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The RoboRoach: control a living insect from your smartphone

June 11, 2013

RoboRoach

The RoboRoach, a Kickstarter project, is the “world’s first commercially available cyborg” — part cockroach and part machine.

The backpack communicates directly to the roach’s neurons in its antennas via small electrical pulses.

The cockroach undergoes a short surgery (under anesthesia) in which wires are placed inside the antenna. Once it recovers, a backpack is temporarily placed on its back.

When you send a command… read more

A new neurochemical pathway for treating schizophrenia and age-related mental decline

June 11, 2013

Activated_NMDAR

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have uncovered important clues about a biochemical pathway in the brain that may one day expand treatment options for schizophrenia.

This research focused on key components of the brain known as NMDA receptors. These receptors are located on nerve cells in the brain and serve as biochemical gates that allow calcium ions (electrical charges) to enter the… read more

Apple’s new iOS 7

June 11, 2013

new iOS7 design

Apple shared details of the next version of its iOS mobile operating system (due out this Fall) during the opening keynote address at its annual developer conference Monday. Nick Bilton at The New York Times offers a detailed blow-by-blow account, and Tech Crunch has a good summary. Or watch the keynote.

Notable:

The elegant new flat look:

The forthcoming… read more

How do you feed 9 billion people?

June 11, 2013

(credit: Michigan State University)

An international team of scientists has developed crop models to better forecast food production to feed a growing population — projected to reach 9 billion by mid-century — in the face of climate change.

In a paper appearing in Nature Climate Change, Members  of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project unveiled an all-encompassing modeling system that integrates multiple crop simulations with improved climate change models.

AgMIP’s… read more

The avatar will see you now

June 11, 2013

sensely

Patients needing knee replacements at the San Mateo Medical Center in California are being coached by a digital avatar, MIT Technology Review reports.

The avatar, Molly, interviews them in Spanish or English about the levels of pain they feel as a video guides them through exercises, while the 3-D cameras of a Kinect device measure their movements.

The ultimate goal is for the routine to be… read more

Scientists map the wiring of the biological clock

Changing sleep cycles can cause cancer and other disorders
June 10, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

The connections make the clock precise but also let it adjust to changes in day/night cycles.

The World Health Organization lists shift work as a potential carcinogen, says Erik Herzog, PhD, Professor of Biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

And that’s just one example among many of the troubles we cause ourselves when we override the biological clocks in our brains… read more

New technique for deep brain stimulation surgery proves accurate and safe

June 10, 2013

X-ray showing electrodes used in deep brain stimulation (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Oregon Health & Science University neurosuirgeons have developed a safer new way to perform the surgery for Parkinson’s disease. It allows for more accurate placement of the brain electrodes and is likely safer for patients.

The success and safety of the new surgical technique could have broad implications for deep brain stimulation,(DBS) surgical procedures.

With traditional DBS surgery,  there is a small chance of… read more

Do online courses spell the end for the traditional university?

June 10, 2013

Interactive 3D Graphics course (credit: Udacity)

Publishing, music, shopping, journalism – all revolutionized by the Internet. Next in line? Education.

Now U.S. academics are offering world-class tuition — free — to anyone who can log on, anywhere in the world, is this the end of campus life?

The Guardian explores.

 

Boundless Informant: the NSA’s secret tool to track global surveillance data

June 9, 2013

The Guardian says it has acquired top-secret documents about the NSA datamining tool, called Boundless Informant, that details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks.

The focus of the internal NSA tool is on counting and categorizing the records of communications, known as metadata, rather than the content of an email or… read more

Atomic bombs help solve mystery: does the adult human brain produce new neurons?

June 9, 2013

Credit: Cell, Spalding et al.

A study in the journal Cell reveals that a significant number of new neurons in the hippocampus — a brain region crucial for memory and learning — are generated in adult humans.

“It was thought for a long time that we are born with a certain number of neurons, and that it is not possible to get new neurons after birth,” says senior study author Jonas Frisén of the Karolinska Institute.… read more

Controlling a flying robot with only the mind

Could help people who are paralyzed or have neurodegenerative diseases
June 7, 2013

minnesota_flying_with_mind

Researchers in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering have developed a new noninvasive system that allows people to control a flying robot using a brain-computer interface.

The study has the potential to help people who are paralyzed or have neurodegenerative diseases.

The open access study was published in IOP Publishing’s Journal of Neural Engineering.

Five subjects (three female and two… read more

Fine-tuning emissions from quantum dots for better color displays

June 7, 2013

mit_quantum_dots

New MIT analysis should enable development of improved color displays and biomedical monitoring systems.

Tiny particles of matter called quantum dots, which emit light with exceptionally pure and bright colors, have found a prominent role as biological markers. In addition, they are realizing their potential in computer and television screens, and have promise in solid-state lighting.

New research at MIT could now make these… read more

Cheaper, ‘greener’ lighting with inkjet-printed hybrid quantum dot LEDs

June 7, 2013

Novel cadmium selenide (CdSe) quantum dots with ligand enhancement chemistry. The vials on the left contain quantum dots; the vial on the right contains solvent without quantum dots. Credit: Delaina Amos.

Researchers from the University of Louisville in Kentucky are developing new materials and production methods using modified quantum dots and inkjet printing to make organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) more cheaply and easily.

For home lighting applications, OLEDs hold the promise of being both environmentally friendly and versatile. Though not as efficient as regular light-emitting diodes (LEDs), they offer a wider range of material choices and are… read more

RNA and DNA precursors were created from powerful comet impacts billions of years ago, say scientists

June 7, 2013

synthesis_of_prebiotic_hydrocarbons_in_impacts_of_simple_icy_mixtures_on_early_earth

Lawrence Livermore (LLNL) scientist Nir Goldman and University of Ontario Institute of Technology colleague Isaac Tamblyn have found that icy comets that crashed into Earth billions of years ago could have produced life-building organic compounds.

Comets contain a variety of simple molecules, such as water, ammonia, methanol, and carbon dioxide, and an impact event with a planetary surface would provide an abundant supply… read more

‘Temporal cloaking’ could bring more secure optical communications

June 7, 2013

Output for a particular sequence of ones and zeros.<br />
Although the binary data specified on the bottom of the plot are clearly detected<br />
when the cloak is off, the voltage swings indicative of bit transmission are<br />
suppressed to a nearly flat line when the cloak is on.

 

Purdue University researchers have demonstrated a method for “temporal cloaking” of optical communications, representing a potential tool to thwart would-be eavesdroppers and improve security for telecommunications.

“More work has to be done before this approach finds practical application, but it does use technology that could integrate smoothly into the existing telecommunications infrastructure,” said Purdue graduate student Joseph Lukens, working with … read more

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