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Ten times more throughput on optic fibers

December 9, 2013


EPFL scientists have shown how to achieve a dramatic increase in the capacity of optical fibers by reducing the amount of space required between the pulses of light that transport data.

Optical fibers carry data in the form of pulses of light over distances of thousands of miles at high speeds. But their capacity is limited, because the pulses of light need to be lined up one… read more

An electronic diagnostic pill for detecting early-stage gastric cancer

December 9, 2013

GOB featured

Researchers at Chongqing University in China have adapted capsule endoscopy to allow for detecting tiny quantities of “occult” blood for screening of early-stage gastric cancer.

The data is automatically transmitted to an external monitoring device in real time for diagnosis by a physician.

The non-invasive Gastric Occult Blood (GOB) capsule, which carries inside a detector, power supply, and wireless transmitter, is encased in non-toxic, acid-safe polycarbonate. The device has a… read more

New algorithm finds you, even in untagged photos

December 6, 2013

The location of tags in a images tells us a story. From them, we can extract a tag relativity graph. The graph enables social search by understanding tag relationships. (Credit: University of Toronto)

A new algorithm designed at the University of Toronto could change the way we find photos among the billions on social media sites such as Facebook and Flickr.

Developed by Parham Aarabi, a professor in The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and his former Master’s student Ron Appel, the search tool uses the locations of tagged persons to quantify relationships between them,… read more

Soft microrobots that simulate unicellular water microorganisms

December 6, 2013


Miniaturized robots that could one day function medically inside the human body are being designed by researchers in Trieste and Catalonia.

The robots of the future will be increasingly like biological organisms, with the same “softness” and flexibility as biological tissues, according to Antonio De Simone from SISSA (the International School for Advanced Studies of Trieste) and Marino Arroyo from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, who have… read more

A 1km-high inflatable solar-energy chimney

December 6, 2013


Per Lindstrand, the engineer who broke numerous ballooning records with Richard Branson, is hoping to develop a 1km-tall inflatable chimney that can capture energy from the sun, The Engineer reports.

The tower uses rising air heated by the sun to drive turbines. It could provide an alternative to photovoltaic generation in remote areas of seismic activity where maintenance of power lines or solar panels would be difficult.… read more

How to use mind-controlled robots in manufacturing, medicine

December 6, 2013

robot control via bci

University at Buffalo researchers are developing brain-computer interface (BCI) devices to mentally control robots.

“The technology has practical applications that we’re only beginning to explore,” said Thenkurussi “Kesh” Kesavadas, PhD, UB professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of UB’s Virtual Reality Laboratory. “For example, it could help paraplegic patients to control assistive devices, or it could help factory workers perform advanced… read more

Google’s droids take on Amazon’s drones

Bots vs. blades in the great 2019 shootout to accelerate home deliveries
December 5, 2013

Future Google delivery guy? (credit: SHAFT, Inc.)

Andy Rubin, the Google executive who developed Google’s free Android software, has revealed to The New York Times he is working on a secret Google project to create a new generation of robots.

The goal: improve the efficiency of manufacturing of small electronics — now largely manual — and packing goods in warehouses, and ultimately making home deliveries — perhaps via Google-designed autonomous vehicles.

“Google has recently… read more

NSA tracks about five billion mobile-phone location records every day

December 5, 2013

(Credit: Verizon and NSA)

Based on the Edward Snowden documents, the NSA logs almost five billion mobile phone location records every day around the world via its CO-TRAVELER system, reports the Washington Post — a staggering total of 27 terabytes so far, by one account.

The data comes from tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones. “Sophisticated mathematical… read more

Berkeley Lab researchers achieve nanoscale shape-memory effect

December 5, 2013

This AFM image shows a recoverable phase transformation in a bismuth ferrite film introduced by an applied electric field. The dashed blue line shows the relocation of the phase boundaries.

A research team at Berkeley Lab has discovered a way to introduce a recoverable strain into bismuth ferrite of up to 14 percent on the nanoscale, larger than any shape-memory effect observed in a metal. This discovery opens the door to applications in a wide range of fields, including medical, energy and electronics.

“Our bismuth ferrite not only displayed the champion shape-memory value, it was also far… read more

New compound for slowing the aging process may lead to novel treatments for brain diseases

A step toward development of drugs for diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's
December 5, 2013

Will NT219, a new compound for slowing the aging process, \lead to novel treatments for brain diseases? (Credit:

Researchers at the Hebrew university of Jerusalem have found that TyrNovo’s NT219 compound selectively inhibits the process of aging of the brain from neurodegenerative diseases, without affecting lifespan — a step towards development of future drugs for treating various neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.

These diseases stem from toxic protein aggregation and emerge late in life. The common emergence pattern exhibited by these… read more

Hubble traces subtle signals of water on five distant planets

December 5, 2013

NASA scientists found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant planets orbiting three different stars. All five planets appear to be hazy. This illustration shows a star's light illuminating the atmosphere of a planet.<br />
Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Two teams of scientists have found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant planets.

The presence of atmospheric water was reported previously on a few exoplanets orbiting stars beyond our solar system, but this is the first study to conclusively measure and compare the profiles and intensities of these signatures on multiple worlds.

Using NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope,  they observed five planets —… read more

Memories are ‘geotagged’ with spatial information, researchers find

December 4, 2013

Kahana Videogame Still

Neurons that encode spatial information form “geotags” for specific memories and these geotags are activated immediately before those memories are recalled, a team of neuroscientists from the University of Pennsylvania and Freiburg University has discovered.

They used a video game in which people navigate through a virtual town delivering objects to specific locations.

“These findings provide the first direct neural evidence for the idea that the… read more

A DNA nanocage for transporting drugs in the body

December 4, 2013

Jagger figure 1

A method for developing a “nanocage” — which may eventually enable transport of medications in the body to target diseased cells — has been developed by researchers at Aarhus University and colleagues in Italy and the U.S.

Using DNA self-assembly, the researchers designed eight unique DNA molecules from the body’s own natural DNA molecules. When these DNA molecules are mixed together, they spontaneously aggregate in… read more

A new process for producing synthetic gasoline based on carbon nanofibers

December 4, 2013

carbon nanofibers featured

A chemical system developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago can efficiently perform the first step in the process of creating synthetic gasoline (syngas) and other energy-rich products out of carbon dioxide.

The key to the new process is a novel “co-catalyst” system using inexpensive, easy-to-fabricate carbon-based nanofiber materials that efficiently convert carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide, a useful starting material for synthesizing fuels. The… read more

Combining antennas with solar panels for high efficiency, low weight and volume

December 3, 2013

antenna-solar cell

Researchers at EPFL have managed to combine telecommunication antennas and solar cells to work together with unprecedented efficiency.

Traditionally, antennas and solar cells have never worked well together, as they have to function independently of each other in order to avoid interference. This has an impact on the weight and size of satellites — the surface area has to be large enough for both antenna systems, which… read more

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