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Cells as living calculators

May 17, 2013

MIT engineers have created synthetic biology circuits that can perform analog computations such as taking logarithms and square roots in living cells (credit:

By combining existing genetic “parts,” or engineered genes, in novel ways, MIT engineers have transformed bacterial cells into living calculators that can compute logarithms, divide, and take square roots, using three or fewer genetic parts.

The circuits perform those calculations in an analog fashion by exploiting natural biochemical functions that are already present in the cell rather than by reinventing them with digital logic.… read more

Google and NASA launch Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab

May 17, 2013

dwave.quantumx

Google, in partnership with NASA and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), has launched an initiative to investigate how quantum computing might lead to breakthroughs in machine learning, a branch of AI that focuses on construction and study of systems that learn from data..

The new lab will use the D-Wave Two quantum computer.A recent study (see “Which is faster:read more

Which is faster: conventional or quantum computer?

D-Wave quantum computer much faster for specific problems
May 17, 2013

The D-Wave Systems Fridge with Cryogenic Packaging (credit:

A computer science professor at Amherst College has conducted experiments to test the speed of a quantum computing system (from D-Wave) against conventional computing methods.

“Ours is the first paper to my knowledge that compares the quantum approach to conventional methods using the same set of problems,” says Catherine McGeoch, the Beitzel Professor in Technology and Society (Computer Science) at Amherst.

McGeoch,… read more

Human stem cells created by cloning

May 16, 2013

cloning_stem_cells

It was hailed some 15 years ago as the great hope for a biomedical revolution: production of patient-specific embryonic stem cells (ESCs) from cloning to create perfectly matched tissues that would someday cure ailments ranging from diabetes to Parkinson’s disease.

Since then, the approach has been enveloped in ethical debate. A paper published by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a reproductive biology specialist at the Oregon Health and Science University in Beaverton,… read more

Wireless signals could transform brain-trauma diagnostics

May 16, 2013

University of California, Berkeley researchers have developed a device that uses wireless signals to provide real-time, non-invasive diagnoses of brain swelling or bleeding.

The device analyzes data from low energy, electromagnetic waves, similar to the kind used to transmit radio and mobile signals. It could potentially become a cost-effective tool for medical diagnostics and to triage injuries in areas where access to medical care, especially medical imaging, is… read more

Google escalates the competition in map services

May 16, 2013

New Google maps: search results appear

On Wednesday, Google unveiled a new Google Maps, by far the biggest redesign since it introduced Maps eight years ago, The New York Times reports.

When users who are logged into Google visit Maps, they will see the places they frequently visit highlighted, like restaurants, museums and their home. Google learns the places they go by drawing information from all of Google’s services — including search and… read more

Google Introduces new search tools to try to read our minds

May 16, 2013

(Credit: Google)

Google revealed some new search tools on Wednesday at I/O, its annual developers conference, The New York Times reports. Taken together, they are another step toward Google’s trying to become the omnipotent, human-like “Star Trek” search engine that its executives say they want it to be.

When people ask Google certain questions, it will now try to predict the person’s follow-up questions and answer them, too. Ask… read more

Engineered biomaterial prevents body’s attack on medical implants

May 16, 2013

These images show differences in collagen build-up in two tissue samples. Collagen is labeled in blue. The left image shows a thick collagen wall forming in the presence of a material that’s widely used for implantable devices. In contrast, collagen in the right image is more evenly dispersed in the tissue after the UW-engineered hydrogel has been implanted. (Credit: Lei Zhang/University of Washington)

 

University of Washington engineers have demonstrated in mice a way to prevent failure of implants and prostheses, using a synthetic hydrogel biomaterial that fully resists the body’s natural attack response to foreign objects.

Medical devices such as artificial heart valves, prostheses and breast implants could be coated with this polymer to prevent the body from rejecting an implanted object.

Howread more

Salk scientists develop drug that slows Alzheimer’s in mice

May 15, 2013

Salk scientists developed J147, a synthetic drug shown to improve memory and prevent brain damage in mice with Alzheimer's disease

A drug developed by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, known as J147, reverses memory deficits and slows Alzheimer’s disease in aged mice following short-term treatment.

The findings may pave the way to a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

“J147 is an exciting new compound because it really has strong potential to be an Alzheimer’s disease therapeutic by slowing disease progression… 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

Clinical trial supports use of Kava to treat anxiety

May 15, 2013

Piper_methysticum

A world-first completed clinical study by an Australian team has found Kava, a medicinal South Pacific plant, significantly reduced the symptoms of people suffering anxiety.

The study, led by the University of Melbourne, revealed Kava could be an alternative to pharmaceutical products for the hundreds of thousands of Australians who suffer from generalized anxiety disorders (GAD)

“In this study we’ve been able to show… read more

Chinese project probes the genetics of genius

May 15, 2013

(Credit: iStock)

Researchers at BGI (formerly the Beijing Genomics Institute) in Shenzhen, China, the largest gene-sequencing facility in the world, are searching for the quirks of DNA that may contribute to genius in an ethically controversial study.

They are scouring the genomes of 1,600 U.S. adolescents who signed up for the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) in the 1970s, Nature News reports.

Some geneticists say that the… read more

Welcome to the programmable world

May 15, 2013

SmartThings-Ringed-FullColor

Tiny, intelligent things all around us, coordinating their activities. There are few more appropriate guides to this impending future than Alex Hawkinson, whose DC-based startup, SmartThings, has built what’s arguably the most advanced hub to tie connected objects together, Wired reports.

At his house, more than 200 objects, from the garage door to the coffeemaker to his daughter’s trampoline, are all connected to his SmartThings system.… read more

‘Paint-on’ solar panels

May 15, 2013

Organic Photovoltaics: PlasmonicEnhanced Organic Photovoltaics:

Qiaoqiang Gan, University at Buffalo assistant professor of electrical engineering, is developing a new generation of photovoltaic cells that produce more power and cost less to manufacture than what’s available today.

One of his more promising efforts involves the use of plasmonic-enhanced organic photovoltaic materials. These devices don’t match traditional solar cells in terms of energy production but they are less expensive and… read more

Do-it-yourself invisibility cloaking with 3D printing

May 15, 2013

Invisibility-Cloak

Seven years ago, Duke University engineers demonstrated the first working invisibility cloak in complex laboratory experiments. Now it appears creating a simple cloak has become a lot simpler, by using a 3D printer..

Yaroslav Urzhumov, assistant research professor in electrical and computer engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, said producing a cloak in this fashion is inexpensive and easy.

He and his team… read more

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