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Advanced ‘artificial skin’ senses touch, humidity, and temperature

July 10, 2013

Artificial skin (credit: Technion)

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology scientists have discovered how to make a new kind of flexible sensor that one day could be integrated into “electronic skin” (e-skin) — a covering for prosthetic limbs that would allow patients to feel touch, humidity, and temperature.

Current kinds of e-skin detect only touch, but the Technion team’s invention “can simultaneously sense touch (pressure), humidity, and temperature, as real skin… read more

How to see with your ears

Device offers new alternative to blind people; subjects could "see" letters with 20/400 vision
July 9, 2013

a participant wearing camera glasses and listening to the soundscape (credit: Credit: Alastair Haigh/

A device that trains the brain to turn sounds into images could be used as an alternative to invasive treatment for blind and partially-sighted people, researchers at the University of Bath have found.

“The vOICe” is a visual-to-auditory sensory substitution device that encodes images taken by a camera worn by the user into “soundscapes” from which experienced users can extract information about their surroundings.

It helps… read more

What would you prefer: a robot that takes care of you, or the opposite?

July 9, 2013

Robot butler Nao, a social robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics vs. robot-simulating mom (credit:  Aldebaran Robotics)

To determine how human perception of a robot changes based on its role, Penn State researchers observed 60 interactions between college students and Nao, a social robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics, a French company specializing in humanoid robots.

Each interaction could go one of two ways. The human could help Nao calibrate its eyes, or Nao could examine the human’s eyes like a concerned eye doctor and make suggestions to… read more

Detecting DNA in space

Gene-sequencing chip can survive space radiation on Mars, MIT scientist finds
July 9, 2013

mars_nasa_image

If there is life on Mars, it’s not too farfetched to believe that such Martian species may share genetic roots with life on Earth, based on RNA or DNA.

That’s because more than 3.5 billion years ago, a blitz of meteors ricocheted around the solar system, passing material between the two fledgling planets. This may have left bits of Earth on Mars, and vice versa, creating a shared genetic… read more

How your brain creates the ‘buzz’ that helps ideas spread

Can you predict which of your Twitter and Facebook messages will go viral? UCLA psychologists believe they know how.
July 9, 2013

Psychologists report for the first time that the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC) brain regions are associated with the successful spread of ideas, often called 'buzz' (credit: UCLA)

UCLA psychologists have identified the brain regions associated with the successful spread of ideas, often called “buzz.”

The research has a broad range of implications, the study authors say, and could lead to more effective public health campaigns, more persuasive advertisements, and better ways for teachers to communicate with students.

“Our study suggests that people are regularly attuned to how the things they’re seeing… read more

Legal performance enhancer discovered in the nutrient betaine

July 8, 2013

runner2

Betaine — a nutrient found in shellfish and beets — boosts athletic performance by nearly six percent when added to a sports drink, according to a study supervised by Ithaca College’s Exercise and Sport Sciences Chair Thomas Swensen.

“Betaine may contribute to creatine synthesis, which improves, strength, power and short-term performance,” Swensen said. “Future research should elucidate the mechanism of how betaine supplementation improves performance.”… read more

Developing better drugs by detecting how they reach their targets

July 8, 2013

karolinska_better_drugs

Researchers at Karolinska Institute have developed the first method for directly measuring the extent to which drugs reach their targets in the cell.

Called CETSA (Cellular Thermal Shift Assay), the method could improve the development of new improved drug substances.

Most drugs operate by binding to one or more proteins and affecting their function, which creates two common bottlenecks in the development of drugs:… read more

An all-optical transistor

July 8, 2013

All-optical switch and transistor

Researchers at MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics together with colleagues at Harvard University and the Vienna University of Technology have developed an experimental optical switch that’s controlled by a single photon — the optical analog of a transistor, the fundamental component of a computing circuit.

Optical computing — using light rather than electricity to perform calculations — could could point toward new designs for… read more

Quipper language makes quantum computers easier to program

July 8, 2013

quantum teleport code diagram

Quantum software has finally left the dark ages with the creation of the first practical, high-level programming language for quantum computers. Called Quipper, it could guide the design of quantum computers and make them easier to program, New Scientist reports.

Quipper is based on a classical programming language called Haskell, which is particularly suited to programming for physics applications. Selinger’s team has customized… read more

An all-glass lab-on-a-chip

July 8, 2013

riken_glass_lab_on_a_chip

Yo Tanaka from the RIKEN Quantitative Biology Center has developed a reliable and durable system for incorporating glass microfluidics into lab-on-a-chip devices.

Lab-on-a-chip devices are microfluidic cells that incorporate pipes, reaction vessels, valves and a host of other implements typically found in laboratories. These components are typically carved into an inexpensive flat plastic plate, made of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), to enable efficient… read more

First arrest captured on Google Glass

July 8, 2013

glass-sighted arrest

On July 4th, documentary filmmaker named Chris Barrett captured the first fight and subsequent arrest using the Google Glass extended video recording option on the Jersey Shore boardwalk,  Barrett told Venture Beat.

“This video is proof that Google Glass will change citizen journalism forever,” Barrett claims.

“That’s nothing we haven’t seen before caught on ‘tape’ by a videocamera or a mobile phone camera, but the fact… read more

The Human Race to the Future: What Could Happen — and What to Do

July 8, 2013

Human-Race

The Human Race to the Future: What Could Happen — and What to Do, by Dr. Daniel Berleant (388 pages), the first book published by the Lifeboat Foundation, is available free (Kindle version) to KurzweilAI readers on July 8 as a one-day promo.

A non-fiction book verging on science fiction, its imaginative future scenarios include colonizing the planet Mercury (it has water at the poles), GPS-enabled… read more

White dwarf star throws light on constant of Nature

July 5, 2013

unsw_white_dwarf

University of New South Wales (UNSW) physicists are studying a distant star where gravity is more than 30,000 times greater than on Earth to test their controversial theory that α (alpha) — also known as the fine-structure constant — is not a constant.

“If alpha [the fine-structure constant] were bigger than it really is, we should not be able to distinguish matter… read more

A nanotech fix for nicotine dependence

July 5, 2013

nicotine_nano_vaccine

Yung Chang and her colleagues at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute have launched an ambitious new project designed to attack nicotine dependence in a radically new way.

The research effort, pursued under a new $3.3 million grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, will attempt to design a vaccine conferring immunity to nicotine, using nanoscale structures assembled from DNA.… read more

Antifreeze, cheap materials may lead to low-cost solar energy

July 5, 2013

solar_cell_nanopartices

Engineers at Oregon State University have determined that ethylene glycol, commonly used in antifreeze products, may be the key to making solar cells that cost less and avoid toxic compounds.

Ethylene glycol functions well in a “continuous flow” reactor — an approach to making thin-film solar cells that is easily scaled up for mass production at industrial levels, they note.

The research, published in Materialread more

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