science + technology news

‘Brain-to-Text’ system converts speech brainwave patterns to text

June 16, 2015

Brain activity recorded by electrocorticography electrodes (blue circles). spoken words are then decoded from neural activity patterns in the blue/yellow areas. (credit: CSL/KIT)

German and U.S. researchers have decoded natural continuously spoken speech from brain waves and transformed it into text — a step toward communication with computers or humans by thought alone.

Their “Brain-to-Text” system recorded signals from an electrocorticographic (ECoG)* electrode array located on relevant surfaces of the frontal and temporal lobes of the cerebral cortex of seven epileptic patients, who participated voluntarily in the study during their… read more

Does a black hole create a hologram copy of anything that touches it?

June 16, 2015

Simulated view of a black hole (credit: Alain Riazuelo of the French National Research Agency, via Wikipedia. (

According to Samir Mathur. professor of physics at The Ohio State University, the recently proposed idea that black holes have “firewalls” that destroy all they touch is wrong. He believes that a black hole converts anything that touches it into a hologram — a near-perfect copy of itself that continues to exist just as before.

Mathur says he proves that in a open-access paper posted online to theread more

AI program predicts key disease-associated genetic mutations for hundreds of complex diseases

June 15, 2015

A depiction of the double helical structure of DNA. Its four coding units (A, T, C, G) are color-coded in pink, orange, purple and yellow. (credit: NHGRI)

A decade of work at Johns Hopkins has yielded a computer program that predicts, with far more accuracy than current methods, which mutations are likely to have the largest effect on the activity of the “dimmer switches” (which alter the cell’s gene activity) in DNA — suggesting new targets for diagnosis and treatment of many diseases.

A summary of the research was published online today… read more

First full genome of a living organism sequenced and assembled using smartphone-size device

June 15, 2015

MinION MkI device for portable, real time biological analyses (credit: Oxford Nanopore)

Researchers in Canada and the U.K. have sequenced and assembled de novo (from the ground up) the full genome of a living organism, the bacteria Escherichia Coli, using Oxford Nanopore’s MinION device, a genome sequencer that can fit in the palm of your hand.

The findings, published today in the journal Nature Methods, provide proof of concept for the new genome sequencer technology.

The researchers expect to use… read more

First glimpse of new concepts developing in the brain

June 12, 2015

concepts in brain-ft

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) scientists have for the first time documented the actual formation of newly learned concepts inside the brain.

Thanks to recent advances in brain imaging technology at CMU and elsewhere, it is now known how specific concrete objects are coded in the brain — neuroscientists can identify which object, such as a house or a banana, someone is thinking about from its… read more

A 3-D human ‘organoid’ brain in a dish

Growing a miniature brain from cell scrapings could help diagnose brain disorders in the future, Gattaca-style
June 12, 2015

Neurons and supporting cells in the spheroids form layers and organize themselves according to the architecture of the developing human brain and network with each other. (credit: Sergiu Pasca, M.D., Stanford University)

Sergiu Pasca, M.D., of Stanford University and colleagues have developed “human cortical spheroids” — miniature cultured 3-D structures that grow and function much like the cortex of the brain of the person from whom they were derived.

These “organoids” (3-D complexes of cells that function like an organ) buzz with neuronal network activity. Cells talk with each other in circuits, much as they do in our brains.… read more

Researchers demonstrate ‘no-ink’ color printing with nanomaterials

June 11, 2015

Missouri S&T researchers have developed a method to accurately print high-resolution images on nanoscale materials. To demonstrate the process, they printed the Missouri S&T athletic logo (left) at the nanoscale level (right; scale bar: 10 micrometers) (credit: Missouri University of Science and Technology)

Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have developed a “no-ink” color printing process using nanomaterials, with features visible only with the aid of a high-powered electron microscope.

The researchers describe their  printing method in an open-access article in the latest issue of Nature Publishing Group’s Scientific Reports  and illustrate their technique by reproducing the Missouri S&T athletic logo on a nanometer-scale surface.… read more

Low-cost, ‘tunable’ window tintings

June 11, 2015

Window tinting can turn milky for privacy while still allowing 90 percent or more of sunlight to enter. (credit: Courtesy of Tim Zarki, University of Cincinnati)

University of Cincinnati and university and industry partners have developed a technology for tunable window tinting that dynamically adapts for brightness, color temperatures (such as blueish or yellowish light), and opacity (to provide for privacy while allowing 90 percent or more of the light in), adjustable by the user.

