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Glass paint could keep metal roofs and other structures cool even on sunny days

Could also reduce energy expenditures for air conditioning
August 16, 2015

Silica-based paint (credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab)

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab have developed a new, environmentally friendly paint made from glass that bounces sunlight off metal surfaces — keeping them cool and durable.

“Most paints you use on your car or house are based on polymers, which degrade in the ultraviolet light rays of the sun,” says Jason J. Benkoski, Ph.D. “So over time you’ll have chalking… read more

Trans fats, but not saturated fats, linked to greater risk of death and heart disease

August 14, 2015

Which of these is a killer food? (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A study led by researchers at McMaster University has found that that trans fats are associated with greater risk of death and coronary heart disease, unlike saturated fats, which are also not associated with an increased risk of stroke or Type 2 diabetes.

The findings were published in an open-access paper August 12 by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Trans vs. saturatedread more

Newly discovered brain network recognizes what’s new, what’s familiar

Network has broad role in memory, learning processes, study suggests
August 14, 2015

The Parietal Memory Network, a newly discovered memory and learning network shows consistent patterns of activation and deactivation in three distinct regions of the parietal cortex in the brain’s left hemisphere — the precuneus, the mid-cingulate cortex and the dorsal angular gyrus. (credit: Image adapted from Creative Commons original by Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator; C. Carl Jaffe, MD, cardiologist.)

New research from Washington University in St. Louis has identified a novel learning and memory brain network, dubbed the Parietal Memory Network (PMN), that processes incoming information based on whether it’s something we’ve experienced previously or appears to be new and unknown — helping us recognize, for instance, whether a face is that of a familiar friend or a complete stranger.

The study pulls together evidence from… read more

Helping Siri hear you in a party

A device that emulates the brain's “cocktail party effect" and could be built into future smartphones
August 14, 2015

This prototype sensor can separate simultaneous sounds coming from different directions using a unique distortion given by the slice of “pie” that it passes through (credit: Steve Cummer, Duke University)

Duke University engineers have invented a device that emulates the “cocktail party effect” — the remarkable ability of the brain to home in on a single voice in a room with voices coming from multiple directions.

The device uses plastic metamaterials — the combination of natural materials in repeating patterns to achieve unnatural properties — to determine the direction of a sound and extract it… read more

Optical chip allows for reprogramming quantum computer in seconds

"Universal linear optics processor" allows for DIY photonics
August 14, 2015

Linear optics processor (credit: University of Bristol)

A fully reprogrammable optical chip that can process photons in quantum computers in an infinite number of ways have been developed by researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) in Japan.

The universal “linear optics processor” (LPU) chip is a major step forward in creating a quantum computer to solve problems such as designing new drugs, superfast database searches, and performing… read more

The origin of the robot species

Robots "evolve" over 10 generations to perform a task twice as fast
August 12, 2015

mother robot-ft

Researchers led by the University of Cambridge have built a mother robot that can build its own children, test which one does best, and automatically use the results to inform the design of the next generation — passing down preferential traits automatically.

Without any human intervention or computer simulation, beyond the initial command to build a robot capable of movement, the mother created children constructed of between… read more

Study links aerobic fitness, thinner gray matter, and better math skills in kids

August 12, 2015

Cortical thickness regions of interest. Starred regions are areas in which higher-fit children showed decreased cortical thickness compared to lower-fit children. (credit: Laura Chaddock-Heyman et al./PLOS ONE)

A new study reveals that 9- and 10-year-old children who are aerobically fit tend to have significantly thinner gray matter than their “lower-fit” peers. Thinning of the outermost layer of brain cells in the cerebrum is associated with better mathematics performance, researchers report in an open-access paper in the journal PLOS ONE.

The study suggests, but does not prove, that cardiorespiratory fitness contributes to gray matter thinning —… read more

Biocompatible interfaces replace silicon and metal in neural prosthetic devices

Avoid immune-system rejection, failures, neurodegeneration
August 11, 2015

Left: collagen; right: matrigel (credit: Wen Shen et al./Microsystems & Nanoengineering)

Researchers at the University of Georgia’s Regenerative Bioscience Center have developed a biocompatible implantable neural prosthetic device to replace silicon and noble metal in neural prosthetic devices. The goal is to avoid immune-system rejection, failures due to tissue strain, neurodegeneration, and decreased fidelity of recorded neural signals.

