science + technology news

New nanomanufacturing technique for extremely high-resolution imaging, biological sensing

December 16, 2015


Researchers have developed a method of constructing nanolenses that could focus incoming light into a spot much smaller than possible with conventional microscopy, making possible extremely high-resolution imaging or biological sensing.

They precisely aligned three spherical gold nanoparticles of graduated sizes in a string-of-pearls arrangement  to produce the focusing effect.

The first step employs the lithographic methods used in making printed circuits to create a chemical mask that… read more

Social-media news consumers at higher risk of ‘information bubbles’

How "friends" or people you “follow” limit your sphere of information by keeping you in a “collective social bubble”
December 16, 2015

social-media effects

Do you find your news and information from social media instead of search engines? If so, you are at risk of becoming trapped in a “collective social bubble.”

That’s according to Indiana University researchers in a study, “Measuring online social bubbles,” recently published in the new open-access online journal PeerJ Computer Science, based on an analysis of more… read more

Stanford researcher scans his own brain for a year and a half — the most studied in the world

Psychologist experiments on himself, documenting his neural, metabolic, and genetic changes over 18 months
December 16, 2015

fMRI scan

You’ve probably seen the “connectome” map of the major networks between different functional areas of the human brain. Cool graphic. But this is just an average.

It raises a lot of questions: How does this map relate to your brain? Do these connections persist over a period of months or more? Or do they vary with different conditions (happy or sad mood, etc.)? And what if you’re a schizophrenic, alcoholic,… read more

How much TV you watch as a young adult may affect midlife cognitive function

December 15, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Watching a lot of TV and having a low physical activity level as a young adult were associated with worse cognitive function 25 years later in midlife, according to an article published online by JAMA Psychiatry.

The researchers* examined associations between 25-year patterns of television viewing and physical activity and midlife cognition in a study of 3,247 adults (ages 18 to 30), using a questionnaire to assess television viewing and… read more

ASCB Celldance 2015 premieres three videos featuring live cell imaging

December 15, 2015

cancer-cell invasion

ASCB’s Celldance Studios released Monday (Dec. 14) three new short videos made by cell scientists, featuring dramatic live cell imaging.

The videos, which take advantage of accelerating advances in super-resolution imaging, fluorescent tagging, and Big Data manipulation, where made in the labs of Douglas Robinson at John Hopkins University, John Condeelis at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Satyajit Mayor at the National Centre for the Biological… read more

New microscope creates near-real-time videos of nanoscale processes

December 15, 2015

A new high-speed microscope produces images of chemical processes taking place at the nanoscale, at a rate that is close to real-time video. This closeup shot of the microscope shows transparent tubes used to inject various liquids into the imaging environment. This liquid can be water, acid, buffer solution for live bacteria, cells, or electrolytes in an electrochemical process. Researchers use one as an inlet and the other as an outlet to circulate and refresh the solutions throughout an experiment. (credit: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT)

MIT | Microscope creates near-real-time videos of nanoscale processes

MIT engineers have designed an atomic force microscope (AFM) that scans images 2,000 times faster than existing commercial models. Operating at near-real-time-video speed, it can capture structures as small as a fraction of a nanometer from single strands of DNA down to individual hydrogen bonds.

Existing AFMs have similar spatial resolution but function… read more

New transparent metal films may radically reduce costs for smartphone, tablet and TV displays

December 14, 2015

calcium vanadate

A new material that is both highly transparent and electrically conductive could make large screen displays, smart windows, touch screens, and solar cells more affordable and efficient, according to materials scientists and engineers at Penn State who have discovered just such a material.

