science + technology news

A middle-ear microphone — new hope for the deaf

May 5, 2012


A tiny prototype microphone and related electronics that can be implanted in the middle ear has been developed by University of Utah and Case Western Reserve University engineers.

Cochlear implants have restored basic hearing to some 220,000 deaf people, yet a microphone and related electronics must be worn outside the head, raising reliability issues, preventing patients from swimming, and creating social stigma.

The proof-of-concept device,… read more

A Milestone In Human DNA Sequencing

September 17, 2004

Researchers in the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute and Stanford Human Genome Center have reached a halfway point in decoding the human genome by finishing chromosome 5, the 12th chromosome finished, with 12 more to go.

The fifth chromosome contains key disease genes and a wealth of information about how humans evolved. This large chromosome contains 923 genes, including 66 genes known to be involved in human disease.… read more

A military robot that does it all

February 7, 2012

iRobot 710 Warrior

With the official launch of the iRobot Warrior, a large wheeled robot with a hefty mechanical arm, military robots just got significantly larger and more adaptable.

The robot can climb stairs and cover rough terrain, and perform tasks ranging from the delicate (opening car doors) to the destructive (smashing car windows) with its two-meter-long mechanical arm, and could be weaponized — in one test it launched a rocket that… read more

A million-year hard disk

July 13, 2012

Star saphire (credit: Mitchell Gore/Wikipedia)

Patrick Charton of the French nuclear waste management agency ANDRA has presented one possible solution for long-term preservation of data: a sapphire disk inside which information is engraved using platinum.

The prototype shown costs €25,000 to make, but Charton says it will survive for a million years. The aim, Charton told the Euroscience Open Forum here, is to provide “information for future archaeologists.”

In 2010, ANDRA began a project… read more

A mind at rest strengthens memories, researchers find

January 28, 2010

Our memories are strengthened during periods of rest while we are awake, not just during sleep, researchers at New York University have found.

A mind to walk again

May 18, 2012


Dr. José Contreras-Vidal of the University of Houston has designed a pair of bionic legs that respond directly to signals from the brain.

The problem with the current brain-computer interface approach — implanting electrodes into a brain, as in the BrainGate2 system, is that it’s a dangerous procedure and can also lead to infections. It also requires a bulky hardware system.

Contreras-Vidal’s approach gets round these difficulties by… read more

A ‘mini heart’ to help return venous blood

A solution for chronic venous insufficiency, one of the most widespread diseases in the Western world
April 1, 2014

CardioVein snapshot

George Washington University (GW) researcher Narine Sarvazyan, Ph.D., has invented a new organ to help return blood flow from veins lacking functional valves. A rhythmically contracting cuff made of cardiac muscle cells surrounds the vein acting as a ‘mini heart’ to aid blood flow through venous segments. The cuff can be made of a patient’s own adult stem cells, eliminating the chance of implant rejection.… read more

A Miniature Synchrotron: researchers get a new tool to determine protein structures

February 4, 2008

Lyncean Technologies researchers have built a room-sized miniature synchrotron that produces the same quality of x-ray beams as synchrotrons many times larger, offering scientists a new way to perform x-ray experiments in their own labs.

A mobile device for preventing and treating drug use

February 9, 2012

iHeal system architecture

University of Massachusetts Medical School researchers are developing a smartphone-based system called “iHeal” that detects drug cravings and attempts to prevent drug use.

A drug user wears a sensor band around their wrist that measures skin conductance, skin temperature, motion, and pulse — all indicators of arousal or stress. The band wirelessly transmits information to a smartphone, where apps monitor and process the user’s physiological data using… read more

A Modular Robot That Puts Itself Back Together Again

August 4, 2009

University of Pennsylvania researchers have developed a walking robot constructed from modules that are designed to separate on impact, find each other, and reassemble into a working robot.

A molecular database for developing organic solar cells

June 26, 2013


Harvard researchers have released a massive database of more than 2 million molecules that might be useful in the construction of solar cells that rely on organic compounds for construction of organic solar cells for the production of renewable energy.

Developed as part of the Materials Genome Initiative launched by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) the goal of… read more

A ‘molecular flashlight’ that illuminates brain tumors in mice

August 14, 2013

illuminates mouse medulloblastoma (credit: Sarah J. Moore et al./PNAS)

In a breakthrough that could have wide-ranging applications in molecular medicine, Stanford University researchers have created a bioengineered peptide that enables imaging of medulloblastomas, among the most devastating of malignant childhood brain tumors, in lab mice.

The researchers altered the amino acid sequence of a cystine knot peptide — or knottin — derived from the seeds of the squirting cucumber, a plant native to Europe, North Africa… read more

A molecular light-driven nanosubmarine

Potential medical and other uses
November 16, 2015

Rice University scientists have created light-driven, single-molecule submersibles that contain just 244 atoms (credit: Loïc Samuel/Rice University)

The Rice University lab of chemist James Tour has created single-molecule, 244-atom submersibles with motors powered by ultraviolet light, as they reported this month in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters.

With each full revolution, the motor’s tail-like propeller moves the sub forward 18 nanometers, but with the motors running at more than a million RPM, that translates into almost 1 inch per second —… read more

A molecular map for aging in mice

November 29, 2007

Researchers at the National Institute of Aging and Stanford University have used gene arrays to identify genes whose activity changes with age in 16 different mouse tissues.

The study describes how aging affects different tissues in mice, and ultimately could help explain why lifespan is limited to just two years in mice.

A Molecular Map of Aging

December 4, 2007

Researchers at Stanford University and the National Institute on Aging have generated a database that catalogues how gene expression–a measure of how active a gene is–changes in different parts of the body as the animals age.

The findings suggest that different tissues age very differently, and this could help pinpoint when it is appropriate to use mice as a model of human aging–and when it’s not.

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