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Can space elevators really work?

February 28, 2014

Climber ascends space elevator, heading spaceward from its aeroshell (credit: Frank Chase/Chase Design Studios)

Yes. A space elevator appears possible and space elevator infrastructure could indeed be built via a major international effort, a study conducted by experts under the auspices of the International Academy of Astronautics has found, Space.com writer Leonard David reports.

Two technologies pacing the development of the space elevator are an ultra-strong space tether and other space elevator components, and lightweight solar cells, according to study lead… read more

Laser could trigger rain and lightning

April 22, 2014

Illustration of a high-intensity laser dressed with a secondary laser that helps provide fuel to extend the distance of the primary beam.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida’s College of Optics & Photonics and the University of Arizona have further developed a new technique to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning.

The solution: surround the beam with a second beam to act as an energy reservoir, sustaining the central beam to greater distances than previously possible. The secondary “dress” beam… read more

Cocoa flavanols lower blood pressure and increase blood-vessel function in healthy people

Poor diet and high blood pressure now number one risk factors for death
September 14, 2015

Cocoa pods (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Two recently published studies in the journals Age and the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN) demonstrate that consuming cocoa flavanols improves cardiovascular function and lessens the burden on the heart that comes with the aging and stiffening of arteries, while reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD)

As we age, our blood vessels become less flexible and less able to expand to let blood flow and circulate normally, and… read more

Wearable ‘neurocam’ records scenes when it detects user interest

February 10, 2014

Neuroware

Keio University scientists have developed a “neurocam” — a wearable camera system that detects emotions, based on an analysis of the user’s brainwaves.

The hardware is a combination of Neurosky’s Mind Wave Mobile and a customized brainwave sensor.

The algorithm is based on measures of “interest” and “like” developed by Professor Mitsukura and the neurowear team.

The users interests are quantified… read more

Human Longevity Inc. launched to promote healthy aging using advances in genomics and stem-cell therapies

Building world’s largest genotype/phenotype database
March 5, 2014

hli_logo

Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), a genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company focused on extending the healthy, high performance human life span, was announced today by co-founders J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., Robert Hariri, M.D., Ph.D., and Peter H. Diamandis, M.D.

The company, headquartered in San Diego, California, is being capitalized with an initial $70 million in investor funding.

Largest human sequencingread more

Physicists plan a miniaturized particle accelerator prototype in five years

November 23, 2015

Three “accelerators on a chip” made of silicon. A shoebox-sized particle accelerator would use a series of these “accelerators on a chip” to boost the energy of electrons. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has awarded $13.5 million to Stanford University for an international effort to build a working particle accelerator the size of a shoebox, based on an “accelerator on a chip” design, a novel technique using laser light to propel electrons through a series of glass chips, with the potential to revolutionize science, medicine, and other fields by dramatically shrinking the size and cost… read more

Graphene antennas would enable terabit wireless downloads

March 6, 2013

nanodevice_gatech

Researchers at Georgia Tech have drawn up blueprints for a wireless antenna made from atom-thin sheets of carbon, or graphene, that could allow terabit-per-second transfer speeds at a range of about one meter, MIT Technology Review reports

This would make it possible to obtain 10 high-definition movies by waving your phone past another device for one second. At even shorter ranges, such as a few centimeters, data… read more

NASA video on LENR (low energy nuclear reactions), a clean form of nuclear energy

January 13, 2012

NASA Langley Research Center posted Thursday (but has not announced) a new video on NASA research on LENR (low energy nuclear reactions), entitled “Method for Enhancement of Surface Plasmon Polaritons to Initiate & Sustain LENR.”

The research focuses on “another way of producing energy-efficient nuclear power,” says NASA Senior Research Scientist Joseph Zawodny, featured in the video (posted on YouTube by KurzweilAI). “This other form of nuclear power releases… read more

Memory implants

A maverick neuroscientist believes he has deciphered the code by which the brain forms long-term memories
May 1, 2013

electrode_array

Teodore Berger, a biomedical engineer and neuroscientist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, envisions a day in the not too distant future when a patient with severe memory loss can get help from an electronic implant, MIT Technology Review reports.

In people whose brains have suffered damage from Alzheimer’s, stroke, or injury, disrupted neuronal networks often prevent long-term memories from forming. For more than… read more

What zebrafish can teach us about healing brain damage

November 11, 2012

800px-Zebrafisch

The zebrafish regenerates its brain after injury, unlike mammals. Is there something we can learn about the process that might help with traumatic brain injury  and neurodegenerative disorders?

A research team at the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD), Germany decided to investigate.

They found that that in zebrafish — in contrast to mammals — inflammation is a positive regulator of neuronal regeneration in the… read more

3D-printing human embryonic stem cells for drug testing, future replacement of human organs

New 3D printing process is first to print the more delicate (and more useful) hESCs
February 6, 2013

3D printing with embryonic stem cells (credit: )

A new 3D printing process using human stem cells could pave the way to custom replacement organs for patients, eliminating the need for organ donation and immune suppression, and solving the problem of transplant rejection.

The process, developed at Edinburgh-based Heriot-Watt University, in partnership with Roslin Cellab, could also speed up and improve the process of reliable, animal-free drug testing by growing three-dimensional human tissues and structures… read more

What campuses can learn from online teaching

October 8, 2012

edx_announcement

Also see the three related posts today (below). — Ed.

Higher education is at a crossroads not seen since the introduction of the printing press, said MIT president L. Rafael Reif* in The Wall Street Journal.

“Residential education’s long-simmering financial problem is reaching a crisis point,” he said. “At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other campuses, the upheaval today is coming from the technological change posed by… read more

No longer ‘junk DNA’ — shedding light on the ‘dark matter’ of the genome

A new tool called "LIGR-Seq" enables scientists to explore in depth what non-coding RNAs actually do in human cells
May 23, 2016

A plot of human RNA-RNA interactions detected by ligr-seq (credit: University of Toronto)

What used to be dismissed by many as “junk DNA” has now become vitally important, as accelerating genomic data points to the importance of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) — a genome’s messages that do not specifically code for proteins — in development and disease.

But our progress in understanding these molecules has been slow because of the lack of technologies that allow for systematic mapping of their functions.… read more

Google’s plan to take over the world

June 18, 2013

Google logo

Google isn’t just the backbone of the Internet anymore, writes Steve Kovach at Business Insider.

“It’s rapidly becoming the backbone of your entire life, all thanks to data you’re voluntarily giving up to a private company based on your Web searches, photos, Gmail messages, and more. …

“It’s the most apparent in Google Now, a voice-powered personal assistant that launched on Android phones last year.” [...]

All-optical switching promises terahertz-speed hard drive and RAM memory

April 4, 2013

Magnetic structure in a colossal magneto-resistive manganite is<br />
switched from antiferromagnetic to ferromagnetic ordering during<br />
about 100 femtosecond laser pulse photo-excitation (credit: DOE Ames Laboratory)

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, and the University of Crete in Greece have found a new way to switch magnetism that is at least 1000 times faster than currently used in magnetic memory technologies.

Magnetic switching is used to encode information in hard drives, magnetic random access memory and other computing devices. The discovery, reported in the April 4 issue… read more

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