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Open-source Internet of Things platform could help spur smarter homes and cities

October 15, 2013

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If you buy several Internet-connected home gadgets — say, a “smart” thermostat, “smart” door lock, and “smart” window blinds — you’ll likely have to control each one with a separate app, meaning it exists in its own little silo.

That’s not how Elier Ramirez does it. In his home, an iPad app controls his lights, ceiling fans, and TV and stereo. Pressing a single button within… read more

A Bitcoin backlash?

October 15, 2013

bitcoin

Governments and established financial institutions are likely to launch a campaign to quash the decentralized digital currency Bitcoin, according to a leading economist and academic. Simon Johnson, a professor of entrepreneurship at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, expects Bitcoin to face political pressure and aggressive lobbying from big banks because of its disruptive nature, MIT Technology Review reports.

The code that supports and… read more

Restoring touch for amputees using a touch-sensitive prosthetic hand

October 15, 2013

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New research at the University of Chicago is laying the groundwork for touch-sensitive prosthetic limbs that one day could convey real-time sensory information to amputees via a direct interface with the brain.

The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (open access) marks an important step toward new technology that, if implemented successfully, would increase the dexterity and clinical viability of… read more

NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally

October 15, 2013

NSA documents

The National Security Agency is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans, according to senior intelligence officials and top-secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, The Washington Post reports.

  • The collection program, which has not been disclosed before, intercepts e-mail address books

read more

Apple’s new headquarters: an exclusive sneak peek

October 14, 2013

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The site of Apple’s proposed new spaceship-shaped headquarters that goes before the City Council Tuesday for an initial vote “will be one of the most environmentally sustainable developments on this scale anywhere in the world,” according ot Dan Whisenhunt, San Jose Mercury News reports.

Apple Campus 2 promises to bring a world-class real-estate project — along with a lot of traffic congestion — to the heart of… read more

Water discovered in remnants of extrasolar rocky world orbiting white dwarf

October 14, 2013

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Astrophysicists have found the first evidence of a water-rich rocky planetary body outside our solar system in its shattered remains orbiting a white dwarf.

A new study by scientists at the Universities of Warwick and Cambridge analyzed the dust and debris surrounding the white dwarf star GD61 170 light years away.

Using observations obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope and the large telescopes of… read more

Possible breakthrough using graphene for solar cells

Graphene retains its exceptional conductivity and transparency when coated with silicon film
October 14, 2013

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Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) Institute for Silicon Photovoltaics have shown that graphene retains its impressive set of properties when it is coated with a thin silicon film.

These findings may allow for entirely new possibilities to use graphene in thin-film photovoltaics.

Graphene has extreme conductivity and is completely transparent while being inexpensive and nontoxic. This would makes it a perfect candidate material… read more

How a microstructure can self-heal by pulling it apart

Surprising finding could lead to self-healing materials that repair incipient damage before it has a chance to spread
October 14, 2013

A computer simulation of the molecular stucture of palladium, showing the boundaries between microcystalline grains (white lines forming hexagons), shows a small crack (dark horizontal bar just right of bottom center) that mends itself as the grain boundary migrates. This simulation was one of several the MIT researchers used to uncover this new self-healing phenomenon.

Under certain conditions, putting a cracked piece of metal under tension — that is, exerting a force that would be expected to pull it apart — has the reverse effect, causing the crack to close and its edges to fuse together, MIT researchers  have discovered.

The surprising finding could lead to self-healing materials that repair incipient damage before it has a chance to spread.

The… read more

How exercise boosts brain health

October 14, 2013

How exercise stimulates increased hippocampal BDNF gene expression. BDNF is the master regulator of nerve-cell survival, differentiation, and plasticity in the brain. This will lead to improved cognitive function, learning, and memory.

Research has shown that exercise is good for the brain. Now investigators have identified a molecule called irisin that is produced in the brain during endurance exercise and has neuroprotective effects.

