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Synthetic biology on ordinary paper: a new operating system

A tiny paper color test for a strain-specific Ebola virus, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or other pathogens --- no lab required
October 24, 2014

Wyss Institute scientists have embedded effective synthetic gene networks in pocket-sized slips of paper. An array of RNA–activated sensors uses visible color changing proteins to indicate presence of a targeted RNA, capable of identifying pathogens such as antibiotic–resistant bacteria and strain–specific Ebola virus. (Credit: Harvard's Wyss Institute)

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering announced Thursday (Oct. 23) a way to allow complex cellular recognition reactions to proceed outside of living cells, using pocket-sized slips of paper.

Imagine inexpensive, shippable, and accurate test kits using a pocket-sized paper diagnostic tool using saliva or a drop of blood to identify specific disease or infection — a feat that could be accomplished anywhere in the world, within minutes and… read more

All of a sudden I could see a little flash of light. It was amazing.

First implantation of an early prototype bionic eye with 24 electrodes
September 3, 2012

Early bionic eye prototype drawing (credit: Bionics Institute)

Bionic Vision Australia researchers have successfully performed the first implantation of an early prototype bionic eye with 24 electrodes.

Dianne Ashworth has profound vision loss due to retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited condition. She has now received what she calls a “pre-bionic eye” implant that enables her to experience some vision.

Her implant was switched on last month at the Bionics Institute, while researchers held their breaths in… read more

A ‘Wikipedia’ for neurons

March 31, 2015

neuron types

Carnegie Mellon University | NeuroElectro.org description

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have used data mining to create neuroelectro.org, a publicly available website that acts like Wikipedia, indexing the decades worth of physiological data collected about the billions of neurons in the brain.

The site aims to help accelerate the advance of neuroscience research by providing a centralized resource for collecting and comparing this “brain big… read more

Robots master skills with ‘deep learning’ technique

UC Berkeley researchers' new algorithms enable robots to learn motor tasks by trial and error
May 22, 2015

Robot learns to put a cap on a bottle by trial and error (credit: UC Berkeley)

UC Berkeley researchers have developed new algorithms that enable robots to learn motor tasks by trial and error, using a process that more closely approximates the way humans learn.

They demonstrated their technique, a type of reinforcement learning, by having a robot complete various tasks — putting a clothes hanger on a rack, assembling a toy plane, screwing a cap on a water bottle, and more — without pre-programmed… read more

New research supports the huge potential of tidal power

January 18, 2013

Artist’s impression of a tidal turbine array (credit: Phil. Trans. R. Soc)

A global group of scientists and engineers, including from the University of Southampton, has published in a special issue journal of the Royal Society in support of tidal power, which has the potential to provide more than 20 per cent of the UK’s electricity demand, they calculate.

While the predictable nature of tides makes them an ideal renewable energy source, more so than wind, the… read more

Will 2D tin be the next super material for chip interconnects?

New single-layer material could go beyond graphene, conducting electricity with 100 percent efficiency at room temperature
November 25, 2013

Adding fluorine atoms (yellow) to a single layer of tin atoms (grey) should allow a predicted new material, stanene, to conduct electricity perfectly along its edges (blue and red arrows) at temperatures up to 100 degrees Celsius (212 Fahrenheit). (Yong Xu/Tsinghua University; Greg Stewart/SLAC)

Move over, graphene. “Stanene” —  a single layer of tin atoms — could be the world’s first material to conduct electricity with 100 percent efficiency at the temperatures that computer chips operate, according to a team of theoretical physicists led by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University.

Stanene — the Latin name for tin (stannum) combined with the… read more

IBM invents ’3D nanoprinter’ for microscopic objects

April 25, 2014

AdvMatCover

IBM scientists have invented a tiny “chisel” with a nano-sized heatable silicon tip that creates patterns and structures on a microscopic scale.

The tip, similar to the kind used in atomic force microscopes, is attached to a bendable cantilever that scans the surface of the substrate material with the accuracy of one nanometer.

