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Why you’re smarter than a chicken

August 21, 2015

(credit: Johnathan Nightingale via Flickr)

A single molecular event in a protein called PTBP1 in our cells could hold the key to how we evolved to become the smartest animal on the planet, University of Toronto researchers have discovered.

The conundrum: Humans and frogs, for example, have been evolving separately for 350 million years and use a remarkably similar repertoire of genes to build organs in the body. So what… read more

MIT researchers invent process for 3D-printing complex transparent glass forms

August 21, 2015

Printing molten glass (credit: John Klein et al./3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing)

An additive-manufacturing glass-printing process called G3DP (Glass 3D Printing) has been developed by researchers in the Mediated Matter Group at the MIT Media Lab in collaboration with the Glass Lab at MIT.

The platform is based on a dual heated-chamber concept. The upper chamber acts as a Kiln Cartridge (a thermally insulated heater) operating at about 1900°F to melt the glass, while the lower chamber serves… read more

The dilemma of human enhancement

August 20, 2015

Crosstalks

How far can science push the limits of human life?

That was the theme of a Crosstalks webcast today, “The dilemma of human enhancement,” available for download.

The show addressed questions like “Can we prevent people from dying? With implants, nanotechnology, artificial body parts and smart drugs we can enhance human physiology beyond our current limitations. But should we really pursue this? And can… read more

‘Diamonds from the sky’ approach to turn CO2 into valuable carbon nanofibers

Decreasing CO2 to pre-industrial-revolution levels is the goal
August 19, 2015

Researchers are generating carbon nanofibers (above) from CO2 , removing a greenhouse gas from the air to make products. (credit: Stuart Licht, Ph.D)

A research team of chemists at George Washington University has developed a technology that can economically convert atmospheric CO2 directly from the air into highly valued carbon nanofibers for industrial and consumer products — converting an anthropogenic greenhouse gas from a climate change problem to a valuable commodity, they say.

The team presented their research today (Aug. 19) at the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of theread more

‘Armchair nanoribbon’ design makes graphene a wafer-scalable semiconductor

Mass-production technique promises to boost the performance of next-generation electronic devices
August 19, 2015

Progressively zoomed-in images of graphene nanoribbons grown on germanium. The ribbons automatically align perpendicularly and naturally grow in what is known as the armchair edge configuration. (credit: Arnold Research Group and Guisinger Research Group)

University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers have discovered a way to grow graphene nanoribbons with semiconducting properties — and directly on a conventional germanium semiconductor wafer.

Graphene, an atom-thick material with extraordinary properties, normally functions as a conductor of electricity, but not as a semiconductor. This advance is significant because it could allow manufacturers to easily use graphene nanoribbons in hybrid integrated circuits, which promise to… read more

Paper-based test can quickly diagnose Ebola in remote areas

August 19, 2015

A paper-based diagnostic test distinguishes between yellow fever virus, Ebola and dengue using different colored nanoparticles tagged with antibodies that target specific virii (credit: Chunwan Yen)

American Chemical Society | A simple, cheap test for Ebola, dengue and yellow fever

MIT researchers have developed a low-cost, paper-based device that changes color, depending on whether the patient has Ebola, dengue, or yellow fever. The test is designed to facilitate diagnosis in remote, low-resource settings, takes minutes, and does not need electricity to read out results.

The team described… read more

A brain-computer interface for controlling an exoskeleton

August 18, 2015

A volunteer calibrating the exoskeleton brain-computer interface (credit: (c) Korea University/TU Berlin)

Scientists at Korea University and TU Berlin have developed a brain-computer interface (BCI) for a lower limb exoskeleton used for gait assistance by decoding specific signals from the user’s brain.

Using an electroencephalogram (EEG) cap, the system allows users to move forward, turn left and right, sit, and stand, simply by staring at one of five flickering light emitting diodes (LEDs).… read more

Surprising results from brain and cognitive studies of a 93-year-old woman athelete

August 18, 2015

Olga Kotelko's brain "does not look like a 90-plus-year-old" ---  Beckman Institute director Art Kramer

Brain scans and cognitive tests of Olga Kotelko, a 93-year-old Canadian track-and-field athlete with more than 30 world records in her age group, may support the potential beneficial effects of exercise on cognition in the “oldest old.”

In the summer of 2012, researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois invited her to visit for in-depth analysis… read more

‘Information sabotage’ on Wikipedia claimed

Politically controversial science topics like acid rain, evolution, and climate change are vulnerable to "edit wars" by trolls
August 17, 2015

Research has moved online, with more than 80 percent of U.S. students using Wikipedia for research papers, but how reliable is controversial science information? (credit: Pixabay)

 

Wikipedia entries on politically controversial scientific topics can be unreliable due to “information sabotage,” according to an open-access paper published today in the journal PLOS One.

The authors (Gene E. Likens* and Adam M. Wilson*) analyzed Wikipedia edit histories for three politically controversial scientific topics (acid rain, evolution, and global warming), and four non-controversial scientific topics (the standard… read more

Scientists discover atomic-resolution secret of high-speed brain signaling

Could lead to treatments for mental disorders
August 17, 2015

This illustration shows a protein complex at work in brain signaling. Its structure, which contains joined protein complexes known as SNARE and synaptotagmin-1, is shown in the foreground. This complex is responsible for the calcium-triggered release of neurotransmitters from our brain’s nerve cells in a process called synaptic vesicle fusion. The SNARE structure is shown in blue, red, and green, and synaptotagmin-1 is shown in orange. The background image shows electrical signals traveling through a neuron. (credit: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

Stanford School of Medicine scientists have mapped the 3D atomic structure of a two-part protein complex that controls the release of signaling chemicals, called neurotransmitters, from brain cells in less than one-thousandth of a second.

The experiments were reported today (August 17) in the journal Nature. Performed at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the experiments were built… read more

Koko the gorilla shows signs of early speech

August 17, 2015

Koko coughs on demand (credit: UW-Madison Campus Connection)

UW-Madison Campus Connection | Koko the Gorilla Coughs

Koko the gorilla has learned vocal and breathing behaviors that may change the perception that humans are the only primates with the capacity for speech.

In 2010, Marcus Perlman started research work at The Gorilla Foundation in California, where Koko has spent more than 40 years living immersed with humans — interacting for many hours each… read more

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

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

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