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Software to construct everything with LEGO pieces

October 7, 2013

lego_epfl

Romain Testuz. a student of the Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Geometrics (LGG) at EPFL, has developed software that automatically transforms a three-dimensional image into bricks and simplifies the challenge of construction by proposing a comprehensive plan of the parts to be used at each level.

To overcome structural weaknesses, Testuz used graph theory, representing each piece by a node and each connection by… read more

Well-connected hemispheres of Einstein’s brain may have contributed to his brilliance

October 6, 2013

Albert Einstein's corpus callosum. Color codes indicate the varying thicknesses of subdivisions of the corpus callosum (credit: Men et al./Brain)

The left and right hemispheres of Albert Einstein’s brain were unusually well connected to each other and this may have contributed to his brilliance, according to a new study [1], the first to detail Einstein’s corpus callosum.

The corpus callosum is the brain’s largest bundle of fibers that connects the two cerebral hemispheres and facilitates interhemispheric communication.

The study was published in the journal Brain. Lead… read more

Boston Dynamics’ new running robot: WildCat

October 6, 2013

WildCat2

Boston Dynamics has unleashed Cheetah as “WildCat” — a four-legged robot being developed to run fast on all types of terrain.

So far, WildCat has run at about 16 mph on flat terrain using bounding and galloping gaits — still slower than tethered Cheetah, with a top speed of 28.3 mph. Boston Dynamics is developing WildCat with funding from DARPA’s M3 program. (To… read more

3D printing lowers environmental impact, says study

October 5, 2013

3d_printed_blocks_large

Making things at home on a 3D printer uses less energy — and therefore releases less carbon dioxide — than producing it in a factory and shipping it to a warehouse.

That’s according to a study led by Joshua Pearce, an associate professor of materials science and engineering/electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Technological University.

The team conducted life-cycle impact analyses on three products:… read more

Cells from small biopsies can be used to grow large numbers of a patient’s own protective brain cells

October 4, 2013

Cells from brain biopsies in patients with Parkinson's Disease.

Scientists at the University of Western Ontario in Canada enrolled patients with Parkinson’s disease who were scheduled to have deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery and removed small biopsies near the surface of the brain.

They then multiplied the cells in culture to generate millions of patient-specific cells that were then subjected to genetic analysis.

These cells exhibited regeneration and characteristics of a fundamental class of brain… read more

MIT inventor unleashes hundreds of self-assembling cube swarmbots

October 4, 2013

M-Blocks

The experts said it couldn’t be done. But research scientist John Romanishin of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has created M-Blocks — cube robots with no external moving parts.

Despite that, they can magically climb over and around one another, leap through the air, roll across the ground, snap together into different shapes, and even move while suspended upside down from metallic surfaces.… read more

Neural circuits that control REM sleep in mice identified

October 4, 2013

(credit:

Scientists have controlled the duration of REM (rapid eye movements, associated with dreaming) sleep in mice by activating melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH)-expressing neurons in the lateral hypothalamus, using optogenetics (controlling neuronal activity with light).

“These research findings could help us better grasp how the brain controls sleep and better understand the role of sleep in humans. These results could also lead to new therapeutic strategies to treat sleep disorders along with… read more

Seeing cells through silicon microfluidic devices

October 3, 2013

Schematic of the lab-on-chip system for the study of<br />
mechanical, chemical and electric perturbation of different types of cells<br />
on silicon-based microfluidic and multi-electrode array platform.<br />
Quantitative phase image of a human embryonic kidney cell, and RBC<br />
imaged through silicon is shown on the top

Scientists at MIT and the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) have developed a new type of microscopy that can image cells through a silicon wafer, allowing them to precisely measure the size and mechanical behavior of cells behind the wafer.

The new technology, which relies on near-infrared light, could help scientists learn more about diseased or infected cells as they flow through silicon microfluidic… read more

The secret of longevity for the world’s longest-living rodent: better protein creation

October 3, 2013

Naked mole rats are small, hairless, subterranean rodents native to eastern Africa (credit: Adam Fenster/University of Rochester)

Better-constructed proteins could explain why naked mole rats live long lives — about 30 years — and stay healthy until the very end, resisting cancer, say University of Rochester biologists Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov.

Their work focuses on naked mole rat ribosomes, which assemble amino acids into proteins. Ribosomes are composed of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) molecules and proteins.

When… read more

’4D printing’ adaptive materials

October 3, 2013

Photo-morphing of initially flat gel sample into various shapes by illumination (credit: University of Pittsburgh)

Researchers from three universities are proposing to add a dimension to 3D printing by developing “4D” materials that can exhibit behavior that changes over time.

Imagine an automobile coating that changes its structure to adapt to a humid environment or a salt-covered road, better protecting the car from corrosion. Or consider a soldier’s uniform that could alter its camouflage or more effectively protect against poison gas or… read more

Is ‘massive open online research’ (MOOR) the next frontier for education?

"The goal of this class is to make you fall in love with bioinformatics" --- Prof. Pavel Pevzner
October 3, 2013

Prof. Pavel Pevzner

UC San Diego is launching the first major online course that prominently features “massive open online research” (MOOR).

In “Bioinformatics Algorithms — Part 1,” UC San Diego computer science and engineering professor Pavel Pevzner and his graduate students are offering a course on Coursera that combines research with a MOOC (massive open online course) for the first time.

“All students… read more

Why don’t we have fusion yet?

October 2, 2013

800px-Preamplifier_at_the_National_Ignition_Facility

The dream of igniting a self-sustained fusion reaction with high yields of energy, a feat likened to creating a miniature star on Earth, is getting closer to becoming reality, according the authors of a new review article in the journal Physics of Plasmas.

Researchers at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) report that while there is at least one significant obstacle to overcome before achieving the highly stable precisely… read more

Why glial cells should be included in the BRAIN initative

October 2, 2013

23 week fetal brain culture astrocyte, a type of glial cell (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Glia, the non-neuronal cells that make up most of the brain, must not be left out of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, says R. Douglas Fields, chief of the Nervous System Development and Plasticity Section at NIH, in Nature News.

“A major stumbling block is the project’s failure to consider that although the human brain contains roughly 100 billion neurons, it… read more

Extending MRI to nanoscale resolution

October 2, 2013

Illustration of the experimental setup shows the two unique components of the teams novel MRI technique that was successful in producing a 2D MRI image with spatial resolution on the nanoscale

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University researchers have devised a novel nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that delivers about 10­ nanometers spatial resolution.

This represents a significant advance in MRI sensitivity. Current MRI techniques commonly used in medical imaging yield spatial resolutions on the millimeter length scale, with the highest-resolution experimental instruments giving spatial resolution of a few micrometers.

“Our approach… read more

New programming language directs DNA to build custom-designed molecules

October 2, 2013

An example of a chemical program. Here, A, B and C are different chemical species. (Credit: Yan Liang, L2XY2.com)

A team led by the University of Washington has developed a programming language to help design chemical-reaction networks (equations that describes how mixtures of chemicals behave).

The objective is to control how DNA molecules build custom-designed molecules in a test tube or cell, which could serve as “smart” drug deliverers or disease detectors at the cellular level, for example.

“We start from an abstract… read more

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