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Humans can distinguish at least one trillion different odors

March 25, 2014

Discriminable sensory qualities


Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) scientists  have tested the olfactory capacity of human volunteers and found that humans are capable of discriminating at least one trillion different odors — not just 10,000 different odors, a  number first proposed decades ago and not backed by data.

HHMI investigator Leslie Vosshall, who studies olfaction at the Rockefeller University, and Andreas Keller, a senior… read more

Holographic imaging for rapidly sorting stem cells, cancer cells

New microscopy technique captures 3-D images of cells as they flow through a microfluidic channel
March 25, 2014


MIT scientists have developed a way to image cells (without fluorescent markers or other labels) as they flow through a tiny microfluidic channel for sorting.

This is an important step toward cell-sorting systems that could help scientists separate stem cells at varying stages of development, or to distinguish healthy cells from cancerous cells, the scientists say.

Other cell-sorting methods require adding a fluorescent molecule that highlights… read more

Electric ‘thinking cap’ can help you learn faster, better

March 25, 2014


In a new study published in the Journal of NeuroscienceVanderbilt psychologists  show that it is possible to learn through the application of a mild electrical current to the brain, and that this effect can be enhanced or depressed depending on the direction of the current.

The medial-frontal cortex is believed to be the part of the brain responsible for the instinctive “Oops!” response we have when we… read more

Anti-counterfeit patterns made from nanowires are ‘nearly impossible’ to replicate

March 24, 2014

nanoscale fingerprint

Nanoscale unique patterns* made from tiny, randomly scattered silver nanowires  could authenticate goods, dealing with the growing problem of counterfeiting, say South Korea researchers.

The patterns are made by randomly dumping 20 to 30 individual nanowires, each with a diameter of about 70 nanometers and an average length of 10 to 50 microns, onto a thin plastic film, and could be used to tag a variety of goods from electronics and… read more

How to explode brain-cancer cells

May also work for other cancers, researchers say
March 23, 2014

delivering vesicles

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University have discovered that a substance called Vacquinol-1 makes cells from glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of brain tumor, literally explode.

When mice were given the substance, which can be given in tablet form, tumor growth was reversed and survival was prolonged. The findings are published in the journal Cell.

The established treatments for glioblastoma are… read more

A DIY medical diagnosis app

March 23, 2014

colorimetric test featured

Colorimetrix, a new app developed by University of Cambridge researchers, turns a smartphone into a portable medical diagnostic device.

The app could make monitoring conditions such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, diabetes, kidney disease, and urinary tract infections clearer and easier for both patients and doctors, and could eventually be used to slow or limit the spread of pandemics in the developing world, the researchers say.… read more

Why Earth remains capable of supporting life despite CO2 greenhouse gas emissions

It's all in the rocks
March 23, 2014


“Fresh” rock — nature’s atmospheric carbon dioxide regulator — explains why the Earth has become neither sweltering like Venus nor frigid like Mars. So say researchers from USC and Nanjing University in China.

Scientists have long known that “fresh” rock pushed to the surface via mountain formation effectively acts as a kind of sponge, soaking up the greenhouse gas CO2.

Left unchecked, however, that process would… read more

Android coming to wearables — watches first

March 22, 2014

Moto 360 Android Wear-powered watch (credit: Motorola)

Google has announced Android Wear, a project that extends Android to wearables, starting with two watches, both due out this Summer: Motorola’s Moto 360 and LG’s G Watch.

Android Wear will show you info from the wide variety of Android apps, such as messages, social apps, chats, notifications, health and fitness, music playlists, and videos.

It will also enable Google Now functions… read more

Microplasma transistors for extreme environments, like nuclear reactors

March 21, 2014


University of Utah electrical engineers fabricated the smallest plasma transistors that can withstand the high temperatures and ionizing radiation found in a nuclear reactor.

Such transistors someday might enable smartphones that take and collect medical X-rays on a battlefield, and devices to measure air quality in real time.

“These plasma-based electronics can be used to control and guide robots to conduct tasks inside the nuclear reactor,”… read more

Fierce solar magnetic storm barely missed Earth in 2012

"Perfect storm" could have knocked out the electrical grid and disabled satellites and GPS, costing trillions worldwide
March 21, 2014


According to University of California, Berkeley, and Chinese researchers, a rapid succession of coronal mass ejections — the most intense eruptions on the sun — sent a pulse of magnetized plasma barreling into space and through Earth’s orbit.

Had the eruption come nine days earlier, when the ignition spot on the solar surface was aimed at Earth, it would have hit the planet, potentially wreaking… read more

Singapore scientists create stem cells from a drop of blood

DIY finger prick technique opens door for extensive stem cell banking
March 21, 2014

Schematic on finger-prick blood isolation and treatment for cellular reprogramming (credit: Loh Yuin Han, Jonathan, IMCB)

Scientists at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR) Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) have developed a method to generate human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) from a single drop of finger-pricked blood.

The method also enables donors to collect their own blood samples, which they can then send to a laboratory for further processing. The easy access to blood samples using the new… read more

Graphene superconducting property discovered

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory see electrons dancing in superconducting material, setting a foundation for future explorations
March 21, 2014


Scientists at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have discovered how graphene  — a single layer of carbon atoms with great promise for future electronics — is superconducting in a graphene-calcium compound, meaning that graphene would carry electricity with 100 percent efficiency.

While it’s been known for nearly a decade that this combined material is superconducting, the new study offers the first… read more

Introducing Project Morpheus

March 20, 2014

Sony's Project Morpheus (credit: Sony)

Throwing down a challenge to the Oculus Rift virtual reality head-mounted display, Shu Yoshida, President, SCE Worldwide Studios, introduced at GDC 2014 Project Morpheus, a  prototype virtual reality (VR) system that works with PS4 and could radically change gaming.

Yoshida said Sony’s Project Morpheus features a head-mounted display with 1080p HD resolution and a 90 degree field of… read more

Doping carbon-nanotube circuits for more reliable, faster, and power-efficient flexible devices

Stanford engineers invent a process to "dope" carbon filaments to improve their electronic performance, paving the way to better bendable digital devices
March 20, 2014


Stanford University team has developed a process to create flexible chips using carbon nanotubes (CNTs) that can tolerate electrical noise (rapid fluctuations in voltage).

In principle, CNTs should be ideal for making flexible electronic circuitry. These ultra-thin carbon filaments have the physical strength to take the wear and tear of bending, and the electrical conductivity to perform any electronic task. But flexible CNTs circuits didn’t have the… read more

A stretchable antenna for wearable health monitoring

March 20, 2014


North Carolina State University researchers have developed a stretchable antenna that can be incorporated into wearable technologies, such as health diagnostic and monitoring devices.

Wearable systems can be subject to a variety of stresses as patients move around, so the researchers wanted to develop an antenna that could be stretched, rolled, or twisted and always return to its original shape.

To create an appropriately resilient, effective… read more

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