Unlike conventional 3D printers, by applying heat and force, the nanosized tip can… read more

X-51A WaveRider expected to fly at 3,600 mph in key test Tuesday

August 14, 2012

714px-X-51A_Waverider

The unmanned experimental aircraft X-51A WaveRider is expected to fly above the Pacific Ocean near Point Mugu at Mach 6 — at 3,600 mph — for 300 seconds Tuesday, Los Angeles Times reports.

A passenger aircraft traveling at that speed could fly from Los Angeles to New York in 46 minutes.

Aerospace engineers say that harnessing technology capable of sustaining hypersonic speeds is crucial to the next generation… read more

‘Bi-Fi’ — the biological Internet

September 28, 2012

bio_internet_stanford

Using the innocuous M13 bacterial virus, bioengineers at Stanford have created a biological mechanism to send genetic messages from cell to cell — which they term the “biological Internet,” or “Bi-Fi.”

The system greatly increases the complexity and amount of data that can be communicated between cells and could lead to greater control of biological functions within cell communities.

The advance could prove a boon to bioengineers looking… read more

How ‘bullet time’ will revolutionize exascale computing

The filming technique used in The Matrix will change the way we access the huge computer simulations of the future, say computer scientists
February 12, 2013

( Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The exascale computing era is almost upon us and computer scientists are already running into difficulties. 1 exaflop is 10^18 floating point operations per second, that’s a thousand petaflops. The current trajectory of computer science should produce this kind of  capability by 2018 or so.

How do humans access and make sense of the exascale data sets?

The answer, of course, is to find some way to compress… read more

Software to construct everything with LEGO pieces

October 7, 2013

lego_epfl

Romain Testuz. a student of the Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Geometrics (LGG) at EPFL, has developed software that automatically transforms a three-dimensional image into bricks and simplifies the challenge of construction by proposing a comprehensive plan of the parts to be used at each level.

To overcome structural weaknesses, Testuz used graph theory, representing each piece by a node and each connection by… read more

Ten ways 3D printing could change space

April 16, 2014

A close up of a ligthweight titanium lattice ball manufactured using the Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing process. This design is a good example of AM capabilities: these hollow balls possesing a complex external geometry could not have been manufactured in a single part using a conventional manufacturing process. But they are incredibly light while also stiff, opening up possibilities for future space applications.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is investigating the potential of additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, to transform how space missions are put together, and has identified ten ways.

1. Items impossible to make any other way

This titanium-lattice ball is a good example of additive manufacturing capabilities. These hollow balls have a complex external geometry,  making them incredibly light while remaining stiff and… read more

Quantum Computing Playground lets you run a simulated quantum computer

May 27, 2014

Quantum Computing Playground (credit: Google)

Google engineers have developed a simulated quantum computer called Quantum Computing Playground that allows you to write, run, and debug software using quantum algorithms.

Quantum Computing Playground runs in a Chrome browser with a simple interactive interface. A scripting language called QScript includes debugging and 3D quantum-state visualization features.

You can efficiently simulate quantum registers up to 22 qubits and run Grover’s and Shor’s algorithms. There’s also a… read more

Living against the clock: does loss of daily rhythms cause obesity?

August 31, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

The human clock struggles to stay in tune with the irregular meal, sleep and work schedules of the developed world, which might influence health and even cause obesity, says Dr. Cathy Wyse, working in the chronobiology research group at the University of Aberdeen.

Circadian desynchrony

Daily or “circadian” rhythms including the sleep wake cycle, and rhythms in hormone release are controlled by a molecular clock that is… read more

Full-brain waves challenge area-specific view of brain activity

March 21, 2013

A still-shot of a wave of brain activity measured by electrical signals in the outside (left view) and inside (right view) surface of the brain. The colour scale shows the peak of the wave as hot colours and the trough as dark colours. (Credit: D.A.)

Our understanding of brain activity has traditionally been linked to brain areas — when we speak, the speech area of the brain is active.

New research by an international team of psychologists shows that this view may be wrong. The entire cortex, not just the area responsible for a certain function, is activated when a given task is initiated.

Furthermore, activity occurs in a pattern: waves… read more

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