science + technology news

Real-world stereotypes continue to exist in virtual worlds

May 6, 2015


Stereotypes related to gender and appearance that burden women in the real world could follow them into virtual ones, according to Penn State researchers.

In a study of how people interacted with avatars in an online game, women received less help from fellow players than men when they operated an unattractive avatar and when they used a male avatar, said T. Franklin Waddell, a doctoral candidate in massread more

A consumer version of Oculus Rift VR headset coming in early 2016

May 6, 2015

A first look at the Oculus Rift for consumers (credit: Oculus VR)

Oculus VR announced today (May 6) that the Oculus Rift VR headset will be shipping to consumers in Q1 2016, with pre-orders later this year.

“The Rift delivers on the dream of consumer VR with compelling content, a full ecosystem, and a fully-integrated hardware/software tech stack designed specifically for virtual reality,” Oculus VR said in the blog post. “It’s a system designed by a team of extremely… read more

New centimeter-accurate GPS system could transform virtual reality and mobile devices

May 6, 2015


A centimeter-accurate GPS-based positioning system that could revolutionize geolocation on virtual reality headsets, cellphones, and other devices has been developed by researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.

Applications could include drones that can deliver packages to a specific spot on a consumer’s porch, precise collision-avoidance systems on cars (via vehicle-to-vehicle communications), and a globally referenced… read more

A softer, gentler robot controlled by light

Synthetic gel changes shape and moves via its own internal energy
May 6, 2015

gel changes ft.

A bio-inspired prototype “soft robot” material with greater dexterity and mobility than conventional hard robots has been created by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering.

“In biology, directed movement involves some form of shape changes, such as the expansion and contraction of muscles,” said Anna C. Balazs, PhD, the Swanson School’s Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Petroleum… read more

How to create a seamless panorama video from multiple cameras

May 5, 2015

Credit: Disney Research

Non-professionals may someday be able to create high-quality video panoramas using multiple cameras with the help of an algorithm developed by a team of Disney researchers.

Their method smooths out the blurring, ghosting and other distortions that routinely occur when video feeds from unstructured camera arrays are combined to create a single panoramic video. The algorithm corrects for the apparent difference in position of an object caused… read more

New chip architecture may increase qubits in a future quantum computer

May 5, 2015

Credit: AIP

Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute and Honeywell International have developed a new ion trap architecture (using ions trapped inside a vacuum chamber and manipulated with lasers) that could increase the density of qubits in future quantum computers.

The GTRI/Honeywell approach uses new microfabrication techniques that allow more electrodes to fit onto the chip. The design borrows ideas… read more

How to turn your smartphone into a microscope for 1 cent

May 5, 2015

Lens on iPhone 4S (credit: Yulu Sung)

University of Houston (UH) scientists have created an optical lens that  you can directly attach over an inexpensive smartphone camera lens to amplify images 120 times with an imaging resolution of 1 micrometer for just one cent (to create the lens in a lab), according to Wei-Chuan Shih, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UH.

The new lens could also have clinical applications,… read more

Combination immunotherapy significantly more effective for patients with advanced melanoma

The power of the immune system if we can remove the “brakes”
May 4, 2015

A melanoma (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) are reporting exciting results in the field of cancer immunology.

Positive results from a clinical trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine show that the combination of the immunotherapy drugs ipilimumab (Yervoy™) and nivolumab (Opdivo™) produced significantly better outcomes than ipilimumab alone in patients with advanced melanoma.

A second piece in the same… read more

Real-time noninvasive PET imaging to detect tumors

May 4, 2015

Non-invasive PET imaging-ft

Whitehead Institute scientists have developed a method to detect tumors by real-time imaging of the immune system using positron emission tomography (PET). The new method replaces blood draws and invasive biopsies. It’s a potential breakthrough in diagnostics and monitoring the efficacy of cancer therapies.

An example of such a therapy is a new way to get the entire immune system to attack cancer, which KurzweilAI recently reported.… read more

A DNA repair map of the entire human genome

Could lead to better or improved cancer drugs and to repair methods for radiation damage to DNA
May 4, 2015

Researchers in the lab of Aziz Sancar, MD, PhD, created this map of DNA repair for every human chromosome. (Credit: UNC)

A new experimental assay can help scientists find the precise locations of repair of DNA damage caused by radiation and common chemotherapies. The invention could lead to better cancer drugs or improvements in the potency of existing ones, and also to repair methods for radiation damage to DNA.

When the common chemotherapy drugs cisplatin or oxaliplatin hit cancer cells, they damage DNA so that the cells can’t replicate. But… read more

What happens to your brain on the way to Mars?

Long-term galactic cosmic ray exposure leads to dementia-like cognitive impairments
May 4, 2015

radiation effects

Exposure to highly energetic charged particles — much like those found in the galactic cosmic rays that bombard astronauts during extended spaceflights — causes significant damage to the central nervous system, resulting in cognitive impairments, according to a UC Irvine radiation oncology open-access study appearing in the May 1 edition of Science Advances.

“This is not positive news for astronauts deployed on a two- to three-year round… read more

Printing silicon on paper with lasers

May 1, 2015

silicon on paper

Researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have pioneered a method that allows silicon, in the polycrystalline form used in circuitry, to be produced directly on a substrate from liquid silicon ink with a single laser pulse.

The capacity for printing silicon ink onto substrates has existed for some time, but necessitated a 350° C thermal annealing step — far too hot for paper and other common… read more

A whiteboard of the future

May 1, 2015

Handwriting with a magnet-ft

Researchers from the University of Tokyo have developed an inexpensive handwriting-enabled e-paper suited to large displays like whiteboards.

The display is made from black-and-white microparticles about 0.1 millimeter in diameter. One hemisphere of each particle is black and carries a negative charge, while the other is white and carries a positive charge. The particles are sandwiched between two electrodes. By switching the direction of the voltage across the electrodes… read more

Artificial photosynthesis could help make fuels, plastics, and medicine

New process using semiconductor nanodevices and bacterium-based biocatalysts could cut our reliance on fossil fuels
April 30, 2015

solar powered artificial photosynthetic approach-ft

A team of scientists has invented a new artificial photosynthetic system that could one day reduce industry’s dependence on fossil fuel-derived energy by powering it with solar energy and bacteria.

In the ACS journal Nano Letters, they describe a novel system that converts light and carbon dioxide into building blocks for plastics, pharmaceuticals and fuels — all without electricity.

Plants use photosynthesis to convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide… read more

IBM demonstrates superconducting quantum computer

New design detects both types of quantum errors and can be scalable to larger systems
April 30, 2015

IBM four qubit square circuit

IBM scientists Wednesday April 29 unveiled two critical advances towards creating a practical quantum computer by detecting and measuring both kinds of quantum errors simultaneously. They also demonstrated a new, square quantum bit circuit design that they suggest is the only physical architecture that could successfully scale to larger dimensions.

Quantum computers promise to open up new capabilities in the fields of optimization and simulation… read more

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