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A 3D-printed navy?

May 23, 2013

The Northrop Grumman-built Triton unmanned aircraft system completed its first flight on May 22, 2013. Could a future version be 3D-printed? (Credit: Northrop Grumman by Bob Brown)

Instead a carrying spare parts, space-constrained U.S. Navy ships in the future might carry 3-D printers and bags of various powdered ingredients, and simply download the design files needed to print items as necessary, according to the Armed Forces Journal,

“Perhaps closer at hand is a distributed global production network in which sailors and Marines send an email with a digital scan or design for a

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Non-wetting fabric drains sweat

May 22, 2013

The hydrophobic fabric repels water except where stitched with channels (credit: UC Davis)

Waterproof fabrics that whisk away sweat could be the latest application of microfluidic technology developed by bioengineers at the University of California, Davis.

The new fabric works like human skin, forming excess sweat into droplets that drain away by themselves, said inventor Tingrui Pan, professor of biomedical engineering.

One area of research in Pan’s Micro-Nano Innovations Laboratory at UC Davis is a… read more

Do salamanders hold the solution to regeneration?

May 22, 2013

401px-SpottedSalamander

Salamanders’ immune systems are key to their remarkable ability to regrow limbs, and could also underpin their ability to regenerate spinal cords, brain tissue and even parts of their hearts, scientists have found.

In research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (open access), researchers from the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) at Monash University found that when immune cells known as macrophages… read more

Reducing caloric intake delays nerve cell loss

May 22, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Activating an enzyme known to play a role in the anti-aging benefits of calorie restriction delays the loss of brain cells and preserves cognitive function in mice, according to a study published in the May 22 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

The findings could one day guide researchers to discover drug alternatives that slow the progress of age-associated impairments in the brain.… read more

IBM Watson Engagement Advisor hopes to improve customer service

May 22, 2013

Jon Simon/Feature Photo Service for IBM

Now customers can access Watson’s question-answering power directly.

IBM has unveiled the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor, a cognitive computing assistant that “learns, adapts and understands a company’s data quickly and easily,” according to IBM.

The IBM Watson Engagement Advisor‘s “Ask Watson” feature can quickly help address customers’ questions, offer feedback to guide their purchase decisions, and troubleshoot their problems.… read more

Making quantum encryption practical

May 22, 2013

Part of Alice's optical parametric amplifier receiver. This receiver enables her to obtain the quantum-illumination performance advantage that ensures Bob's communication to her is immune to Eve's passive eavesdropping. (Credit: Zhang et al./MIT)

Researchers in the Optical and Quantum Communications Group at MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) have experimentally demonstrated a new quantum communication protocol that solves two basic problems with achieving practical quantum encryption.

Quantum key distribution (QKD) requires the inefficient transmission of a huge number of bits for each one that’s successfully received. And QKD depends on the properties… read more

Scientists sequence genome of ‘sacred lotus,’ may hold anti-aging secrets

Can survive for 1,000 years
May 22, 2013

Nelumbo nucifera from China, more commonly known as the 'sacred lotus'<br />
(Credit: Jane Shen-Miller /UCLA)

A team of 70 scientists from the U.S., China, Australia and Japan reports having sequenced and annotated more than 86 percent of the genome of the “sacred lotus,” which is believed to have a powerful genetic system that repairs genetic defects, and may hold secrets about aging successfully.

The Nelumbo nucifera plant is revered in China and elsewhere as a symbol of spiritual purity and longevity.… read more

Multitasking neurons found essential to the brain’s computational power

May 21, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

There are many neurons, especially in brain regions that perform sophisticated functions such as thinking and planning, that react in different ways to a wide variety of things.

MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller first noticed these unusual activity patterns about 20 years ago, while recording the electrical activity of neurons in animals that were trained to perform complex tasks.

“We started noticing early on that… read more

ACT confirms clinical trial participant showed improvement in vision from 20/400 to 20/40 following treatment

May 21, 2013

Intermediate age-related macular degeneration (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (ACT) has confirmed that the vision of a patient enrolled in a clinical investigation of the company’s retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) has improved from 20/400 to 20/40 following treatment.

ACT is currently enrolling patients in three clinical trials in the U.S. and Europe for treatment of Stargardt’s macular dystrophy (SMD) and dry age-related… read more

Beyond Second Life: more realistic avatars

May 21, 2013

avatar

Philip Rosedale, founder of once-popular virtual world Second Life, has created a new company called High Fidelity. As suggested by the video above and the blog, the company is developing more natural ways for avatars to communicate (with heads and hand movements, for example) and with low latency (faster response time).

“Imagine holding your phone and being able to twist and move your avatar’s hand.… read more

A new tool for precise brain mapping

Optogenetic infrared light precisely illuminates neural pathways in the brain
May 21, 2013

A new tool that could help map and track the interactions between neurons in different areas of the brain is being developed by University of Texas Arlington assistant professor of physics Samarendra Mohanty.

The technology would be useful in the BRAIN (Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) mapping initiative.

This new method, which uses a fiber-optic, two-photon, optogenetic stimulator, has been used on… read more

Electrical brain stimulation helps people learn math faster

May 20, 2013

TRNS-NIRS

A harmless form of brain stimulation called transcranial random noise stimulation (TRNS) can help you learn math faster, researchers report.

“With just five days of cognitive training and noninvasive, painless brain stimulation, we were able to bring about long-lasting improvements in cognitive and brain functions,” says Roi Cohen Kadosh of the University of Oxford.

The enhancements to the speed of calculation- and memory-recall-based arithmetic learning held for a… read more

Transforming graphene into a semiconductor

New technique creates the necessary "band gap," opening the possibility of new electronic and optical devices
May 20, 2013

graphene_hbn

It’s been a long-sought goal that has proved elusive: how to engineer a property called a band gap into graphene, needed to use graphene in making transistors and other electronic devices.

Now MIT researchers have taken a major step toward making graphene with a band gap.

The new technique involves placing a sheet of graphene — a carbon-based material whose structure is… read more

First fully integrated artificial photosynthesis nanosystem

May 20, 2013

Arrays of tree-like nanowires consisting of Si trunks and TiO2 branches facilitate solar water-splitting in a fully integrated artificial photosynthesis system (credit:

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) scientists have developed the first fully integrated nanosystem for artificial photosynthesis,  in which solar energy is directly converted into chemical fuels.

“Similar to the chloroplasts in green plants that carry out photosynthesis, our artificial photosynthetic system is composed of two semiconductor light absorbers, an interfacial layer for charge transport, and spatially separated co-catalysts,” says Peidong Yang, a… read more

World record for wireless data transmission

May 20, 2013

The high frequency chip only measures 4 x 1.5 mm², as the size of electronic devices scales with frequency / wavelength. Photo: Sandra Iselin / Fraunhofer IAF

Researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics and the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology have achieved wireless transmission of 40 Gbit/s over a distance of one kilometer, a new world record.

The technology may help provide future broadband access to the Internet in rural areas and places which are difficult to access.

Using a high frequency range between 200 and 280 GHz… read more

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