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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

Finding ET may require giant robotic leap

April 24, 2012

NGC Galaxy

Autonomous, self-replicating robots — exobots — are the way to explore the universe, find and identify extraterrestrial life and perhaps clean up space debris in the process, according to John D. Mathews, professor of electrical engineering at Penn State.

“The basic premise is that human space exploration must be highly efficient, cost effective, and autonomous as placing humans beyond low Earth orbit is fraught with political… 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

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


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

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.

Ultrasound-released nanoparticles may help diabetics avoid the needle

November 25, 2013

New technique allows diabetics to control insulin release with an injectable nano-network and portable ultrasound device.

A new nanotechnology-based technique for regulating blood sugar in diabetics could give patients the ability to release insulin painlessly using a small ultrasound device, allowing them to go days between injections — rather than using needles to give themselves multiple insulin injections each day.

A patient who has type 1 or advanced type 2 diabetes needs additional insulin, a hormone that transports glucose — or blood sugar — from… read more

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


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

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

Is your smartphone making you stupid?

March 6, 2015

(credit: Universal Studios)

A study by University of Waterloo researchers suggests that smartphone users who are intuitive thinkers — more prone to relying on gut feelings and instincts when making decisions — frequently use search engines rather than their own brainpower.

“They may look up information that they actually know or could easily learn, but are unwilling to make the effort to actually think about it,” said Gordon Pennycook, co-lead author of… 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 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

Pirate island attracts more than 100 startup tenants

May 9, 2012


More than 100 international tech companies have registered their interest in floating geek city Blueseed, to be launched next year in international waters outside of Silicon Valley.

The visa-free, start-up-friendly concept launched late last year aims to create a fully commercial technology incubator where global entrepreneurs can live and work in close proximity to the Valley, accessing VC funding and talent as required.

The… 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

Exercise reorganizes the brain to reduce stress and anxiety

July 5, 2013


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

Nanoparticles reprogram immune cells to fight cancer

August 16, 2013

mitochondria-targeted NPs

Researchers at the University of Georgia are developing a new treatment technique that uses nanoparticles to reprogram immune cells so they are able to recognize and attack cancer.

However, most cancerous cells are able to avoid detection by the immune system because they so closely resemble normal cells.

That leaves the cancerous cells free to multiply and grow into life-threatening tumors while the body’s… read more

First human brain-to-brain interface

August 28, 2013


University of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface, with one researcher able to send a brain signal via the Internet to control the hand motions of a fellow researcher.

Using electrical brain recordings and a form of magnetic stimulation, Rajesh Rao sent a brain signal to Andrea Stocco on the other… read more

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