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New tools to manage information overload threatening neuroscience

August 13, 2013

The recent explosion of neuroscience research has resulted in the publication of nearly 2 million papers — more data than any researcher can read and absorb in a lifetime.
That’s why a UCLA team has invented research maps. Easily accessible through an online app, the maps help neuroscientists quickly scan what is already known and plan their next study.The Aug. 8 edition of the journal Neurondescribes these new… read more

Cubli — a cube that can walk

December 23, 2013

Cubli

The Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, a research institute at ETH Zurich university, has developed Cubli*: a 15 × 15 × 15 cm cube that can jump up and balance on its corner.

Reaction wheels mounted on three faces of the cube rotate at high angular velocities and then brake suddenly, causing the Cubli to jump up.
Once the Cubli is balancing on its… read more

Sugar molecules — building blocks of RNA — found around young star

August 30, 2012

Astronomers have for the first time found glycolaldehyde molecules around a young sun-like star. Glycolaldehyde is a an important pre-biotic species, a simple sugar, consisting of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms. Through observations with ALMA the researchers have shown that the molecules are located within a region with an extent corresponding to our own solar system - and thus exist in the gas from which planets possibly are formed around the young star later in its evolution. (Credit: ESO)

A team of astronomers led by researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute, have observed a simple sugar molecule in the gas surrounding a young star, proving that the building blocks of life were already present during planet formation.

They also found other complex organic molecules, including ethylene-glycol, methyl-formate and ethanol.

Sugar around new stars

“In the protoplanetary disc of gas and dust surrounding… read more

How attention helps you remember: the role of astrocytes

New study finds long-overlooked cells help the brain respond to visual stimuli
October 1, 2012

A human astrocyte cell

A new study from MIT neuroscientists sheds light on a neural circuit that makes us likelier to remember what we’re seeing when our brains are in a more attentive state.

The team of neuroscientists found that this circuit depends on a type of brain cell long thought to play a supporting role, at most, in neural processing. When the brain is attentive, those cells, called… read more

Filabot turns your plastic junk into material for 3D printers

January 21, 2013

filabot

Filabot promises to help turn your plastic junk into 3-D printed objects, Wired reports.

Most contemporary printers use plastic filament, available in spools from various suppliers. With Filabo, you can grind up several types of household plastics or even past projects to make new filament lines.

The brain is wired in a 3D grid structure, landmark study finds

March 30, 2012

brainpathways2

The brain appears to be wired in a rectangular 3D grid structure, suggests a new brain imaging study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

“Far from being just a tangle of wires, the brain’s white-matter connections turn out to be more like ribbon cables — folding 2D sheets of parallel neuronal fibers that cross paths at right angles, like the warp and weft of a… read more

The lowest-price, easiest-to-use 3D printer yet

April 16, 2014

The Micro 3D printer (credit: MD3)

If you’re on the edge about deciding to get a 3D printer, this Kickstarter campaign for The Micro, billed as the “first truly consumer 3D printer,” may just push you off it.

It already has for more than 9,000 backers, who have pledged an impressive $2.7 million since April 7 — far exceeding the $50,000 goal.

For a pledge of $299, you get the pre-assembled printer… read more

Transistors without semiconductors

Breakthrough transistor design uses quantum tunneling at room temperature, solving the heat problem with existing FET transistor designs
June 29, 2013

gold quantum_dots_on_boron_nitride_nanotubes

Michigan Technological University scientists led by professor of physics Yoke Khin Yap have created a quantum tunneling device that acts like like an FET transistor and works at room temperature — without using semiconducting materials.

The trick was to use boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) with quantum dots made from gold.

When sufficient voltage is applied to the device, it switches from insulator to a conducting… read more

First complete computer model of an organism

Mammoth effort produces complete computational model of the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium, opening the door for future biological computer-aided design
July 20, 2012

Mycoplasma_genitalium

In a breakthrough effort for computational biology, Stanford University researchers have produced the world’s first complete computer model of an organism.

A team led by Stanford bioengineering Professor Markus Covert used data from more than 900 scientific papers to account for every molecular interaction that takes place in the life cycle of Mycoplasma genitalium — the world’s smallest free-living bacterium.

By encompassing the entirety of an… read more

A hydrogel that destroys superbugs and drug-resistant biofilms

Novel antimicrobial hydrogel prevents antibiotic-resistant microbes from forming on wounds, medical devices and implants
January 28, 2013

Biofilm after treatment (credit: IBN)

The first-ever antimicrobial hydrogel that can break apart biofilms and destroy multidrug-resistant superbugs upon contact has been developed by researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) and IBM Research.

Tests have demonstrated the effectiveness of this novel synthetic material in eliminating various types of bacteria and fungi that are leading causes of microbial infections, and preventing them from developing antibiotic resistance.

This… read more

Electrical brain stimulation helps people learn math faster

May 20, 2013

TRNS-NIRS

A harmless form of brain stimulation called transcranial random noise stimulation (TRNS) can help you learn math faster, researchers report.

“With just five days of cognitive training and noninvasive, painless brain stimulation, we were able to bring about long-lasting improvements in cognitive and brain functions,” says Roi Cohen Kadosh of the University of Oxford.

The enhancements to the speed of calculation- and memory-recall-based arithmetic learning held for a… read more

Living power cables discovered

Multicellular bacteria transmit electrons across relatively enormous distances
October 26, 2012

Electrifying_microbial_filaments

A multinational research team has discovered filamentous bacteria that function as living power cables that transmit electrons thousands of cell lengths away.

The Desulfobulbus bacterial cells, which are only a few hundreds of a nanometer long each, are so tiny that they are invisible to the naked eye. And yet, under the right circumstances, they form a multicellular filament that can transmit electrons across a distance as large as 1 centimeter… read more

Future quantum computers with machine learning could attack larger sets of data than classical computers

July 31, 2013

universe

Seth Lloyd of MIT and his collaborators have developed a quantum version of machine learning — a type of AI in which programs can learn from previous experience to become progressively better at finding patterns in data. It would take advantage of quantum computations to speed up machine-learning tasks exponentially, Nature News reports.

Data can be split into groups — a task that is at the core… read more

We may all be Martians, says geochemist

It's likely that life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite; conditions suitable for the origin of life may still exist on Mars
August 30, 2013

mars_nasa_image

New evidence has emerged that supports the long-debated theory that life on Earth may have started on Mars.

Speaking at the at the annual Goldschmidt conference on Thursday, Professor Steven Benner from The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology told geochemists that an oxidized mineral form of the element molybdenum, which may have been crucial to the origin of life, could only have been available… read more

New web-based model for sharing research datasets could have huge benefits

October 15, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

A group of researchers have proposed creating a new web-based data network to help researchers and policymakers worldwide turn existing knowledge into real-world applications and technologies and improve science and innovation policy.

Researchers around the world have created datasets that, if interlinked with other datasets and made more broadly available, could provide the needed foundation for policy and decision makers. But these datasets are spread across countries, scientific disciplines… read more

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