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Blocking this molecule in the brain could prevent age-related cognitive decline

February 8, 2013


Researchers have discovered a molecule that accumulates with age and inhibits the formation of new neurons. The finding might help scientists design therapies to prevent age-related cognitive decline.

The investigators identified the molecule, called Dickkopf-1 or Dkk1, in the brains of aged mice. By blocking production of Dkk1, “we released a brake on neuronal birth, thereby resetting performance in spatial memory tasks back to levels observed in… read more

‘This house wants to defeat aging entirely’: de Grey vs. Blakemore

April 24, 2012

Aubrey de Grey

Oxford University Scientific Society is hosting a debate on Wednesday, April, 25, 2012, addressing whether aging should be a target of decisive medical intervention — raising the possibility of substantial extension of human lifespan.

Dr. Aubrey de Grey will propose the motion, “This house wants to defeat aging entirely“ and Professor Colin Blakemore will be opposing. The debate will be chaired and moderated by Professor Sir Richard… read more

Obama and Romney tackle 14 top science questions

September 6, 2012


Scientific American partnered with grassroots organization earlier this summer to encourage the two main presidential candidates — Barack Obama and Mitt Romney — to answer 14 questions on some of the biggest scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. President Obama and Governor Romney have now answered these Top American Science Questions.

New ‘tricorder’ technology might be able to ‘hear’ tumors

November 9, 2015

packaged CMUT-ft

Stanford electrical engineers have developed an enhancement of technology intended to safely find buried plastic explosives and spot fast-growing tumors, using a combination of microwaves and ultrasound to develop a detector similar to the legendary Star Trek tricorder.

The work, led by Assistant Professor Amin Arbabian and Research Professor Pierre Khuri-Yakub, grows out of DARPA research designed to detect buried plastic… read more

Beyond Second Life: more realistic avatars

May 21, 2013


Philip Rosedale, founder of once-popular virtual world Second Life, has created a new company called High Fidelity. As suggested by the video above and the blog, the company is developing more natural ways for avatars to communicate (with heads and hand movements, for example) and with low latency (faster response time).

“Imagine holding your phone and being able to twist and move your avatar’s hand.… read more

Proposed satellite would beam solar power to earth

April 9, 2012

Space-based energy factory, SPS-ALPHA --- the Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array (credit: John Mankins)

A NASA-funded new approach to power-beaming solar-power satellites has been developed by John Mankins, who led the first NASA solar-power-satellite development team in the 90s.

Called the SPS-ALPHA (Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array), this “first practical solar-power satellite concept” uses a novel “biomimetic” approach.

Mankins said that this project would make possible the construction of huge platforms from tens of thousands of small elements that can deliver… read more

BioPen rewrites orthopedic implant surgery

Delivers live stem cells and growth factors at the time of surgery to regenerate bone, cartilage, muscle, or nerve tissue
December 13, 2013


Australian researchers have developed a handheld “BioPen” that will allow surgeons to precisely design and deliver customized bone and other implant materials (live stem cells and growth factors) at the time of surgery to regenerate bone, cartilage, muscle, or nerve tissue.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Similar to a multi-material 3D printer, the BioPen delivers stem cells embedded in a biopolymer carrier (such as alginate, a seaweed extract), protected

read more

An electric car that actually goes far?

July 20, 2012


Researchers have made the first stable lithium-air batteries, Science NOW reports. They may one day give electric cars a driving range similar to today’s gas guzzlers.

Lithium-air batteries have potential to store 10 times more energy than the best lithium-ion batteries on the market today, but have been unstable, falling apart after a few charges.

So researchers at the University of St Andrews in the United… read more

A circuit diagram of the mouse brain

Max Planck scientists aim to analyze a whole mouse brain under the electron microscope.
October 24, 2012

Serial block-face electron microscopy stack from the corpus callosum, cut down the middle, with 50 traced myelinated axons emerging, randomly coloured (credit: MPI f. Medical Research)

Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Medical Research scientists are developing a complete circuit diagram of the brain of the mouse using an electron microscope to make fine extensions of almost every single neuron visible.

Most axons are less than one micron thick, some even smaller than 100 nanometers. “The electron microscope is the only microscope with a high enough resolution to enable individual axons lying next to each other… read more

The computing trend that will change everything

April 10, 2012


The electrical efficiency of computing (the number of computations that can be completed per kilowatt-hour of electricity used) has doubled every year and a half since the dawn of the computer age.

The power needed to perform a task requiring a fixed number of computations will continue to fall by half every 1.5 years (or a factor of 100 every decade). As a result, even smaller and less power-intensive computing devices… read more

‘Hippie chimp’ genome sequenced

June 15, 2012


Unlike their chimpanzee relatives, bonobos shun violent male dominance and instead forge bonds through food-sharing, play, and casual sex.

An 18-year-old female named Ulindi has now become the first bonobo (Pan paniscus) to have its genome sequenced. Scientists hope that the information gleaned will explain the stark behavioural differences between bonobos and common chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and help to identify the genetic changes that set humans apart from… read more

High-capacity 3D transparent memory a step closer to reality

October 4, 2012

Transparent Memory

Rice University researchers led by chemist James Tour have just written a paper in the journal Nature Communications that describes transparent, non-volatile, heat- and radiation-resistant memory chips created in Tour’s lab from silicon oxide sandwiched between electrodes of graphene, the single-atom-thick form of carbon.

More than four years ago, they discovered it was possible to make bits of computer memory from silicon and carbon, but make them much smaller and perhaps better than anything… read more

A simple, non-invasive gene therapy restores sight

Can now safely insert repair genes into photoreceptors in the fine-vision fovea
June 14, 2013


UC Berkeley researchers have developed an new method for inserting genes into retina cells that is easier and more effective, It could greatly expand gene therapy to help restore sight to patients with blinding diseases ranging from inherited defects like retinitis pigmentosa to degenerative illnesses of old age, such as macular degeneration.

Unlike current treatments, the new procedure delivers genes to hard-to-reach cells throughout the entire retina,… read more

A robot vacuum cleaner with 360° vision

September 5, 2014

Dyson 360 Eye

James Dyson, Founder and Chief Engineer of Dyson, introduced Thursday the Dyson 360 Eye robot vacuum cleaner, with a 360° vision system.

The robot builds a detailed floor plan to navigate around a room and track its position.

Infrared sensors work in conjunction with a lens on the top of the machine that houses a 360° panoramic camera.

Infrared sensors work in conjunction… read more

Astronaut on ISS uses interplanetary Internet to control robot in Germany

November 12, 2012


NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) used an experimental version of interplanetary Internet in late October to control an educational rover from the International Space Station, NASA says.

The experiment used NASA’s Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocol to transmit messages and demonstrate technology that one day may enable Internet-like communications with space vehicles and support habitats or infrastructure on another planet.

Space station Expedition… read more

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