science + technology news

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

When machines learn like humans

Probabilistic programs pass the "visual Turing test"
December 10, 2015

Visual Turing-ft

A team of scientists has developed an algorithm that captures human learning abilities, enabling computers to recognize and draw simple visual concepts that are mostly indistinguishable from those created by humans.

The work by researchers at MIT, New York University, and the University of Toronto, which appears in the latest issue of the journal Science, marks a significant advance in the… read more

How to animate a digital model of a person from images collected from the Internet

May allow for creating fully interactive, 3-D digital personas from photo albums, videos, other sources, or transfer expressions onto the face of someone else
December 9, 2015


University of Washington researchers have demonstrated that it’s possible for machine learning algorithms to capture the “persona” and create a digital model of a well-photographed person like Tom Hanks from the vast number of images of them available on the Internet. With enough visual data to mine, the algorithms can also animate the digital model of Tom Hanks to deliver speeches that the real actor never performed.… read more

Playing 3-D video games can boost memory formation

December 9, 2015

video game intervention-ft

Playing three-dimensional video games can boost the formation of memories, especially for people who lose memory as they age or suffer from dementia, according to University of California, Irvine (UCI) neurobiologists.

Craig Stark and Dane Clemenson of UCI’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory recruited non-gamer college students to play either a video game with a passive, two-dimensional environment (“Angry Birds”)… read more

Skyscraper-style carbon-nanotube chip design ‘boosts electronic performance by factor of a thousand’

December 9, 2015

A multi-campus team led by Stanford engineers Subhasish Mitra and H.-S. Philip Wong has developed a revolutionary high-rise architecture for computing (Stanford University)

Researchers at Stanford and three other universities are creating a revolutionary new skyscraper-like high-rise architecture for computing based on carbon nanotube materials instead of silicon.

In Rebooting Computing, a special issue (in press) of the IEEE Computer journal, the team describes its new approach as “Nano-Engineered Computing Systems Technology,” or N3XT.

Suburban-style chip layouts create long commutes and regular traffic jams in electronic circuits, wasting time and energy, they note.… read more

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