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Happy birthday, good Dr. Sacks

July 22, 2013

Oliver Sacks (credit: Andy Mills)

“One of our favorite human beings turns 80 this week. To celebrate, Robert [Krulwich, co-host of Radiolab] asks Oliver Sacks to look back on his career, and explain how thousands of worms and a motorbike accident led to a brilliant writing career.”


More Oliver:

Awakenings: The 1990 movie based on Oliver’s book of the same name.

Theread more

Paper-thin e-skin responds to touch by lighting up

Holds promise for sensory robotics and interactive environments
July 22, 2013


UC Berkeley engineers can help robots or objects become more touchy-feely, literally.

A research team led by Ali Javey, UC Berkeley associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, has created the first user-interactive sensor network on flexible plastic.

The new electronic skin (e-skin), responds to touch by instantly lighting up. The more intense the pressure, the brighter the light it emits.

Addingread more

Ultrasound applied to brain found to elevate mood

Could lead to new treatments for psychological and psychiatric disorders
July 22, 2013

Transcranial ultrasound is applied with gel on the scalp overlying the frontal temporal cortex. The image is shown on the monitor of the LOGIQe device. (Credit: The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center)

University of Arizona researchers have found in a recent study that ultrasound waves applied to specific areas of the brain appear able to alter patients’ moods.

The technique could one day be used to treat conditions such as depression and anxiety.

With research committee and hospital approval, and patient informed consent, Dr. Stuart Hameroff, professor emeritus of the UA’s departments of … read more

Inner speech speaks volumes about the brain

July 22, 2013


Do you talk to yourself? If so, researcher Mark Scott of the University of British Columbia can help. He’s found evidence that a brain signal called corollary discharge plays an important role in these experiences of internal speech.

This is a signal that helps us distinguish the sensory experiences we produce ourselves from those produced by external stimuli.

It’s a kind of predictive signal generated by the… read more

Graphene ‘onion rings’ grown bottom up — atom by atom

Potential for low-voltage transistors, lithium batteries
July 22, 2013

This set of hexagonal graphene “onion rings” was grown at Rice University. The rings represent the first example of graphene nanoribbons grown from the bottom up – that is, atom by atom – via chemical vapor deposition. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University)

A Rice University lab has grown ‘bottom-up’ graphene nanoribbons for the first time.

These concentric hexagons, grown in a furnace, represent the first time anyone has synthesized graphene nanoribbons on metal from the bottom up — atom by atom.

As seen under a microscope, the layers brought onions to mind, said Rice chemist James Tour, until a colleague suggested flat… read more

Nano drug crosses blood-brain tumor barrier, targets brain tumors

Potential treatment for Glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer
July 22, 2013

(credit: Huilin Shao et al./Nature Medicine)

An experimental drug called SapC-DOPS, in early development for aggressive brain tumors, can cross the blood-brain barrier.

There, it can kill tumor cells and block the growth of tumor blood vessels, according to a study led by researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center at Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

The laboratory and… read more

How to feel phantom objects floating in air

July 21, 2013


A groundbreaking project called Aireal lets you feel virtual objects, Fast Company reports.

Aireal is the result of research by University of Illinois PhD student Rajinder Sodhi and Disney Reseach’s Ivan Poupyrev. When set by your television or connected to an iPad, this diminutive machine will puff air rings that allow you to actually feel objects and textures in… read more

Fast time and the aging mind

July 21, 2013


The apparent velocity of time is a big fat cognitive illusion and ,,, there may be a way to slow the velocity of our later lives, Richard A. Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psycho-pharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College, writes in The New York Times. …

If you want time to slow down, become a student again.… read more

Companies discover untapped brain power: autistics

July 21, 2013


Companies are discovering the untapped brain power of a group long thought ill suited to the office: adults on the autistic spectrum. Joshua Kendall, author of America’s Obsessives, reports at The Daily Beast on one Danish man’s mission to employ the seemingly unemployable — and successful famous “obsessives”* (think Jefferson and Heinz) in American history.

While the 1% of the population with ASDs may have considerable difficulty navigating… read more

Education online: the virtual lab

July 21, 2013


Universities around the world are rushing to partner with the major MOOC companies in a move that many believe could revolutionize higher education, Nature News reports.

But for many people working in education, MOOCs do not yet take the revolution far enough. Practical skills have to be acquired through experience. They require the hands-on, problem-solving activities that have traditionally been the domain of laboratory courses,… read more

A faster Internet via machine learning

July 21, 2013


MIT researchers have developed a computer system called Remy that automatically generates TCP congestion-control algorithms that yield transmission rates two to three times as high as those designed by humans.

TCP (transmission control protocol) is a core protocol governing the Internet that prevents network congestion by regulating the rate at which computers send data, among other functions.


AI tutor, college degrees planned for Udacity online courses: Sebastian Thrun

July 20, 2013

Sebastian Thrun

Udacity cofounder and CEO Sebastian Thrun says Udacity is planning to develop AI “that sits there, watches you learn, and helps you pick the right learning venue or task, so you’re more effective and have more pleasure,” he told MIT Technology Review. It should be available in at least a year, he said.

Thrun also said San Jose State University is offering coreread more

Daydreaming simulated by computer model

July 19, 2013


Scientists have created a virtual model of the brain that daydreams like humans do.

Researchers created the computer model based on the dynamics of brain cells and the many connections those cells make with their neighbors and with cells in other brain regions.

They hope the model will help them understand why certain portions of the brain work together when a person daydreams or is mentally… read more

An injectable ‘smart sponge’ for controlled drug delivery

July 19, 2013


Researchers have developed a drug delivery technique for diabetes treatment in which a sponge-like material surrounds an insulin core.

The sponge expands and contracts in response to blood sugar levels to release insulin as needed. The technique could also be used for targeted drug delivery to cancer cells.

“We wanted to mimic the function of healthy beta-cells, which produce insulin and control its release in a… read more

Mathematical models target disease with drug choice based on your DNA

July 19, 2013

Kinetic modeling2

Medicines that are personally tailored to your DNA are becoming a reality, thanks to the work of U.S. and Chinese scientists who developed statistical models to predict which drug is best for a specific individual with a specific disease.

“Traditional medicine doesn’t consider mechanistic drug response,” said Rongling Wu, director of the Center for Statistical Genetics and professor of public health sciences within the division of biostatistics and… read more

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