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A moveable, flexible display made of paper

September 12, 2013


Flexpad transforms a standard sheet of paper into a moveable, flexible display.

The technology was developed in the “Flexpad” research project under the leadership of Jürgen Steimle in the MIT Media Lab and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics in Saarbrücken, in cooperation with Kiel University.

“We routinely deform objects intuitively in many different ways. We bend back pages in books, deflate… read more

Designing amazingly strong materials from the bottom up

"The greater strength of these nanostructured materials comes from the fact that when samples become sufficiently small, their potential flaws also become very small"
September 12, 2013


Why do the lightweight skeletons of organisms such as sea sponges display a strength that far exceeds that of man-made products constructed from similar materials?

Scientists have long suspected that the difference has to do with the hierarchical architecture of the biological materials — the way the silica-based skeletons are built up from different structural elements.

Now engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have… read more

Programmable glue made of DNA directs tiny gel bricks to self-assemble

New method could help to reconnect injured organs or build functional human tissues from the ground up
September 11, 2013

DNA glue featured

Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have found a way to self-assemble complex structures out of bricks smaller than a grain of salt.

The self-assembly method could help solve one of the major challenges in tissue engineering: regrowing human tissue by injecting tiny components into the body that then self-assemble into larger, intricately structured, biocompatible scaffolds at an injury… read more

XPRIZE launches $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE

A global competition incentivizing breakthroughs in ocean pH sensing technologies to monitor and sustain the health of our oceans
September 11, 2013


XPRIZE has announced the launch of the $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE. It aims to spur global innovators to develop accurate and affordable ocean pH sensors that will ultimately transform our understanding of ocean acidification, one of the gravest problems associated with the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

“Just as we have sensors to monitor our body’s vital signs, we… read more

NSA admits wrongly adding 16,000 phone numbers to ‘alert list’

September 11, 2013


The National Security Agency admitted in documents released Tuesday that it had wrongly put 16,000 phone numbers on an “alert list” so their incoming calls could be monitored, a mistake that a judge on the secret surveillance court called a “flagrant violation” of the law, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the… read more

Imaging most of a worm’s brain activity at high resolution and in a single operation

September 11, 2013


A new technique developed by Austrian scientists can record the activity of a worm’s brain with high temporal and spatial resolution, ultimately allowing for linking brain anatomy to brain function.

The worm in this study is nematode C. elegans, which has 302 neurons connected by roughly 8000 synapses. It is the only animal for which a complete nervous system has been anatomically mapped.

Researchers have so… read more

How touch and movement neurons shape the brain’s internal image of the body

Implications for the future design of neuroprosthetic devices controlled by brain-machine interfaces
September 10, 2013


The brain’s tactile and motor neurons, which perceive touch and control movement, may also respond to visual cues, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.

The phenomenon has some similarity to the “McGurk effect,” where visual cues dominate sound.

The study in monkeys provides new information on how different areas of the brain may work together in continuously shaping the brain’s internal image… read more

Breakthrough in cryptography could result in more secure computing

September 10, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

New research to be presented at the 18th European Symposium on Research in Computer Security (ESORICS 2013) this week could result in a sea change in how to secure computations.

The collaborative work between the University of Bristol and Aarhus University (Denmark) will be presented by Bristol PhD student Peter Scholl from the Department of Computer Science.

The SPDZ protocol… read more

NSF awards $25 million to MIT-based center to advance brain understanding

September 10, 2013


To help encourage progress in learning how the brain performs complex computations, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $25 million to establish a Center for Brains, Minds and Machines at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The center is one of three new research centers funded this year through NSF’s Science and Technology Centers:read more

How to use DNA to assemble a transistor from graphene

September 10, 2013

Stanford chemical engineering professor Zhenan Bao and her co-authors have revealed a plan to build smaller field-effect transistors (FETs) that use less power but operate faster,* using ribbons of single-layer graphene laid side-by-side to create semiconductor circuits.

(Graphene, laterally confined within narrow ribbons less than 10 nanometers in width, exhibits a bandgap, meaning it can function as a semiconductor.)

Given the material’s tiny dimensions… read more

New junction between stacked solar cells can handle max energy of 70,000 suns

September 10, 2013

The discovery means solar cell manufacturers can create stacked solar cells that can handle high-intensity solar energies without losing voltage at the connecting junctions, potentially improving conversion efficiency. Click to enlarge. (Photo: NC State University)

North Carolina State University researchers have come up with a new technique for improving the connections between stacked solar cells, which should improve the overall efficiency of solar energy devices and reduce the cost of solar energy production, the researchers say.

The new connections can allow these cells to operate at theoretical solar concentrations of 70,000 “suns”* worth of energy without losing much voltage as… read more

Another breakthrough in replacing silicon in transistors

Promises to increase transistor performance, reduce size and heat
September 10, 2013

molybdenum disulfide --- and found that manipulating it with gold atoms improves its electrical characteristics (credit: Kansas State University)

Manipulating a three-atom-thick material — molybdenum disulfide — with gold atoms improves its electrical characteristics, Kansas State University chemical engineer Vikas Berry, William H. Honstead professor of chemical engineering,, and his research team have discovered.

The research may advance transistors, photodetectors, sensors and thermally conductive coatings, Berry said. It could also produce ultrafast, ultrathin logic and plasmonics devices.

Berry’s laboratory hasread more

Prion-like proteins drive several diseases of aging, say leading neurology researchers

September 9, 2013

prion-like brain disease

Many of the brain diseases associated with aging, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, are caused by specific proteins that misfold and aggregate into harmful seeds — similar to what happens with prions.

That’s a new hypothesis that two leading neurology researchers — Mathias Jucker and Lary Walker — have proposed.

These seeds behave very much like the pathogenic agents known… read more

Recording and replaying human touch: the next user-interface revolution?

September 9, 2013

haptic output

University of California, San Diego researchers have demonstrated a new user interface technology: electronic recording and replay of human touch.

“Touch was largely bypassed by the digital revolution, except for touch-screen displays, because it seemed too difficult to replicate what analog haptic [touch] devices can produce,” said Deli Wang, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) in UC San Diego’s… read more

How to control fruit flies by putting designer drugs in their food

Don't tell Alex Jones about this, whatever you do!
September 9, 2013

Drosophila melanogaster aka fruit fly (credit: Mr.checker/ Wikimedia Commons)

So scientists at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans have figured out how to control fruit-fly behavior and physiology by spiking their food with a designer drug called (we’re not making this up) DREADD (Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs).

The idea is to give them Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy, ALS, and mental illness.

That’s all we need, crazed… read more

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