science + technology news

MIT deep-learning system autonomously learns to identify objects

May 14, 2015

The first layers of a neural network trained to classify scenes seem to be tuned to geometric patterns of increasing complexity, but the higher layers appear to be picking out particular classes of objects (credit: courtesy of the researchers)

MIT researchers have discovered that a deep-learning system designed to recognize and classify scenes has also learned how to recognize individual objects.

Last December, at the Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, MIT researchers announced the compilation of the world’s largest database of images labeled according to scene type, with 7 million entries. By exploiting a machine-learning technique known as “deep learning,” they used… read more

New ‘magnonic’ holographic memory device could improve speech and image recognition

May 14, 2015

magnonic holographic memory ft.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering and the Russian Academy of Sciences have demonstrated a new type of pattern recognition using a “magnonic” holographic memory device, intended to improve hardware for speech and image recognition.

The device is based on patterns of sound and images that are encoded into the phase (timing) of spin waves, which are collective oscillations of… read more

Restoring sensation for people with prosthetic hands

May 14, 2015

The macro-sieve peripheral nerve interface was designed by Moran's lab to stimulate regeneration of the ulnar and median nerves to transmit information back into the central nervous system (credit: Dan Moran, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis)

A team of engineers and researchers at Washington University in St. Louis is developing a device to restore sensory feedback for those qwith upper limb prosthetic devices, allowing people to feel touch, and hot and cold through their prosthetic hands.

If it works, upper-limb amputees who use motorized prosthetic devices would be able to feel various sensations through the prosthetic by stimulating the nerves in the upper… read more

Mediterranean diet plus olive oil or nuts associated with improved cognitive function

May 13, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Supplementing the plant-based Mediterranean diet with antioxidant-rich extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts has been associated with improved cognitive function in a study of older adults in Spain, according to an open-access article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Previous research suggests following a Mediterranean diet may be associated with better cognitive function and a lower risk of dementia. However, the observational studies that have examined these… read more

A 3D-printed mini jet engine that performs at 33,000 RPM

May 13, 2015

Credits: GE Aviation

GE engineers have made a simple proof-of-concept 3D-printed mini jet engine that operates at 33,000 rotations per minute.

The backpack-sized jet engine was built over the course of several years to test the technology’s abilities and to work on a side project together.

“We wanted to see if we could build a little engine that runs almost entirely out of additive manufacturing parts,” says one of the engineers.… read more

A high-performance microbattery that can be built into chips

May 13, 2015

Image of the holographically patterned microbattery (Credit: University of Illinois)

A high-performance 3D microbattery that could be integrated into microchips at production volumes has been developed by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers.

Miniaturizing a battery to fit in a microchip is a major challenge, but it would be important for providing power to microscale devices such as actuators, distributed wireless sensors and transmitters, and portable and implantable medical devices, explained Paul Braun, a professor of … read more

Flexible graphene electrodes embedded in textiles

Allows for wearable electronic devices
May 12, 2015

Photograph of an electric circuit with a LED light, closed with a bent and suspended transparent PP fiber coated with graphene. The visible graphite contacts were only used to define the channel length. (credit: A. I. S. Neves et al./Scientific Reports)

An international team of scientists has developed a new technique to embed transparent, flexible graphene electrodes into fibers commonly used in textiles. The technology makes it possible to create wearable electronic devices, such as clothing containing smartphones and devices for biomedical monitoring and personal security.

The monolayer graphene was grown by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) on copper foil and applied to fibers commonly used by… read more

Powerful new radio telescope array monitors the entire sky 24/7 in real time

Detecting weak radio signals from the time of the births of first stars and galaxies
May 12, 2015

A night-time shot of some of the antennas of the OV-LWA with the center of our galaxy in the background. (Credit: Gregg Hallinan/Caltech)

A new radio telescope array developed by a consortium led by Caltech can simultaneously image the entire sky at radio wavelengths with unmatched speed, helping astronomers to search for objects and phenomena that pulse, flicker, flare, or explode.

