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Stealth DNA-based carbon nanotubes tunnel into cells to deliver targeted drugs

October 31, 2014

An artist’s view of a carbon nanotube inserted in a plasma membrane of a cell. The nanotube forms a nanoscale tunnel in the membrane and the image shows a single long strand of DNA passing through that tunnel. (Credit: LLNL)

A team led by the Lawrence Livermore scientists has created a new way to selectively deliver drugs to a specific area in the body using carbon nanotubes (CNTs).

(KurzweilAI reported on October 17 a similar attempt to sneak drugs into cells using a DNA-based drug-delivery system: nanoscale “cocoons” made of DNA target cancer cells, tricking the cells into absorbing the cocoon, which then unleashes anticancer drugs.)

“Many… read more

What running robots can learn from turkeys

October 30, 2014

Model of motion (Credit: OSU)

With an eye toward making better running robots, researchers from from Oregon State University, the Royal Veterinary College and other institutions have made surprising new findings about some of nature’s most energy-efficient bipeds — running birds.

These are some of the most sophisticated runners of any two-legged land animals, including humans, the researchers found in a study published Wednesday (Oct. 29) in the Journal of Experimental Biology, with an… read more

Watson to help find new sources of oil

World’s first cognitive-technologies collaboration for oil industry applications
October 30, 2014

IBM's Cognitive Environments Lab researchers are developing software agents called "cogs" that will help energy company Repsol make better decisions on acquiring new oil fields and optimizing its strategy for current oil production (credit: Jon Simon/Feature Photo Service for IBM)

Scientists at IBM and Repsol SA, Spain largest energy company, announced today (Oct. 30) the world’s first research collaboration using cognitive technologies like IBM’s Watson to jointly develop and apply new tools to make it cheaper and easier to find new oil fields.

An engineer will typically have to manually read through an enormous set of journal papers and baseline reports with models of reservoir, well, facilities, production, export,… read more

Sprouting ideas in 3D with a novel ‘blended reality’ device

October 30, 2014

Sprout (credit: HP)

What happens when you combine a scanner, depth sensor, high-resolution camera, projector, Windows 8.1 desktop computer with Intel i7 processor and 1TB of storage, and two touch screens, all squeezed into a single device?

HP calls it “Sprout,” part of a new immersive “Blended Reality” ecosystem that is “designed to break down the barriers between the digital and physical worlds.”

A friendly maker tool

HP pitches… read more

DARPA amplifier circuit achieves speeds of 1 trillion Hz, enters Guinness World Records

October 29, 2014

Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit (Credit: Northrop Grumman Corp.)

Officials from Guinness World Records have recognized DARPA’s Terahertz Electronics program for creating the fastest solid-state amplifier integrated circuit ever measured: one terahertz (1012 Hz), or one trillion cycles per second — 150 billion cycles faster than the existing world record set in 2012.

“This breakthrough could lead to revolutionary technologies such as high-resolution security imaging systems, improved collision-avoidance radar, communications networks with many times the… read more

Google X plans to use magnetic nanoparticles and wearable sensors to detect diseases

October 29, 2014

Left: Nanoparticles circulate in the blood and can be built to attach to particular types of cells, such as circulating cancer cells. Right: A device worn on the outside of the body can detect the nanoparticles and provide useful information to physicians. (Credit: Google X)

Google announced a new “Nanoparticle Platform” project Tuesday to develop medical diagnostic technology using nanoparticles, Andrew Conrad, head of the Google X Life Sciences team, disclosed at The Wall Street Journal’s WSJD Live conference.

The idea is to use nanoparticles with magnetic cores circulating in the bloodstream with recognition molecules to detect cancer, plaques, or too much sodium, for example.

There are a number of similar… read more

Interstellar film features radical new black-hole model

Special-effects design leads to astrophysics discovery
October 28, 2014

A CGI model of a black hole for the movie Interstellar based on new discoveries by astrophysicist Kip Thorne (credit: Warner Brothers)

With our time on Earth coming to an end, a team of explorers undertakes the most important mission in human history: traveling beyond this galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future among the stars.

That’s the theme of the upcoming film Interstellar, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway and opening Nov. 7.

A black hole also plays a key role… read more

‘Data smashing’ could automate discovery, untouched by human hands

October 28, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

From recognizing speech to identifying unusual stars, new discoveries often begin with comparison of data streams to find connections and spot outliers. But simply feeding raw data into a data-analysis algorithm is unlikely to produce meaningful results, say the authors of a new Cornell study.

