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Existing drug riluzole may prevent foggy ‘old age’ brain

December 24, 2014

When researchers looked at certain neurons (similar to the one shown on top) in rats treated with riluzole, they found an important change in one brain region, the hippocampus: more clusters of so-called spines, receiving connections that extend from the branches of a neuron (bottom). (Credit: Dr. John H. Morrison's lab, The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai)

New experiments suggest that riluzole, a drug already on the market as a treatment for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), may help prevent the fading memory and clouding judgment that comes with advancing age.

Researchers at The Rockefeller University and The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found they could stop normal, age-related memory loss in rats by treating them with riluzole. The treatment prompted changes known to improve… read more

Quantum physics just got less complicated

Is "wave-particle duality" simply the quantum "uncertainty principle" in disguise?
December 23, 2014

Quantum physics says that particles can behave like waves, and vice versa. Researchers have now shown that this 'wave-particle duality' is simply the quantum uncertainty principle in disguise. (Credit:<br />
Timothy Yeo / CQT, National University of Singapore)

An international team of researchers has proved that two peculiar features of the quantum world previously considered distinct are different manifestations of the same thing. They found that “wave-particle duality” is simply the quantum “uncertainty principle” in disguise, reducing two mysteries to one.

The result was published December 19 in Nature Communications and in arXiv (open access).

Patrick Coles, Jedrzej Kaniewski, and Stephanie Wehner made the breakthrough while at… read more

Hidden molecular structures in proteins revealed

Improved X-ray diffraction software uses statistical methods
December 23, 2014

This is a membrane protein called cysZ, imaged in 3 dimensions with Phenix software using data that could not previously be analyzed. (Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory)

Los Alamos National Lab scientists have developed statistical methods that allow for creating three-dimensional pictures of previously hidden molecular structures in proteins.

To view the proteins, researchers produce billions of copies, dissolve them in water, and grow crystals of the protein, then shine a beam of X-rays and measure the brightness of each of the thousands of diffracted X-ray spots that are produced.

Then researchers use the powerful… read more

Color-coding brain cells

December 23, 2014

This image shows multicolour tracing of newborn neurons. (Credit:<br />
University of Southampton)

University of Southampton neuroscientists have developed a method called “multicolor RGB tracking” to improve our understanding of how the brain works by color-marking individual brain cells in mice allows them to be tracked over space and time.*

To mark a brain cell, they inject a solution that contains three viral vectors (delivery of genes by a virus) to create a fluorescent protein in each cell. Each cell… read more

It might be possible to restore lost memories

Memories not stored in synapses, neurobiologist finds
December 22, 2014

Synapse (credit: Curtis Neveu/Wikimedia Commons)

New UCLA research indicates that lost memories can be restored, offering hope for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

For decades, most neuroscientists have believed that memories are stored at the synapses — the connections between brain cells, or neurons — which are destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease. The new study provides evidence contradicting the idea that long-term memory is stored at synapses.

“Long-term memory is not… read more

An affordable holodeck for civil engineers

December 21, 2014


Brigham Young University (BYU) student civil engineers have constructed an affordable 3D immersive visualization system from commercial off-the-shelf components and open-source software.

The “VuePod” system uses 12 high-definition, 55-inch 3D televisions all connected to a computer capable of supporting high-end, graphics-intensive visualization.  Images are controlled by a Wii remote that interacts with a Kinect-like  3D tracking device called SMARTTRACK. 3D glasses worn by the user create the… read more

Could ibuprofen be an anti-aging medicine?

December 19, 2014

Ibuprofen extends the lifespan of C. elegans worms: survival curves treated with ibuprofen at 0.1 mM (red) compared to experiment-matched untreated (credit: Chong He et al./PLOS Genetics)

Ibuprofen, a common over-the-counter drug used to relieve pain and fever, could hold the keys to a longer healthier life, according to a study by researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.  Publishing in PLoS Genetics (open access) December 18, scientists showed that regular doses of ibuprofen extended the lifespan of yeast, worms and fruit flies.

