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Fast, cheap water desalination using graphene

Graphene sheets with precise one-nanometer pores have potential to purify seawater more efficiently than existing methods
July 2, 2012

graphene-desalination

MIT researchers have invented a new kind of filtration material for desalination: sheets of graphene, a one-atom-thick form of the element carbon, which they say can be far more efficient and possibly less expensive than existing desalination systems.

The availability of fresh water is dwindling in many parts of the world, a problem that is expected to grow with populations. The world’s supply of seawater is virtually… read more

ACT confirms clinical trial participant showed improvement in vision from 20/400 to 20/40 following treatment

May 21, 2013

Intermediate age-related macular degeneration (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (ACT) has confirmed that the vision of a patient enrolled in a clinical investigation of the company’s retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) has improved from 20/400 to 20/40 following treatment.

ACT is currently enrolling patients in three clinical trials in the U.S. and Europe for treatment of Stargardt’s macular dystrophy (SMD) and dry age-related… read more

Near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 to miss Earth on Feb. 15

January 30, 2013

The path of near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 is seen passing close to Earth on Feb. 15, 2013 (credit: NASA JPL)

A small asteroid named 2012 DA14 will pass inside the geosynchronous satellite ring on February 15, but the orbit will be no closer to the Earth’s surface than 3.2 Earth radii , according to NASA JPL..

Although its size is not well determined, this near-Earth asteroid is thought to be about 45 meters in diameter.

Making solar power competitive with coal

February 24, 2012

This 25-micrometer-thick film of silicon, used to make solar cells, has a metal backing that keeps it from breaking (credit: Astrowatt)

By the end of the decade, U.S. manufacturers could make solar panels that are less than half as expensive as the ones they make now.

At 52 cents per watt, that would be cheap enough for solar power to compete with electricity from fossil fuels, according to a new study by MIT researchers in Energy & Environmental Science.

Assuming similar cost reductions for installation and equipment, solar power would… read more

Exercise reorganizes the brain to reduce stress and anxiety

July 5, 2013

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Physical activity reorganizes the brain so that its response to stress is reduced and anxiety is less likely to interfere with normal brain function, according to a Princeton University research team.

The researchers report in the Journal of Neuroscience that when mice allowed to exercise regularly experienced a stressor — exposure to cold water — their brains exhibited a spike in the activity of neurons… read more

A cost-effective nanotube-based catalyst for producing hydrogen fuel

July 28, 2014

A new technology based on carbon nanotubes promises commercially viable hydrogen production from water (credit: Tewodros Asefa)

Rutgers researchers have used carbon nanotubes as a catalyst for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, which could replace expensive platinum for making clean-burning hydrogen fuel — which could one day replace expensive, environmentally harmful fossil fuels.

The Rutgers technology is also far more efficient than other low-cost catalysts investigated to date for electrolysis reactions, which use electric currents to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen,… read more

Teaching household robots to manipulate objects more efficiently

New algorithms could help household robots work around their physical shortcomings
February 26, 2013

mit_robot_lateral_thinking

At this year’s IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, students in the Learning and Intelligent Systems Group at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory will present a pair of papers showing how household robots could use a little lateral thinking to compensate for their physical shortcomings.

Many commercial robotic arms perform what roboticists call “pick and place” tasks: The arm picks… read more

Math ability requires hemisphere crosstalk in the brain

Could special training in improving hemispheric cross-communication improve math abilities? What kinds of devices or exercises would be most effective?
August 31, 2012

Numerical and Arthimetic Tasks

The strength of communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain predicts performance on basic arithmetic problems, a new study by researchers at UT Dallas’ Center for Vital Longevity, Duke University, and the University of Michigan has found.

The findings shed light on the neural basis of human math abilities and suggest a possible route to aiding those who suffer from dyscalculia — an… read more

Thiel tells Schmidt: ‘Google is out of ideas’

July 18, 2012

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and investor Peter Thiel took aim at each other in a recent debate, CNET reports.

Schmidt said technology and access to information has increased productivity and quality of life worldwide. Thiel thanked Schmidt for “doing a fantastic job” as “minister of propaganda” for Google. The tech sector has made remarkable strides in the areas of computers and software, he said, but has seen a “catastrophic” failure in other… read more

Commercial asteroid hunters announce plans for new robotic exploration fleet

World’s first fleet of asteroid-hunting spacecraft announced by Deep Space Industries
January 22, 2013

deep_space_indistries_logo

Deep Space Industries (DSI) announced Monday night that it will send a fleet of asteroid-prospecting spacecraft out into the solar system to hunt for resources to accelerate space development to benefit Earth.

These “FireFly” spacecraft utilize low-cost cubesat components and get discounted delivery to space by ride-sharing on the launch of larger communications satellites.

“This is the first commercial campaign to explore the small… read more

A world record for highest-surface-area materials

Greatly expands storage density for natural gas (for vehicles), light harvesting, and drug delivery
September 13, 2012

NU-110

Northwestern University researchers have broken a world record by creating two new synthetic materials with the greatest amount of surface areas reported to date.

Named NU-109 and NU-110, the materials belong to a class of crystalline nanostructure known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) that are promising vessels for natural-gas and hydrogen storage for vehicles, and for catalysts, chemical sensing, light harvesting, drug delivery, and other uses requiring a large… read more

Chinese project probes the genetics of genius

May 15, 2013

(Credit: iStock)

Researchers at BGI (formerly the Beijing Genomics Institute) in Shenzhen, China, the largest gene-sequencing facility in the world, are searching for the quirks of DNA that may contribute to genius in an ethically controversial study.

They are scouring the genomes of 1,600 U.S. adolescents who signed up for the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) in the 1970s, Nature News reports.

Some geneticists say that the… read more

A radical new holistic view of health based on cooperation and disease based on competition

September 16, 2013

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analysis o

Researchers at The Mount Sinai Medical Center have developed a radical holistic view of health — seeing it as a cooperative state among cells, while they see disease as result of cells at war that fight with each other for domination.

Their unique approach is backed by experimental evidence. The researchers show a network of genes in cells, which includes the powerful tumor suppressor p53,… read more

A paper-thin flexible tablet computer

January 9, 2013

papertab

A flexible paper computer developed at Queen’s University in collaboration with Plastic Logic and Intel Labs could one day revolutionize the way people work with tablets and computers.

The PaperTab tablet looks and feels just like a sheet of paper. However, it is fully interactive with a flexible, high-resolution 10.7” plastic display developed by Plastic Logic, a flexible touchscreen, and powered by the second generation… read more

FDA OK’s ingestible sensor chip

Chip tracks adherence to oral medications, can report to caregiver
July 31, 2012

Injestible chip

Proteus Digital Health, Inc. announced Monday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared its ingestible sensor for marketing as a medical device.

The ingestible sensor (formally referred to as the Ingestion Event Marker or IEM) is part of the Proteus digital health feedback system, an integrated, end-to-end personal health management system designed to help improve patients’ health habits and connections to caregivers.… read more

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