science + technology news

MIT researchers design one of the strongest, lightest materials known

10 times as strong as steel but much lighter
January 6, 2017

3-D-printed gyroid models such as this one were used to test the strength and mechanical properties of a new lightweight material (credit: Melanie Gonick/MIT)

MIT scientists said today they’ve just created one the strongest materials known (ten times stronger than steel, but also one of the lightest, with a density of just 5 percent of that of steel) by compressing and fusing flakes of graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon.

In its two-dimensional form, graphene is thought to be the strongest of all known materials. But researchers until now have had a hard… read more

Scientists grow beating heart tissue on spinach leaves

How crossing plant and animal kingdoms may lead to radical new tissue-engineering breakthroughs
March 31, 2017

(credit: Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

A research team headed by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) scientists* has solved a major tissue engineering problem holding back the regeneration of damaged human tissues and organs: how to grow small, delicate blood vessels, which are beyond the capabilities of 3D printing.**

The researchers used plant leaves as scaffolds (structures) in an attempt to create the branching network of blood vessels — down to the capillary scale — required to… read more

Singapore scientists create stem cells from a drop of blood

DIY finger prick technique opens door for extensive stem cell banking
March 21, 2014

Schematic on finger-prick blood isolation and treatment for cellular reprogramming (credit: Loh Yuin Han, Jonathan, IMCB)

Scientists at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR) Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) have developed a method to generate human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) from a single drop of finger-pricked blood.

The method also enables donors to collect their own blood samples, which they can then send to a laboratory for further processing. The easy access to blood samples using the new… read more

Crowdsourcing a cure for my brain cancer

November 1, 2012

brain_tumor_thingyverse

Digital artist Salvatore Iaconesi, an engineer, artist, hacker and 2012 TED fellow who teaches interaction and digital design at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, hacked his medical records to put them online on his site artisopensource.net/cure in a global search for the best treatments, New Scientist reports.

 What happened?

It’s been incredible. I have been able to become an expert in… read more

Samsung to offer 5G service by 2020

May 13, 2013

samsung-logo

Samsung Electronics Co. said Sunday that it has successfully developed fifth-generation network (5G) core technology for the first time, allowing users to access faster data services expected to be available by 2020, Yonhap News Agency reports.

Under the new platform, users will be able to download and upload data at speeds of up to tens of gigabits per second (Gbps), compared to 75 megabits per second (Mbps)… read more

IBM unveils concept for a future brain-inspired 3D computer

October 20, 2013

IBM 3D computer

IBM has unveiled a prototype of a new brain-inspired computer powered by what it calls “electronic blood,” BBC News reports.

The firm says it is learning from nature by building computers fueled and cooled by a liquid, like our minds.

The human brain packs phenomenal computing power into a tiny space and uses only 20 watts of energy – an efficiency IBM is keen to match.… read more

Dear science fiction writers: stop being so pessimistic!

March 21, 2012

Neal Stephenson

Stephenson has seen the future — and he doesn’t like it.

Today’s science fiction, he argues, is fixated on nihilism and apocalyptic scenarios — think recent films such as The Road and TV series like “The Walking Dead.” Gone are the hopeful visions prevalent in the mid-20th century.

So in Fall 2011, Stephenson launched the Hieroglyph project to rally writers to infuse science fiction with… read more

New dimension to high-temperature superconductivity discovered

An unprecedented blend of intense magnetic and X-ray laser pulses produces surprising 3-D effect
November 5, 2015

In this artistic rendering, a magnetic pulse (right) and X-ray laser light (left) converge on a high-temperature superconductor to study the behavior of its electrons. (credit: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

The dream to push the operating temperature for superconductors to room temperature — leading to future advances in computing, electronics and power grid technologies — has just become more real.

A team led by scientists at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has combined powerful magnetic pulses with some of the brightest X-rays on the planet, discovering a surprising 3-D arrangement of a material’s electrons that appears… read more

First stable semisynthetic organism created

Scientists hope to "impart life with new forms and functions"
February 3, 2017

DNA --- now with a new base pair! (credit: Romesberg Lab)

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have developed the first stable semisynthetic organism — a bacterium with two new synthetic bases (called X and Y) added to the four natural bases (A, T, C, and G) that every living organism possesses. Adding two more letters to expand the genetic alphabet can be used to make novel proteins for new therapeutics, according to the researchers.

All life… read more

Fukushima plant spilling 300 tons of radioactive water every day into the sea since 2011

August 13, 2013

Mass contamination from major radiation exposure events, such as the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, require prompt treatment in the form of a pill, such as the treatment being developed at Berkeley Lab (credit: satellite image from Digital Globe)

Workers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant have told the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) that contaminated water has most likely been seeping into the sea since the disaster two-and-a-half years ago.

They do not have much faith in Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) ability to handle the situation and they claim another accident is inevitable.

Japan’s nuclear watchdog has described the leaks as a “state of… read more

Future Day event in Second Life

March 2, 2012

futuredaysl1

A Future Day event was held at Terasem Island in Second Life on March 1, with speakers Natasha Vita-More, Martine Rothblatt, Howard Bloom, Giulio Prisco, Adam A. Ford, and Ben Goertzel (via audio) and about 50 participants.

One of the projects discussed at the event was a Future Day film with positive and solar visions of the future (mostly interviews), for release at Future Day 2013… read more

Rats use GPS to root out land mines

June 8, 2012

Meyers-Rat-Main-Image

Two Bucknell University professors are working with a U.S. Department of Defense contractor to develop faster and more sophisticated technology and methods to detect land mines. The team has devised a system to train rats to recognize and respond to the explosives.

The rats will be outfitted with miniature backpacks and wireless transmitters that track their positions and movements. During the first part of their training, the… read more

Resveratrol found to activate ancient stress response and at 1,000 times lower doses

December 30, 2014

400px-Glass_of_red_wine

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found that a fundamental new mechanism for the known beneficial effects of resveratrol — the grapes and red-wine ingredient once touted as an elixir of youth: it powerfully activates an evolutionarily ancient stress response in human cells.

“This stress response represents a layer of biology that has been largely overlooked, and resveratrol turns out to activate it at much lower concentrations… read more

Automated drug design using synthetic DNA self-assembly

Reducing the time required to create and test cancer and other medications
December 6, 2012

A collection of pharmaceutical molecules is shown after self-assembly. The detail shows a single molecule, made up of strands of DNA, a therapeutic agent and other components that improve its ability to target cancer. (Credit: Parabon NanoLabs)

Using a simple “drag-and-drop” computer interface and DNA self-assembly techniques, Parabon NanoLabs researchers have developed a new automated method of drug development that could reduce the time required to create and test medications, with the support of an NSF Technology Enhancement for Commercial Partnerships grant.

“We can now ‘print,’ molecule by molecule, exactly the compound that we want,” says Steven Armentrout, the principal investigator… read more

Biological transistor enables computing within living cells

March 29, 2013

Three-terminal transcriptor-based gates use integrase (Int) control signals to modulate RNA polymerase flow between a separate gate input and output (credit: Bonnet et al./Science)

Stanford University bioengineers have taken computing beyond mechanics and electronics into the living realm of biology by creating the “transcriptor” — a biological transistor made from DNA and RNA.

In electronics, a transistor controls the flow of electrons along a circuit. Similarly, a transcriptor controls the flow of a specific protein, RNA polymerase, as it travels along a strand of DNA.

“Transcriptors are the… read more

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