science + technology news

What is 5G and when can I get it?

March 25, 2015

(credit: Huawei)

Imagine being able to download a full-length 8GB HD movie to your phone in six seconds (versus seven minutes over 4G or more than an hour on 3G) and video chats so immersive that it will feel like you can reach out and touch the other person right through the screen.

That’s the vision for the 5G concept — the next generation of wireless networks — presented at the… read more

How to create 3D mini lungs

Could help scientists learn more about lung diseases and test new drugs
March 25, 2015

Scientists coax stem cells to form mini lungs, 3D structures that mimic human lungs and survived in the lab for 100 days (credit: University of Michigan Health System)

Scientists have coaxed stem cells to grow the first three-dimensional human mini lungs, or organoids, to help scientists learn more about lung diseases and test new drugs.

Previous research has focused on deriving lung tissue from flat (2D) cell systems or growing cells onto scaffolds made from donated organs.

“These mini lungs can mimic the responses of real tissues and will be a good model to study how organs… read more

Almost 3,000 atoms entangled with a single photon

Could lead to powerful quantum computers and more-accurate atomic clocks
March 25, 2015

Generating entanglement of 2,910 atoms (credit: Robert McConnell et al./Nature)

Physicists from MIT and the University of Belgrade have developed a new technique that can entangle 2,910 atoms using only a single photon — the largest number of particles that have ever been mutually entangled experimentally (previous record: 100).

The researchers say the technique provides a realistic method to generate large ensembles of entangled atoms, which are key components for realizing more-precise atomic clocks and more powerful computers.… read more

Optogenetics without the genetics

Allows scientists to stimulate neurons with flashes of light without requiring genetic modification
March 24, 2015

Funtionalized heated gold nanoparticles are not washed away, allowing them to serve a neural stimulators (credit: Joa˜ o L. Carvalho-de-Souza/Neuron)

A method of using light to activate or suppress neurons without requiring genetic modification (as in optogenetics) has been developed by scientists from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The new technique, described in the journal Neuron, uses targeted, heated gold nanoparticles. The researchers says it’s a significant technological advance with potential advantages over current optogenetic methods, including possible use in… read more

How to sort and extract biomolecules in fluids

Could lead to efficient clinical diagnostics and chemical purification, including removing contaminants from water and desalination
March 24, 2015

A team of Harvard scientists has demonstrated a new way of detecting and extracting biomolecules from fluid mixtures (credit: Peter Mallen, Harvard Medical School)

Harvard scientists have demonstrated a new way to detect and extract biomolecules from fluid mixtures, using an ingenious microfluidic design combining chemical and mechanical properties.

The approach requires fewer steps, uses less energy, and achieves better performance than several techniques currently in use. It could lead to better technologies for medical diagnostics and chemical purification.

For example, it could provide a means of removing contaminants from water, and… read more

Neuroscientists pinpoint cell type in the brain that controls body clock

Could lead to treatments for jet lag, neurological problems, and metabolism issues, but one simple solution is to not use electronic devices before sleep
March 24, 2015

Suprachiasmatic nucleus controls sleep-wake cycles (credit: National Institute of General Medical Sciences)

UT Southwestern Medical Center neuroscientists have identified key cells in the brain that control 24-hour circadian rhythms (sleep and wake cycles) as well as functions such as hormone production, metabolism, and blood pressure.

The discovery may lead to future treatments for jet lag and other sleep disorders and even for neurological problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, as well as metabolism issues and psychiatric disorders such as depression.

It’s been… read more

How does a long time in space affect human health?

March 23, 2015

Astronaut Scott Kelly preparing for launch on one-year mission (credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

As NASA astronaut Scott Kelly launches for the International Space Station Friday, March 27, Northwestern University scientists will be watching with more than a passing interest. Scott Kelly is half of their experiment.

A Northwestern-led research team is one of 10 NASA-funded groups across the country studying identical twins Scott and Mark Kelly to learn how living in space for a long period of time — such as a… read more

Search for extraterrestrial intelligence extends to near-infrared optical signals

New instrument will scan the sky for coded pulses of infrared light
March 23, 2015

The NIROSETI team with their new infrared detector inside the dome at Lick Observatory. Left to right: Remington Stone, Dan Wertheimer, Jérome Maire, Shelley Wright, Patrick Dorval and Richard Treffers. (credit: © Laurie Hatch)

Astronomers have expanded the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light.

