science + technology news

Dark matter’s tendrils revealed

Direct measurement of a dark-matter "filament" confirms its existence in a galaxy supercluster
July 5, 2012

Dark-matter filaments, such as the one bridging the galaxy clusters Abell 222 and Abell 223, are predicted to contain more than half of all matter in the Universe (credit: Jörg Dietrich, University of Michigan/University Observatory Munich)

A “finger” of the Universe’s dark-matter skeleton, which ultimately dictates where galaxies form, has been observed for the first time.

Researchers have directly detected a slim bridge of dark matter joining two clusters of galaxies, using a technique that could eventually help astrophysicists to understand the structure of the Universe and identify what makes up the mysterious invisible substance known as dark matter.

The presence of dark matter… read more

A bandwidth breakthrough

October 23, 2012

Speed test (credit: Speedtest.net)

Academic researchers have improved wireless bandwidth by ten times — not by adding base stations, tapping more spectrum, or cranking up transmitter wattage, but by using algebra to banish the network-clogging task of resending dropped packets, Technology Review reports.

By providing new ways for mobile devices to solve for missing data, the technology not only eliminates this wasteful process but also can seamlessly weave data streams from… read more

Brain signals from a primate directly move paralyzed limbs in another primate ‘avatar’

February 24, 2014

Neural activity signals recorded from pre-motor neurons (top) are decoded and played back to control limb movements in a functionally paralyzed primate avatar (bottom) --- a step toward making brain-machine interfaces for paralyzed humans to control their own limbs using their brain activity alone (illustration adapted) (credit: Maryam M. Shanechi et al./Nature Communications)

Taking brain-machine interfaces (BMI) to the next level, new research may help paralyzed people move their own limb just by thinking about it.

Previous research has been limited to controlling external devices, such as robots or synthetic avatar arms.

In a paper published online Feb. 18 in Nature Communications, Maryam Shanechi, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Cornell University, working with Ziv Williams,… read more

Engineered red blood cells could carry therapeutic or diagnostic payloads

July 3, 2014

Human red blood cells supported on a glass slide (credit: Whitehead Institute)

Whitehead Institute scientists and associates have modified red blood cells (RBCs) to carry a range of valuable therapeutic and diagnostic payloads — such as drugs, vaccines, and disease-detecting imaging agents  — for delivery to specific sites throughout the body.

“We wanted to create high-value red cells that do more than simply carry oxygen,” says Whitehead Founding Member Harvey Lodish, who collaborated with Whitehead Member… read more

Calico and AbbVie announce R&D collaboration

Plan R&D facility in S.F. Bay Area, may co-invest up to $1.5 billion to tackle age-related diseases
September 3, 2014

(Credit: Calico)

 

(Credit: Calico)

Calico and drug company AbbVie announced today a novel R&D collaboration intended to “help the two companies discover, develop, and bring to market new therapies for patients with age-related diseases, including for neurodegeneration and cancer.”

Calico is the Google-backed life sciences company that is led by Arthur D. Levinson Ph.D. (former chairman and CEO of Genentech)… read more

Can your phone really know you’re depressed?

July 17, 2015

StudentLife app, sensing and analytics system architecture (credit: Rui Wang et al.)

Northwestern scientists believe an open-access android cell phone app called Purple Robot can detect depression simply by tracking the number of minutes you use the phone and your daily geographical locations.

The more time you spend using your phone, the more likely you are depressed, they found in a small Northwestern Medicine study published yesterday (July 15) in the Journal of Medical Internetread more

New tools to manage information overload threatening neuroscience

August 13, 2013

The recent explosion of neuroscience research has resulted in the publication of nearly 2 million papers — more data than any researcher can read and absorb in a lifetime.
That’s why a UCLA team has invented research maps. Easily accessible through an online app, the maps help neuroscientists quickly scan what is already known and plan their next study.The Aug. 8 edition of the journal Neurondescribes these new… read more

Using Bayesian statistics to rank Wikipedia entries

Algorithm outperforms a human user by up to 23 percent in correctly classifying quality rank of articles, say researchers
August 8, 2014

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Computer scientists in China have devised a software algorithm based on Bayesian statistics that can automatically check a Wikipedia entry and rank it by its quality.

