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Diagnostic devices the size of a credit card

Shrinking laboratory-scale processes to automated chip-sized systems would revolutionize biotechnology and medicine
October 29, 2013

A microfluidic bioreactors consists of two chambers separated by a nanoporous silicon membrane. It allows for flow-based assays using minimal amounts of reagent. The ultra-thin silicon membrane provides an excellent mimic of biological barrier properties. NOTE: This image combines two exposures in order to capture the brighter and darker parts of the scene, which exceed the dynamic range of the camera sensor. The resulting composite is truer to what the eye actually sees.<br />
Credit: Photo by Adam Fenster/University of Rochester.

A silicon nanomembrane developed at the University of Rochester could drastically shrink the  power source needed with electroosmotic pumps (EOPs) to move solutions through micro-channels — paving the way for ultra-thin ”lab-on-a-chip” diagnostic devices the size of a credit card.

“Until now, electroosmotic pumps have had to operate at a very high voltage — about 10 kilovolts,” said James McGrath, associate professor of biomedical… read more

Is invisible dark matter detectable?

October 29, 2013

dark-matter detector

Scientists at MIT and elsewhere have developed a tool that could test to see if dark matter is detectable.

That will be a challenge: dark matter, believed by physicists to outweigh all the normal matter in the universe by more than five to one, is by definition invisible.

However, the MIT researchers have come up with a workaround, described in a paper in the journal Physicalread more

Deepest-ever probe of the Universe

October 29, 2013

Hubble Frontier Fields

NASA’s Hubble, Spitzer, and Chandra space telescopes are teaming up to look deeper into the universe than ever before.

With a boost from natural “zoom lenses” found in space, they should be able to uncover galaxies that are as much as 100 times fainter than what these three great observatories typically can see.

The Frontier Fields

In an ambitious collaborative program called Theread more

Developing robots that collaborate with people

National Robotics Initiative invests $38 million in next-generation robotics
October 29, 2013

simon_the_robot_web

The National Science Foundation (NSF), in partnership with NIH, USDA and NASA, has announced about $38 million in investment for developing robots that cooperatively work with people to enhance individual human capabilities, performance and safety.

Co-robots

The 30 new projects, funded projects target the creation of next-generation collaborative robots (co-robots) for advanced manufacturing; civil and environmental infrastructure; health care and rehabilitation; military and homeland… read more

Evidence that dendrites actively process information in the brain

The brain's theoretical information processing power has just been multiplied
October 29, 2013

This is a dendrite in a single neuron in the brain. The bright object from the top is a pipette attached to a dendrite in the brain of a mouse. The pipette allows researchers to measure electrical activity, such as a dendritic spike.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers have discovered that dendrites do more than passively relay information from one neuron to the next — they actively process information, according to  Spencer Smith, PhD, an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine.

Axons are where neurons conventionally generate electrical spikes, but many of the same molecules that support axonal electrical spikes (firing) are also present… read more

Break gridlock on global challenges or risk an unstable future, says report

October 28, 2013

now_for_the_long_term

The Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations has launched a report, Now for the Long Term, on the successes and failures in addressing global challenges over recent decades.

Published by the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University, the report calls for a radical shake-up in politics and business to deliver progress on climate change, reduce economic inequality, improve corporate practices, and address the chronic… read more

Robots designed to assist people with disabilities, aid doctors

Robots enhance mobility for visually and physically impaired, improve treatment for atrial fibrillation
October 28, 2013

Cane with description_nih

Three projects have been awarded funding by the National Institutes of Health to develop innovative robots that work cooperatively with people and adapt to changing environments to improve human capabilities and enhance medical procedures. Funding for these projects totals approximately $2.4 million over the next five years, subject to the availability of funds.

The awards mark the second year of NIH’s participation in the National… read more

Vicarious AI breaks CAPTCHA ‘Turing test’

October 28, 2013

CAPTCHA - featured

Vicarious, a startup developing artificial intelligence software, today announced that its algorithms can now reliably solve modern CAPTCHAs (Completely Automated Public Turing tests to tell Computers and Humans Apart).

Stanford University researchers have suggested that a CAPTCHA scheme (which are used by websites to verify that a visitor is human by asking them to transcribe a string of distorted letters) should be considered “broken” if an algorithm… read more

Here’s how to best secure your data now that the NSA can crack almost any encryption

October 27, 2013

NSA

The latest Snowden-supplied bombshell shook the technology world to its core on Thursday: The NSA can crack many of the encryption technologies in place today, PC World reports — a day after Pew reported that 90 percent of Internet users have taken steps to avoid surveillance in some way.

PC World recommends several open-source encryption tools, such as… read more

‘Stop watching us’ rally protests surveillance

October 25, 2013

stop_watching_us

On October 26th, the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA Patriot Act, StopWatching.us — a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum — is holding the largest rally yet against NSA surveillance.

According to StopWatching.us:
The revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the… read more

3D-printing non-toxic biocompatible medical implants

October 25, 2013

scaffold_for_tissue_engineering

A common vitamin — riboflavin (vitamin B2) — has made it possible to 3D-print non-toxic medical implants, researchers from North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Laser Zentrum Hannover have discovered.

“This opens the door to a much wider range of biocompatible implant materials, which can be used to develop customized implant designs using 3-D printing technology,” says Dr.… read more

Hydrogel implant enables light-based communication with cells inside the body

October 25, 2013

Hydrogel implant

Researchers at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a way to deliver a light signal to specific tissues deep within the body for sensing or treatment.

The use of light to communicate with cells has previously been restricted by its limited ability to pass through tissues, especially the skin.

Called a light-guiding hydrogel, the implant is constructed from a polymer-based scaffolding capable of… read more

NASA laser communication system sets record with data transmissions to and from Moon

October 25, 2013

OpticalModule

NASA‘s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) has made history using a pulsed laser beam to transmit data over the 239,000 miles between the moon and Earth at a record-breaking download rate of 622 megabits per second (Mbps).

LLCD is NASA’s first system for two-way communication using a laser instead of radio waves. It also has demonstrated an error-free data upload rate… read more

Neuroscientists find cortical columns in brain not uniform, challenging large-scale simulation models

October 25, 2013

Cell type-specific 3D reconstruction of five neighboring barrel columns in rat vibrissal cortex (credit: Marcel Oberlaender et al.)

Despite a long-held scientific belief that cortex is built up by repeatedly occurring elementary units called cortical columns, a new study by neuroscientists has found that the structure of the brain’s cortical columns can largely deviate within individual animals, and even within a specific cortical area.

The study also found that these structural differences are not arbitrary, but reflect organizational and functional properties of the… read more

Technology mimics the brushstrokes of masters

October 24, 2013

New technology in 3-D printing has reached the art world. The race is on to produce high-quality 3-D reproductions of masterpieces by such artists as Rembrandt and Vincent van Gogh, The New York Times reports.

This year the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam teamed up with Fujifilm in Japan to produce the first fully color-corrected three-dimensional copies of some of van… read more

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