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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

Hangout on Air: The Future of Cryonics (Sunday Dec. 1)

November 30, 2013

london_futurists

What lies in the future for cryonics — the practice of low-temperature suspended animation of people who have died of an incurable disease, in the hope of a future cure?

This London Futurists Hangout on Air will feature a live discussion between an international panel of people with practical experience of the world of cryonics: Max More, Anders Sandberg, Natasha Vita-More, and Garret Smyth.

The discussion aims to… read more

Mechanism behind blood stem cells’ longevity discovered

November 29, 2013

A blood stem cell dividing. Myosin IIB is labeled green and is concentrated on the side that will remain a stem cell.

A study from the University of Pennsylvania has uncovered one of the mechanisms that allow blood stem cells to keep dividing in perpetuity.

Background

The blood stem cells that live in bone marrow are at the top of a complex family tree. Such stem cells split and divide down various pathways that ultimately produce red cells, white cells, and platelets.

These “daughter” cells must be… read more

Molecular switch that controls neuron communication discovered

November 29, 2013

Cell image of RIM and SUMO colocalization in neurons (credit: University of Bristol)

University of Bristol researchers are a step closer to understanding how some of the brain’s 100 billion nerve cells coordinate communications.

Defects in this communication are associated with disorders such as epilepsy, autism and schizophrenia, and therefore these findings could lead to the development of novel neurological therapies.

Background

Neurons in the brain communicate with each other using chemicals called neurotransmitters. This release of neurotransmitter… read more

A material that can regenerate itself when damaged

November 29, 2013

This is a self-generating composite image.<br />
Credit: University of Pittsburgh

What if you could program  a broken or damaged object to regenerate itself — replenishing the damaged or missing components, and extending its lifetime — instead of replacing it or requiring costly repairs? Now University of Pittsburgh researchers have developed computational models of a new polymer gel that could do just that.

“This is one of the holy grails of materials science,” noted Anna C. Balazs, PhD,… read more

A genetically engineered weight-loss implant

Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner --- they're working on it
November 28, 2013

implantable_slimming_aid

ETH-Zurich biotechnologists have constructed an implantable genetic regulatory circuit that monitors blood-fat levels. In response to excessive levels, it produces a messenger substance that signals satiety (fullness) to the body. Tests on obese mice revealed that this helps them lose weight.

According to the WHO, over half the population in many industrialized nations is overweight, one in three people extremely so, with high-calorie and fatty food a lifetime on… read more

Creating synthetic antibodies to detect molecules

Synthetic polymers coating a nanoparticle surface can recognize specific molecules, just like an antibody, for detecting neurotransmitters, diseases, or environmental toxins, for example
November 27, 2013

MIT chemical engineers created this sensor that can recognize riboflavin by coating a carbon nanotube with amphiphilic polymers.<br />
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE RESEARCHERS

MIT chemical engineers have developed a novel way to generate nanoparticles that can recognize specific molecules, opening up a new approach to building durable sensors for many different compounds, among other applications.

To create these “synthetic antibodies,” the researchers used carbon nanotubes — hollow, nanometer-thick cylinders made of carbon that naturally fluoresce when exposed to laser light.

The MIT team coated the nanotubes with specifically designed… read more

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