science + technology news

Computer programs that ace IQ tests

February 16, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Researchers at the Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have created a computer program that scored up to 150 on specific portions of an IQ test: identifying patterns in pictures and number sequences.

IQ tests include progressive matrices, which test the ability to see patterns in pictures, and number sequences, which test the ability to see patterns… read more

Astronomers create first realistic virtual universe

May 8, 2014

illustris-simulation

Astronomers have created the first realistic virtual universe using a computer simulation called “Illustris.”

Illustris can recreate 13 billion years of cosmic evolution in a cube 350 million light-years on a side with unprecedented resolution.

“Until now, no single simulation was able to reproduce the universe on both large and small scales simultaneously,” says lead author Mark Vogelsberger (MIT/Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics),… read more

Climate-Earth system computer model to be the most advanced ever created, says DOE

Armed with high-performance computing systems, DOE national labs and partners tackle climate and Earth-system modeling
September 26, 2014

Computer modeling provides policymakers with essential information on such data as global sea surface temperatures related to specific currents.

The U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories are teaming up with academia and the private sector to develop what they call the most advanced climate and Earth system computer model yet, and investigate key fundamental science questions, such as the interaction of clouds and climate and the role of secondary organic aerosols.

The project could help address concerns by some that the 55 existing global climate models… read more

Cracking the quantum safe

October 15, 2012

unsw_quantum_bit

The Nobel Prize in Physics went to achievements in quantum information, Adam Frank, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, writes in The New York Times.

It may not catch as many headlines as the hunt for elusive particles, but the field of quantum information may soon answer questions even more fundamental — and upsetting —… read more

How to control information leaks from smartphone apps

November 17, 2015

location tracking

A Northeastern University research team has found “exten­sive” leakage of users’ information — device and user iden­ti­fiers, loca­tions, and passwords — into net­work traffic from apps on mobile devices, including iOS, Android, and Win­dows phones. The researchers have also devised a way to stop the flow.

David Choffnes, an assis­tant pro­fessor in the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence, and his col­leagues devel­oped a simple, effi­cient cloud-based system called … read more

Drug-delivery nanoparticles mimic white blood cells to avoid immune rejection

February 4, 2013

Camouflaged nanoparticles (yellow) cloaked in the membranes of white blood cells rest on the surface of an immune system cell (phagocyte, blue) without being recognized, ingested, and destroyed (credit: Methodist Hospital, Houston)

Scientists at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute have found a possible way to fool the immune system to prevent it from recognizing and destroying nanoparticles before they deliver their drug payloads.

“Our goal was to make a particle that is camouflaged within our bodies and escapes the surveillance of the immune system to reach its target undiscovered,” said Department of Medicine Co-Chair Ennio Tasciotti, Ph.D.,… read more

How exercise improves memory

The hippocampus in the brain switches to fat as an energy source after glucose is depleted from exercise), leading to release of BDNF, associated with cognitive improvement. Researchers have found out how.
June 24, 2016

Exercise induces synthesis of a chemical called DBHB in the liver. In the hippocampus, DBHB induces Bdnf expression, which in turn has positive effects on memory, cognition and synaptic transmission. (credit: Sama F. Sleiman et al./eLife)

Physical exercise after learning improves memory and memory traces if the exercise is done four hours later, and not immediately after learning, according to findings recently reported (open-access) in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.

It’s not yet clear exactly how or why delayed exercise has this effect on memory. However, earlier studies of laboratory animals suggest that naturally occurring chemical compounds in the body known as catecholamines, including… read more

China and ‘one or two others’ can shut US electric grids and other critical infrastructure, says NSA director

November 21, 2014

(Credit: Achim Hering/Wikimedia Commons)

China and “one or two others” can shut down the U.S. electric grids and other critical infrastructure and is performing electronic reconnaissance on a regular basis, said NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers, testifying Thursday (Nov. 20) at a House Select Intelligence Committee hearing on U.S. efforts to combat cybersecurity.