Implantable neural prosthetic devices in the brain have been around for almost two decades, helping people living with limb loss and… read more

MIT designs small, modular, efficient fusion power plant

Could produce about three times as much electricity as is needed to keep it running within a decade, providing electricity to about 100,000 people
August 11, 2015

A cutaway view of the proposed ARC reactor. Thanks to powerful new magnet technology, the much smaller, less-expensive ARC reactor would deliver the same power output as a much larger reactor. (credit: the MIT ARC team)

MIT plans to create a new compact version of a tokamak fusion reactor with the goal of producing practical fusion power, which could offer a nearly inexhaustible energy resource in as little as a decade.

Fusion, the nuclear reaction that powers the sun, involves fusing pairs of hydrogen atoms together to form helium, accompanied by enormous releases of energy.

The new fusion reactor, called ARC,… read more

Controlling inflammation to reduce chronic disease risk

August 10, 2015

Two-hit model of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (credit: ILSI Europe)

In an open-access paper in the British Journal of Nutrition, a coalition of 17 experts explain how elevated unresolved chronic inflammation is involved a range of chronic diseases, and how nutrition influences inflammatory processes and helps reduce chronic risk of diseases.

According to the authors, “the nutrition status of the individual with for example a deficiency or excess of certain micronutrients (e.g. folate, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin 1, vitamin… read more

Google Glass could bring toxicology specialists to remote emergency rooms

August 10, 2015

credit: Google

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School have found that Google Glass — presumably the Enterprise Edition — could effectively extend bedside toxicology consults to distant health care facilities such as community and rural hospitals to diagnose and manage poisoned patients, according to a paper in the Journal of Medical Toxicology.

“In the present era of value-based care, a toxicology service using hands-free devices, such… read more

How to create a genius mouse

Scientists find a single gene can create primate-level neural development in the mouse neocortex
August 10, 2015

The left brain hemisphere shows the normal level and cellular distribution of Pax6 expression in the developing neocortex. The right brain hemisphere shows a sustained, primate-like Pax6 expression pattern in the neocortex of a double transgenic mouse embryo. These animals have more Pax6-positive progenitor cells and a higher Pax6 expression level in the germinal layer close to the ventricle in the right hemisphere. (credit: © MPI of Molecular Cell Biology & Genetics)

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics have created a transgenic mouse in which a gene called Pax6, during embryonic development, is highly expressed in a specific group of brain cortical cells called neural progenitor stem cells (the cells that generate all cells that make up the brain).

The resulting mouse brain generated more neurons than normal and exhibited… read more

New solid-state memory technology allows for highest-density non-volatile storage

August 10, 2015

A schematic shows the layered structure of tantalum oxide, multilayer graphene and platinum used for a new type of memory developed at Rice University. The memory device overcomes crosstalk problems that cause read errors in other devices. (credit: Tour Group/Rice University)

Scientists in the Rice University lab of chemist James Tour have created a solid-state memory technology that allows for high-density 162 gigabits nonvolatile storage, much higher than other oxide-based memory systems under investigation by scientists. (Eight bits equal one byte; a 162-gigabit unit would store about 20 gigabytes of information.)

Applying voltage to a 250-nanometer-thick sandwich of graphene, tantalum, nanoporous tantalum oxideread more

How aging cripples the immune system

New research findings reinforce benefits of antioxidants by lowering free radicals
August 7, 2015

Thymus (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Aging cripples the production of new immune cells, decreasing the immune system’s response to vaccines and putting the elderly at risk of infection, but antioxidants in the diet may slow this damaging process.

That’s a new finding by scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), published in an open-access paper in the journal Cell Reports.

The problem is focused on an… read more

Electro-optical modulator is 100 times smaller, consumes 100th of the energy

August 7, 2015

Colourized electron microscope image of a micro-modulator made of gold. In the slit in the centre of the picture light is converted into plasmon polaritons, modulated and then re-converted into light pulses.  (credit: Haffner et al. Nature Photonics)

Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a modulator that is a 100 times smaller than conventional modulators, so it can now be integrated into electronic circuits. Transmitting large amounts of data via the Internet requires high-performance electro-optic modulators — devices that convert electrical signals (used in computers and cell phones) into light signals (used in fiber-optic cables).

Today, huge amounts of data are sent incredibly fast through… read more

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