According to the researchers, these “smart windows” are would be simple to manufacture, making them affordable for business… read more

First working synthetic immune organ with controllable antibodies

Promises to lead to better understanding of the immune system, develop new therapies, improve testing of new classes of drugs and toxic chemicals
June 11, 2015

When exposed to a foreign agent, such as an immunogenic protein, B cells in lymphoid organs undergo germinal center reactions. The image on the left is an immunized mouse spleen with activated B cells (brown) that produce antibodies. At right, top: a scanning electron micrograph of porous synthetic immune organs that enable rapid proliferation and activation of B cells into antibody-producing cells. At right, bottom: primary B cell viability and distribution is visible 24 hours following encapsulation procedure. (credit: Singh Lab)

Cornell University engineers have created a functional, synthetic immune organoid (a lab-grown ball of cells with some of the features of a normal organ) that produces antibodies. The engineered organ has implications for everything from rapid production of immune therapies to new frontiers in cancer or infectious disease research.

The first-of-its-kind immune organoid was created in the lab of Ankur Singh, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, who applies… read more

IBM researchers develop new technique for integrating ‘III-V’ materials onto silicon wafers

A breakthrough that may allow for an extension to Moore's Law
June 10, 2015

semiconductor integration-ft

A team of IBM researchers in Zurich, Switzerland with support from colleagues in Yorktown Heights, New York has developed a relatively simple, robust and versatile process for growing crystals made from compound semiconductor materials. The new method will allow the materials to be integrated onto silicon wafers — an important step toward making future computer chips that will allow integrated circuits to continue shrinking in size and cost,… read more

A critical step to ultra-high-speed all-optical data transmission

June 10, 2015

crystal junctions written inside glass-ft

Researchers from Lehigh University, Japan, and Canada have advanced a step closer to the dream of all-optical data transmission by building and demonstrating what they call the “world’s first fully functioning single-crystal waveguide in glass.”

In an open-access article published in Scientific Reports, a Nature publication, the group said it had employed ultrafast femtosecond lasers to produce a three-dimensional single crystal capable of guiding light waves through… read more

Implantable brain electronics is here

Invented by Harvard and Chinese scientists, the new method could treat neurodegenerative disorders and paralysis
June 10, 2015

Bright-field image showing the mesh electronics being injected through sub-100 micrometer inner diameter glass needle into aqueous solution. (credit: Lieber Research Group, Harvard University)

In a world first,  U.S. and Chinese scientists have developed a method to inject microelectronic devices such as wires and transistors directly into the brain (or other body parts) to measure or stimulate neural activity. The new method could lead to sophisticated new ways to treat conditions ranging from neurodegenerative disorders to paralysis.

Developed by researchers in Charles Lieber’s lab at Harvard University and the National Center for… read more

Real Jurassic World not far from reality?

June 9, 2015


Jurassic World, the fourth installment in the successful film series, in theaters June 12, will take viewers back to a world in which dinosaurs have been revived.

It’s not just be a movie, says Andrew Torrance, professor at the University of Kansas School of Law. We are close to “de-extinction” — reviving extinct creatures, he suggests.

While dinosaur fossils are too old and… read more

Virtual-reality display allows stroke patients to spontaneously recover use of paralyzed arm

June 9, 2015

stroke recovery

In a clinical study, Spanish researchers have used a Microsoft Kinect to help stroke patients increase their ability to use a paralyzed arm.

Stroke patients with “hemiparesis” —- reduced muscle strength on one side of the body — often under-use their affected limbs even though they still have some motor function. A long period of non-use of the affected “paretic” limb can lead to further loss of… read more

Your entire viral infection history from a single drop of blood

June 8, 2015


New technology called called VirScan developed by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researchers makes it possible to test for current and past infections with any known human virus by analyzing a single drop of a person’s blood.

With VirScan, scientists can run a single test to determine which viruses have infected an individual, rather than limiting their analysis to particular viruses. That unbiased approach could uncover unexpected… read more

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