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Offshore wind farms could tame hurricanes before they reach land, Stanford-led study says

Wind farm could reduce peak hurricane wind speeds by up to 92 mph and decrease storm surge by up to 79 percent
February 26, 2014

Offshore wind farm (credit: Seimens)

Computer simulations by Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson have shown that offshore wind farms with thousands of wind turbines could have sapped the power of three real-life hurricanes, significantly decreasing their winds and accompanying storm surge, and possibly preventing billions of dollars in damages.

For the past 24 years,  Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, has been developing a complex computer model… read more

Nanopatterned natural biological scaffold for stem cells may allow for softer engineered tissues

February 26, 2014


Feng Zhao of Michigan Technological University (MTU) has persuaded fibroblasts — cells that make up the extracellular matrix in the body — to make a well-organized nanopatterned scaffold (support structure). This discovery could have major implications for growing engineered tissue to repair or replace virtually any part of our bodies.

In all multicellular organisms, including people, cells make their own extracellular matrix, a… read more

Researchers hijack cancer migration mechanism to ‘move’ brain tumors

February 25, 2014


One factor that makes glioblastoma cancers so difficult to treat is that malignant cells from the tumors spread throughout the brain by following nerve fibers and blood vessels to invade new locations.

Now, Georgia Tech and Emory University researchers have learned to hijack this migratory mechanism, turning it against the cancer by using a film of nanofibers to lure tumor cells away.

Instead of invading new… read more

New wireless tech may radically transform mobile video streaming

February 25, 2014

pCell users will have 100 percent unshared access to high-speed mobile communications, says Perlman (credit: Artemis)

Entrepreneur Steve Perlman has demonstrated a new wireless technology called pcell that he says will facilitate ubiquitous broadband mobile connections, enabling an unlimited number of devices to share the same spectrum simultaneously, Venturebeat reports.

At Columbia University, he showed eight iPhones streaming HD video sharing just 5 MHz of spectrum.

His Artemis Networks startup plans to begin installing pWaves, its little pCell base stations,… read more

Graphene found to efficiently absorb radio waves

February 25, 2014

Graphene is an atomic-scale honeycomb lattice made of carbon atoms (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Add “secure wireless communications” to the growing list of applications for graphene, according to scientists at Queen Mary University of London and the Cambridge Graphene Centre.

Publishing in the journal Scientific Reports (open access), the scientists demonstrated that stacked graphene layers increased the absorption of millimeter waves by 90 per cent over a wide bandwidth (125 — 165 GHz, which could be extended down to microwave frequencies)… read more

Will plug-in electric cars crash the electric grid?

February 25, 2014


The growing number of plug-in electric cars — more than 96,000 bought in 2013 — may put a lot of new strain on the nation’s aging electrical distribution systems, like transformers and underground cables, especially at times of peak demand, according to University of Vermont (UVM) scientists.

So they have created a novel solution, which they report on in the forthcoming March issue of IEEE Transactions onread more

Rice’s carbon nanotube fibers outperform copper

Ideal material for lightweight power transmission in systems where weight is a significant factor, like aerospace applications
February 24, 2014


On a pound-per-pound basis, carbon nanotube-based fibers invented at Rice University have the capacity to carry four times as much electrical current than copper cables of the same mass, according to new research.

While individual nanotubes are capable of transmitting nearly 1,000 times more current than copper, the same tubes coalesced into a fiber using other construction methods fail long before reaching that capacity.

But a… read more

Single-chip device to provide real-time ultrasonic 3D images from inside the heart and blood vessels

February 24, 2014

A single-chip catheter-based device that would provide forward-looking, real-time, three-dimensional imaging from inside the heart, coronary arteries and peripheral blood vessels is shown being tested (credit: Georgia Tech Photo, Rob Felt)

The technology for a device that would provide real-time 3D imaging from inside the heart, coronary arteries, and peripheral blood vessels has been developed by Georgia Institute of Technology researchers.

