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A smartphone ‘microscope’ that can detect a single virus, nanoparticles

September 19, 2013

smartphone microscope

UCLA engineers have created a 1/2-pound, portable smartphone attachment that can be used to perform sophisticated field testing to detect viruses and bacteria without the need for bulky and expensive microscopes and lab equipment.

“This cellphone-based imaging platform could be used for specific and sensitive detection of sub-wavelength [smaller than the wavelength of light] objects.

These include bacteria and viruses and therefore could enable the practice… read more

A Smoother Street View

July 28, 2010

Street Slide stitches together slices from multiple panoramas, making it possible to see all the shops on a street at once. (Microsoft Research)

New street-level imaging software developed by Microsoft could help people find locations more quickly on the Web.

Microsoft researchers have come up with a refinement to Bing Streetside called Street Slide. It combines slices from multiple panoramas captured along a stretch of road into one continuous view. This can be viewed from a distance, or “smooth scrolled” sideways.

Someone using Street Slide’s panoramic view can slide along the… read more

A Sneak Preview of Wolfram|Alpha

April 30, 2009

Stephen Wolfram’s video presentation of Wolfram|Alpha at Harvard Law School is now available.


A social network for making future plans

May 18, 2011

WhereBerry, a new social networking website, lets you discuss where you want to go and what you want to do — such as what restaurant you want to visit or what movie you want to see. Entries are public, so you can get ideas on things to do from people whose opinions you respect but don’t personally know.

The website allows friends to comment on details of… read more

A soft ‘wearable robot’ exosuit to increase stamina for soldiers and civilians

September 14, 2014

The Mobility Enhancing Soft Exosuit, a soft wearable robot made from lightweight and flexible materials (credit: Harvard Biodesign Lab)

DARPA has awarded a $2.9 million contract to the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University to further develop the Soft Exosuit, a “wearable robot.”

It will be worn comfortably under clothing  to enable soldiers to walk longer distances, reduce fatigue, and minimize risk of injury when carrying heavy loads.

The development is part of DARPA’s Warrior Web program, which seeks to develop technologies to prevent and… read more

A solar energy funnel to harness a broader spectrum of light

MIT engineers propose a new way of harnessing photons for electricity, with the potential for capturing a wider spectrum of solar energy
November 28, 2012

A visualization of the broad-spectrum solar energy funnel (credit: Yan Liang/MIT)

The quest to harness a broader spectrum of sunlight’s energy to produce electricity has taken a radically new turn, with the proposal of a “solar energy funnel” that takes advantage of materials under elastic strain.

“We’re trying to use elastic strains to produce unprecedented properties,” says Ju Li, an MIT professor. In this case, the “funnel” is a metaphor: Electrons and their counterparts, holes… read more

A solar-to-fuel roadmap for crystalline silicon

March 5, 2013


An MIT research team has published a detailed analysis of all the factors that could limit the efficiency of an “artificial leaf” — a small device that, when placed in a container of water and exposed to sunlight, would produce bubbles of hydrogen and oxygen for storing energy.

The new analysis lays out a roadmap for a research program to improve the efficiency of these systems, and… read more

A Soldier, Taking Orders From Its Ethical Judgment Center

November 26, 2008

“My research hypothesis is that intelligent robots can behave more ethically in the battlefield than humans currently can,” said Ronald C. Arkin, a computer scientist at Georgia Tech, who is designing software for battlefield robots under contract with the Army.

He and others say that the technology to make lethal autonomous robots is inexpensive and proliferating, and that the advent of these robots on the battlefield is only a… read more

A Soldier’s (Robotic) Best Friend

February 24, 2009

The U.S. Army has released new footage of the BigDog robot–a sophisticated, four-legged “pack-bot” designed to carry 340-pound payloads across all kinds of terrain–up or down hills, through ice, sand, snow, and dirt–by monitoring sensors in its legs and adjusting its posture accordingly.

A solid case of entanglement

January 12, 2010

For the first time, physicists have convincingly demonstrated that physically separated particles in solid-state devices can be quantum-mechanically entangled.

The experiment, which used electrons in a superconductor in place of photons in an optical system, forming entangled “Cooper pairs” over a micron or so, was conducted by a team of physicists from France, Germany and Spain.

A solid-state sequencer

February 25, 2013


Nabsys has developed a solid-state gene sequencing machine that will allow researchers to determine the structural organization of long stretches of DNA, MIT Technology Review reports.

This differs from most existing sequencing methods, which read DNA in short snippets that are later stitched together by software. The new system will, at first, complement existing methods, but it could eventually offer cheaper and faster sequencing than… read more

A Sound Way To Turn Heat Into Electricity

June 4, 2007

University of Utah physicists have developed small devices that turn heat into sound and then into electricity. The technology holds promise for changing waste heat into electricity, harnessing solar energy and cooling computers and radars.

A space-time crystal clock that will last forever

Berkeley Lab researchers propose a way to build the first space-time crystal
September 25, 2012


Imagine a clock that will keep perfect time forever, even after the heat-death of the universe — a four-dimensional “space-time crystal” with periodic structure in time as well as space.

With such a 4D crystal, scientists would have a new and more effective way to study how complex physical properties and behaviors emerge from the collective interactions of large numbers of individual particles, the “many-body problem” of physics. A space-time crystal… read more

A Special Drug Just for You, at the End of a Long Pipeline

November 8, 2005

The age of personalized medicine is on the way. Increasingly, experts say, therapies will be tailored for patients based on their genetic makeup or other medical measurements. That will allow people to obtain drugs that would work best for them and avoid serious side effects.

A Species in a Second: Promise of DNA ‘Bar Codes’

December 14, 2004

If it works as promised, DNA bar coding will assist in the urgent task of cataloging unknown species before their ranks are decimated by extinction.

The technique depends on analyzing part of just one gene, the same gene in all cases, for every species.

If and when a DNA bar code database of all terrestrial plant and animal species is established, a field biologist could take a tiny… read more

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