science + technology news

Sugar molecules — building blocks of RNA — found around young star

August 30, 2012

Astronomers have for the first time found glycolaldehyde molecules around a young sun-like star. Glycolaldehyde is a an important pre-biotic species, a simple sugar, consisting of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms. Through observations with ALMA the researchers have shown that the molecules are located within a region with an extent corresponding to our own solar system - and thus exist in the gas from which planets possibly are formed around the young star later in its evolution. (Credit: ESO)

A team of astronomers led by researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute, have observed a simple sugar molecule in the gas surrounding a young star, proving that the building blocks of life were already present during planet formation.

They also found other complex organic molecules, including ethylene-glycol, methyl-formate and ethanol.

Sugar around new stars

“In the protoplanetary disc of gas and dust surrounding… read more

Transhuman week: exploring the frontiers of human enhancement

September 5, 2012

Ekso exoskeleton

Wired U.K.‘s Transhuman Week seeks to navigate transhumanist issues through a series of features, galleries and expert guest posts from September 3 to 7.

Transhumanism explores the application of technology and science to enhance human bodies and minds regardless of whether they are perceived to have any disabilities, and extending human life. It  may include low-level biohacking, physical augmentation, performance-enhancing drugs and even genetic modification.

The London 2012… read more

Living power cables discovered

Multicellular bacteria transmit electrons across relatively enormous distances
October 26, 2012


A multinational research team has discovered filamentous bacteria that function as living power cables that transmit electrons thousands of cell lengths away.

The Desulfobulbus bacterial cells, which are only a few hundreds of a nanometer long each, are so tiny that they are invisible to the naked eye. And yet, under the right circumstances, they form a multicellular filament that can transmit electrons across a distance as large as 1 centimeter… read more

We’re all living longer, but longevity increases not benefitting everybody

December 21, 2012


Global lifespans have risen dramatically in the past 40 years, but the increased life expectancy is not benefitting body equally, say University of Toronto researchers. In particular, adult males from low- and middle-income countries are losing ground.

People are living longer on average than they were in 1970, and those extra years of life are being achieved at lower cost, the researchers, led by U of… read more

Internet activist, a creator of RSS, is dead at 26, apparently a suicide

January 15, 2013


Aaron Swartz, a wizardly programmer who as a teenager helped develop code that delivered ever-changing Web content to users and who later became a steadfast crusader to make that information freely available, was found dead on Friday in his New York apartment, The New York Times reports.

At 14, Mr. Swartz helped create RSS, the nearly ubiquitous tool that allows users to subscribe to online information. He… read more

Miniature portable device produces biopharmaceuticals on demand at point-of-care

System will use microbes for manufacturing small amounts of vaccines and other therapeutics
August 1, 2016

Microbioreactor, a polycarbonate-PDMS membrane-polycarbonate sandwiched chip with active microfluidic circuits that are equipped for pneumatic routing of reagents, precise peristaltic injection, growth chamber mixing, and fluid extraction. (credit: Pablo Perez-Pinera et al./Nature Communications)

MIT researchers with DARPA funding have developed a portable device for manufacturing a range of biopharmaceuticals on demand, virtually anywhere.

For medics on the battlefield and doctors in remote or developing parts of the world, getting rapid access to the drugs needed to treat patients can be challenging. That’s because biopharmaceutical drugs, which are used in a wide range of therapies including vaccines and treatments… read more

Google reveals tech specs for Glass

April 18, 2013


Today we have more info about Glass, after Google released the tech specs of its upcoming smartglasses, Gizmag reports.

The most important part of Glass is its display. Google vividly describes the tiny high-res screen as “the equivalent of a 25-inch high definition screen from eight feet away.”

Glass shoots 5-megapixel stills and 720p videos. Google had already revealed that Glass delivers audio via bone conduction.… read more

Nanoarray sniffs out and distinguishes ‘breathprints’ of multiple diseases

December 23, 2016

breathprint system ft

An international team of 63 scientists in 14 clinical departments have identified a unique “breathprint” for 17 diseases with 86% accuracy and have designed a noninvasive, inexpensive, and miniaturized portable device that screens breath samples to classify and diagnose several types of diseases, they report in an open-access paper in the journal ACS Nano.

