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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

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

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

Did ants invent the Internet?

The behavior of harvester ants as they forage for food mirrors the protocols that control traffic on the Internet
August 26, 2012

Pogonomyrmex barbatus (credit: Steve Jurvetson)

Two Stanford researchers have discovered that harvester ants determine how many foragers to send out of the nest in much the same way that Internet protocols discover how much bandwidth is available for the transfer of data.

The researchers are calling it the “anternet.”

Deborah Gordon, a biology professor at Stanford, has been studying ants for more than 20 years.

When she figured out how the… 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

Optogenetics illuminates pathways of motivation and depression through brain

November 20, 2012

optogenetic fluorescence

Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, a professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, and postdoctoral scholar Melissa Warden, PhD, have isolated the neurons that carry the split-second decisions to act, from the higher brain to the brain stem. In doing so, they have provided insight into the causes of severe brain disorders such as depression.

In organisms… read more

Brain frontal lobes not sole center of human intelligence

May 15, 2013

brain_lobes

The frontal lobes in humans vs. other species are not — as previously thought — disproportionately enlarged relative to other areas of the brain, according to a study by Durham and Reading universities.

It concludes that the size of our frontal lobes — an area in the brain of mammals located at the front of each cerebral hemisphere — cannot solely account for humans’ superior cognitive… read more

Crowdsourcing for robots

Humans acting like robots teach robots to act like humans
June 30, 2014

The UW’s robot builds a turtle model (credit: University of Washington)

Crowdsourcing can be a quick and effective way to teach a robot how to complete tasks, University of Washington computer scientists have shown.

Learning by imitating a human is a proven approach to teach a robot to perform tasks, but it can take a lot of time. But if the robot could learn a task’s basic steps, then ask the online community for additional input, it could collect more… read more

Is our universe a bubble in the multiverse?

July 21, 2014

Screenshot from a video of Matthew Johnson explaining the related concepts of inflation, eternal inflation, and the multiverse (see http://youtu.be/w0uyR6JPkz4).<br />
Credit: Image courtesy of Perimeter Institute

Researchers at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics are working to bring the multiverse hypothesis — we are living in one universe of many — into the realm of testable science.

Perimeter Associate Faculty member Matthew Johnson and his team are looking for clues for the existence of multiverses (a.ka. parallel universes) in the cosmic microwave background data, assumed to be left over from… read more

New metamaterial lens focuses radio waves

Device could improve satellite and molecular imaging
November 15, 2012

The orientation of 4,000 S-shaped units forms a metamaterial lens that focuses radio waves with extreme precision, and very little energy lost (credit: Dylan Erb/MIT)

MIT researchers have fabricated a three-dimensional, lightweight metamaterial lens that focuses radio waves with extreme precision.

The concave lens exhibits a property called negative refraction, bending electromagnetic waves — in this case, radio waves — in exactly the opposite sense from which a normal concave lens would work.

Concave lenses typically radiate radio waves… read more

Your virtual avatar can impact your real-world behavior, researchers suggest

February 13, 2014

Can playing these characters affect your behavior differently? (Credit: Jim Lee and Scott Williams/DC Comics and Warner Bros. Pictures)

How you represent yourself in the virtual world of video games may affect how you behave toward others in the real world, new University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign research published in Psychological Science suggests.

“Our results indicate that just five minutes of role-play in virtual environments as either a hero or villain can easily cause people to reward or punish anonymous strangers,” says lead researcher Gunwoo Yoon.

The… read more

How to build a low-cost AFM nanoscope out of LEGO + Arduino board

September 19, 2013

An  AFM made from LEGO and electronics (Credit: Alice Pyne, London Centre for Nanotechnology)

The world’s first low-cost atomic force microscope (AFM) has been developed in Beijing by a group of PhD students from University College London (UCL), Tsinghua University, and Peking University — using LEGO.

LEGO2NANO brought together students, experienced makers and scientists to take on the challenge of building a cheap and effective AFM, a device able to probe objects only a nanometer in size… read more

Combining antennas with solar panels for high efficiency, low weight and volume

December 3, 2013

antenna-solar cell

Researchers at EPFL have managed to combine telecommunication antennas and solar cells to work together with unprecedented efficiency.

Traditionally, antennas and solar cells have never worked well together, as they have to function independently of each other in order to avoid interference. This has an impact on the weight and size of satellites — the surface area has to be large enough for both antenna systems, which… read more

Ukrainian students develop gloves that translate sign language into speech

July 12, 2012

sign-language_glove

Using a gloves fitted with flex sensors, touch sensors, gyroscopes and accelerometers a Ukrainian team in a Microsoft competition has built a system called EnableTalk that can translate sign language into text and then into spoken words using a text-to-speech engine.

The whole system then connects to a smartphone over Bluetooth.

There are currently about 40 million deaf, mute and deaf-mute people. Many of them use sign language,… read more

3D Systems partners with Singularity University to develop creative uses of 3D printing

October 24, 2012

ProJet HD3500 professional 3D printer (credit: 3D Systems)

3D printer leader 3D Systems announced today that it plans to provide Singularity University (SU) with several of its 3D printers.

“We are excited to be part of Singularity’s visionary initiative to democratize access to 3D content-to-print solutions that will enable greater entrepreneurialism and inventiveness,” said Abe Reichental, President and CEO of 3D Systems.

“SU has shown a great deal of foresight and leadership in… read more

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