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When does your baby become conscious?

April 19, 2013

smart_kid

New research shows that babies display glimmers of consciousness and memory as early as 5 months old, Science Now reports.

Studies on adults show a particular pattern of brain activity: When your senses detect something, such as a moving object, the vision center of your brain activates, even if the object goes by too fast for you to notice. But if the object remains in your visual… read more

Facial recognition tech could help trace Boston bomb suspects

April 19, 2013

Boston_Marathon_bombing,_first_bomb_site_54_minute_before_explosion

Experts say the FBI may be able to use other images from the scene of Monday’s bomb attacks in Boston.— together with facial recognition software — to search through identity databases.

The approach is likely to become more common in the future as new technology makes using facial recognition on surveillance and bystander imagery more reliable, MIT Technology Review reports.

Deploying facial recognition software in the… read more

A tablet controlled by your brain

April 19, 2013

samsung.mind_.controlx299

Samsung is researching how to bring mind control to its mobile devices with the hope of developing ways for people with mobility impairments to connect to the world, MIT Technology Review reports.

In collaboration with Roozbeh Jafari, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas, Dallas, Samsung researchers are testing how people can use their thoughts to launch an application, select a… read more

Reversing memory loss

April 19, 2013

Aplysia_californica

Neuroscientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) have reversed memory loss in sea-snail nerve cells by by retraining them on optimized training schedules.

This may be a major step in helping people with memory loss tied to brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers suggest.

“Although much works remains to be done, we have demonstrated the feasibility of… read more

Super-nanotubes: ‘remarkable’ spray-on coating combines carbon nanotubes with ceramic

April 19, 2013

Micrograph of one strand of a new spray-on super-nanotube composite developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Kansas State University. The multi-wall nanotube core is surrounded by a ceramic shell. The composite is a promising coating for laser power detectors. (Color added for clarity.)<br />
Credit: Kansas State University

A spray-on mixture of carbon nanotubes and ceramic that has unprecedented ability to resist damage while absorbing laser light has been demonstrated by researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Kansas State University.

Coatings that absorb as much of the energy of high-powered lasers as possible without breaking down are essential for optical power detectors that measure the output… read more

New keyboard for touchscreens speeds up thumb-typing

April 19, 2013

The new KALQ keyboard (credit: MPI for Informatics)

A new keyboard called KALQ that enables faster thumb-typing on touchscreen devices has been created by a research team at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, the University of St Andrews, and Montana Tech.

They used computational optimization techniques and a model of thumb movement to search among millions of potential layouts before identifying one that yields superior performance.

A user study found… read more

Will you be wearing ‘smart clothes’?

April 19, 2013

Shoulder dress

Computerized fabrics that change their color and shape in response to movement are being developed by Joanna Berzowska, professor and chair of the Department of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University.
The interactive electronic fabrics harness power directly from the human body, store that energy, and then use it to change the garments’ visual properties.

“Our goal is to create garments that can transform inread more

Google reveals tech specs for Glass

April 18, 2013

google-glass-specs-2

Today we have more info about Glass, after Google released the tech specs of its upcoming smartglasses, Gizmag reports.

The most important part of Glass is its display. Google vividly describes the tiny high-res screen as “the equivalent of a 25-inch high definition screen from eight feet away.”

Glass shoots 5-megapixel stills and 720p videos. Google had already revealed that Glass delivers audio via bone conduction.… read more

Layered ’2D nanocrystals’ could replace CMOS transistors

April 18, 2013

Researchers are developing a new type of semiconductor technology, pictured here, for future computers and electronics based on "two-dimensional nanocrystals." The material is layered in sheets less than a nanometer thick that could replace today's silicon transistors. (Credit: Birck Nanotechnology Center/Purdue University)

Purdue University researchers are developing a new type of semiconductor technology for future computers and electronics that could replace today’s CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) transistors.

It’s based on “two-dimensional nanocrystals” layered in sheets less than one nanometer thick.

The layered structure is made of a material called molybdenum disulfide, which belongs to a new class of semiconductors — metal di-chalogenides.

The nanocrystals are… read more

Synthetic biologists vs. conservationists

The unintended consequences of tinkering with nature
April 18, 2013

This is a gastric-brooding frog, Rheobatrachus silus, giving oral birth in the lab of Mike Tyler of the University of Adelaide (credit: Mike Tyler/University of Adelaide)

At a first-of-its-kind meeting, held on April 9–11 at the University of Cambridge, leading conservationists and synthetic biologists discussed how synthetic biology could be used to benefit the planet, Nature News reports.

Example might include producing heat-tolerant coral reefs, pollution-sensing soil microbes, ruminant gut microbes that don’t belch methane, and helping frogs to overcome chytridiomycosis, the fungal disease threatening amphibians worldwide that is thought to have contributed to… read more

Yogi alert: a new concept for a bed of needles

No more removal "ouch"
April 18, 2013

The Karp lab invented a bio-inspired flexible microneedle adhesive patch (2 x 2 cm) that can stick to soft tissues (credit: Karp lab)

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have invented a microneedle adhesive more than 3x stronger than surgical staples for skin graft fixation, inspired by Pomphorhynchus laevis, a spiny-headed worm that lives in the intestines of its hosts, in this case fish.

The worm securely attaches to the host’s intestinal wall by penetrating, and then plumping up its elongated, cactus-like head into the intestinal tissue.… read more

Why some stress is good for you

Overworked and stressed out? Look on the bright side.
April 18, 2013

Brain cells called astrocytes (pink) appear to be key players in the response to acute stress. Stress hormones stimulate astrocytes to release fibroblast growth factor 2 (green), which in turn lead to new neurons (blue). Image by Daniela Kaufer & Liz Kirby.

UC Berkeley researchers have uncovered exactly how acute stress — short-lived, not chronic — primes the brain for improved performance.

In studies on rats, Daniela Kaufer, associate professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley and  post-doctoral fellow Elizabeth Kirby they found that significant but brief stressful events caused stem cells in rat brains to proliferate into new nerve cells that,… read more

Training the brain to improve on new tasks

April 17, 2013

800px-Memory_(spel)

A brain-training task that increases the number of items an individual can remember over a short period of time may boost performance in other problem-solving tasks by enhancing communication between different brain areas.

The new study is one of a growing number of experiments on how working-memory training can measurably improve a range of skills — from multiplying in your head to reading a complex paragraph.

“Working memory… read more

Erroneous decision? Blame noisy information, not your brain

April 17, 2013

Rat auditory task-center

Princeton University researchers have found that making an erroneous decision is caused by errors, or “noise,” in the information coming into your brain, rather than errors in how your brain accumulates or processes that information.

The researchers separated sensory inputs from the internal mental process. ”To our great surprise, the internal mental process was perfectly noiseless. All of the imperfections came from noise in the sensory… read more

Turning skin cells directly into cells that insulate neurons

April 17, 2013

myelination

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have succeeded in transforming skin cells directly into oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs), the cells that myelinate nerve cells (wrap them in the insulating myelin sheaths that help nerve signals propagate) and would work successfully when transplanted into the brains of mice with a myelin disorder.

The current research was done in mice and rats. If the approach also works… read more

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