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Support cells found in human brain make mice smarter

March 8, 2013

brain_mice_human_astrocytes

Glial cells — a family of cells found in the human central nervous system and, until recently, considered mere “housekeepers” — now appear to be essential to the unique complexity of the human brain.

Scientists reached this conclusion after demonstrating that when transplanted into mice, these human cells could influence communication within the brain, allowing the animals to learn more rapidly.

The study suggests that the… read more

Print your own life-size robot for under $1,000

January 28, 2013

InMoov

Gael Langevin, a French sculptor and model-maker, has created a life-size, 3D-printed robot.called InMoov, CNN reports.

Langevin’s animatronic creation can be made by anyone with access to little more than a basic 3D printer, a few motors, a cheap circuit board, and about $800.

A work in progress, the robot boasts a head, arms, and hands — the torso is not far off. On… read more

Flying cars are here, almost

August 15, 2012

terrafugia

Cars will finally fly this year, BBC Future reports.

The Transition is $300,000 aircraft that can fold its wings, allowing it to also operate as a street-legal road vehicle, says Terrafugia.

The PAL-V (personal air and land vehicle), also $300,000, is an autogyro, with a propeller at the rear to provide forward thrust and a free-spinning rotor to give it lift. On the ground, it… read more

Neuroscientists pinpoint cell type in the brain that controls body clock

Could lead to treatments for jet lag, neurological problems, and metabolism issues, but one simple solution is to not use electronic devices before sleep
March 24, 2015

Suprachiasmatic nucleus controls sleep-wake cycles (credit: National Institute of General Medical Sciences)

UT Southwestern Medical Center neuroscientists have identified key cells in the brain that control 24-hour circadian rhythms (sleep and wake cycles) as well as functions such as hormone production, metabolism, and blood pressure.

The discovery may lead to future treatments for jet lag and other sleep disorders and even for neurological problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, as well as metabolism issues and psychiatric disorders such as depression.

It’s been… read more

Machines will achieve human-level intelligence in the 2028 to 2150 range: poll

April 26, 2011

Probability density of human-level AI by date -- the blue represents skew Gaussian fits, the red represents triangular fits.(credit: Anders Sandberg)

Machines will achieve human-level intelligence by 2028 (median estimate: 10% chance), by 2050 (median estimate: 50% chance), or by 2150 (median estimate: 90% chance), according to an informal poll at the Future of Humanity Institute (FHI) Winter Intelligence conference on machine intelligence in January.

“Human‐level machine intelligence, whether due to a de novo AGI (artificial general intelligence) or biologically inspired/emulated systems, has a macroscopic probability to occurring… read more

A 360-degree view of the world

Paranoids alert
December 13, 2012

FlyViz

Have you ever dreamed of having eyes in the back of your head?

Yeah, we haven’t either, but FlyVIZ, designed by French engineers, lets you experience a real-time 360° vision of your surroundings. It combines a panoramic image acquisition system (positioned on top of the your head) with a head-mounted display (HMD) and a laptop for transforming the fly-eye images in real time into something humans can… read more

A video game that teaches how to program in Java

April 10, 2013

One of the characters in the CodeSpells game environment (credit: UC San Diego)

CodeSpells, an immersive, first-person player video game designed to teach students in elementary to high school how to program in the popular Java language, has been developed by University of California, San Diego computer scientists.

The researchers tested the game on a group of 40 girls, ages 10 to 12, who had never been exposed to programming before. In just one hour of play, the girls… read more

New graphene-based supercapacitors rival lead-acid batteries

August 5, 2013

graphene_ionic_1

Monash University researchers have developed a completely new strategy to engineer graphene-based supercapacitors (SC), making them viable for widespread use in renewable energy storage, portable electronics and electric vehicles.

SCs are generally made of highly porous carbon impregnated with a liquid electrolyte to transport the electrical charge. Known for their almost indefinite lifespan and the ability to re-charge in seconds, the drawback of existing SCs… read more

Researchers prove that memories reside in specific brain cells

March 23, 2012

Mouse Hippocampus

In a new MIT study, researchers used optogenetics to show that memories reside in very specific brain cells, and that simply activating a tiny fraction of brain cells can recall an entire memory — explaining, for example, how Marcel Proust could recapitulate his childhood from the aroma of a once-beloved madeleine cookie.

“We demonstrate that behavior based on high-level cognition, such as the expression of a specific memory, can… 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

First complete computer model of an organism

Mammoth effort produces complete computational model of the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium, opening the door for future biological computer-aided design
July 20, 2012

Mycoplasma_genitalium

In a breakthrough effort for computational biology, Stanford University researchers have produced the world’s first complete computer model of an organism.

A team led by Stanford bioengineering Professor Markus Covert used data from more than 900 scientific papers to account for every molecular interaction that takes place in the life cycle of Mycoplasma genitalium — the world’s smallest free-living bacterium.

By encompassing the entirety of an… read more

A jet engine powered by lasers and nuclear explosions?

July 14, 2015

lasers vaporize the radioactive material and cause a fusion reaction — in effect a small thermonuclear explosion.<br />
Lasers vaporize radioactive material and cause a fusion reaction --- in effect a small thermonuclear explosion (credit: Patent Yogi/YouTube)

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded a patent (US 9,068,562) to Boeing engineers and scientists for a laser- and nuclear-driven airplane engine.

“A stream of pellets containing nuclear material such as Deuterium or Tritium is fed into a hot-stop within a thruster of the aircraft,” Patent Yogi explains. “Then multiple high powered laser beams are all focused onto the hot-spot. The pellet is… read more

Cubli — a cube that can walk

December 23, 2013

Cubli

The Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, a research institute at ETH Zurich university, has developed Cubli*: a 15 × 15 × 15 cm cube that can jump up and balance on its corner.

Reaction wheels mounted on three faces of the cube rotate at high angular velocities and then brake suddenly, causing the Cubli to jump up.
Once the Cubli is balancing on its… read more

A bandwidth breakthrough

October 23, 2012

Speed test (credit: Speedtest.net)

Academic researchers have improved wireless bandwidth by ten times — not by adding base stations, tapping more spectrum, or cranking up transmitter wattage, but by using algebra to banish the network-clogging task of resending dropped packets, Technology Review reports.

By providing new ways for mobile devices to solve for missing data, the technology not only eliminates this wasteful process but also can seamlessly weave data streams from… read more

Can your phone really know you’re depressed?

July 17, 2015

StudentLife app, sensing and analytics system architecture (credit: Rui Wang et al.)

Northwestern scientists believe an open-access android cell phone app called Purple Robot can detect depression simply by tracking the number of minutes you use the phone and your daily geographical locations.

The more time you spend using your phone, the more likely you are depressed, they found in a small Northwestern Medicine study published yesterday (July 15) in the Journal of Medical Internetread more

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