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How neurons ‘decide’ to create axons or dendrites

Finding could help improve therapies for spinal injuries and neurodegenerative diseases
August 16, 2013

Nerve cells use their dendrites and axons to connect with each other and form neural networks. (Photo: Sara Parker)

University of Arizona scientists have discovered an unknown mechanism that establishes polarity in developing nerve cells: the length of a signaling molecule.

Understanding how nerve cells make connections is an important step in developing cures for nerve damage resulting from spinal cord injuries or neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
They found that embryonic nerve cells manufacture a signaling enzyme called Atypical Protein Kinase C (aPKC)… read more

Watch International Mars Society Convention via live webcast

August 15, 2013


The Mars Society is hosting its 16th Annual International Mars Society Convention from August 15–18 at the University of Colorado in Boulder. All plenary talks are being broadcast live on the Internet via a special video webcast.

Convention program schedule (times listed are MDT).

Virus-derived particles target blood cancer

Sixty percent of mouse models of leukemia cured
August 15, 2013

Treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)-blast crisis patient samples with NRRPs. (a) Brightfield microscopy images of two CML-blast crisis patient samples treated with PBS or NRRPs.

Ottawa researchers have developed unique virus-derived particles that can kill human blood cancer cells in the laboratory and eradicate the disease in mice, with few side effects.

The study is published in Blood Cancer Journal (open access) by co-senior authors Drs. David Conrad and John Bell of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and the University of Ottawa (uOttawa).

Bell and his colleagues have… read more

Google brings Google Now info on your flights, reservations, etc. to Google Search

August 15, 2013


Google is making info on your flights, reservations, appointments, and more available to you (privately) in Google Search if the info in your Gmail, Google Calendar, or Google+.

“Over the next several days, we’ll be rolling this out to all U.S., English-speaking users on desktop, tablet and smartphone, with voice search,” according to the Official Google Blog.

Google has been offering this kind of info in… read more

Electrical signatures of consciousness in the dying brain

Higher levels of brain activity than in waking state
August 15, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

A University of Michigan animal study shows that shortly after clinical death, in which the heart stops beating and blood stops flowing to the brain, rats display brain activity patterns characteristic of conscious perception.

The “near-death experience” (NDE) reported by cardiac arrest survivors worldwide may be grounded in science, according to research at the University of Michigan Health System.

“This study, performed in… read more

Battery-free short-range wireless communication between devices

Device harvests and reflects energy from ambient TV and cellular transmissions
August 14, 2013

Researchers demonstrate how one payment card can transfer funds to another card by leveraging the existing wireless signals around them. Ambient RF signals are both the power source and the communication medium.

University of Washington engineers have created a new “ambient backscatter” wireless communication scheme that allows two devices to communicate with each other by reflecting ambient TV and cellular transmissions — batteries not required.

The researchers built small, battery-free devices with antennas that can detect, harness and reflect one of the ambient radio-frequency (RF) signals, which then is picked up by other similar devices.

“Recent work… read more

Bacterial evolution offers clues to tradeoffs in financial investments

August 14, 2013


Scientists have found that bacteria have the potential to teach valuable investment lessons.

The research, published in the journal Ecology Letters, takes advantage of the fact that bacteria, like humans, have limited resources and are constantly faced with investment decisions.

Bacteria though are successful with their investments and have colonized every inch of the surface of our planet.

The researchers, from the Universities of Exeterread more

A ‘molecular flashlight’ that illuminates brain tumors in mice

August 14, 2013

illuminates mouse medulloblastoma (credit: Sarah J. Moore et al./PNAS)

In a breakthrough that could have wide-ranging applications in molecular medicine, Stanford University researchers have created a bioengineered peptide that enables imaging of medulloblastomas, among the most devastating of malignant childhood brain tumors, in lab mice.

The researchers altered the amino acid sequence of a cystine knot peptide — or knottin — derived from the seeds of the squirting cucumber, a plant native to Europe, North Africa… read more

Scientists watch live brain-cell circuits fire

Promising new tool for mapping brain-cell activity
August 14, 2013


A new class of genetically engineered proteins called ArcLight can be used to watch electrical activity in individual brain cells in live brains, Yale University scientists have demonstrated.

These proteins may be a promising new tool for mapping brain-cell activity and for studying how neurological disorders disrupt normal neuron signaling.  Understanding brain cell activity is a high priority of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

ArcLight… read more

Glowing green rabbits demonstrate effectiveness of genetic manipulation

August 14, 2013


Using an active transgenesis technique founded by medical researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa, scientists in Turkey have produced glowing green rabbits when exposed to ultraviolet light.

The glowing effect is the result of a fluorescent protein from jellyfish DNA, which was injected into the mother rabbit’s embryo in the lab.

The altered embryos were re-inserted into the mother rabbit, and when the litter… read more

New process allows for creation of complex silicon nanostructures

Salt absorbs heat to prevent collapse
August 14, 2013

This silicon nanostructure was created using a new process developed at Oregon State University (credit: Oregon State University)

Chemists at Oregon State University have identified a compound that could significantly reduce the cost and potentially enable mass commercial production of silicon nanostructures — materials that have huge potential in everything from electronics to biomedicine and energy storage: sodium chloride (table salt).

By melting and absorbing heat at a critical moment during a “magnesiothermic reaction” (one using magnesium at an elevated temperature), the… read more

When will a computer pass the Turing Test?

An interview with Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google
August 14, 2013


“Many people in AI believe that we’re close to [a computer passing the Turing Test] within the next five years,” said Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google, speaking at The Aspen Institute on July 16, 2013.

In a wide-ranging interview by writer/biographer Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, Schmidt covered topics ranging from future user interfaces (“the next UI is AI”) to phone-based medical… read more

Musk reveals Hyperloop concept

August 13, 2013

Hyperloop passenger transport

Elon Musk has published a blog post detailing the Hyperloop concept; a solar-powered, elevated transit system that could take passengers and cars from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes.

Here are the core designs. Bloomberg has further details.

Fukushima plant spilling 300 tons of radioactive water every day into the sea since 2011

August 13, 2013

Mass contamination from major radiation exposure events, such as the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, require prompt treatment in the form of a pill, such as the treatment being developed at Berkeley Lab (credit: satellite image from Digital Globe)

Workers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant have told the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) that contaminated water has most likely been seeping into the sea since the disaster two-and-a-half years ago.

They do not have much faith in Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) ability to handle the situation and they claim another accident is inevitable.

Japan’s nuclear watchdog has described the leaks as a “state of… read more

Nanowires that glow under mechanical pressure

Could be used for collecting signatures and fingerprints, in biological imaging and micro-electromechanical (MEMS) systems, and ultimately for new human-machine interfaces
August 13, 2013

glowing nanowires

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have developed a sensor device using nanowires that glow under mechanical pressure.

The sensor device could provide an artificial sense of touch, offering sensitivity comparable to that of the human skin. It could be used for collecting signatures and fingerprints and in biological imaging and micro-electromechanical (MEMS) systems. Ultimately, it could provide a new approach for human-machine interfaces.

“You… read more

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