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A 36-core chip design with an Internet-style communication network

Chips of the future will resemble little Internets
June 27, 2014

The MIT researchers' new 36-core chip is "tiled," meaning that it simply repeats the same circuit layout 36 times. Tiling makes multicore chips much easier to design (Credit: Bhavya K. Daya et al.)

The more cores — or processing units — a computer chip has, the bigger the problem of communication between cores becomes.

Now, Li-Shiuan Peh, the Singapore Research Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, speaking at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture, hasread more

A self-powered cardiac pacemaker

June 26, 2014

This picture shows that a self-powered cardiac pacemaker is enabled by a flexible piezoelectric energy harvester (credit: KAIST)

A research team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed a self-powered artificial cardiac pacemaker operated semi-permanently by a flexible piezoelectric nanogenerator.

Currently, pacemaker batteries last seven years on average, requiring frequent replacements, which may pose patients to a potential risk involved in medical procedures.

The nanogenerator directly stimulated a living rat’s heart using electrical energy converted from the small body… read more

Google innovations at Google I/O

June 26, 2014

Android Wear (credit: Google)

Google announced several innovations at  7th annual Google I/O developer conference (Google I/O) Wednesday. Among them:

Android Wear connects your phone to your wrist (say “Ok Google” to ask questions, read or send a text, get alerts, schedule a meeting, etc.). Google also announced that two Android wearables, the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, are available to order today, and the Moto 360 from Motorola… read more

A super-stretchable yarn made of graphene

June 25, 2014

Strong, stretchable fibers made of graphene oxide can be knotted like yarn (credit: Terrones group/Penn State)

A simple, scalable method of making strong, stretchable graphene oxide fibers that are easily scrolled into yarns and have strengths approaching that of Kevlar is possible, according to Penn State and Shinshu University, Japan, researchers.

“We found this graphene oxide fiber was very strong, much better than other carbon fibers,” said Mauricio Terrones, professor of physics, chemistry and materials science and engineering, Penn… read more

Limb regeneration: do salamanders hold the key?

June 24, 2014

Salamander (credit: UCL)

The secret of how salamanders successfully regrow body parts is being unravelled by University College London (UCL) researchers in a bid to apply it to humans.

For the first time, researchers have found that the “ERK pathway” must be constantly active for salamander cells to be reprogrammed, and hence able to contribute to the regeneration of different body parts.

The team identified a key… read more

Diet restriction suspends development in nematode worms, doubles lifespan

June 23, 2014

The nematode worm C. elegans with muscle cells fluorescently labeled in green and germ cells fluorescently labeled in red. These cells and others pause at a checkpoint in development and slow their aging when worms encounter a period of starvation. (Credit: Duke University)

Researchers at Duke University have found that taking food away from the C. elegans nematode worm triggers a state of arrested development: while the organism continues to wriggle about, foraging for food, its cells and organs are suspended in an ageless, quiescent state.

When food becomes plentiful again, the worm develops as planned, but can live twice as long as normal.

The results appear June 19… read more

Modeling how neurons work together to perform movements: not as random as we thought

Could help design prosthetic limbs controlled via electrodes implanted in the brain
June 23, 2014

(Credit: University of Cambridge)

In a bid to better understand the brain and also to create robotics limbs that behave more realistically, a team of three European universities has developed a highly accurate new model of how neurons behave when performing complex movements.

The results from the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) are published in the June 18 edition… read more

A low-cost ‘super-resolution’ microscopic optical device

June 22, 2014

Microsphere-based image of a nanoscale object. The scale bar is 20 microns. (Credit: Leonid A. Krivitsky et al./Scientific Reports)

A simple, low-cost “super-resolution” optical device using a microsphere capable of imaging surfaces 75 nanometers wide has been developed by researchers at A*STAR Data Storage Institute in Singapore.

Optical-microscope resolution is limited to half the wavelength of light (due to the diffraction limit), so optical microscopes can’t normally resolve structures smaller than a few hundred nanometers.

