via its CO-TRAVELER system, reports the Washington Post — a staggering total of 27 terabytes so far, by one account.

The data comes from tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones. “Sophisticated mathematical… read more

Berkeley Lab researchers achieve nanoscale shape-memory effect

December 5, 2013

This AFM image shows a recoverable phase transformation in a bismuth ferrite film introduced by an applied electric field. The dashed blue line shows the relocation of the phase boundaries.

A research team at Berkeley Lab has discovered a way to introduce a recoverable strain into bismuth ferrite of up to 14 percent on the nanoscale, larger than any shape-memory effect observed in a metal. This discovery opens the door to applications in a wide range of fields, including medical, energy and electronics.

“Our bismuth ferrite not only displayed the champion shape-memory value, it was also far… read more

New compound for slowing the aging process may lead to novel treatments for brain diseases

A step toward development of drugs for diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's
December 5, 2013

Will NT219, a new compound for slowing the aging process, \lead to novel treatments for brain diseases? (Credit:

Researchers at the Hebrew university of Jerusalem have found that TyrNovo’s NT219 compound selectively inhibits the process of aging of the brain from neurodegenerative diseases, without affecting lifespan — a step towards development of future drugs for treating various neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.

These diseases stem from toxic protein aggregation and emerge late in life. The common emergence pattern exhibited by these… read more

Hubble traces subtle signals of water on five distant planets

December 5, 2013

NASA scientists found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant planets orbiting three different stars. All five planets appear to be hazy. This illustration shows a star's light illuminating the atmosphere of a planet.<br />
Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Two teams of scientists have found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant planets.

The presence of atmospheric water was reported previously on a few exoplanets orbiting stars beyond our solar system, but this is the first study to conclusively measure and compare the profiles and intensities of these signatures on multiple worlds.

Using NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope,  they observed five planets —… read more

Memories are ‘geotagged’ with spatial information, researchers find

December 4, 2013

Kahana Videogame Still

Neurons that encode spatial information form “geotags” for specific memories and these geotags are activated immediately before those memories are recalled, a team of neuroscientists from the University of Pennsylvania and Freiburg University has discovered.

They used a video game in which people navigate through a virtual town delivering objects to specific locations.

“These findings provide the first direct neural evidence for the idea that the… read more

A DNA nanocage for transporting drugs in the body

December 4, 2013

Jagger figure 1

A method for developing a “nanocage” — which may eventually enable transport of medications in the body to target diseased cells — has been developed by researchers at Aarhus University and colleagues in Italy and the U.S.

Using DNA self-assembly, the researchers designed eight unique DNA molecules from the body’s own natural DNA molecules. When these DNA molecules are mixed together, they spontaneously aggregate in… read more

A new process for producing synthetic gasoline based on carbon nanofibers

December 4, 2013

carbon nanofibers featured

A chemical system developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago can efficiently perform the first step in the process of creating synthetic gasoline (syngas) and other energy-rich products out of carbon dioxide.

The key to the new process is a novel “co-catalyst” system using inexpensive, easy-to-fabricate carbon-based nanofiber materials that efficiently convert carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide, a useful starting material for synthesizing fuels. The… read more

Combining antennas with solar panels for high efficiency, low weight and volume

December 3, 2013

antenna-solar cell

Researchers at EPFL have managed to combine telecommunication antennas and solar cells to work together with unprecedented efficiency.

Traditionally, antennas and solar cells have never worked well together, as they have to function independently of each other in order to avoid interference. This has an impact on the weight and size of satellites — the surface area has to be large enough for both antenna systems, which… read more

New electron microscope captures movements of atoms and molecules

December 3, 2013

msu_microscope_atoms_molecules

A new microscope invented at Michigan State University allows scientists to zoom in on the movements of atoms and molecules.

Electron microscopes allow scientists to see the structure of microorganisms, cells, metals, crystals and other tiny structures that weren’t visible with light microscopes. But the relationship between structure and function could only be estimated because of static images. In the 1990s, researchers added a fourth dimension —… read more

A flying jellyfish-like machine

A replacement for Amazon's octocopters?
December 3, 2013

Flying jellyfish (credit: L. Ristroph/NYU)

New York University researchers have built a small vehicle whose flying motion resembles the movements of a jellyfish or moth — a new method of flight that could enable miniaturized future robots for surveillance, search-and-rescue, and monitoring of the atmosphere and traffic.

Many approaches to building small aerial robots try to mimic the flight of insects such as fruit flies. The problem, says Leif Ristroph of NYU, is that… read more

Origami solves a space problem

December 3, 2013

Mechanical engineering PhD student Shannon Zirbel and a team of students work on a solar array prototype that uses Origami (credit:

Brigham Young University (BYU) engineers have teamed up with a world-renowned origami expert to solve one of space exploration’s greatest (and most ironic) problems: lack of space.

Working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a team of mechanical engineering students and faculty have designed a solar array that can be tightly compacted for launch and then deployed in space to generate power for space stations or satellites.

Applying… read more

Patent awarded for treating obesity and related conditions [exclusive]

December 3, 2013

Obese vs. normal mouse (unrelated to the experiment) (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

U.S. Patent No. 8,598,150 was awarded today (Dec. 3) for the use of an antioxidant compound called MnTBAP* for treatment of obesity and obesity-related conditions, such as insulin resistance or pre-diabetes.

The patent was filed by two Skidmore College researchers: Jonathan R. Brestoff Parker and professor Thomas H. Reynolds, IV.

In unpublished mouse experiments, they found that the compound decreases obesity by promoting triglyceride breakdown… read more

First use of retrograde gene therapy on a human heart

Procedure delivers stem cells to the heart to repair damaged muscle and arteries
December 2, 2013

JuventasRetrograde_11-04-13a

A new procedure designed to deliver stem cells to the heart to repair damaged muscle and arteries in the most minimally invasive way possible has been performed for the first time by Amit Patel, M.D., director of Clinical Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering and an associate professor in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Patel started… read more

Drug-carrying nanoparticles delivered orally to replace injections

May have a major impact on the treatment of many diseases by enabling drugs currently limited by low bioavailability to be efficiently delivered though oral administration
December 2, 2013

nanoparticle transport - featured

MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) researchers have developed a new type of nanoparticle that can be delivered orally and absorbed through the digestive tract, allowing patients to simply take a pill instead of receiving injections.

The new nanoparticles are coated with antibodies that act as a key to unlock receptors found on the surfaces of cells that line the intestine, allowing the nanoparticles to break… read more

Amazon hopes to deliver packages via drones within 5 years

December 1, 2013

(Credit: Amazon)

Amazon hopes to use autonomous octocopter drones to deliver small packages to customers within 30 minutes, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced Sunday in a 60 Minutes interview with Charlie Rose.

Amazon says putting the new Amazon Prime Air service into commercial use “will take some number of years as we advance the technology and wait for the… read more

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