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Engineered biomaterial may regenerate damaged skeletal muscle

August 1, 2014

Cell-derived extracellular matrix (credit: Jeffrey C. Wolchok and Patrick A. Tresco/Biomaterials)

A biomaterial that can regenerate damaged skeletal muscle is being developed by University of Arkansas biomedical engineering researcher Jeffrey Wolchok, funded by a National Institutes of Health three-year, $437,248 grant.

Living cells secrete fibrous proteins and polysaccharide gels called extracellular matrix, which support cell survival and tissue strength. Minor muscle injuries affect tissue cells but not the extracellular components. In severe injuries, however, the extracellular matrix does not… read more

Nanostructured metal-oxide catalyst efficiently converts CO2 to methanol

August 1, 2014

Scanning tunneling microscope image of a cerium-oxide and copper catalyst (CeOx-Cu) used in the transformation of carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) gases to methanol (CH3OH) and water (H2O). In the presence of hydrogen, the Ce4+ and Cu+1 are reduced to Ce3+ and Cu0 with a change in the structure of the catalyst surface. (Credit: BNL)

Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered a new catalytic system for converting carbon dioxide (CO2) to methanol — a key commodity used to create a wide range of industrial chemicals and fuels. With significantly higher activity than other catalysts now in use, the new system could make it easier to get normally unreactive CO2 to participate in these reactions.

“Developing an effective catalyst for synthesizing methanol… read more

Google Glass app aims to improve surgeon training in Stanford University Medical School

August 1, 2014

CrowdOptic app lets a user see what another user is looking at simply by looking at that person (credit: CrowdOptic)

CrowdOptic is working with the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford University Medical Center to use CrowdOptic’s Google Glass software to help improve resident training in complex surgical procedures, the company has announced.

CrowdOptic’s app gives a Google Glass wearer — such as a surgeon — access to what another user — such as a resident performing an operation — is seeing, simply by looking in the… read more

The social origins of intelligence in the brain

A study of brain injuries in vets showed that brain regions that contribute to optimal social functioning are also vital to general intelligence and emotional intelligence
August 1, 2014

(credit: iStock)

By studying the injuries and aptitudes of Vietnam War veterans who suffered penetrating head wounds during the war, researchers have found that brain regions that contribute to optimal social functioning are also vital to general intelligence and emotional intelligence.

This finding, reported in the journal Brain, bolsters the view that general intelligence emerges from the emotional and social context of one’s life.

“We are trying to understand the nature… read more

A ‘nanosubmarine’ that could deliver drug molecules to cells

July 31, 2014

The sequential transport of donors and acceptors across cell membranes with independent and dynamic nanocarriers enables energy transfer exclusively in the intracellular space with concomitant fluorescence activation (credit: Francisco Raymo, professor of Chemistry and director of the laboratory for molecular photonics, at the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences)

Researchers at the University of Miami and the University of Ulster have created self-assembling nanoparticles that can transport drugs and other molecules into target living cells.

The new nanocarriers are just 15 nanometers in diameter, based on building blocks called amphiphilic polymers: they have both hydrophilic (water-loving, polar) and lipophilic (fat-loving) properties). That allows the nanocarriers to hold the… read more

A rice genome to feed the world

Will it deal with the "9 billion-people question" for the year 2050?
July 31, 2014

Understanding the complete genome of African rice will enable researchers and agriculturalists to develop new varieties of rice with African rice's hardiness, making them better able to adapt to conditions of a changing climate. (Credit: International Rice Research Institute)

An international team of researchers led by the University of Arizona (UA) has sequenced the complete genome of African rice.

The genetic information will enhance scientists’ and agriculturalists’ understanding of the growing patterns of African rice, and help development of new rice varieties that are better able to cope with increasing environmental stressors to help solve global hunger challenges, the researchers say.

The research paper was… read more

Nanopropeller could be used for microscopic medicine

July 31, 2014

Schematic of micro- and nanopropellers in hyaluronan gels. The polymeric mesh structure blocks the larger micropropellers (top left), but smaller propellers with a diameter close to the mesh size can pass through it (credit: Debora Schamel et al./ACS Nano)

Israeli and German researchers have created a nanoscale screw-shaped propeller that can move in a gel-like fluid, mimicking the environment inside a living organism, as described in a paper published in the June 2014 issue of ACS Nano.

The team comprises researchers from Technion, the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, and the Institute for Physical Chemistry at the University of Stuttgart.

The… read more

Brainwaves of a few people predict mass audience reaction to TV programs and ads

July 31, 2014

Herewego

Brain responses of just a few individuals are a remarkably strong predictor of response to future products and messages, according to a study conducted at the City College of New York (CCNY)  and Georgia Tech.