The Owens Valley Long Wavelength Array (OV-LWA) is already producing unprecedented videos of the radio sky. Astronomers hope that it will help them piece together a more complete picture of… read more

IBM’s silicon photonics technology aims to speed up cloud and Big Data applications

First fully integrated silicon chip to use high-speed pulses of light instead of slow electrical signals
May 12, 2015

Cassette carrying several hundred chips intended for 100 Gb/s transceivers, diced from wafers fabricated with IBM CMOS Integrated Nano-Photonics Technology. The dense monolithic integration of optical and electrical circuits and the scalable manufacturing process provide a cost-effective silicon photonics interconnect solution, suitable for deployment in cloud servers, datacenters, and supercomputers. (US quarter coin shown for scale.) (credit: IBM)

IBM announced today (May 12) what is says in the first fully integrated silicon chip to use high-speed pulses of light instead of slow electrical signals over wires. That means the chip will be able to move data at rapid speeds and longer distances in future computing systems.

The silicon photonics chip is wavelength-multiplexed, meaning it can transmit multiple wavelengths of light. IBM says they… read more

Electric brain stimulation decreases IQ scores and racial prejudice

May 11, 2015

Electric field modeling of tDCS-ft

In a double-blinded, randomized study, UNC researchers found that the IQ scores of people who underwent tDCS brain stimulation improved markedly less than did the IQ scores of people in the placebo group.

Using a weak electric current in an attempt to boost brainpower or treat conditions has become popular among scientists and do-it-yourselfers, but a new UNC School of Medicine study shows that using the most common form… read more

3D reconstruction of neuronal networks uncovers hidden organizational principles of sensory cortex

Most cortical circuitry interconnects neurons across cortical columns, rather than within
May 11, 2015

Credit: Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience

An international research team has reconstructed anatomically realistic 3D models of cortical columns of the rat brain, providing unprecedented insight into how neurons in the elementary functional units of the sensory cortex called cortical columns are interconnected.

The models suggest that cortical circuitry interconnects most neurons across cortical columns, rather than within and that these “trans-columnar” networks are not uniformly structured: they are highly specialized and integrate… read more

Autonomous underwater vehicle robots get cognitive control

May 11, 2015

Researchers watch underwater footage taken by various AUVs exploring Australia's Scott Reef. (Credit: Courtesy of the researchers)

MIT researchers have developed an autonomous mission-planning system for “autonomous underwater vehicles” (AUVs) that gives these undersea robots “cognitive” capabilities.

Scientists have been deploying increasingly capable underwater robots to map and monitor pockets of the ocean to track the health of fisheries and survey marine habitats and species. But when deploying these AUVs, much of an engineer’s time is spent writing scripts to direct a robot to carry out… read more

A new visualization of the electromagnetic spectrum

May 8, 2015


An infographic created by the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven Lab uses ocean creatures and objects to illustrate the extraordinary range of wavelengths (the inverse of frequencies) in the electromagnetic spectrum — from radio waves to gamma rays — and the lab’s role in research at these wavelengths. (The spectrum actually extends beyond the objects shown here.)

Many of these objects, including the 30-meter blue whale or the… read more

Smarter, cheaper technologies for improved point-of-care medicine in remote areas

May 8, 2015

cell phone test for E.coli

Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have developed new paper and flexible polymer substrates with special sensing devices for rapid and accurate detection of pathogens such as HIV, various bacteria, and CD4+ T lymphocytes.

These novel technologies offer the type of robust, simple, and inexpensive biosensing systems required to provide point-of-care health care in remote areas, where there is minimal diagnostic infrastructure or equipment and a lack of trained… read more

Plugging up leaky graphene

New technique may enable faster, more durable water filters
May 8, 2015

In a two-step process, engineers have successfully sealed leaks in graphene. First, the team fabricated graphene on a copper surface (top left) — a process that can create intrinsic defects in graphene, shown as cracks on the surface. After lifting the graphene and depositing it on a porous surface (top right), the transfer creates further holes and tears. In a first step (bottom left), the team used atomic layer deposition to deposit hafnium (in gray) to seal intrinsic cracks, then plugged the remaining holes (bottom left) with nylon (in red), via interfacial polymerization.

Graphene’s unique properties make it a potentially ideal membrane for water filtration or desalination. but the process of making it into ultrathin membranes creates leaky defects. So MIT engineers and associates have devised a two-step process to repair these leaks.

As shown in the illustration (top left) graphene is fabricated on a copper surface — a process that can create intrinsic defects in graphene. After lifting the graphene and… read more

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