Indium tin oxide (ITO), the transparent conductor that is now used for more than 90 percent of the display market, has been the dominant… read more

New mass spectral imaging instrument maps cells’ composition in 3-D at more than 100 times higher resolution

May allow for analysis of effects of new medications to combat disease and to customize treatments, identify sources of pathogens, or investigate new ways to overcome antibiotic resistance
December 14, 2015

The instrument developed at Colorado State University (credit: William Cotton/Colorado State University)

A one-of-a-kind mass spectral imaging instrument built at Colorado State University (CSU) lets scientists map cellular composition in three dimensions at a nanoscale image resolution of 75 nanometers wide and 20 nanometers deep — more than 100 times higher resolution than was earlier possible, according to the scientists.

The instrument may be able to observe how well experimental drugs penetrate and are processed by cells as new medications are… read more

Will this DNA molecular switch replace conventional transistors?

December 14, 2015

The A-form of DNA between two electrodes. (credit: UC Davis)

What do you call a DNA molecule that changes between high and low electrical conductance (amount of current flow)?

Answer: a molecular switch (transistor) for nanoscale computing. That’s what a team of researchers from the University of California, Davis and the University of Washington have documented in a paper published in Nature Communications Dec. 9.

“As electronics get smaller they are becoming more… read more

Musk, others commit $1 billion to non-profit AI research company to ‘benefit humanity’

Open-sourcing AI development to prevent an AI superpower takeover
December 11, 2015

OpenAI ft

Elon Musk and associates announced OpenAI, a non-profit AI research company, on Friday (Dec. 11), committing $1 billion toward their goal to “advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.”

The funding comes from a group of tech leaders including Musk, Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel, and Amazon Web Services, but the… read more

MIT invention could boost resolution of 3-D depth cameras 1,000-fold

Imagine 3-D depth cameras built into cellphones, 3-D printing replicas, and driverless cars with clear vision in rain, snow, or fog
December 11, 2015

Kinect - laser scanner

MIT researchers have shown that by exploiting light polarization (as in polarized sunglasses) they can increase the resolution of conventional 3-D imaging devices such as the Microsoft Kinect as much as 1,000 times.

The technique could lead to high-quality 3-D cameras built into cellphones, and perhaps the ability to snap a photo of an object and then use a 3-D printer to produce a replica. Further out, the work… read more

How to create a synthesized actor performance in post-production

More Disney Research magic
December 11, 2015

facial blind ft

Disney Research has devised a way to blend an actor’s facial performances from a few or multiple takes to allow a director to get just the right emotion, instead of re-shooting the scene multiple times.

“It’s not unheard of for a director to re-shoot a crucial scene dozens of times, even 100 or more times, until satisfied,” said Markus Gross, vice president of research at Disney Research. “That not… read more

Shaking out the nanomaterials: a new method to purify water

December 10, 2015

nanoparticles in water ft

A new study published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Applied Materials and Interfaces has found a novel—and very simple—way to remove nearly 100 percent of nanomaterials from water.

Water and oil don’t mix, of course, but shaking them together is what makes salad dressing so great. Only instead of emulsifying and capturing bits of shitake or basil in tiny olive oil bubbles, this mixture grabs nanomaterials.

Dongyan Zhang,… read more

Periodic table of protein complexes helps predict novel protein structures

December 10, 2015

An interactive Periodic Table of Protein Complexes is available at (credit: EMBL-EBI / Spencer Phillips)

The Periodic Table of Protein Complexes, developed by researchers in the UK and to be published Dec. 11 in the journal Science, offers a new way of looking at the enormous variety of structures that proteins can build in nature. More importantly, it suggests which ones might be discovered next and how entirely novel structures could be engineered.

Created by an interdisciplinary team led by… read more

Worm research in life extension leads scientists to discover new metric to track aging

Living longer usually means a living longer in old age, but wouldn't it better to extend young adulthood instead?
December 10, 2015

C. elegans nematode worm (credit: The Goldstein Lab)

When researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in California administered an antidepressant called mianserin to the Caenorhabditis elegans roundworm in 2007, they discovered the drug increased the lifespan of the “young adulthood” of roundworms by 30–40 per cent.

So, does that mean it will work in humans? Not necessarily. “There are millions of years of evolution between worms and humans,” says TSRI researcher Michael… read more

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