By analyzing the brainwaves of just 16 individuals as they watched mainstream television content, the researchers were able to accurately predict the preferences of large TV audiences — up to… read more

Simple vision-correcting overlay and algorithm could replace reading glasses for viewing devices

July 30, 2014

Researchers placed a printed pinhole array mask on top of an iPod touch as part of their prototype display. Shown above are top-down and side-view images of the setup. (Credit: Fu-Chung Huang)

UC Berkeley and MIT researchers have developed a prototype of a simple vision-correcting display (and associated algorithm) that uses a printed pinhole screen sandwiched between two layers of clear plastic attached to an iPod display to enhance image sharpness.

The tiny pinholes are 75 microns (millionths of a meter) each and spaced 390 microns apart.

The algorithm adjusts the intensity of each direction of light that emanates from… read more

Beyond GPS: five next-generation technologies

July 30, 2014

DARPA is pioneering the next-generation of PNT capabilities beyond GPS, which includes using miniaturization, pulsed lasers, quantum physics and even lightning strikes for external navigational fixes (credit: DARPA)

Several DARPA programs are exploring innovative technologies and approaches that could supplement GPS to provide reliable, highly accurate real-time positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) data for military and civilian uses and deal with possible loss of GPS accuracy from solar storms or jamming, for example.

DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar  said DARPA currently has five programs that focus on PNT-related technology.

Adaptable Navigation Systems (ANS)read more

Astrocytes — not neurons — found to control the brain’s gamma waves and some forms of memory

Cells thought to play only supporting roles demonstrate surprising effects on object-recognition memory and cognitive behavior
July 30, 2014

Poisoned astrocytes

In a study published July 28 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Salk Institute for Biological Sciences researchers have found that brain cells called astrocytes — not neurons — can control the brain’s gamma waves.

They also found that astrocytes — a type of glial cell traditionally thought to provide more of a support role in the brain —… read more

3D-printing objects containing multiple metals and alloys

July 29, 2014

This is a prototype of a mirror mount that scientists made using a new 3-D printing technique. The part at the top near the glass mirror is made of a metal with low thermal expansion, so that it won't shrink in space as much as most metals do. Using this kind of metal therefore prevents stress in the epoxy adhesive between the mirror and the metal. The bottom part of this mount is stainless steel, and could be connected to a stainless steel component of a spacecraft. (Credit: NASA-JPL/Caltech)

Researchers at NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology, and Pennsylvania State University have developed a 3D printing process that transitions from one metal or alloy to another in a single object.

For example, they created a prototype of an improved telescope mirror mount. The part at the top near the glass mirror is made of a metal with low… read more

An alternative to the Turing test: ‘Winograd Schema Challenge’ annual competition announced

Invites researchers and students to design computer programs that simulate human intelligence
July 28, 2014

(credit: iStock)

Nuance Communications, Inc. announced today an annual competition to develop programs that can solve the Winograd Schema Challenge, an alternative to the Turing test that provides a more accurate measure of genuine machine intelligence, according to its developer, Hector Levesque, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, and winner of the 2013 IJCAI Award for Research Excellence.

Nuance is sponsoring the yearly… read more

Designing nanoparticles that can deliver drugs more easily

July 28, 2014

MIT engineers created simulations of how a gold nanoparticle coated with special molecules can penetrate a membrane. At left, the particle (top) makes contact with the membrane. At right, it has fused to the membrane. (Credit: Reid Van Lehn)

A new study led by MIT materials scientists reveals the reason why gold nanoparticles  can easily slip through cell membranes to deliver drugs directly to target cells.

The nanoparticles enter cells by taking advantage of a route normally used in vesicle-vesicle fusion, a crucial process that allows signal transmission between neurons.

In the July 21 issue of Nature Communications, the researchers describe in detail the mechanism… read more

Understanding graphene’s electrical properties at the atomic level

"If you cut it one way, it might behave more like a metal, and, if you cut it another way, it could be more like a semiconductor."
July 28, 2014

An illustration of a graphene nanoribbon shaped by the beam of a transmission electron microscope (credit: Robert Johnson)

University of Pennsylvania researchers have used a cutting-edge microscope to study the relationship between the atomic geometry of a ribbon of graphene and its electrical properties.

A deeper understanding of this relationship will be necessary for the design of graphene-based integrated circuits, computer chips, and other electronic devices.

The study was published in the journal Nano Letters.

The researchers used Brookhaven National Laboratory‘s aberration-corrected… read more

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