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Molecular flip in crystals driven by light creates microrobotic propulsion

Could lead to bio-inspired microrobots that deliver drugs to target tissues
July 8, 2016

flipping crystal ft

Hokkaido University researchers have designed a crystal material that continually flips between two positions like a paddle, propelling an attached structure, when stimulated by blue light. It could lead to bio-inspired microrobots that deliver drugs to target tissues, for example.

The team made azobenzene-oleic acid crystals, composed of an organic compound called azobenzene, commonly used in dye manufacturing, and oleic acid, commonly found in cooking oil. Azobenzene molecules… read more

Facebook’s Secret Conversations

This message will self-destruct in __ seconds
July 8, 2016

shhh!

Facebook began today (Friday, July 8) rolling out a new beta-version feature for Messenger called “Secret Conversations,” allowing for “one-to-one secret conversations … that will be end-to-end encrypted and which can only be read on one device of the person you’re communicating with.”

Facebook suggests the feature will be useful for discussing an illness or sending financial information (as in the pictures above).  You can choose to set a… read more

Robot mimics vertebrate motion

May help develop future therapies and neuroprosthetic devices for paraplegic patients and amputees
July 7, 2016

Pleurobot (credit: EPFL)

École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) scientists have invented a new robot called “Pleurobot” that mimics the way salamanders walk and swim with unprecedented detail.

Aside from being cool (and a likely future Disney attraction), the researchers believe designing the robot will provide a new tool for understanding the evolution of vertebrate locomotion. That could lead to better understanding of how the spinal cord controls the body’s locomotion, which… read more

New tech could have helped police locate shooters in Dallas

Chinese traffic police already testing system
July 7, 2016

(credit: Fox News)

JULY 8, 3:56 AM EDT — Livestreamed data from multiple users with cell phones and other devices could be used to help police locate shooters in a situation like the one going on right now in Dallas, says Jon Fisher, CEO of San Francisco-based CrowdOptic.

Here’s how it would work: You view (or record a video of) a shooter with your phone. Your location and… read more

Surprising discovery of highly dynamic changes in olfactory region of the adult mouse brain

July 5, 2016

In light brown, in the center of the image, a new adult-born neuron. The neurons in blue are synaptic partner neurons, which connect to the new neurons. The neurons in dark brown are pre-existing neurons. (credit: © Institut Pasteur/PM Lledo)

Scientists from the Institut Pasteur and the CNRS have made the surprising discovery that new neurons formed in the olfactory bulb of adult mice are constantly reorganizing the billions of synaptic contacts they establish among themselves (also described as constant structural plasticity).

The researchers found this puzzling because constant structural plasticity is normally confined to specific critical periods after birth, and “plasticity in neural circuits… read more

How to bring the entire web to VR

July 1, 2016

cardboard

Google is working on new features to bring the web to VR, according to Google Happiness Evangelist .

To help web developers embed VR content in their web pages, the Google Chromium team has been working towards WebVR support in Chromium (programmers: see Chromium Code Reviews), Beaufort said. That means you can now use Cardboard- or Daydream-ready VR viewers to see… read more

A host of common chemicals endanger child brain development, NIH journal reports

These widely used toxic chemicals "can contribute to learning, behavioral, or intellectual impairment, as well as specific neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD or autism spectrum disorder"
July 1, 2016

In addition to mercury and lead, flame retardants, air pollutants and chemicals found in many plastics, cosmetics and food containers can disrupt child brain development, researchers say. (credit: Graphic by Julie McMahon)

In a new open-access report in the NIH journal Environmental Health Perspectives, 47 scientists, health practitioners, and children’s health advocates have made a consensus statement in “Project TENDR: Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks“ — endorsed by nine medical organizations — and issued a call to action for renewed attention to the growing evidence that many common and widely available chemicals endanger neurodevelopment in fetuses and children of all ages.… read more

Prenatal exposure to acetaminophen may increase autism spectrum symptoms

July 1, 2016

Tylenol PM (left) and Tylenol (right) (credit: Ragesoss/CC)

A new study has found that paracetamol (aka acetaminophen; trade names include Tylenol and Panadol), which is used extensively during pregnancy, has a strong association with autism spectrum symptoms in boys and for both genders in relation to attention-related and hyperactivity symptoms.

