science + technology news

The real Limitless drug

April 8, 2013

Modafinil (Provigil in the United States) was first approved by the FDA in 1998 for the treatment of narcolepsy, but since has become better known as a nootropic, a “smart drug,” especially among entrepreneurs, says New York magazine.

Rumored to be the model for the fictional pills in the movie Limitless, no scientist has conducted a study of its long-term effects on healthy brains yet. At the very… read more

Black hole birth captured by ‘armada of instruments’

"A Rosetta-Stone event ... may require physicists to modify existing theories about radiation"
November 25, 2013

star_becomes_black_hole

“Los Alamos’ RAPTOR telescopes in New Mexico and Hawaii received a very bright cosmic birth announcement for a black hole on April 27,” said astrophysicist Tom Vestrand, lead author of a paper n the journal Science Nov. 21 that highlights the unusual event.

“This was the burst of the century,” said Los Alamos co-author James Wren. “It’s the biggest, brightest one to happen in at least 20 years, and… read more

It might be possible to restore lost memories

Memories not stored in synapses, neurobiologist finds
December 22, 2014

Synapse (credit: Curtis Neveu/Wikimedia Commons)

New UCLA research indicates that lost memories can be restored, offering hope for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

For decades, most neuroscientists have believed that memories are stored at the synapses — the connections between brain cells, or neurons — which are destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease. The new study provides evidence contradicting the idea that long-term memory is stored at synapses.

“Long-term memory is not… read more

A computerized house that generates as much energy as it uses

NIST unveils net-zero energy residential test facility to improve testing of energy-efficient technologies
September 18, 2012

NIST Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has unveiled a laboratory in the form of a typical suburban home, designed to demonstrate that a family of four can generate as much energy as it uses in a year.

The two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath “Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility“ was built to U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum standards — the highest standard for sustainable… read more

World’s smallest electronic diode made from single DNA molecule

Electronic components 1,000 times smaller than with silicon may be possible
April 6, 2016

DNA diode ft

Nanoscale electronic components can be made from single DNA molecules, as researchers at the University of Georgia and at Ben-Gurion University in Israel have demonstrated, using a single molecule of DNA to create the world’s smallest diode.

A diode is a component vital to electronic devices that allows current to flow in one direction but prevents its flow in the other direction.… read more

Events in the future seem closer than those in the past

We tend to feel closer to the future because we feel like we’re moving toward it
March 15, 2013

Screen capture of a virtual environment for testing time perception (credit: Caruso E M et al./Psychological Science)

We say that time flies, it marches on, it flows like a river — our descriptions of time are closely linked to our experiences of moving through space.

Now, new research suggests that the illusions that influence how we perceive movement through space also influence our perception of time. The findings provide evidence that our experiences of space and time have even more in common than previously… read more

Fukushima fuel pool is urgent national security issue for America, ‘top threat facing humanity’

May 7, 2012

Fukushima

After visiting Fukushima, Senator Ron Wyden warned that the situation was worse than reported, Washington’s Blog reports … and urged Japan to accept international help to stabilize dangerous spent fuel pools.

Wyden said that the spent fuel is a national security threat to the U.S.: “The radiation caused by the failure of the spent fuel pools in the event of another earthquake could reach the West… read more

‘Nanozyme’ nanoparticles can be programmed to target different diseases

July 19, 2012

Nanozymes (colloidal nanoparticles with a diameter of 48 nm, with a core/shell structure consisting of a 13-nm gold nanoparticle core and a shell of single-stranded DNA oligonucleotides

University of Florida researchers have moved a step closer to treating diseases on a cellular level by creating a nanoparticle that can be programmed to shut down the genetic production line that cranks out disease-related proteins.

In laboratory tests, these newly created nanoparticles eradicated most of a hepatitis C virus infection. The programmable nature of the particle makes it also potentially useful against diseases such… read more

Murder by Internet

Ubiquitous Internet connections will allow death by device and massive over-the-air theft by 2014
January 4, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

New cyberthreats that will emerge in 2014 include the use of Internet-connected devices to carry out physical crimes, including murders, and cybercriminals leveraging mobile-device Near Field Communications (NFC) to wreak havoc with banking and e-commerce, predicts IID (Internet Identity, a provider of technology and services that help organizations secure their Internet presence,

With nearly every device, from healthcare to transportation, being controlled or communicated with in… read more

IBM unveils cognitive computing chips, combining digital ‘neurons’ and ‘synapses’

August 18, 2011

Cognitive computing chip (credit: IBM Research)

IBM researchers unveiled today a new generation of experimental computer chips designed to emulate the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition.

In a sharp departure from traditional von Neumann computing concepts in designing and building computers, IBM’s first neurosynaptic computing chips recreate the phenomena between spiking neurons and synapses in biological systems, such as the brain, through advanced algorithms and silicon circuitry.

The technology could yield many orders… read more

ACT confirms clinical trial participant showed improvement in vision from 20/400 to 20/40 following treatment

May 21, 2013

Intermediate age-related macular degeneration (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (ACT) has confirmed that the vision of a patient enrolled in a clinical investigation of the company’s retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) has improved from 20/400 to 20/40 following treatment.

ACT is currently enrolling patients in three clinical trials in the U.S. and Europe for treatment of Stargardt’s macular dystrophy (SMD) and dry age-related… read more

The future of cryonics debate between physicist Michio Kaku and Alcor CEO Max More

December 22, 2013

ALCOR2

In response to a question, “What are the practical applications of cryogenics today, and what potential improvements can we expect 20 to 30 years down the line?” Michio Kaku, PhD, replied with a critique.

Max More, PhD, CEO of Alcor Life Extension Foundation, offered this response, noting that cryonics is “affordable by regular people. Ice does not form inside cells… read more

3D graphene could replace expensive platinum in solar cells

August 22, 2013

A field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) image of 3D honeycomb-structured graphene. The novel material can replace platinum in dye-sensitized solar cells with virtually no loss of generating capacity. Hui Wang image

Michigan Technological University, scientists have replaced expensive ($1,500 an ounce) platinum in solar cells with low-cost 3D graphene.

Regular graphene is a two-dimensional form of carbon. Yun Hang Hu, the Charles and Caroll McArthur Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MTU, and his team invented a way to synthesize a 3D version, with a honeycomb-like structure.

The 3D graphene had excellent conductivity and high… read more

Climbing a tree or balancing on a beam might improve cognitive skills

Working memory capacity increase of 50 percent found in research
July 30, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Climbing a tree or balancing on a beam can dramatically improve cognitive skills, according to a study recently conducted by researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of North Florida.

The study is the first to show that proprioceptively dynamic activities like climbing a tree, done over a short period of time, have dramatic working memory benefits.

Working memory (the… read more

Controlling heat like light

New approach using nanoparticle alloys allows heat to be focused or reflected just like electromagnetic waves
January 15, 2013

An MIT researcher has developed a technique that provides a new way of manipulating heat, allowing it to be controlled much as light waves can be manipulated by lenses and mirrors.

The approach relies on engineered materials consisting of nanostructured semiconductor alloy crystals.

Heat is a vibration of matter — technically, a vibration of the atomic lattice of a material — just as sound… read more

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