That’s because most data comparison algorithms today have one major weakness: somewhere, they rely on a human expert to specify what aspects of the… read more

An engineered protein microfiber that can also deliver drugs

Next step: milliscale protein fibers, such as hair
October 27, 2014

Engineered protein microfibers (credit: Jasmin Hume et al./Biomacromolecules)

Researchers at the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering have engineered microfiber proteins for the first time, for use in medicine and nanotechnology. Previously, scientists could only create new proteins capable of self-assembling into nanofibers.

Jin Kim Montclare, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the NYU School of Engineering, and her collaborators began their experiments with the intention of designing nanoscale proteins bound with… read more

How ferroelectrics could replace silicon in computers

October 27, 2014

The herringbone pattern of nanoscale domains is key to enabling faster switching in ferroelectric materials. (Credit: Ruijuan Xu and Lane W. Martin, UC Berkeley)

Ferroelectric materials — commonly used in RFID cards and video game memory — could become candidates for use in next-generation low-power computing and electronics, new research suggests.

Ferroelectric materials have spontaneous polarization as a result of small shifts of negative and positive charges within the material. The polarization can be reversed in response to an electric field, enabling the creation of a “0” or “1” data bit for… read more

Synthetic biology on ordinary paper: a new operating system

A tiny paper color test for a strain-specific Ebola virus, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or other pathogens --- no lab required
October 24, 2014

Wyss Institute scientists have embedded effective synthetic gene networks in pocket-sized slips of paper. An array of RNA–activated sensors uses visible color changing proteins to indicate presence of a targeted RNA, capable of identifying pathogens such as antibiotic–resistant bacteria and strain–specific Ebola virus. (Credit: Harvard's Wyss Institute)

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering announced Thursday (Oct. 23) a way to allow complex cellular recognition reactions to proceed outside of living cells, using pocket-sized slips of paper.

Imagine inexpensive, shippable, and accurate test kits using a pocket-sized paper diagnostic tool using saliva or a drop of blood to identify specific disease or infection — a feat that could be accomplished anywhere in the world, within minutes and… read more

This new ultrathin, energy-efficient 3D LCD display technology could be in your future TV or flexible e-book

Images stay on for years without power
October 24, 2014

In this concept of a LCD display, light is twisted in different directions to make the image appear three-dimensional. (Credit: Abhishek Kumar Srivastava)

Researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have invented an ultra-thin LCD screen capable of displaying images without a sustained power source and in 3D, making it a compact, energy-efficient way to display visual information.

In a traditional liquid crystal display (LCD), liquid crystal molecules are sandwiched between polarized glass plates. Electrodes pass current through the apparatus, influencing the orientation of the liquid crystals inside and… read more

Magnetic mirrors reflect light more efficiently

Could lead to more powerful solar cells, lasers, and other optoelectronic devices
October 24, 2014

Artist's impression of a comparison between a magnetic mirror with cube-shaped resonators (left) and a standard metallic mirror (right). The incoming and outgoing electric field of light (shown as alternating red and white bands) illustrates that the magnetic mirror retains light's original electrical signature while a standard metallic mirror reverses it upon reflection. (Credit: Authors)

Sandia National Laboratories scientists have created a new type of mirror that reflects infrared light by using an unusual magnetic property of a non-metallic metamaterial, instead of a reflective material.

By placing nanoscale antennas at or very near the surface of these “magnetic mirrors,” scientists are able to capture and harness electromagnetic radiation in ways that have potential in new classes of chemical sensors, solar cells, lasers, and other… read more

Ultra-high-resolution movies of live 3D biomolecules now possible with new microscope

October 23, 2014

A single HeLa cell in metaphase, imaged by lattice light sheet microscope. Growing microtubule endpoints and tracks are color coded by growth phase lifetime Credit: Betzig Lab, HHMI/Janelia Research Campus, Mimori-Kiyosue Lab, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology)

A new imaging platform called a “lattice light sheet” developed by Nobel laureate Eric Betzig and colleagues at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus is a significant leap forward for light microscopy. It captures high-resolution images rapidly and minimizes damage to cells, so it can image the three-dimensional activity of molecules, cells, and embryos in fine detail over longer periods than was previously possible, according to… read more

Will cosmic rays threaten Mars One, other deep-space astronaut projects?

October 23, 2014

Artist's rendition of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at the moon. The CRaTER telescope is seen pointing out at the bottom right center of the LRO spacecraft. (Credit: Chris Meaney/NASA)

Crewed missions to Mars such as Mars One may face dangerous levels of cosmic rays (energetic particles), according to a new paper in the journal Space Weather by University of New Hampshire (UNH) scientists.

This is due to a recent highly abnormal and extended lack of solar activity, resulting in extremely low densities and magnetic field strengths in the solar wind.

This results in a serious reduction in the… read more

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