A*STAR’s Boris Luk’yanchuk and his colleagues previously showed… read more

Self-repairing mechanism helps to preserve brain function in neurodegenerative diseases

June 20, 2014

Prion-infected tissue (credit: Dr. Al Jenny - Public Health Image Library)

Neurogenesis, the self-repairing mechanism of the adult brain by creating new neurons, can help to preserve brain function in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Prion, and Parkinson’s, new research led by scientists at the University of Southampton has found.

The progressive degeneration and death of the brain, occurring in many neurodegenerative diseases, is often seen as an unstoppable and irrevocable process.

But now, a research team,… read more

SpaceX to launch ORBCOMM OG2 mission Friday

June 20, 2014

Falcon 9 planned ORBCOMM OG2 launch (credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX is targeted to launch the first satellite in the ORBCOMM OG2 mission on Friday, June 20th, 2014 at 6:08pm ET, with a back-up date of Saturday, June 21.

The launch from from Cape Canaveral will be webcast live beginning at 5:35 pm ET.

In this flight, the Falcon 9 rocket will deliver six next-generation OG2 satellites to an elliptical 750 x 615 km… read more

‘Superradiant’ discovery opens new path to superfast quantum computing

June 19, 2014

The atom trapping apparatus used to observe the physics described in the article (credit: Washington State University)

Washington State University researchers have used a super-cold cloud of atoms that behaves like a single atom, opening a new experimental path to potentially powerful quantum computing.

Physicist Peter Engels and his colleagues cooled about one million atoms of rubidium to 100 billionths of a degree above absolute zero.

There was no colder place in the universe, said Engels, unless someone was doing a similar experiment… read more

How to see around a corner without a mirror

June 19, 2014

(Credit: Felix Heide, Lei Xiao, Wolfgang Heidrich, Matthias B. Hullin)

A novel camera system that can detect objects hidden by obstructions — without using a mirror — has been developed by scientists at the University of Bonn and the University of British Columbia.

It uses diffusely reflected, time-coded light to reconstruct the shape of objects outside of the field of view.

Scattered light as a source of information

In the researchers’ prototype system, a laser… read more

Musk announces plans to build ‘one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world’ and send people to Mars in ten years

"Solar panels, paired with batteries to enable power at night, can produce several orders of magnitude more electricity than is consumed by the entirety of human civilization" --- Elon Musk
June 18, 2014

Utility-scale solar farm (credit: Silevo)

Elon Musk, chairman of SolarCity, America’s largest solar power provider, announced Tuesday with other SolarCity executives that the company plans to acquire Silevo, a solar panel technology and manufacturing company whose modules have “demonstrated a unique combination of high energy output and low cost.”

“Our intent is to combine what we believe is fundamentally the best photovoltaic technology with massive economies of scale to… read more

Targeting tumors using silver nanoparticles

June 18, 2014

Prostate cancer cells were targeted by two separate silver nanoparticles (red and green), while the cell nucleus was labeled in blueusing Hoescht dye (credit: UCSB)

Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have designed a silver spherical nanoparticle encased in a shell coated with a peptide that enables it to target tumor cells.

The shell is etchable so those nanoparticles that don’t hit their target can be broken down and eliminated. The research findings appear in the journal Nature Materials.

The core of the nanoparticle employs a phenomenon called plasmonics. In plasmonics, nanostructured… read more

Discovery of abnormal GABA levels may lead to improvements in diagnosing, treating Alzheimer’s disease

Drugs focusing only on plaque buildup have failed; reducing GABA inhibition may also be needed
June 18, 2014

A new drug target to fight Alzheimer's disease has been discovered by a research team led by Gong Chen at Penn State that also has potential for development as a novel diagnostic tool for Alzheimer's disease. The research also suggests that an ultimate successful therapy may be a cocktail of compounds acting on several drug targets simultaneously. This image shows a microscopic view of the high concentration (red) of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the reactive astrocytes (green) in the human brain with Alzheimer's disease. (credit: Gong Chen lab, Penn State University)

A new drug target to fight Alzheimer’s disease has been discovered by a Penn State research team.

The discovery also has potential for development as a novel diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia and one for which no cure has yet been found.

A scientific paper describing the discovery was published in Nature Communications on June 13.

The… read more

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