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A Tissue Engineer Sows Cells and Grows Organs

July 11, 2006

Tissue-engineering researchers are working on tissue replacement projects for practically every body part — blood vessels and nerves, muscles, cartilage and bones, esophagus and trachea, pancreas, kidneys, liver, heart and even uterus.

A more immediate goal is to improve upon a multitude of smaller therapies: transplantable valves for ailing hearts, cell-and-gel preparations for crushed nerves, injections of skeletal muscle cells for urinary continence or new salivary gland tissue to… read more

A tool to make the Internet of Things safer

June 4, 2014

Is your car hackable? Cadillac XTS instrument panel (Credit: General Motors)

Computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego have developed a tool that allows hardware designers and system builders to test security — a first for the field.

One of the tool’s potential uses is described in the May–June issue of IEEE Micro magazine.

“The stakes in hardware security are high,” said Ryan Kastner, a professor of computer science at the… read more

A Tool to Verify Digital Records, Even as Technology Shifts

January 27, 2009

University of Washington scientists have developed the initial component of a public system for digitally preserving and authenticating first-hand accounts of war crimes, atrocities and genocide.

The solution is a publicly available digital fingerprint, known as a cryptographic hash mark, that will make it possible for anyone to determine that the documents are authentic and have not been tampered with.

At the heart of the system is an… read more

A touch-sensitive conductive plastic skin that heals itself

November 12, 2012


The first synthetic material that is both sensitive to touch and capable of healing itself quickly and repeatedly if torn or cut at room temperature has been developed by a team of Stanford University chemists and engineers headed by Professor Zhenan Bao.

The advance could lead to smarter prosthetics, resilient personal electronics that repair themselves, and more sensitive soft robotics (such as the “Frankenoctopus“).

Not only is… read more

A touchscreen you can really feel

November 17, 2011

Tactile surface with relief effects

A new user interface with tactile surfaces — users can feel actual raised keys under their fingertips — has been developed by researchers at the Integrated Actuators Laboratory (LAI) of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).

The technology could be used to enrich online texts, drawing the reader’s attention to certain elements on the page, or to make video games even more entertaining, by… read more

A transistor material intended to replace silicon by 2024

July 7, 2014

Hybrid CNT/IGZO circuits fabricated on a polyimide film laminated on a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) substrate (credit: USC Viterbi / Chongwu Zhou)

USC Viterbi School of Engineering researchers have developed a flexible, transparent, energy-efficient, lower-cost hybrid design that could replace silicon as the traditional transistor material used in electronic chips.

The new design, described in a paper recently published in Nature Communications, combines carbon nanotube thin-film transistors with thin-film transistors comprised of indium, gallium and zinc oxide (IGZO).

Electrical engineering professor Dr. Chongwu Zhou and USC… read more

A Translator Tool With a Human Touch

November 23, 2009

IBM’s n.Fluent project is using crowdsourcing by IBM’s 400,000-member work force spread across more than 170 countries to create machine translation between languages with the speed and accuracy used in instant-messaging between speakers of two different languages.

A Turing machine built using LEGO Mindstorms

June 21, 2012


To honor Alan Turing, the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) built a simple LEGO Turing Machine — part of the Turing’s Erfenis exhibition at CWI — to show how simple a computer actually is, making every operation as visible as possible and using just a single LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT set.

“A Turing machine is a device that manipulates symbols on a strip of tape according to a… read more

A Turing Test for Computer Game Bots

September 10, 2009

A screenshot from Unreal Tournament 2004, the computer game used in the BotPrize competition (Epic Games)

“Can a computer fool expert gamers into believing it’s one of them?” was the question posed at the second annual BotPrize challenge, a variant of the Turing test.

To win the big prize, worth $6,000, a bot had to fool at least 80% of the judges; none of the participants was able to pull off this feat.

A Turning Point for Personal Genomes

September 24, 2009

Sequencing a human genome has become routine enough to generate medically useful information, says Paul Flicek, a bioinformaticist with the European Bioinformatics Institute.

In a few cases, scientists have already been able to find the genetic cause of a disorder by sequencing an affected person’s genome or by identifying differences in tumor vs. normal tissue.

A ‘universal smart window’ for instant control of lighting and heat

August 16, 2013

Smart-window glass that can be switched to block heat and light (credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have designed a new material to make smart windows even smarter.

The material is a thin coating of nanocrystals embedded in glass that can dynamically modify sunlight as it passes through a window.

Unlike existing technologies, the coating provides selective control over visible light and heat-producing near-infrared (NIR) light independently, so windows can… read more

A Universal Tool to Rescue Old Files From Obsolescence

August 30, 2002

Dr. Raymond Lorie, a researcher at the I.B.M. Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif., has developed a “universal virtual computer” for long-term preservation of obsolescent digital documents.

The system, which uses semantic tags, is designed to be logical and accessible so computer developers of the future will be able to write instructions to emulate it on their machines.

A user-friendly 3-D printing interface for customizing designs

Design tool lets novices do in minutes what would take experts in computer-aided design hours
September 4, 2015

A new Web-based interface for design novices allows a wide range of modifications to a basic design — such as a toy car or a black-and-white "yin-yang" cup — that are guaranteed to be both structurally stable and printable on a 3-D printer. (credit: Courtesy of the researchers (edited by MIT News))

Researchers at MIT and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel have developed a system that automatically turns CAD files into visual models that users can modify in real time, simply by moving virtual sliders on a Web page. Once the design meets their specifications, they can hit the print button to send it to a 3-D printer.

Currently, 3-D printing an object from any but the simplest designs requires… read more

A USF professor plans to add a heart to robot rescuers

May 19, 2008

Robin Murphy, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of South Florida, is developing a Survivor Buddy robot to act as an emergency companion for people trapped in earthquakes and other conditions.

She envisions a robot that plays soothing music to trapped victims and features a monitor showing the faces of loved ones and rescuers trying to reach them. It will deliver water and transmit a… read more

A veritable cognitive mind

July 31, 2003

Marvin Minsky, MIT professor and AI’s founding father, says today’s artificial-intelligence methods are fine for gluing together two or a few knowledge domains but still miss the “big” AI problem. He says the missing element is something so big that we can’t see it: common sense.

In his forthcoming book, The Emotion Machine, Minsky shares his accumulated knowledge on how people make use of common sense in the context… read more

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