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A personalized robot companion

August 20, 2013


A consortium of European researchers has developed a customizable robot companion for people with memory or mobility problems.

The robot, a mobile wheeled semi-humanoid figure equipped with cameras, sensors, audio and a touch screen interface, can remind users to take their medicine, suggest they have their favorite drink or prompt them to go for a walk or visit friends if they haven’t been out for a while,… read more

New rechargeable flow battery enables cheaper, large-scale energy storage

Design may support widespread use of solar and wind energy
August 20, 2013


MIT researchers have engineered a new rechargeable flow battery that doesn’t rely on expensive membranes to generate and store electricity. The device, they say, may one day enable cheaper, large-scale energy storage.

The palm-sized prototype generates three times as much power per square centimeter as other membraneless systems — a power density that is an order of magnitude higher than that of many lithium-ion batteries… read more

Nanosensors could aid drug manufacturing

Arrays of carbon nanotubes can detect flaws in drugs and help improve production
August 20, 2013

A micrograph of the nanosensor array. The florescence of each carbon nanotube changes in intensity upon binding to a target molecule.<br />

Arrays of billions of nanoscale sensors have unique properties that could help pharmaceutical companies produce drugs — especially those based on antibodies — more safely and efficiently, MIT chemical engineers have discovered.

Using these sensors, the researchers were able to characterize variations in the binding strength of antibody drugs, which hold promise for treating cancer and other diseases.

They also used the sensors to… read more

A molecular ‘switch’ to reprogram control pathways in cells

"Molecular network diverter" can tweak the control systems that regulate the inner workings of cells, leading to future medical interventions to switch off diseased states or turn on healthy processes
August 20, 2013

molecular diverter2

Stanford University bioengineer has helped develop a technology dubbed a “molecular network diverter” that can tweak the control systems that regulate the inner workings of cells, pointing the way toward future medical interventions that could switch off diseased states or turn on healthy processes.

This molecular diverter uses the concerted action of three biological sub-systems to redirect signaling pathways — complex networks of molecular interactions that… read more

Adding defects to superconducting wire creates unprecedented performance

August 19, 2013

BZO-doped films

The ability to control nanoscale imperfections in superconducting wires results in materials with unparalleled and customized performance, according to a new study from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Applications for superconducting wires, which carry electricity without resistance when cooled to a critical temperature, include underground transmission cables, transformers and large-scale motors and generators. But these applications require wires to operate under different temperature and… read more

Scientists evolve huge hyperswarming pathogenic bacteria with multiple whipping flagella

What could go wrong?
August 19, 2013

The evolution of hyperswarming, pathogenic bacteria might sound like the plot of a horror film, but such bugs really have repeatedly evolved in a lab, and the good news is that they should be less of a problem to us than their less mobile kin. That's because those hyperswarmers, adorned with multiple whipping flagella, are also much worse at sticking together on surfaces in hard-to-treat biofilms. They might even help us figure out a way to develop anti-biofilm therapies for use in people with cystic fibrosis or other conditions, say researchers who report their findings in Cell Reports, a Cell Press publication, on Aug. 15.</p>
<p>Credit: Cell Reports, van Ditmarsch et al.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center researchers have evolved hyperswarming pathogenic bacteria adorned with multiple whipping flagella — all the way down to the molecular level — and plan to unleash them in a laboratory.

That’s a good thing — or so say researchers in Cell Reports, a Cell Press publication (open access). The idea is to develop anti-biofilm therapies for use in people with cystic fibrosis… read more

Singapore’s first driverless vehicle

August 19, 2013


Nanyang Technological University (NTU) scientists have developed Singapore’s first driverless shuttle transportation system.

The Energy Research Institute at NTU will test and optimize Induct’s :”NAVIA” electric shuttle to enable it to intermingle safely with traffic in Singapore.

NAVIA can carry eight passengers and has a maximum speed of 20.1 km/h.

