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A Prosthesis for Balance

April 1, 2008

Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary neuroscientists have built a prosthesis to replace the balance function of the inner ear’s vestibular system and are testing it in monkeys.

The prosthesis mimics the orientation-sensing semicircular canals. An external motion sensor measures body rotation and a microprocessor processes and transfers that data to an electrode implanted into the inner ear. This is similar to how a cochlear implant works for hearing.

A Prosthesis for Speech

July 7, 2008

Boston University researchers are developing brain-reading computer software that is in the early stage of translating thoughts into speech, starting with vowels.

An implanted electrode picks up nerve signals related to movement of the mouth, lips, and jaw. These signals are sent wirelessly to a computer, where software analyzes them for patterns that most likely denote a particular sound, generating formant frequencies (the resonant frequencies of the vocal tract).… read more

A prosthetic hand that moves and provides sensation, just like a natural hand

DARPA's program aims to restore touch to amputees
February 13, 2015


In another major step toward dissolving the boundaries between machine and human, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded prime contracts for Phase 1 of its Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) program to a multi-institution research team. HAPTIX (a play on “haptics“) seeks to create a prosthetic hand system that moves and provides sensation like a natural hand, according to DARPA.

Despite recent… read more

A protein ‘passport’ that helps nanoparticles get past immune system

February 26, 2013


The body’s immune system exists to identify and destroy foreign objects, whether they are bacteria, viruses, flecks of dirt or splinters. Unfortunately, nanoparticles designed to deliver drugs, and implanted devices like pacemakers or artificial joints, are just as foreign and subject to the same response.

Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science and Penn’s Institute for Translational Medicine andread more

A protein that makes breast cancer spread

March 13, 2008

University of California Berkeley scientists have discovered a protein that determines if breast cancer will spread and become deadly.

The protein–SATB1–changes the levels at which more than a thousand genes are expressed in breast cancer cells, seemingly controlling whether cancer cells will survive elsewhere.

The scientists say the protein–found inside the nuclei of cells–would be difficult and potentially dangerous to target with drugs. However, SATB1 levels could be… read more

A pump inspired by flapping bird wings

February 3, 2015

When a fluid is squeezed and expanded repeatedly between two sawtooth-like boundaries, a net flow is generated to the right (credit: B. Thiria & J. Zhang)

Two New York University researchers have taken inspiration from avian locomotion strategies and created a pump that moves fluid using vibration instead of a rotor. Their results were published today (February 3) in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

“When we use a household pump, that pump is very likely a centrifugal pump. It uses a high-speed rotor… read more

A quantum computing solution for unstructured search

June 26, 2013

Bose-Einstein condensate

Tom Wong, a graduate student in physics and David Meyer, professor of mathematics at the University of California, San Diego, have proposed a new algorithm for quantum computing, that will speed up unstructured search.

The goal is to locate a particular item within an unsorted pile of data. Solving this problem on a classical computer, which uses 1s and 0s stored on magnetic media, is… read more

A quantum device that detects and corrects its own errors

UC Santa Barbara researchers form partnership with Google
March 5, 2015

A photograph of the nine qubit device. Qubits interact with their nearest neighbors to detect and correct errors. (credit: Julian Kelly)

In what they are calling a major milestone, researchers in the John Martinis Lab at UC Santa Barbara have developed quantum circuitry that self-checks for errors and suppresses them — preserving the qubits’ state(s) and imbuing the system with reliability that is foundational for building powerful large-scale superconducting quantum computers.

“One of the biggest challenges in quantum computing is that qubits are inherently faulty,” said Julian Kelly,… read more

A Quantum Leap in Battery Design

December 21, 2009

A “digital quantum battery” concept proposed by a physicist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign could provide orders-of- magnitude-greater energy storage capacity.

The concept calls for billions of nanoscale capacitors and would rely on quantum effects to suppress arcing, which wastes stored power.

The digital part of the concept derives from the fact that each nanovacuum tube would be individually addressable. Because of this, the devices could… read more

A Quantum Leap in Cryptography

July 17, 2003

BBN network engineer Chip Elliott is building what he hopes will be an unbreakable encryption machine, designed to harness subatomic particles to create a hacker-proof way to communicate over fiber-optic networks.

A quantum logic gate combining light and matter

April 11, 2014


Scientists at Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) have successfully achieved a quantum logic gate using a single photon and a single atom.

In the experiment, described in a Nature paper, the binary states 0 and 1 are represented by the two spin orientations of an atom (upwards or downwards), and by two polarization states of an optical photon (left or right circular), respectively.

The atom is… read more

A Quantum Memory Leap

January 23, 2009

University of Maryland and University of Michigan researchers have announced the ghostly transfer of the quantum state of a single ion to another one a meter away for several seconds.

Unlike current experiments, this scheme for “quantum teleportation” could buy enough time for manipulations that allow long-distance communications that are immune to eavesdropping, or for computations that exploit the quantum mechanics to perform blazing fast calculations.

A Question of Mind Over Matter

September 21, 2006

Scientists are probing the limits of mind-body interaction, developing tools that use artificial intelligence, muscle and neuron sensors — and even plugging directly into the brain — to achieve unprecedented results.

A Question of Resilience

May 8, 2006

“Resilience” — springing back from serious adversity — can best be understood as an interplay between particular genes and environment — GxE, in the lingo of the field.

Researchers are discovering that a particular variation of a gene can help promote resilience in the people who have it, acting as a buffer against the ruinous effects of adversity. In the absence of an adverse environment, however, the gene doesn’t… read more

A quick color-coded test for Ebola

Simple paper strip can diagnose Ebola and other fevers within 10 minutes
February 24, 2015

A new paper diagnostic device can detect Ebola as well as other viral hemorrhagic fevers in about 10 minutes. The device has silver nanoparticles of different colors that indicate different diseases. On the left is the unused device, opened to reveal the contents inside. On the right, the device has been used for diagnosis; the colored bands show positive tests. (credit: Jose Gomez-Marquez, Helena de Puig, and Chun-Wan Yen)

A new test for Ebola from MIT researchers uses a simple paper strip similar to a pregnancy test that can rapidly diagnose Ebola, as well as other viral hemorrhagic fevers such as yellow fever and dengue fever.

The new device is described in the journal Lab on a Chip.

Color-coded test

Currently, the only way to diagnose Ebola is to send patient… read more

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