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Craig Venter’s ‘biological teleportation’ device

October 22, 2013


Craig Venter has built a prototype of a “Digital Biological Converter” (DBC) that would allow what he calls “biological teleportation”: receiving DNA sequences over the Internet to synthesize proteins, viruses and even living cells, The Guardian reports.

It could, for example, fill a prescription for insulin, provide flu vaccine during a pandemic or even produce phage viruses targeted… read more

Mix-and-match nanoparticles self-assemble into exotic multifunctional materials, guided by DNA

October 22, 2013

DNA linkers allow different kinds of nanoparticles to self-assemble and form relatively large-scale nanocomposite arrays. This approach allows for mixing and matching components for the design of multifunctional materials. (Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory)

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a general approach for combining different types of nanoparticles, guided by synthetic DNA to self-assemble into large-scale composite materials.

The technique opens many opportunities for mixing and matching particles with different magnetic, optical, or chemical properties to form new, multifunctional materials or materials with enhanced performance for a wide range of potential applications.… read more

A super antioxidant based on material used in vehicle catalytic converters

Could help treat traumatic brain injury, cardiac arrest, and Alzheimer’s patients, guard against radiation-induced side effects suffered by cancer patients, perhaps even slow the effects of aging
October 22, 2013


Scientists at Rice University are enhancing the natural antioxidant properties of cerium oxide, used in vehicle catalytic converters, to make it useful for medical applications.

Rice chemist Vicki Colvin led a team that created small, uniform spheres of cerium oxide and gave them a thin coating of fatty oleic acid to make them biocompatible.

The researchers say their discovery has… read more

Jellyfish energy efficiency to improve bio-inspired robotic designs for Navy

October 22, 2013


A team of researchers is designing life-like autonomous bio-inspired robotic jellyfish for the U.S Navy, based on the discovery of how jellyfish move with the lowest cost of transport of any animal.

Possible civilian applications include pollution monitoring, ecological studies, and cleaning oil in water.

Researchers have found that rather than moving continuously through water while swimming, jellyfish use a critical pause between the… read more

Shapley supercluster: most massive structure within a billion light-years

October 22, 2013


While scanning the sky for the oldest cosmic light, ESA’s Planck satellite captured snapshots of some of the largest objects populating the Universe today: galaxy clusters and superclusters.

Several hundred galaxies and the huge amounts of gas that permeate them are depicted in this view of the core of the Shapley Supercluster, the largest cosmic structure in the local Universe.

The supercluster… read more

IBM Research unveils two new Watson-related projects from Cleveland Clinic collaboration

October 20, 2013


IBM Research has unveiled two new Watson-related cognitive technologies that are expected to help physicians make more informed and accurate decisions faster and to cull new insights from electronic medical records (EMR).

The “WatsonPaths” and “Watson EMR Assistant” projects are the result of a year-long research collaboration with faculty, physicians and students at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Caseread more

Is a scientific definition of consciousness possible?

Consciousness arises from the mode in which billions of neurons communicate with one another, psychologists suggest
October 20, 2013

Parcellation of brain data into 194 cortical, subcortical and cerebellar ROIs.

UCLA psychologists have used brain-imaging techniques to study what happens to the human brain when it slips into unconsciousness.

Their research, published in the online open-access journal PLOS Computational Biology, is an initial step toward developing a scientific definition of consciousness, the researchers say.

“In terms of brain function, the difference between being conscious and unconscious is a bit like the difference between driving… read more

Kinect-based program makes yoga accessible for the blind

October 20, 2013

An incorrect Warrior II yoga pose is outlined showing angles and measurements. Using geometry, the Kinect reads the angles and responds with a verbal command to raise the arms to the proper height.

University of Washington computer scientists have created a software program that watches a user’s movements and gives spoken feedback on what to change to accurately complete a yoga pose.

“My hope for this technology is for people who are blind or low-vision to be able to try it out, and help give a basic understanding of yoga in a more comfortable setting,” said

The… read more

Data-mining our dreams

Using computer analysis to decode the meaning of dreams
October 20, 2013

The Dream

Many people assume that this quest to interpret dreams has failed. This conclusion is premature, Kelly Bulkeley, former president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams and author of Dreaming in the World’s Religions: A Comparative History,” writes in The New York Times. …

“I have conducted several experiments in “blind analysis,” a technique developed with the help of the psychologist G. William… read more

MD Anderson Cancer Center taps IBM Watson to power its mission to eradicate cancer

October 20, 2013


The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and IBM have announced that MD Anderson is using the IBM Watson cognitive computing system for its mission to eradicate cancer.

Following a year-long collaboration, IBM and MD Anderson showcased a prototype of MD Anderson’s Oncology Expert Advisor powered by IBM Watson at a news conference on October 18,

The organizations discussed… read more

IBM unveils concept for a future brain-inspired 3D computer

October 20, 2013

IBM 3D computer

IBM has unveiled a prototype of a new brain-inspired computer powered by what it calls “electronic blood,” BBC News reports.

The firm says it is learning from nature by building computers fueled and cooled by a liquid, like our minds.

The human brain packs phenomenal computing power into a tiny space and uses only 20 watts of energy – an efficiency IBM is keen to match.… read more

How the brain ‘takes out the trash’ while we sleep

October 18, 2013


A new study shows that a recently discovered system that flushes waste from the brain is primarily active during sleep, giving fresh meaning to the old adage that a good night’s sleep clears the mind.

This revelation could transform scientists’ understanding of the biological purpose of sleep and point to new ways to treat neurological disorders.

“This study shows that the brain has different functional states… read more

Light triggers cancer death switch

October 18, 2013

(Credit: Cardiff University)

Cardiff University researchers have created a peptide (a small piece of protein), linked to a light-responsive dye, capable of switching “on” death pathways in cancer cells. The peptide remains inactive until exposed to external light pulses, which convert it into a cell death signal.

Complex mechanisms in healthy cells normally protect us from developing cancer. However, when the finely balanced networks of interactions between proteins… read more

Mathematical thinking area of brain identified; technique could lead to mind-reading devices, scientists say

October 18, 2013

ECoG responses (red: IPS region)

Researchers have found the first solid evidence that a specific brain region is activated in everyday conversation when people use numbers (or even imprecise quantitative terms, such as “more than”), according to a study by Stanford University School of Medicine scientists.

That brain region was previously found to be activated when people are asked to perform mathematical calculations, but only in a limited, unnatural experimental setting.

Those… read more

Creating a deep-sea Internet

October 17, 2013


University at Buffalo researchers are developing a deep-sea Internet that could lead to improvements in tsunami detection, offshore oil and natural gas exploration, surveillance, pollution monitoring, and other activities.

“A submerged wireless network will give us an unprecedented ability to collect and analyze data from our oceans in real time,” said Tommaso Melodia, UB associate professor of electrical engineering and the project’s lead researcher.… read more

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