The partnership will develop new charging technologies such as wireless induction and new supercapacitors for… read more

Assembling big structures out of small ultralight pieces

"Can you 3-D print an airplane?" question leads to major design breakthrough
August 19, 2013

Assemblies of the cellular composite material are seen from different perspectives, showing the repeating "cuboct" lattice structure, made from many identical flat cross-shaped pieces.<br />

MIT researchers have developed a lightweight structure whose tiny blocks can be snapped together much like the bricks of a child’s construction toy.

The new material, the researchers say, could revolutionize the assembly of airplanes, spacecraft, and even larger structures, such as dikes and levees.

The new approach to construction is described in a paper appearing in the journal Science, co-authored by postdoc Kenneth Cheung and… read more

A magnetless spin-memory device

Could allow for miniaturization of a memory bit down to a single nanoparticle
August 16, 2013


Scientists at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Weizmann Institute of Science have developed a simple magnetization technology that eliminates the need for permanent magnets in memory devices and allows for fabricating inexpensive, silicon-compatible, high-density, universal memory-on-chip devices.

Current memory devices have significant drawbacks: dynamic RAM memory has to be refreshed periodically, static RAM data is lost when the power is off, flash memory lacks speed, and… read more

A ‘universal smart window’ for instant control of lighting and heat

August 16, 2013

Smart-window glass that can be switched to block heat and light (credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have designed a new material to make smart windows even smarter.

The material is a thin coating of nanocrystals embedded in glass that can dynamically modify sunlight as it passes through a window.

Unlike existing technologies, the coating provides selective control over visible light and heat-producing near-infrared (NIR) light independently, so windows can… read more

Nanoparticles reprogram immune cells to fight cancer

August 16, 2013

mitochondria-targeted NPs

Researchers at the University of Georgia are developing a new treatment technique that uses nanoparticles to reprogram immune cells so they are able to recognize and attack cancer.

However, most cancerous cells are able to avoid detection by the immune system because they so closely resemble normal cells.

That leaves the cancerous cells free to multiply and grow into life-threatening tumors while the body’s… read more

How neurons ‘decide’ to create axons or dendrites

Finding could help improve therapies for spinal injuries and neurodegenerative diseases
August 16, 2013

Nerve cells use their dendrites and axons to connect with each other and form neural networks. (Photo: Sara Parker)

University of Arizona scientists have discovered an unknown mechanism that establishes polarity in developing nerve cells: the length of a signaling molecule.

Understanding how nerve cells make connections is an important step in developing cures for nerve damage resulting from spinal cord injuries or neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
They found that embryonic nerve cells manufacture a signaling enzyme called Atypical Protein Kinase C (aPKC)… read more

Watch International Mars Society Convention via live webcast

August 15, 2013


The Mars Society is hosting its 16th Annual International Mars Society Convention from August 15–18 at the University of Colorado in Boulder. All plenary talks are being broadcast live on the Internet via a special video webcast.

Convention program schedule (times listed are MDT).

Virus-derived particles target blood cancer

Sixty percent of mouse models of leukemia cured
August 15, 2013

Treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)-blast crisis patient samples with NRRPs. (a) Brightfield microscopy images of two CML-blast crisis patient samples treated with PBS or NRRPs.

Ottawa researchers have developed unique virus-derived particles that can kill human blood cancer cells in the laboratory and eradicate the disease in mice, with few side effects.

The study is published in Blood Cancer Journal (open access) by co-senior authors Drs. David Conrad and John Bell of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and the University of Ottawa (uOttawa).

Bell and his colleagues have… read more

Google brings Google Now info on your flights, reservations, etc. to Google Search

August 15, 2013


Google is making info on your flights, reservations, appointments, and more available to you (privately) in Google Search if the info in your Gmail, Google Calendar, or Google+.

“Over the next several days, we’ll be rolling this out to all U.S., English-speaking users on desktop, tablet and smartphone, with voice search,” according to the Official Google Blog.

Google has been offering this kind of info in… read more

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