Researchers were able to artificially increase the levels of irisin in the blood to activate genes involved in learning and memory. The findings may be useful for designing drugs that use this exercise-induced molecule to guard… read more

A super-resolution window into the center of a cell

October 11, 2013

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A new microscopic technique that can see tiny structures inside the “control center” of the cell for the first time has been developed by researchers at Queen Mary University of London,

It represents a major advance for cell biologists because it will allow them to investigate structures deep inside the cell, such as viruses, bacteria, and parts of the nucleus in depth.

Recent advances in… read more

INFERNOS project: Maxwell’s Demon in nanoscale systems

October 11, 2013

infernos-project

The European INFERNOS (Information, fluctuations, and energy control in small systems) project aims to realize experimentally Maxwell’s Demon* by developing electronic and biomolecular nanodevices that support this principle.

Project partners met earlier this week at the Faculty of Physics of the University of Barcelona. The project is centered on considering information as a thermodynamic parameter.

Its ideas may be applied to different… read more

A strange lonely planet found without a star

October 11, 2013

Multicolor image from the Pan-STARRS1 telescope of the free-floating planet PSO J318.5-22, in the constellation of Capricornus. The planet is extremely cold and faint, about 100 billion times fainter in optical light than the planet Venus. Most of its energy is emitted at infrared wavelengths. The image is 125 arcseconds on a side. Credit: N. Metcalfe & Pan-STARRS 1 Science Consortium

An international team of astronomers has discovered an exotic young planet that is not orbiting a star. This free-floating planet, dubbed PSO J318.5-22, is just 80 light-years away from Earth and has a mass only six times that of Jupiter. The planet formed a mere 12 million years ago — -a newborn in planet lifetimes.

It was identified from its faint and unique heat signature by the … read more

New one-dimensional form of carbon may be the strongest material ever

Carbyne nanorods may have uses in electronics and for energy storage
October 11, 2013

Rice University researchers have determined from first-principle calculations that carbyne would be the strongest material yet discovered. The carbon-atom chains would be difficult to make but would be twice as strong as two-dimensional graphene sheets. (Credit: Vasilii Artyukhov/Rice University)

Rice U. theorists calculate atom-thick carbyne chains may be the strongest material ever, if and when anyone can make it in bulk.

Carbyne is a chain of carbon atoms held together by either double or alternating single and triple atomic bonds. That makes it a true one-dimensional material, unlike atom-thin sheets of graphene, which have a top and a bottom, or hollow nanotubes, which … read more

Cell-detection system promising for medical research, diagnostics

October 10, 2013

This schematic depicts a new system that uses tiny magnetic beads to quickly detect rare types of cancer cells circulating in a patient's blood, an advance that could help medical doctors diagnose cancer earlier than now possible and monitor how well a patient is responding to therapy. (Purdue School of Mechanical Engineering image/ Bin-Da Chan)

Researchers are developing a system that uses tiny magnetic beads to quickly detect rare types of cancer cells circulating in a patient’s blood, an advance that could help medical doctors diagnose cancer earlier than now possible and monitor how well a patient is responding to therapy.

While other researchers have used magnetic beads for similar applications, the new “high-throughput” system has the ability to quickly process and… read more

3D-printed microscopic cages confine bacteria in tiny zoos for the study of infections

October 10, 2013

The researchers use a novel 3-D printing technology to build homes for bacteria at a microscopic level. The resulting structures (imaged in red through confocal fluorescence) can be of almost any shape or size, and can be moved around in relationship to other structures containing bacterial microcommunities (imaged in green).<br />
Credit: Courtesy of Jason Shear

By caging bacteria in microscopic houses, scientists at The University of Texas at Austin are studying how communities of bacteria, such as those found in the human gut and lungs, interact and develop infections.

In a recent experiment, they demonstrated that a community of Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause some skin infections, became more resistant to antibiotics when it was contained within a larger community of Pseudomonasread more

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