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A hidden genetic code for better designer genes

How rare "words" in bacterial genes boost protein production
October 1, 2013


Scientists routinely seek to reprogram bacteria to produce proteins for drugs, biofuels and more, but they have struggled to get those bacteria to follow orders.

A hidden feature of the genetic code, it turns out, could achieve that.  The feature controls how much of the desired protein bacteria produce, a team from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University reported in… read more

NASA wants investigations for a Mars 2020 rover

October 1, 2013


NASA has announced an open competition for the planetary community to submit proposals for the science and exploration technology instruments that would be carried aboard the agency’s next Mars rover, scheduled for launch in July/August of 2020.

The Mars 2020 rover will explore and assess Mars as a potential habitat for life, search for signs of past life, collect carefully selected samples for possible future… read more

NASA space telescopes find patchy clouds on exotic world

October 1, 2013


Astronomers using data from NASA’s Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes have created the first cloud map of a planet beyond our solar system: a sizzling, Jupiter-like world known as Kepler-7b.

The planet is marked by high clouds in the west and clear skies in the east. Previous studies from Spitzer have resulted in temperature maps of planets orbiting other stars, but this is the… read more

Human on a chip

October 1, 2013


Army scientists at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) and academic collaborators are conducting research on organoids (small swatches of human tissue) on microchips.

The “human on a chip” research focuses on in vitro human organ constructs (for the heart, liver, lung and the circulatory system) in communication with each other. The goal is to assess effectiveness and toxicity of drugs in a way that is… read more

How to make ceramics that bend without breaking

New materials developed at MIT could lead to actuators on a chip and self-deploying medical devices
October 1, 2013

When subjected to a load, the molecular structure of the ceramic material studied by the MIT-Singapore team deforms rather than cracking. When heated, it then returns to its original shape. Though they have the same chemical composition, the two molecular configurations correspond to different natural minerals, called austenite and martensite. GRAPHIC: LAI ET AL

Ceramics tend to crack under stress. But researchers from MIT and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have developed a way of making minuscule flexible ceramic objects that also have a “memory” for shape (when bent and then heated, they return to their original shapes).

The surprising discovery is reported this week in the journal Science, in a paper by MIT graduate student Alan Lai, professor… read more

Can DARPA spark a DIY brain-scanning movement?

September 30, 2013


A working prototype of a low-cost electroencephalography device funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) made its debut in New York this weekend, the first step in the agency’s effort to jumpstart a do-it-yourself revolution in neuroscience, The Verge reports.

Dr. Bill Casebeer, a DARPA program manager, is hoping to spark a neuroscience fad within the maker movement. His goal is to return to… read more

Radar technology that can detect heartbeats in rubble

September 30, 2013


A new radar-based technology named Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) can detect a heartbeat of a human buried beneath 30 feet (9 meters) of crushed material

Developed  by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it can also detect people hidden behind 20 feet (6 meters) of solid concrete, and from a distance of 100… read more

Ivanpah solar electric generating system connects to grid

September 30, 2013

ivanpah featured

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California’s Mojave Desert produced its first output of energy when the first of three towers was synchronized last week to the power grid for the first time.

Power generated from Ivanpah will first go to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), followed by Southern California Edison in the coming months.

Ivanpah is the largest solar thermal plant in the… read more

NSA tracking/graphing social-network connections of Americans

September 29, 2013

NSA diagram

Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials, an investigation by The New York Times has revealed.

A top-secret

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Accelerator on a chip

Could spawn new generations of smaller, less expensive devices for science and medicine say Stanford, SLAC researchers
September 28, 2013

The nanostructured glass chip is smaller than a grain of rice (credit: Stanford University)

In an advance that could dramatically shrink particle accelerators for science and medicine, researchers used a laser to accelerate electrons at a rate 10 times higher than conventional technology in a nanostructured glass chip just .5 millimeters long.

The achievement was reported in the journal Nature by a team including scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University.… read more

Dental implants that heal faster and fight infection

Self-assembled nanotube coating could significantly improve healing following dental implant surgery
September 28, 2013

This is a bone cell anchoring itself to a surface of titanium dioxide nanotubes. Because osteoblasts readily adhere to this novel surface, dental implants coated with TiO2 nanotubes could significantly improve healing following dental implant surgery. Credit: Tolou Shokuhfar

Michigan Technological University researchers have developed a way to use self-assembled titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanotubes to lower the rate of dental-implant failures.

Dental implants are posts, usually made of titanium, that are surgically placed into the jawbone and topped with artificial teeth.

While most dental implants are successful, a small percentage fail and either fall out or must be removed.

“There are two… read more

Google announces new Knowledge Graph features

September 27, 2013

Filter tool (credit: Google)

Google announced new Knowledge-Graph features Thursday in celebration of its fifteenth birthday.

Comparisons and filters

“We keep expanding features of Knowledge Graph so it can answer more questions — even those that don’t have a simple answer,” said Amit Singhal, SVP, Google Search.

“Let’s say you want to get your daughter excited about a visit to the Met. You can pull up your… read more

Water discovered on Mars

September 27, 2013

The Sample Analysis at Mars instrument suite found water in the dust, dirt and fine soil from the Rocknest site on Mars. (This file photo shows trenches Curiosity dug in October 2012.) (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The first scoop of soil analyzed by the analytical suite in NASA’s Curiosity rover reveals that fine materials on the surface of Mars contain several percent water by weight.

The results were published today in Science as one article in a five-paper special section on the Curiosity mission.

“One of the most exciting results from this very first solid sample ingested by Curiosity is the high… read more

Nanoparticle vaccine offers better protection

Could help protect against influenza and other respiratory viruses, or prevent sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV
September 27, 2013

Cryoelectron microscope image of the nanoparticles developed by MIT researchers to deliver vaccines to mucosal surfaces.<br />

MIT engineers have developed a new type of nanoparticle that protects a vaccine long enough to generate a strong immune response in mucosal surfaces far from the vaccination site, such as the gastrointestinal and reproductive tracts, as well as in the lungs.

Such vaccines could help protect against influenza and other respiratory viruses, or prevent sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, herpes simplex virus and… read more

Densest array of carbon nanotubes grown to date

New technique could one day help improve the performance of microelectronics devices
September 27, 2013


Cambridge University researchers have devised a simple technique to increase the density of carbon nanotube forests grown on conductive supports by about five times over previous methods.

Such high-density nanotubes might one day replace some metal electronic components, such as interconnects, leading to faster devices.

Carbon nanotubes’ outstanding mechanical, electrical and thermal properties make them an alluring material to electronics manufacturers. However, until recently scientists believed… read more

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