science + technology news

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


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


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


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.

Using a Poison to Turn Sunlight into Food

August 19, 2008

Red slime mat made up of an extremophile bacteria in hot springs in Mono Lake, California use arsenic rather than water to carry energy during photosynthesis, U.S. Geological Survey researchers have found.

By analyzing the genetic material of the microbe, the researchers have determined that this is a primitive process, going back at least three billion years. That could mean that arsenic-based photosynthesis predates the oxygen-producing variety that enables… read more

Using a light touch to measure protein bonds

July 1, 2008

MIT researchers have used optical tweezers (light beams) to achieve a precise measurement of the strength of bonds between two protein molecules important in cell machinery.

They focused on proteins that bind to actin filaments, an important component of the cytoskeleton that provide structural support, help the cell crawl across a surface or sustain a load (in muscle cells).

They found the force holding the proteins together is… read more

Using a CT scan and 3D printer to recreate a fossil

November 21, 2013


Data from computed tomography (CT) scans can be used with 3D printers to make accurate copies of fossilized bones, according to new research published online in the journal Radiology.

Fossils are often stored in plaster casts, or jackets, to protect them from damage. Getting information about a fossil typically requires the removal of the plaster and all the sediment surrounding it, which can lead to loss of material or… read more

Using 3D printing to explain theoretical physics

December 10, 2013


Students may soon be able to reach out and touch some of the theoretical concepts they are taught in their physics classes thanks to a novel idea devised by a group of researchers from Imperial College London.

In new study published December 9 in the journal EPL, the researchers successfully demonstrated how complex theoretical physics can be transformed into a physical object using a 3D printer.… read more

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