The idea was first proposed by Charles Townes, the late UC Berkeley scientist whose contributions to the development of lasers led to a Nobel Prize, in a paper [1] published in 1961.

Pulses from a powerful near-infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second.… read more

Is this the future of augmented reality?

March 22, 2015

Magic Leap vid pic

Augmented reality start-up Magic Leap has released a mind-boggling video that dramatically dissolves the boundary between real and virtual. In the video, we look from the user’s POV as he manipulates virtual objects — such as a monitor playing a YouTube video and a rolodex — in the air with his fingers, Minority Report-style. He then picks up a real toy ray gun and plays a shooter video… read more

Bioelectricity found to control brain development in tadpole embryos

"Electroceutical" drugs could induce growth of new brain tissue, addressing birth defects or brain injury
March 20, 2015

restored tadpole embryo brain

Research by Tufts University and University of Minnesota biologists shows for the first time that bioelectrical signals among cells control and guide embryonic brain development.

They also found that manipulating these signals can repair genetic defects and induce development of healthy brain tissue in locations where it would not ordinarily grow.

In their research with Xenopus laevis frog embryos (which share many evolutionary… read more

New ‘MIND’ diet may significantly protect against Alzheimer’s disease

Even moderate adherence shows reduction in incidence
March 20, 2015

MIND diet

A new diet known by the acronym MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) — even if the diet is not meticulously followed, according to a paper published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

This finding comes from a longitudinal study by Rush University Medical Center and Harvard School of Public Health of 923… read more

Tesla plans self-driving ‘autopilot’ Model S feature via software update this summer

Car is "sophisticated computer on wheels," says Musk
March 19, 2015

Model S (credit: Tesla Motors)

A software update will give Tesla Model S cars the ability to start driving themselves in “autopilot” mode on “major roads” like highways this summer, Tesla Motors chief executive Elon Musk announced today (March 19).

He also said Tesla had been testing its autopilot mode on a route from San Francisco to Seattle, largely unassisted, and that the cars will be able to park themselves in a private garage… read more

Could analog computing accelerate complex computer simulations?

March 19, 2015

DARPA’s ACCESS RFI seeks new processing paradigms that have the potential to overcome current barriers in computing performance. “Old fashioned” analog approaches may be part of the solution. (credit: DARPA)

DARPA announced today, March 19, a Request for Information (RFI) on methods for using analog approaches to speed up computation of the complex mathematics that characterize scientific computing.

“The standard [digital] computer cluster equipped with multiple central processing units (CPUs), each programmed to tackle a particular piece of a problem, is just not designed to solve the kinds of equations at the core of large-scale simulations, such as those… read more

Open-source algorithms to enable high-quality 3D printing of metal parts

Will your future car be 3D-printed?
March 18, 2015

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers examine a 3D-printed part using the selective laser melting process. General Electric and LLNL recently received $540,000 to develop open source algorithms that will improve additive manufacturing of metal parts using SLM. (credit: Julie Russell/LLNL)

General Electric and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) recently received $540,000 to develop open-source algorithms that will improve additive manufacturing (3D printing) of metal parts.

The award is from America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute that’s focused on helping the U.S. grow capabilities and strength in 3D printing.

The project intends to develop and demonstrate software algorithms that will allow… read more

3D-printed sensors to lower cost, improve comfort in diabetes management

March 18, 2015

Optical microscopy images of patterned gold on polyimide film substrate (top) prepared via microcontact printing and after platinum and silver electrodes deposition (bottom) by electroplating (credit: Xiaosong Du et al./ Xiaosong Du/ ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology)

Engineers at Oregon State University have used additive manufacturing to create an improved type of glucose sensor for patients with Type 1 diabetes, part of a system that should work better, cost less, and be more comfortable for the patient.

A key advance is use of an electrohydrodynamic jet (“e-jet” printing) to make the sensor, which detects glucose concentration based on electric current… read more

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