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Salk scientist discovers novel mechanism in spinal cord injury

July 29, 2013

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“See-saw” molecule may offer clues to potential therapies in the long-term.

More than 11,000 Americans suffer spinal cord injuries each year, and since over a quarter of those injuries are due to falls, the number is likely to rise as the population ages.

The reason so many of those injuries are permanently disabling is that the human body lacks the capacity to regenerate nerve fibers. The best our… read more

NIH researchers discover how brain cells change their tune

July 29, 2013

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Study may advance fundamental understanding of how brain cells communicate.

Brain cells talk to each other in a variety of tones. Sometimes they speak loudly but other times struggle to be heard.

For many years scientists have asked why and how brain cells change tones so frequently.  National Institutes of Health researchers showed that brief bursts of chemical energy coming from rapidly moving power… read more

Twitter predicted to become a big TV screen

July 29, 2013

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Motivational analysis conducted by Columbia Business School and University of Pittsburgh professors forecasts the Twitter medium becoming comparable to television.

New research from scholars at Columbia Business School and the University of Pittsburgh questions the sustainability of Twitter, the social network that has more than 500 million registered users. The research was recently published in the journal Marketing Science.

Columbia Business School Professor… read more

New techniques use lasers, LEDs, and optics to ‘see’ under the skin

Special section in the Journal of Biomedical Optics
July 29, 2013

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Impressive examples of new non-invasive optical techniques using lasers, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and spectroscopic methods to probe and render images from beneath the surface of the skin are featured in a newly completed open-access special section in the Journal of Biomedical Optics published by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

The techniques may be used in a wide variety of medical and cosmetic… read more

A faster neuron-activity sensor for charting the brain in real time

July 29, 2013

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Princeton University researchers have created “souped up” versions of the calcium-sensitive proteins that for the past decade or so have given scientists an unparalleled view and understanding of brain-cell communication.

Reported July 18 in the journal Nature Communications, the enhanced proteins developed at Princeton respond more quickly to changes in neuron activity, and can be customized to react to different, faster rates of neuron activity.… read more

Self-organizing ‘giant surfactants’ promise chip-size-reduction breakthrough

July 29, 2013

giant surfactants

University of Akron researchers have developed nanoscale “giant surfactants” (using nanopatterning to combine functioning molecular nanoparticles with polymer surface films and liquid solutions) that could lead to smaller chips, lighter laptops, slimmer televisions, and crisper smartphone visual displays.

Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension (or interfacial tension) between two liquids or between a liquid and a solid.

The giant surfactants developed at… read more

S.F. hacker who made ATMs spit out cash dies

July 29, 2013

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A prominent hacker who discovered a way to have ATMs spit out cash and was set to deliver a talk about hacking pacemakers and other wireless implantable medical devices has died in San Francisco, authorities and his employer said, San Jose Mercury News reports.

Barnaby Jack died at his home in San Francisco Thursday, although the cause of death is still under investigation, San Francisco Deputy Coroner… read more

Neuroscientists plant false memories in the brain

MIT study also pinpoints where the brain stores memory traces, both false and authentic
July 26, 2013

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The phenomenon of false memory has been well-documented: In many court cases, defendants have been found guilty based on testimony from witnesses and victims who were sure of their recollections, but DNA evidence later overturned the conviction.

In a step toward understanding how these faulty memories arise, MIT neuroscientists have shown that they can plant false memories in the brains of mice.

They also… read more

NASA’s Van Allen probes discover particle accelerator in the heart of Earth’s radiation belts

July 26, 2013

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Scientists have know that something in space accelerated particles in the Van Allen radiation belts to more than 99 percent the speed of light, but they didn’t know what that something was.

New results from NASA‘s Van Allen Probes now show that the acceleration energy comes from within the belts themselves.

Particles inside the belts are sped up by local kicks of… read more

What if quantum entanglement worked on the macroscopic level?

July 26, 2013

entangled photons

Quantum entanglement works for photons, and even molecuiles, but what about larger objects?

University of Geneva (UNIGE) researchers managed to entangle crystals in 2011, but now they have entangled two optic fibers, populated by 500 photons.

To do this, the team first created an entanglement between two fiber optics on a microscopic level before moving it to the macroscopic level. The entangled state survived… read more

Making genome editing more accurate, efficient, safer

Improved technique makes it easier to add or delete genes in living cells, with less risk of off-target DNA damage
July 26, 2013

genome sequence trace - featured

Earlier this year, MIT researchers developed a way to easily and efficiently edit the genomes of living cells. Now, the researchers have discovered key factors that influence the accuracy of the system, an important step toward making it safer for potential use in humans, says Feng Zhang, leader of the research team.

With this technology, scientists can deliver or disrupt multiple genes at… read more

Neural electrical activity combines memory, environment, and state of mind

Researchers give rats false memories
July 26, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

The information carried by the electrical activity of neurons is a mixture of stored memories, environmental circumstances, and current state of mind, scientists have found in a study of laboratory rats.

The findings, which appear in the open-access journal PLoS Biology, offer new insights into the neurobiological processes that give rise to knowledge and memory recall.

Recent research showed that memories are not unchanging… read more

Tattoo biosensor warns when athletes are about to ‘hit the wall’

July 25, 2013

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University of California San Diego neuroengineers have developed a real-time electrochemical biosensor that can alert marathoners, competitive bikers, and other “extreme” athletes that they’re about to “bonk,” or “hit the wall.”

The sensor can be applied to the human skin like a temporary tattoo that stays on and flexes with body movements.

In ACS’ journal Analytical Chemistry, Joseph Wang and colleagues describe the first… read more

Hot-fire tests show 3D-printed rocket parts rival traditionally manufactured parts

Potential to reduce the time and cost associated with making complex parts by an order of magnitude
July 25, 2013

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NASA engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., have put rocket engine parts to the test and compared their performance to parts made the old-fashioned way with welds and multiple parts during planned subscale acoustic tests for the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket.

In little more than a month, Marshall engineers built two subscale injectors with a specialized 3-D… read more

A pathway in the brain that allows humans to learn new words

Might account for language disorders and differences between humans and non-human primates in language learning
July 25, 2013

The arcuate fasciculus (c

Researchers from King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, in collaboration with Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the University of Barcelona, have mapped the neural pathways involved in word learning among humans.

They found that the arcuate fasciculus, a collection of nerve fibers connecting auditory regions at the temporal lobe with the motor area located at the frontal lobe in the left hemisphere… read more

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