Brian Kennedy, PhD, CEO of the Buck Institute, said treatments, given… read more

New magnetoelectric memory promises low-power, instant-on computing devices

December 19, 2014


A team led by postdoctoral associate John Heron of Cornell University has developed a room-temperature magnetoelectric memory design that replaces power-hungry electric currents with an electric field. It could lead to low-power, instant-on computing devices.

“The advantage here is low energy consumption,” Heron said. “It requires a low voltage, without current, to switch it. Devices that use currents consume more energy and dissipate a significant amount of that energy… read more

Deep neural network rivals primate brain in object recognition

December 19, 2014

object category recognition ft

A new study from MIT neuroscientists has found that for the first time, one of the latest generation of “deep neural networks” matches the ability of the primate brain to recognize objects during a brief glance.

Because these neural networks were designed based on neuroscientists’ current understanding of how the brain performs object recognition, the success of the latest networks suggests that neuroscientists have a fairly accurate grasp of… read more

Organic matter detected on Mars

December 18, 2014


The team responsible for the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite on NASA’s Curiosity rover has made the first definitive detection of organic molecules at Mars, but there’s not enough evidence to tell if the matter came from ancient Martian life or from a non-biological process, such as interplanetary dust or fragments of asteroids and comets.

The surface of Mars is currently inhospitable to life as we know it,… read more

Quadriplegic shapes robot hand with her thoughts

Demonstrates ability of brain-computer interface
December 18, 2014

Using mind control, a woman with quadriplegia moves robot arm and hand in. (Credit: Journal of Neural Engineering/IOP Publishing)

In an experiment, a woman with quadriplegia shaped the almost-human hand of a robot arm with just her thoughts, directing it to pick up big and small boxes, a ball, an oddly shaped rock, and fat and skinny tubes and showing that brain-computer interface technology has the potential to improve the function and quality of life of those unable to use their own arms.

The findings by researchers at… read more

Spider webs, leaves inspire touch-screen, solar-cell designs

December 18, 2014

Refined by natural selection, spider webs and leaves serve as models for new and highly effective optoelectronic networks and displays (credit: Boston College)

Natural scaffoldings perfected by evolution such as spider webs and leaf veins can lead to near-optimal performance when copied to create flexible and durable networks for optoelectronic applications such as photovoltaic devices and display screens, researchers at Boston College, South China Normal, and University of Houston reported in the journal Nature Communications.

A network design inspired by the quasi-fractal vein-laced structure of a leaf served as an effective electrode for solar… read more

Stanford to host 100-year study on artificial intelligence

December 16, 2014


Stanford University has invited leading thinkers from several institutions to begin a 100-year effort to study and anticipate how the effects of artificial intelligence on every aspect of how people work, live, and play.

This effort, called the One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100) is the brainchild of computer scientist and Stanford alumnus Eric Horvitz. As former president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence,… read more

Stanford engineers invent radical ‘high-rise’ 3D chips

December 16, 2014

A four-layer prototype high-rise chip built by Stanford engineers. The bottom and top layers are logic transistors. Sandwiched between them are two layers of memory. The vertical tubes are nanoscale electronic “elevators” that connect logic and memory, allowing them to work together efficiently. (Credit: Max Shulaker, Stanford)

Stanford engineers have build 3D “high-rise” chips that could leapfrog the performance of the single-story logic and memory chips on today’s circuit cards, which are subject to frequent traffic jams between logic and memory.

The Stanford approach would attempt to end these jams by building layers of logic atop layers of memory to create a tightly interconnected high-rise chip. Many thousands of nanoscale electronic “elevators” would move data between… read more

Android app from GCHQ emulates the Enigma Machine

December 15, 2014

(Credit: GCHQ)

GCHQ, the British counterpart of the NSA, announced Friday a free Android (iOS planned) educational app called Cryptoy, which “enables users to understand basic encryption techniques, learn about their history, and then have a go at creating their own encoded messages.

“These can then be shared with friends via social media or more traditional means and the recipients can use the app to see “how… read more

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