As far back as around 400 B.C., doctors diagnosed some diseases by smelling a patient’s exhaled… read more

Light from self-luminous tablet computers can affect evening melatonin, delaying sleep

New research can aid in the development of “circadian-friendly” electronic devices
August 29, 2012

Study participants viewed the tablets without goggles, through orange-tinted goggles capable of filtering out radiation that can suppress melatonin, and through clear goggles fitted with blue LEDs to suppress melatonin (credit: Wood et al, RPI)

Exposure to electronic devices with self-luminous displays causes melatonin suppression, which might lead to delayed bedtimes, especially in teens, a Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute study has found.

The study showed that a two-hour exposure to light from self-luminous electronic displays can suppress melatonin by about 22 percent.

Stimulating the human circadian system to this level may affect sleep in those using the devices prior to… read more

New web-based model for sharing research datasets could have huge benefits

October 15, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

A group of researchers have proposed creating a new web-based data network to help researchers and policymakers worldwide turn existing knowledge into real-world applications and technologies and improve science and innovation policy.

Researchers around the world have created datasets that, if interlinked with other datasets and made more broadly available, could provide the needed foundation for policy and decision makers. But these datasets are spread across countries, scientific disciplines… read more

A pressure switch inside the head

November 8, 2012

View of the not yet completely enclosed intracranial pressure sensor (credit: Dr. Thomas Velten/Fraunhofer IBMT)

An increase in cerebral pressure may cause dementia or even destroy the brain, but there’s no reliable sensor available (they quickly corrode), and current intracranial pressure systems keep patients in a hospital for days or weeks.

So Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBMT) researchers have developed a small implantable sensor for cerebral pressure that’s waterproof, using a casing made from high-grade titanium. It’s… read more

Android smartphone to control satellite in orbit

February 27, 2013


A satellite with an Android Google Nexus One smartphone at its heart is now orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 785 kilometers.

Called STRaND-1,  the UK’s first cubesat, the satellite’s incorporation of a phone is a bold attempt to test how well cheap, off-the-shelf consumer electronics handle the harsh temperature variations and microchip-blasting cosmic radiation of space, New Scientist reports.

The shoebox-sized satellite… read more

Google’s new multilingual Neural Machine Translation System can translate between language pairs even though it has never been taught to do so

Machine translation breakthrough has been implemented for 103 languages
November 25, 2016

Google Neural Machine Translation1

Google researchers have announced they have implemented a neural machine translation system in Google Translate that improves translation quality and enables “Zero-Shot Translation” — translation between language pairs never seen explicitly by the system.

For example, in the animation above, the system was trained to translate bidirectionally between English and Japanese and between English and Korean. But the new system can also translate between Japanese and… read more

Groundbreaking technology rewarms large-scale animal tissues preserved at low temperatures

A major step toward long-term preservation of organs and tissues for transplantation; could lead to saving millions of human lives
March 2, 2017

Inductive heating of magnetic nanoparticles warms tissue preserved at very low temperatures without damage (credit: Navid Manuchehrabadi et al./Science Translational Medicine)

A research team led by the University of Minnesota has discovered a way to rewarm large-scale animal heart valves and blood vessels preserved at very low (cryogenic) temperatures without damaging the tissue. The discovery could one day lead to saving millions of human lives by creating cryogenic tissue and organ banks of organs and tissues for transplantation.

The research was published March 1… read more

Eureka! When a blow to the head creates a sudden genius

May 20, 2012

Stephen Wiltshire

How can we explain “acquired savants” — people with extraordinary talent who’ve miraculously developed artistic, musical, or mathematical abilities as a result of a brain injury, or temporarily from a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) session — since they weren’t born with the talent and didn’t learn it later?

For example, how is it that somebody like Derek Amato (video below), who’d never demonstrated any musical talent before hitting his head at the… read more

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