The findings* were published this week in the International Journal of Epidemiology. This is the first study of its kind… read more

A spectacular survey of the distant universe

Looking back in time at 250,000 galaxies --- some within the first billion years after the Big Bang
June 30, 2016

An image of a small section (0.4 percent) of the UDS field. Most of the objects in the image are very distant galaxies, observed as they were over 9 billion years ago. In the full image, 250,000 galaxies have been detected over an area of sky four times the size of the full moon. (credit: Omar Almaini, University of Nottingham)

Astronomers at The University of Nottingham have released spectacular new infrared images of the distant Universe, providing the deepest view ever obtained over a large area of sky — showing more than 250,000 galaxies, including several hundred observed within the first billion years after the Big Bang.

The images are from the final data release from the Ultra-Deep Survey (UDS), which maps an area four times the size of… read more

First self-driving vehicle death

"Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky"
June 30, 2016

Tesla Model S (credit: Tesla)

A Tesla Model S car was involved in a fatal crash yesterday, Tesla Motors announced today, June 30, on its blog.

“Joshua Brown, a 40-year-old Ohio owner of a Tesla Model S, died when his electric car drove under the trailer of an 18-wheel truck on a highway in Williston, Fla.,” The Wall Street Journal reports, based on local news reports.

“The vehicle was on… read more

A smarter ‘bionic’ cardiac patch that doubles as advanced pacemaker/arrhythmia detector

"Cardiac patches might one day simply be delivered by injection" --- Charles Lieber
June 28, 2016

nanoelectronic scaffold - cardiac tissue ft

Harvard researchers have designed nanoscale electronic scaffolds (support structures) that can be seeded with cardiac cells to produce a new “bionic” cardiac patch (for replacing damaged cardiac tissue with pre-formed tissue patches). It also functions as a more sophisticated pacemaker: In addition to electrically stimulating the heart, the new design can change the pacemaker stimulation frequency and direction of signal propagation.

In addition, because because its electronic components are… read more

AI beats top U.S. Air Force tactical air combat experts in combat simulation

"Genetic fuzzy tree” software enables Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles to function 250 times faster than humans
June 28, 2016

Retired United States Air Force Colonel Gene Lee, in a flight simulator, takes part in simulated air combat versus artificial intelligence technology developed by a team comprised of industry, US Air Force and University of Cincinnati representatives. (credit: Lisa Ventre, University of Cincinnati Distribution A: Approved for public release; distribution unlimited. 88ABW Cleared 05/02/2016; 88ABW-2016-2270)

The U.S. Air Force got a wakeup call recently when AI software called ALPHA — running on a tiny $35 Raspberry Pi computer — repeatedly defeated retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Gene Lee, a top aerial combat instructor and Air Battle Manager, and other expert air-combat tacticians at the U.S. Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) in Dayton, Ohio. The contest was conducted in a high-fidelity air combat simulator.

According to… read more

This remarkable fish has no cortex but intelligently switches between electrical and vision senses

Is the cortex overrated?
June 27, 2016

The elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii) explores objects in its surroundings by using its eyes or its electrical sense. (credit: © Photo: Timo Moritz)

With its tiny brain (and no cortex), the elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii)* achieves performance comparable to that of humans or other mammals in certain tasks, according to zoologists at the University of Bonn and a colleague from Oxford.

To perceive objects in the water, the fish uses electrolocation (similar to the echolocation of bats) to perceive objects in the water, aided by an electrical organ in… read more

Artificial synapse said to rival biological synapses in energy consumption and function

June 27, 2016

neuronal network & ONW ST

An artificial synapse that emulates a biological synapse while requiring less energy has been developed by Pohang University Of Science & Technology (POSTECH) researchers* in Korea.

A human synapse consumes an extremely small amount of energy (~10 fJ or femtojoules** per synaptic event).

The researchers have fabricated an organic nanofiber (ONF), or organic nanowire (ONW), electronic device that emulates the important working principles and… read more

Are you ready for mood-altering drugs precisely inserted into your brain?

June 24, 2016

PFC-directed oscillatory interactions ft

Imagine if doctors could precisely insert a tiny amount of a custom drug into a specific circuit in your brain and improve your depression (or other mood problems) — instead of treating the entire brain.

That’s exactly what Duke University researchers have explored in mice. Stress-susceptible animals that appeared depressed or anxious were restored to relatively normal behavior this way, according to a study appearing in the… read more

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