science + technology news

Using flashes from faster-than-light spots to view objects in the universe

January 9, 2015

Hubble's variable nebula. (Credit: William Sparks (STScI), Sylvia Baggett (STScI) et al., & the Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/ STScI/ NASA))

If you sweep a laser pointer across the Moon fast enough, you can create spots that actually move faster than light

At a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle Thursday Jan. 8, Robert Nemiroff, a physics professor at Michigan Technological University, reported that this theoretical curiosity may turn out to be practically useful out in the cosmos.

When a superluminal sweep occurs,… read more

Using exploding nanoparticles to insert DNA and proteins into cells

July 29, 2010

Zapped human prostate cancer cells after exposure to laser-activated carbon nanoparticles. (Prerona Chakravarty)

Chemical “nanoblasts” activated by bursts of laser light can punch tiny holes in the protective membranes of cells just long enough to admit therapeutic small molecules, proteins and DNA directly into living cells, Georgia Institute of Technology.researchers have discovered.

“One of the most significant uses for this technology could be for gene-based therapies, which offer great promise in medicine, but whose progress has been limited by the difficulty of getting… read more

Using DNA to Control Nanoparticle Assembly

August 22, 2007

Uing DNA, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory are studying how to control both the speed of nanoparticle assembly and the structure of its resulting nanoclusters.

The synthetic DNA used in the laboratory is capped onto individual gold nanoparticles and customized to recognize and bind to complementary DNA located on other particles. This process forms clusters containing multiple particles.

The research could… read more

Using ‘cooperative perception’ between intelligent vehicles to reduce risks

October 13, 2017

Networked intelligent vehicles (credit: EPFL)

Researchers at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have combined data from two autonomous cars to create a wider field of view, extended situational awareness, and greater safety.

Autonomous vehicles get their intelligence from cameras, radar, light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors, and navigation and mapping systems. But there are ways to make them even smarter. Researchers at EPFL are working to improve the reliability and fault tolerance of… read more

Using cells’ chemical signaling to control cancer or detect toxins

November 17, 2011

Cell signals

MIT researchers have found that cells’ chemical signaling mechanisms can tell whether their signals are being received, and then adjust the volume of their messages as needed.

Cells use these chemical signaling systems to control many basic functions. For example, signaling can control how genes are turned on and off in response to external or internal cues, how cells grow and organize their internal structures, and even… read more

Using carbon nanotubes to seek and destroy anthrax toxin and other harmful proteins

December 11, 2007

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers have developed a new way to seek out specific proteins, including dangerous proteins such as anthrax toxin, and render them harmless using nothing but light.

Ravi S. Kane, professor of chemical and biological engineering, described the research: “By attaching peptides to carbon nanotubes, we gave them the ability to selectively recognize a protein of interest — in this case anthrax toxin — from a mixture… read more

Using Carbon Nanotubes For Quantum Computing

July 16, 2004

Academics at the University of Oxford have developed a design protocol for inserting filled molecules of Buckminsterfullerene (“Buckyballs”) into carbon, and other types of nanotubes.

The Buckyballs are themselves filled with molecules that have either an electronic or structural property that can be used to represent a quantum bit (Qubit) of information and can be associated with other adjacent Qubits. The improved stability of the system now allows several… read more

Using carbon nanotubes as qubits for quantum computers

March 26, 2013

nano_guitar_tum

A study by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has shown how nanotubes can store information in the form of vibrations.

Using quantum mechanical phenomena, computers could be much more powerful than their classical digital predecessors.

Up to now, researchers have experimented primarily with electrically charged particles. But because nanomechanical devices are not charged, they are much less sensitive to electrical interference.… read more

Using body movements as digital-music controllers

April 10, 2014

laptop-orchestra-770

Performers in the UBC Laptop Orchestra at the University of British Columbia use body movements to trigger programmed synthetic instruments or modify the sound of their live instruments in real time.

They strap motion sensors to their bodies and instruments, play wearable iPhone instruments, and swing Nintendo Wii or PlayStation Move controllers while Kinect video cameras track their movements.… 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

Using artificial intelligence to chart the universe

September 25, 2012

cosmic_web

Astronomers at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics have developed an AI algorithm to help them chart and explain the distribution of dark matter with unprecedented accuracy.

The algorithm starts with the fluctuations in the density of the universe seen in the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR), then models the way matter collapses into today’s galaxies over the subsequent 13 billion years. The results of the algorithm are… read more

Using ant-based swarm intelligence for materials handling

March 26, 2012

Swarming and transporting

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML in Dortmund, Germany plan to use “swarm intelligence” for materials handling. Their Multishuttle Moves — swarms of autonomous transport shuttles — could provide an alternative to traditional systems.

The scientists have assembled a testing facility with a swarm of 50 autonomous devices. “In the future, transport systems should be able to perform all of these tasks autonomously,… read more

Using animal training techniques to teach robots household chores

May 18, 2016

Virtual environments in which trainers gave directions to robot dog. (credit: Washington State University)

Researchers at Washington State University are using ideas from animal training to help non-expert users teach robots how to do desired tasks.

As robots become more pervasive in society, humans will want them to do chores like cleaning house or cooking. But to get a robot started on a task, people who aren’t computer programmers will have to give it instructions. “So we needed to provide a… read more

Using an electron beam to manipulate nanoparticles

January 16, 2013

How to trap a gold nanoparticle in an environmental cell: an electron beam passes through a silicon nitride window and grabs the nanoparticle (credit: Haimei Zheng et al./Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Scientists from Berkeley Lab and the National University of Singapore have developed a way to manipulate nanoparticles using an electron beam.

They used an electron beam from a transmission electron microscope to trap gold nanoparticles and direct their movement, and to assemble several nanoparticles into a tight cluster.

They also imaged the nanoparticles as they manipulated them.

Based on their results, the scientists… read more

Using a Robot to Teach Human Social Skills

July 10, 2007

A humanoid robot designed to teach autistic children social skills has begun testing in British schools.

Known as KASPAR (Kinesics and Synchronisation in Personal Assistant Robotics), the $4.33 million bot smiles, simulates surprise and sadness, gesticulates and, the researchers hope, will encourage social interaction among autistic children.

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