science + technology news

A genetically engineered weight-loss implant

Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner --- they're working on it
November 28, 2013

implantable_slimming_aid

ETH-Zurich biotechnologists have constructed an implantable genetic regulatory circuit that monitors blood-fat levels. In response to excessive levels, it produces a messenger substance that signals satiety (fullness) to the body. Tests on obese mice revealed that this helps them lose weight.

According to the WHO, over half the population in many industrialized nations is overweight, one in three people extremely so, with high-calorie and fatty food a lifetime on… read more

Walking again after spinal cord injury

June 1, 2012

mouse_Courtine_lab_EPFL

Rats with spinal cord injuries and severe paralysis are now walking (and running) thanks to researchers at EPFL.

They found that a severed section of the spinal cord can make a comeback when its own innate intelligence and regenerative capacity is awakened.

The study points to a profound change in our understanding of the central nervous system. According to lead author Grégoire Courtine, it… read more

Robot hand beats you at rock, paper, scissors 100% of the time

June 27, 2012

scissors_hand

A robot hand will play a game of rock, paper, scissors with you and wins every single time, IEEE Spectrum Automaton reports.

Created by the Ishikawa Oku Lab at the University of Toyko, it’s one of those high speed hands that works with a high speed vision system.

It only takes a single millisecond for the robot to recognize what shape your hand is in, and… read more

First complete computer model of an organism

Mammoth effort produces complete computational model of the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium, opening the door for future biological computer-aided design
July 20, 2012

Mycoplasma_genitalium

In a breakthrough effort for computational biology, Stanford University researchers have produced the world’s first complete computer model of an organism.

A team led by Stanford bioengineering Professor Markus Covert used data from more than 900 scientific papers to account for every molecular interaction that takes place in the life cycle of Mycoplasma genitalium — the world’s smallest free-living bacterium.

By encompassing the entirety of an… read more

Low-cost design makes ultrasound imaging affordable to the world

September 17, 2012

ultrasound-fetus

An ultra-low cost scanner that can be plugged into any computer to show images of an unborn baby has been developed by Newcastle University engineers.

The handheld USB device — roughly the size of a computer mouse — works like existing ultrasound scanners, using pulses of high frequency sound to build up a picture of the unborn child on the computer screen.

However, unlike the… read more

An ingredient in olive oil that appears to kill cancer cells

February 20, 2015

(credit: iStock)

A Rutgers nutritional scientist and two cancer biologists at New York City’s Hunter College have found that an ingredient in extra-virgin olive oil kills a variety of human cancer cells without harming healthy cells.

The ingredient is oleocanthal, a compound that ruptures a part of the cancerous cell, releasing enzymes that cause cell death.

Paul Breslin, professor of nutritional sciences in the … read more

Machines will achieve human-level intelligence in the 2028 to 2150 range: poll

April 26, 2011

Probability density of human-level AI by date -- the blue represents skew Gaussian fits, the red represents triangular fits.(credit: Anders Sandberg)

Machines will achieve human-level intelligence by 2028 (median estimate: 10% chance), by 2050 (median estimate: 50% chance), or by 2150 (median estimate: 90% chance), according to an informal poll at the Future of Humanity Institute (FHI) Winter Intelligence conference on machine intelligence in January.

“Human‐level machine intelligence, whether due to a de novo AGI (artificial general intelligence) or biologically inspired/emulated systems, has a macroscopic probability to occurring… read more

Transistors without semiconductors

Breakthrough transistor design uses quantum tunneling at room temperature, solving the heat problem with existing FET transistor designs
June 29, 2013

gold quantum_dots_on_boron_nitride_nanotubes

Michigan Technological University scientists led by professor of physics Yoke Khin Yap have created a quantum tunneling device that acts like like an FET transistor and works at room temperature — without using semiconducting materials.

The trick was to use boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) with quantum dots made from gold.

When sufficient voltage is applied to the device, it switches from insulator to a conducting… read more

We may all be Martians, says geochemist

It's likely that life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite; conditions suitable for the origin of life may still exist on Mars
August 30, 2013

mars_nasa_image

New evidence has emerged that supports the long-debated theory that life on Earth may have started on Mars.

Speaking at the at the annual Goldschmidt conference on Thursday, Professor Steven Benner from The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology told geochemists that an oxidized mineral form of the element molybdenum, which may have been crucial to the origin of life, could only have been available… read more

Beyond LEDs: brighter, new energy-saving flat-panel lights based on carbon nanotubes

October 20, 2014

This image shows a planar light source device from the front. (Credit: N.Shimoi/Tohoku University)

Scientists from Tohoku University in Japan have developed a new type of energy-efficient flat light source, based on carbon nanotubes, with very low power consumption of around 0.1 Watt-hours of operation — about a hundred times lower than that of an LED.

In the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, the researchers detail the fabrication and optimization of the device, which is based on a phosphor screen and single-walled carbon nanotubes… read more

Computer learning to read lips to detect emotions

September 12, 2012

Bright red female lips

Open the pod bay doorsHAL.

Scientists in Malaysia are teaching a computer to interpret human emotions based on lip patterns.

The system could improve the way we interact with computers and perhaps allow disabled people to use computer-based communications devices, such as voice synthesizers, more effectively and more efficiently, says Karthigayan Muthukaruppan of Manipal International University.

The system uses a genetic algorithm that gets better and better… read more

Mystery material stuns scientists

It's a UV light, semiconductor, sensor, superconductor, ferromagnet, optoelectronic device. Just add water.
December 18, 2015

How does water on the surface of this material control UV light emission and conductivity? (credit: Mohammad A. Islam et al./Nano Letters)

In a remarkable chance landmark discovery, a team of researchers at four universities has discovered a mysterious material that emits ultraviolet light and has insulating, electrical conducting, semiconducting, superconducting, and ferromagnetic properties — all controlled by surface water.

It happened while the researchers were studying a sample of lanthanum aluminate film on a strontinum titanate crystal. The sample mysteriously began to glow, emitting intense levels of ultraviolet light from… read more

Seth Rogen plans FX TV comedy series on the Singularity

August 12, 2016

TheInterview

Seth Rogen (Freaks and Geeks, Knocked Up, Superbad) and collaborator Evan Goldberg are writing the script for a pilot for a new “half-hour comedy television series about the Singularity for FX,” Rogen revealed Thursday (August 11) on Nerdist podcast: Seth Rogen Returns (at 55:20 mark), while promoting his latest film, Sausage Party (an animated movie that apparently sets a new world record for f-bombs, based on… read more

Woman with quadriplegia feeds herself chocolate using mind-controlled robot arm

December 21, 2012

bmi-pittsburgh-sm

Reaching out to “high five” someone, grasping and moving objects of different shapes and sizes, feeding herself dark chocolate.

For Jan Scheuermann and a team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC, accomplishing these seemingly ordinary tasks demonstrated for the first time that a person with longstanding quadriplegia can maneuver a mind-controlled, human-like robot arm in seven dimensions (7D) to consistently… read more

A hydrogel that destroys superbugs and drug-resistant biofilms

Novel antimicrobial hydrogel prevents antibiotic-resistant microbes from forming on wounds, medical devices and implants
January 28, 2013

Biofilm after treatment (credit: IBN)

The first-ever antimicrobial hydrogel that can break apart biofilms and destroy multidrug-resistant superbugs upon contact has been developed by researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) and IBM Research.

Tests have demonstrated the effectiveness of this novel synthetic material in eliminating various types of bacteria and fungi that are leading causes of microbial infections, and preventing them from developing antibiotic resistance.

This… read more

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