Bayesian analysis is commonly used to assess the content of emails and determine the probability that the content is spam or junk mail, and if so, filter it from the user’s inbox if the probability is high.

Writing in the… read more

Up to 27 seconds of inattention after talking to your car or smartphone

Distraction rated "high" for most devices while driving
October 26, 2015

Mazda 2015 dashboard, allowing GPS audio and video display (credit: Landmark MAZDA)

If you think it is okay to talk to your car infotainment system or smartphone while driving or even when stopped at a red light, think again. It takes up to 27 seconds to regain full attention after issuing voice commands, University of Utah researchers found in two new studies for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

One of the studies showed that it is highly distracting to use… read more

How to store the world’s data on DNA

January 24, 2013

Storage cost for DNA v. tape

Researchers at the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) have created a way to store data in the form of DNA — a material that lasts for tens of thousands of years.

The new method, published in the journal Nature, makes it possible to store at least 100 million hours of high-definition video in about a cup of DNA.

There is a lot of digital information… read more

Cancer’s origins revealed

Researchers discover the genetic imprints and signatures left by DNA-damaging processes that lead to cancer
September 5, 2013

cancer_signature

Researchers at Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have provided the first comprehensive compendium of mutational processes that drive tumor development. Together, these mutational processes explain most mutations found in 30 of the most common cancer types. This new understanding of cancer development could help to treat and prevent a wide-range of cancers.

Each mutational process leaves a particular pattern of mutations, an imprint or signature, in… read more

A step toward a potential anti-aging drug

December 29, 2014

Everolimus, AKA RAD001 (credit: Fvasconcellos/public domain)

According to a new study published in Science Translational Medicine, researchers have tested a potential anti-aging drug called everolimus (AKA RAD001) — an analog (version) of the drug rapamycin (sirolimus)*.

In previous research, rapamycin extended the life span of mice by 9 to 14%, even when treatment was initiated late in life, and it improved a variety of aging-related conditions in old mice, including tendon stiffening, cardiac… read more

Open-source algorithms to enable high-quality 3D printing of metal parts

Will your future car be 3D-printed?
March 18, 2015

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers examine a 3D-printed part using the selective laser melting process. General Electric and LLNL recently received $540,000 to develop open source algorithms that will improve additive manufacturing of metal parts using SLM. (credit: Julie Russell/LLNL)

General Electric and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) recently received $540,000 to develop open-source algorithms that will improve additive manufacturing (3D printing) of metal parts.

The award is from America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute that’s focused on helping the U.S. grow capabilities and strength in 3D printing.

The project intends to develop and demonstrate software algorithms that will allow… read more

A jet engine powered by lasers and nuclear explosions?

July 14, 2015

lasers vaporize the radioactive material and cause a fusion reaction — in effect a small thermonuclear explosion.<br />
Lasers vaporize radioactive material and cause a fusion reaction --- in effect a small thermonuclear explosion (credit: Patent Yogi/YouTube)

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded a patent (US 9,068,562) to Boeing engineers and scientists for a laser- and nuclear-driven airplane engine.

“A stream of pellets containing nuclear material such as Deuterium or Tritium is fed into a hot-stop within a thruster of the aircraft,” Patent Yogi explains. “Then multiple high powered laser beams are all focused onto the hot-spot. The pellet is… read more

Warning: Your hospital may kill you and they won’t report it

Medical error in hospitals is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer --- an estimated 210,000 to 400,000 deaths a year
May 9, 2016

causes of death ft

Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer — an estimated 210,000 to 400,000 deaths a year among hospital patients — say experts in an open-access paper in the British Medical Journal — despite the fact that both hospital reporting and death certificates in the U.S. have no provision for acknowledging medical error.

Martinread more

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