“All of that leads me to believe it is only a matter of when, not if, we are going to… read more

Self-assembled nanoparticles release chemotherapy drug and heat to treat cancer

October 21, 2012

gold nanorods

In new research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), researchers have invented self-assembled, multifunctional, near-infrared-light-responsive nanoparticles to treat cancer.

The nanoparticles can deliver a chemotherapy drug specifically targeted to cancer cells and selectively release the drug in response to an external beam of light. They can also create heat for synergistic thermo-chemo-mediated anti-tumor effects.

Excitement around the potential for targeted nanoparticles (NPs) that can be controlled… read more

This is how the universe will end: not with a bang but a rip

First the galaxies are destroyed. Then the solar system breaks apart and the Earth explodes. Finally, the atoms themselves are ripped apart.
July 3, 2015

This is a time line of life of the universe that ends in a Big Rip. (credit: Jeremy Teaford, Vanderbilt University)

Vanderbilt University mathematicians have come up with a new theory of “cosmological viscosity” (how sticky the universe is) that challenges current theories.

For decades, cosmologists have had trouble reconciling the classic notion of viscosity based on the laws of thermodynamics with Einstein’s general theory of relativity, according the the team, which has now come up with a fundamentally new mathematical formulation of the problem that appears to… read more

Space elevator by 2050 planned, to include space solar power

February 22, 2012

space_elevator

Obayashi Corp., headquartered in Tokyo, has unveiled a project to build a space elevator by the year 2050 that would transport passengers to a station 36,000 kilometers above the Earth and transmit power to the ground.

A cable, made of carbon nanotubes, would be stretched up to 96,000 kilometers, or about one-fourth of the distance between the Earth and the moon. One end of… read more

Scientists use stem cells to grow new human hair in the lab

Next step: transplant stem-cell-derived human dermal papilla cells back into human subjects (any volunteers?)
January 28, 2015

Sanford-Burnham scientists grew human dermal papillae cells from stem cells. (credit: Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute)

A method for initiating human hair growth — using human pluripotent stem cells to create new cells — has been developed by Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) researchers.

Their idea is to coax human pluripotent stem cells to become dermal papilla cells — a unique population of cells that regulate hair-follicle formation and growth cycle. (Human dermal papilla cells on their own are… read more

Spintronics advance brings wafer-scale quantum devices closer to reality

June 25, 2015

Light polarizes silicon nuclear spins within a silicon carbide chip. This image portrays the nuclear spin of one of the atoms shown in the full crystal lattice below. (credit: Courtesy of Peter Allen)

Researchers at the University of Chicago’s Institute for Molecular Engineering have taken a crucial step toward nuclear spintronic technologies that use the “spin” — or magnetization — of atomic nuclei to store and process information. The new technologies could be used for ultra-sensitive magnetic resonance imaging, advanced gyroscopes, and quantum computers.

The researchers used infrared light to make nuclear spins line themselves up in a consistent,… read more

Nontoxic, traceable nanoparticles may be the next weapon in cancer treatment

March 8, 2013

Theranostic NPs (hydrophobic segments are visual-<br />
ized in green and hydrophilic segments in blue)

Swedish scientists have developed “theranostic” (having both a therapeutic and diagnostic function) nanoparticles that can carry cancer drugs to tumor cells without toxicity and are biodegradable and traceable (can be seen in MRI images).

The nanoparticles were developed by a team including KTH Royal Institute of Technology Professor Eva Malmström-Jonsson, from the School of Chemical Science and researchers at Sweden’s Chalmer’s University and the Karolinska… read more

World’s lightest material is 100 times lighter than Styrofoam

November 18, 2011

Ultra light metal

The world’s lightest material — with a density of 0.9 mg/cc — about 100 times lighter than Styrofoam — has been developed by a team of researchers from UC Irvine, HRL Laboratories, and the California Institute of Technology.

The new material, using nickel-phosphorous thin films, redefines the limits of lightweight materials because of its unique “micro-lattice” cellular architecture. The researchers were able to make a material that… read more

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