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Navy’s Star Wars-style laser weapon to be tested in Persian Gulf this summer

A "revolutionary capability" -- Chief of Naval Research
April 10, 2014

navy-laws

The U.S. Navy plans to install a prototype of the first laser weapon on USS Ponce for at-sea testing in the Persian Gulf late this summer.

The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) is a “revolutionary capability,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder. “It’s absolutely critical that we get this out to sea with our Sailors for these trials, because this very affordable technology is going to change… read more

Replacing a defective gene with a correct sequence to treat genetic disorders

April 10, 2014

NewsImage-GeneRepair

Using a new gene-editing system based on bacterial proteins, MIT researchers have cured mice of a rare liver disorder caused by a single genetic mutation.

The findings, described in the March 30 issue of Nature Biotechnology, offer the first evidence that this gene-editing technique, known as CRISPR, can reverse disease symptoms in living animals. CRISPR, which offers an easy way to snip out mutated DNA and replace it with… read more

Living organ regenerated for first time

April 10, 2014

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A team of scientists at the University of Edinburgh has rebuilt the thymus of an old mouse  — the first regeneration of a living organ.

After treatment, the regenerated organ had a structure similar to that found in a young mouse.

The  thymus is an organ in the body located next to the heart that produces important immune cells. The advance could pave the way for… read more

Using body movements as digital-music controllers

April 10, 2014

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Performers in the UBC Laptop Orchestra at the University of British Columbia use body movements to trigger programmed synthetic instruments or modify the sound of their live instruments in real time.

They strap motion sensors to their bodies and instruments, play wearable iPhone instruments, and swing Nintendo Wii or PlayStation Move controllers while Kinect video cameras track their movements.… read more

Is this the first map of dark matter?

April 9, 2014

gamma_ray_excess

A new study of gamma-ray light from the center of our galaxy makes the strongest case to date that some of this emission may arise from dark matter, an unknown substance making up most of the material universe. Using publicly available data from NASA‘s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, independent scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), the Massachusetts Institute of… read more

Carbon nanotubes as reinforcing bars to strengthen graphene and increase conductivity

Could substitute for expensive indium tin oxide in displays and solar cells, making them unbreakable
April 9, 2014

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Rice University chemists have created a new material that adds carbon nanotubes as reinforcing bars (“rebar”) — mimicking how steel rebar is used in concrete — to make it easier to manipulate, while improving the electrical and mechanical qualities of both materials.

The technique should be of interest to electronics manufacturers, said Rice chemist James Tour. He suggested that by stacking a few layers, the… read more

Forcing cancer cells to devour themselves by blocking a protein signal

April 9, 2014

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Under stress from chemotherapy or radiation, some cancer cells dodge death by autophagy — eating a bit of themselves — allowing them to essentially sleep through treatment and later awaken as tougher, resistant disease.

But interfering with a single cancer-promoting protein and its receptor can turn this resistance mechanism into lethal, runaway self-cannibalization, researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center report in the journal… read more

Pattern-recognition system for mobile devices blocks ‘shoulder surfers’

April 9, 2014

LatentGesture system monitors touch interaction to block "shoulder surfing" hackers from picking up passwords (credit: iStock)

Cybersecurity researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new security-software system called LatentGesture that continuously monitors how a user taps and swipes a mobile device. If the movements don’t match the owner’s patterns, the system recognizes the differences and if programmed, can lock the device.

In a recent Georgia Tech lab study, the system was nearly 98 percent accurate on a smartphone and 97 percent… read more

‘Transient electronics’ that dissolve when triggered

April 8, 2014

dissolving electroncis

Reza Montazami, an Iowa State University assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is developing technology he calls “transient materials” or “transient electronics” — special degradable polymer composite materials designed to quickly and completely melt away when a trigger is activated.

A medical device, once its job is done, could harmlessly melt away inside a person’s body. Or, a military device could collect and send its data and then dissolve away,… read more

A video game controller that can sense players’ emotions

April 8, 2014

Modified Xbox controller

Corey McCall, a Stanford University doctoral candidate, is developing a handheld game controller that monitors the player’s autonomic nervous system activity to indicate when a player is bored.

The  prototype controller was born from research conducted in the lab of Gregory Kovacs, a professor of electrical engineering, in collaboration with Texas Instruments.

Autonomic nervous system activity occurs when you get excited or bored, happy or sad, for… read more

Navy plans first live test of electromagnetic railgun on ship in 2016

April 8, 2014

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The U.S. Navy announced today (Apr. 7, 2014) that it plans to install and test a prototype electromagnetic railgun (EM railgun) aboard a joint high-speed vessel in fiscal year 2016 — the first time an electromagnetic railgun will be demonstrated at sea and a significant advance in naval combat.

EM railgun technology uses an electromagnetic force, known as the Lorenz Force, to… read more

Molybdenum disulfide as an alternative to graphene

Fast bottom-up creation of bulk material, better switching are among advantages
April 7, 2014

Schematic diagram of the MoS2 monolayer photosensor depicting the electrical connections and the laser photo-excitation (credit: Néstor Perea-López et al./2D Materials)

Molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) has been put forward by a group of researchers as a potential building block for the next generation of low-cost electrical devices as an alternative to graphene.

Because of its impressive ability to convert light into electricity at with high efficiency, single layers of the semiconducting material have been used to fabricate a widely used device known as a photosensor, which is found in a range… read more

Stick-on electronic patches for health monitoring

Better than fitness trackers on your wrist or clipped to your belt, the inventors say
April 7, 2014

Stickon-patch

Engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University have developed soft, thin stick-on patches that stretch and move with the skin, using commercially available, off-the-shelf chip-based electronics for sophisticated wireless health monitoring.

The patches stick to the skin like a temporary tattoo and incorporate a unique microfluidic construction, with wires folded like origami to allow the patch to bend and flex without being constrained by the… read more

How to create a large-area visible-light invisibility cloak

Harry Potter-style cloaking finally possible
April 7, 2014

Negative index material (11 layers) transferred to a glass substrate by n nanotransfer printing, with an enlarged view at the bottom left inset (credit:  Li Gao et al./Advanced Optical Materials)

University of Central Florida (UCF) scientists have created the first large-area metamaterial (cloaking material) for the visible-light spectral range*.

Controlling and bending light around an object so it appears invisible to the naked eye is the theory behind fictional invisibility cloaks. But so far, cloaking has been mainly limited to the microwave region or to micron-scale (millionths of a meter) objects in the visible-light region.

But UCF assistant… read more

Virtual robots teach each other Pac-Man and StarCraft video games

Teaching physical robots and humans planned
April 4, 2014

PacMan

Researchers in Washington State University’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science have developed a method to allow a computer to give advice and teach skills to another computer in a way that mimics how a real teacher and student might interact.

The paper by Matthew E. Taylor, WSU’s Allred Distinguished Professor in Artificial Intelligence, was published online in the journal Connection Science.

The researchers had… read more

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