With its volumetric imaging, the new device could better guide surgeons working in the heart and allow more of patients’ clogged arteries to be cleared without major surgery.

The device integrates ultrasound transducers with processing electronics… read more

Researchers create powerful muscles from fishing line, sewing thread

Thermal-powered technology could be used for superhuman exoskeletons, realistic humanoid robot facial expressions, adjustable clothing, temperature-sensitive window control
February 24, 2014

Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have created artificial muscles by twisting and coiling ordinary fishing line (credit: University of Texas at Dallas)

Ordinary fishing line and sewing thread can be cheaply converted to powerful artificial muscles, an international team led by The University of Texas at Dallas has discovered.

The new muscles can lift 100 times more weight and generate 100 times higher mechanical power than a human muscle of the same length and weight. Per weight, they can generate 7.1 horsepower per kilogram, about the same mechanical power… read more

Brain signals from a primate directly move paralyzed limbs in another primate ‘avatar’

February 24, 2014

Neural activity signals recorded from pre-motor neurons (top) are decoded and played back to control limb movements in a functionally paralyzed primate avatar (bottom) --- a step toward making brain-machine interfaces for paralyzed humans to control their own limbs using their brain activity alone (illustration adapted) (credit: Maryam M. Shanechi et al./Nature Communications)

Taking brain-machine interfaces (BMI) to the next level, new research may help paralyzed people move their own limb just by thinking about it.

Previous research has been limited to controlling external devices, such as robots or synthetic avatar arms.

In a paper published online Feb. 18 in Nature Communications, Maryam Shanechi, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Cornell University, working with Ziv Williams,… read more

A new micro-robotic technique for 3D-printing tissues

February 21, 2014

Two-dimensional micro-robotic coding of material composition

A new magnetic micro-robotic technique for assembling components of the complex materials used in tissue engineering* and 3D printing of cell materials has been developed by Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Carnegie Mellon University.

Described in Nature Communications, the technique allows for precise construction of individual cell-encapsulating hydrogels (such as cell blocks).

Described in the Jan. 28, 2014, issue of Nature Communicationsthe research… read more

How to catch a derelict satellite

February 21, 2014

Netting a derelict satellite (artist impression) (credit: ESA)

A future ESA mission called e.DeOrbit plans to capture derelict satellites adrift in orbit, part of ESA’s Clean Space initiative — an effort to control space debris to reduce the environmental impact of the space industry on Earth and space alike.

Risks of space junk

Decades of launches have left Earth surrounded by a halo of space junk: more than 17 000 trackable objects larger than… read more

Altering stem cells to make growth factors needed for replacement tissue inside the body

February 21, 2014


By combining a synthetic scaffolding material with gene delivery techniques to direct stem cells into becoming new cartilage, Duke University researchers are getting closer to being able to generate replacement cartilage where it’s needed in the body.

Performing tissue repair with stem cells typically requires applying copious amounts of growth factor proteins — a task that is very expensive and becomes challenging once the developing material is… read more

New algorithm arranges pictures artistically

Should we add graphic designers and art curators to the list of jobs that will be replaced by future computers?
February 21, 2014


In an Oxford study last year on jobs being replaced by computerization, the authors recommended that workers “will have to acquire creative and social skills.” The movie Her suggests some “social” skills may soon not be needed, and a new image-design algorithm suggests some “creative” skills won’t be either.

The algorithm, developed by Max Planck Institute for Informatics researchers and running on a computer’s GPU (for… read more

A light switch for pain

February 20, 2014


A team of Bio-X researchers at Stanford has developed mice whose sensitivity to pain can be dialed up or down simply by shining light on their paws.

The research could help scientists understand and eventually treat chronic pain in humans.

The mice in Scott Delp’s lab, unlike their human counterparts, can get pain relief  from the glow of a yellow light.

“This is an entirely… read more

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