science + technology news

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

Macaque monkeys have the anatomy for human speech, so why can’t they speak?

December 14, 2016

macaque

While they have a speech-ready vocal tract, primates can’t speak because they lack a speech-ready brain, contrary to widespread opinion that they are limited by anatomy, researchers at Princeton University and associates have reported Dec. 9 in the open-access journal Science Advances.

The researchers reached this conclusion by first recording X-ray videos showing the movements of the different parts of a macaque’s vocal anatomy — such as the tongue,… read more

Are you ready for mood-altering drugs precisely inserted into your brain?

June 24, 2016

PFC-directed oscillatory interactions ft

Imagine if doctors could precisely insert a tiny amount of a custom drug into a specific circuit in your brain and improve your depression (or other mood problems) — instead of treating the entire brain.

That’s exactly what Duke University researchers have explored in mice. Stress-susceptible animals that appeared depressed or anxious were restored to relatively normal behavior this way, according to a study appearing in the… read more

1 in 8 chance of catastrophic solar megastorm by 2020

March 4, 2012

Solar flares

The Earth has a roughly 12 percent chance of experiencing an enormous megaflare erupting from the sun in the next decade,  according to space physicist Pete Riley, senior scientist at Predictive Science in San Diego, California, writing n Space Weather on Feb. 23.

This event could potentially cause trillions of dollars’ worth of damage and take up to a decade to recover from,  according to a 2008 report from the National… read more

Merging nanoelectronics into 3D engineered human tissues

Researchers grow cyborg tissues with embedded nanoelectronics
August 28, 2012

3D reconstructed confocal microscopy image of synthetic 3D neural tissue with red corresponding to neurons and green/blue corresponding to the macroporous nanoelectronic circuitry seamlessly innervating the neural tissue (credit:  Tian, et al/Harvard University)

Harvard scientists have created a type of “cyborg” tissue for the first time by embedding a three-dimensional network of functional, biocompatible, nanoscale wires into engineered human tissues.

The research team led by Charles M. Lieber, the Mark Hyman Jr. Professor of Chemistry at Harvard, and Daniel Kohane, a Harvard Medical School professor in the Departmentread 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

IBM Watson AI XPRIZE announced at TED

February 17, 2016

ibm-watson-ai-xprize ft

The IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, a Cognitive Computing Competition was announced on the TED Stage today (Feb 17) by XPRIZE Foundation chairman Peter Diamandis and IBM Watson general manager David Kenny.

It’s a $5 million competition challenging teams from around the world to develop and demonstrate how humans can collaborate with powerful cognitive technologies to tackle some of the world’s grand challenges.

According to IBM, “the… read more

Zapping deep tumors with microwave-heated photosensitizer nanoparticle

Inexpensive new nanoparticle generates toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) for targeted attack of cancer cells
October 18, 2016

Figure Explaining the New Method ft

Physicists at The University of Texas at Arlington have invented a new photosensitizer  nanoparticle called copper-cysteamine (Cu-Cy) that when heated by microwave energy can precisely zap cancer cells deep in the body .

Photodynamic therapy kills cancer cells when a photosensitizer* nanoparticle introduced into tumor tissue is stimulated by (typically) near-infrared light, generating toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as singlet oxygen, by photoexcitation. However, near-IR light cannot penetrate… read more

Transparent solar cells for windows that generate electricity

July 23, 2012

ucla_transparent_solar_cell

Researchers from UCLA and California NanoSystems Institute have developed a new transparent solar cell, giving windows in homes and other buildings the ability to generate electricity.

This new kind of polymer solar cell (PSC) produces energy by absorbing more near-infrared light but is less sensitive to visible light, making the cells nearly 70% transparent to the human eye. They use a near-infrared light-sensitive polymer and silver nanowire composite films as… 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.” [...]

IBM invests $3 billion to extend Moore’s law with post-silicon-era chips and new architectures

Pushing limits of chip technology to 7 nanometers and below
July 10, 2014

Graphene Integrated circuit, the first fabricated from wafer-size graphene, announced by IBM in 2011 (credit: IBM)

IBM announced today it is investing $3 billion for R&D in two research programs to push the limits of chip technology and extend Moore’s law.

The research programs are aimed at “7 nanometer and beyond” silicon technology and developing alternative technologies for post-silicon-era chips using entirely different approaches, IBM says.

IBM will be investing especially in carbon nanoelectronics, silicon photonics, new memory technologies, and architectures that support quantum… read more

Can we trust robots? Better question: can robots trust us?

August 24, 2014

https://twitter.com/hitchBOT

Ask HitchBOT, a charismatic robot who just hitchhiked its way across Canada from Halifax, N.S. to Victoria, B.C. — a three-week journey of more than 6,000 km (3728 miles) — accepting 18 rides from total strangers and tweeting its progress to its 35,100 followers.

@HitchBOT used GPS and a 3G cellphone wireless connection feeding to a map with its position. It has… read more

Self-driving vehicles: benefits to society, policy challenges for lawmakers

January 6, 2014

Imagined autonomous vehicle

Self-driving vehicles offer the promise of significant benefits to society, but raise several policy challenges, including the need to update insurance liability regulations and privacy concerns such as who will control the data generated by this technology, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

“Our research finds that the social benefits of autonomous vehicles — including decreased crashes, increased mobility and increases… 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

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