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Robot hand beats you at rock, paper, scissors 100% of the time

June 27, 2012

scissors_hand

A robot hand will play a game of rock, paper, scissors with you and wins every single time, IEEE Spectrum Automaton reports.

Created by the Ishikawa Oku Lab at the University of Toyko, it’s one of those high speed hands that works with a high speed vision system.

It only takes a single millisecond for the robot to recognize what shape your hand is in, and… 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

Brief interruptions spawn errors that could be disastrous for professionals

Why you should turn off notifications on your smartphone when you work
January 8, 2013

Avoiding interruptions (credit: iStockphoto)

Short interruptions — such as the few seconds it takes to silence that buzzing smartphone — have a surprisingly large effect on one’s ability to accurately complete a task, according to new research by Michigan State University psychologists.

The study found that interruptions averaging 2.8 seconds long doubled the error rate, while interruptions averaging 4.4 s long tripled the error rate.

Brief interruptions are ubiquitous… read more

New tools to manage information overload threatening neuroscience

August 13, 2013

The recent explosion of neuroscience research has resulted in the publication of nearly 2 million papers — more data than any researcher can read and absorb in a lifetime.
That’s why a UCLA team has invented research maps. Easily accessible through an online app, the maps help neuroscientists quickly scan what is already known and plan their next study.The Aug. 8 edition of the journal Neurondescribes these new… 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

Sugar molecules — building blocks of RNA — found around young star

August 30, 2012

Astronomers have for the first time found glycolaldehyde molecules around a young sun-like star. Glycolaldehyde is a an important pre-biotic species, a simple sugar, consisting of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms. Through observations with ALMA the researchers have shown that the molecules are located within a region with an extent corresponding to our own solar system - and thus exist in the gas from which planets possibly are formed around the young star later in its evolution. (Credit: ESO)

A team of astronomers led by researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute, have observed a simple sugar molecule in the gas surrounding a young star, proving that the building blocks of life were already present during planet formation.

They also found other complex organic molecules, including ethylene-glycol, methyl-formate and ethanol.

Sugar around new stars

“In the protoplanetary disc of gas and dust surrounding… read more

How attention helps you remember: the role of astrocytes

New study finds long-overlooked cells help the brain respond to visual stimuli
October 1, 2012

A human astrocyte cell

A new study from MIT neuroscientists sheds light on a neural circuit that makes us likelier to remember what we’re seeing when our brains are in a more attentive state.

The team of neuroscientists found that this circuit depends on a type of brain cell long thought to play a supporting role, at most, in neural processing. When the brain is attentive, those cells, called… read more

Filabot turns your plastic junk into material for 3D printers

January 21, 2013

filabot

Filabot promises to help turn your plastic junk into 3-D printed objects, Wired reports.

Most contemporary printers use plastic filament, available in spools from various suppliers. With Filabo, you can grind up several types of household plastics or even past projects to make new filament lines.

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

The brain is wired in a 3D grid structure, landmark study finds

March 30, 2012

brainpathways2

The brain appears to be wired in a rectangular 3D grid structure, suggests a new brain imaging study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

“Far from being just a tangle of wires, the brain’s white-matter connections turn out to be more like ribbon cables — folding 2D sheets of parallel neuronal fibers that cross paths at right angles, like the warp and weft of a… read more

The lowest-price, easiest-to-use 3D printer yet

April 16, 2014

The Micro 3D printer (credit: MD3)

If you’re on the edge about deciding to get a 3D printer, this Kickstarter campaign for The Micro, billed as the “first truly consumer 3D printer,” may just push you off it.

It already has for more than 9,000 backers, who have pledged an impressive $2.7 million since April 7 — far exceeding the $50,000 goal.

For a pledge of $299, you get the pre-assembled printer… 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 hydrogel that destroys superbugs and drug-resistant biofilms

Novel antimicrobial hydrogel prevents antibiotic-resistant microbes from forming on wounds, medical devices and implants
January 28, 2013

Biofilm after treatment (credit: IBN)

The first-ever antimicrobial hydrogel that can break apart biofilms and destroy multidrug-resistant superbugs upon contact has been developed by researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) and IBM Research.

Tests have demonstrated the effectiveness of this novel synthetic material in eliminating various types of bacteria and fungi that are leading causes of microbial infections, and preventing them from developing antibiotic resistance.

This… read more

Transistors without semiconductors

Breakthrough transistor design uses quantum tunneling at room temperature, solving the heat problem with existing FET transistor designs
June 29, 2013

gold quantum_dots_on_boron_nitride_nanotubes

Michigan Technological University scientists led by professor of physics Yoke Khin Yap have created a quantum tunneling device that acts like like an FET transistor and works at room temperature — without using semiconducting materials.

The trick was to use boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) with quantum dots made from gold.

When sufficient voltage is applied to the device, it switches from insulator to a conducting… read more

Living power cables discovered

Multicellular bacteria transmit electrons across relatively enormous distances
October 26, 2012

Electrifying_microbial_filaments

A multinational research team has discovered filamentous bacteria that function as living power cables that transmit electrons thousands of cell lengths away.

The Desulfobulbus bacterial cells, which are only a few hundreds of a nanometer long each, are so tiny that they are invisible to the naked eye. And yet, under the right circumstances, they form a multicellular filament that can transmit electrons across a distance as large as 1 centimeter… read more

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