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Are three-person designer babies ethical?

The Hastings Center asks how should parents determine what sort of child they have?
March 17, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

From genetic and genomic testing to new techniques in human assisted reproduction, various technologies are providing parents with more of a say about the children they have and “stirring the pot of designer baby concerns,” writes Thomas H. Murray, President Emeritus of The Hastings Center, in a commentary in Science.

Murray calls for a national conversation about how much discretion would-be parents should have. “Preventing a lethal… read more

Neuroscape Lab visualizes live brain functions using dramatic images

Repurposing fitness and game technologies into targeted brain therapies
March 17, 2014

GlassBrain (credit: UCSF)

UC San Francisco neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, is hoping to paint a fuller picture of what is happening in the minds and bodies of those suffering from brain disease with his new lab, Neuroscape, which bridges the worlds of neuroscience and high-tech.

Gazzaley aims to eliminate the need to immobilize subjects inside big, noisy machines or tether them to computers — making… read more

Could emotion detectors make driving safer?

March 17, 2014

epfl_emotion_recognition_driving

Researchers in EPFL’s Signal Processing 5 Laboratory (LTS5), working with PSA Peugeot Citroën, have developed an emotion detector based on the analysis of facial expressions in a car, using an infrared camera placed behind the steering wheel.

The researchers say they can read facial expressions and identify which of the seven universal emotions a person is feeling: fear, anger, joy, sadness, disgust, surprise, or… read more

Smartphone app reads blood oxygen levels, forewarns of life-threatening pre-eclampsia

$2 million investment for testing in developing world obstetrics
March 14, 2014

The Phone Oximeter - phone and sensor

LionsGate Technologies (LGTmedical), a Vancouver-based social enterprise, has secured its first major financial backers to scale up development of the Phone Oximeter.

This is an app and medical sensor that turns a non-specialist, community-level health worker’s smartphone, tablet computer or laptop into an affordable and simple but sophisticated medical-grade diagnostic tool that is typically only available, in the developing world,  in some hospitals.

The… read more

Nanoscale graphene origami cages set world record for densest hydrogen storage

University of Maryland research already exceeds DOE hydrogen storage goal for 2020
March 14, 2014

Graphene nanocage

University of Maryland researchers have created the world’s highest-density hydrogen storage system, using “graphene origami.” (The stored hydrogen could be used in a fuel cell during peak hours, as system backup, or for portable, transportation, or industrial applications.).

Shuze Zhu and Teng Li, of the Department of Mechanical Engineering found that they can make tiny squares of graphene (the world’s thinnest material, at just one-carbon-atom… read more

Stanford lab launches new privacy-based social network

March 14, 2014

Omlet Chat app (credit: MobiSocial Inc.)

With rising public interest in what developers refer to as the “privacy economy,” researchers from the MobiSocial Lab at the Stanford School of Engineering have announced at SXSW a new type of social network, called Omlet that allows users to control their own personal data.

Omlet “shields users from the monetization of their personal lives by giving them total and unquestioned control of their personal… read more

New type of ‘ultracold’ molecule ideal for quantum computing

March 14, 2014

Experimental setup of a magneto-optical trap (credit: Jan Kriege/Wikimedia Commons)

Purdue University researchers have created a new type of “ultracold” molecule, using lasers to cool atoms to about one thousandth of degree above absolute zero using lasers and then gluing them together, a technology that might be applied to quantum computing, precise sensors, and advanced simulations.

At these temperatures, atoms are brought to a near standstill, making possible new kinds of chemical interactions that are predominantly quantum… read more

A new quantum-cryptography scheme to secure anonymous transactions

March 13, 2014

quantum_atm_artist_small

An international team has demonstrated a form of quantum cryptography that can protect people doing business with others they may not know or trust – a situation encountered often on the Internet and in everyday life — for example, at a bank’s ATM.

“I expect that quantum technologies will gradually become integrated with existing devices such as smartphones, allowing us to do things like identify ourselves securely or generate… read more

A step towards ‘programmable materials’

"Could change the world of mechanics forever"
March 13, 2014

A one-dimensional working model. Each stub has a piezoelectric disc (converts mechanical to electrical energy) and is connected to an external circuit to damp (reduce) a specific resonance frequency. (Credit: A. Bergamini et al./Advanced Materials)

Researchers from Empa and ETH Zurich have developed a prototype of a selective vibration-damping material that they claim “could change the world of mechanics forever” as a step toward “programmable materials.”

Described in the journal Advanced Materials, this “material of the future” can damp mechanical vibrations completely or selectively suppress specific vibration frequencies or ranges of frequencies.

The one-dimensional working model consists of a… read more

3D acoustic cloaking device makes objects undetectable with sound

March 13, 2014

A close up view of the 3D acoustic cloak. The geometry of the plastic sheets and placement of the holes interacts with sound waves to make it appear as if it isn’t there. (Credit: Duke University)

Using a few perforated sheets of plastic and extensive computation, Duke University engineers have demonstrated the world’s first three-dimensional acoustic cloak.

The new device reroutes sound waves to create the impression that both the cloak and anything beneath it are not there.

The acoustic cloaking device works in three dimensions, no matter which direction the sound is coming from or where the observer is located, and holds potential… read more

New research could help make ‘roll-up’ digital screens a reality

March 12, 2014

sheetsSGT2

Researchers from the University of Surrey and Philips have identified a new transistor design that could make flexible electronics such as roll-up tablet computers available in the near future.

As reported in a study published in Nature Scientific Reports (open access), they further developed their “Source Gated Transistor” (SGT) to work with next-generation digital circuits.

Previously, the researchers found that SGTs could be applied to many… read more

Watch scientists ‘herd’ cells with electric fields for controlled tissue engineering

March 12, 2014

herdingcells350

Researchers at UC Berkeley found that an electrical current can be used to orchestrate the flow of a group of cells, an achievement that could establish the basis for more controlled forms of tissue engineering and for potential applications such as “smart bandages” that use electrical stimulation to help heal wounds.

In the experiments, described in a study published this week in the journal Nature Materials, the… read more

Rice bioengineers invent systems for ‘genetic circuit analysis’

"Light tube array," "bioscilloscope," "function generator" test, debug genetic circuits
March 12, 2014

‘Light tube array” (credit: Rice University)

In a significant advance for the growing field of synthetic biology, Rice University bioengineers have created a toolkit of genes and hardware that uses colored lights and engineered bacteria to bring both mathematical predictability and cut-and-paste simplicity to the world of genetic circuit design.

“Life is controlled by DNA-based circuits, and these are similar to the circuits found in electronic devices like smartphones and computers,”… read more

Super-resolution atom-by-atom laser machining method allows for making nanoscale devices

March 11, 2014

Diamond-Diagram-2-No-Back-Wireframe

Australian researchers have discovered how to use laser light to pick apart a substance atom by atom, allowing for creating new nanoscale diamond devices.

“Lasers are known to be very precise at cutting and drilling materials on a small scale — less than the width of a human hair, in fact — but on the atomic scale they have notoriously poor resolution,” says lead researcher Associate Professorread more

A telescope bigger than a galaxy

March 11, 2014

Abell 2744 cluster (credit: STScI)

Astronomers have announced a view of the universe though a lens more than 500,000 light years wide, as part of a program called “Frontier Fields” to search for the first galaxies.

The “lens” is actually a massive cluster of galaxies known as Abell 2744. As predicted by Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, the mass of the cluster warps the fabric of space around it. Starlight passing by… read more

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