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SpaceX Dragon capsule arrives at Space Station with precious cargo

October 10, 2012

Dragon ISS

A privately built robotic space capsule arrived at the International Space Station early Wednesday (Oct. 10) to make the first-ever commercial cargo delivery to the orbiting lab under a billion-dollar deal with NASA, Space.com reports.

The unmanned Dragon spacecraft was captured by station astronauts using a robotic arm after an apparently flawless approach by the cargo-laden space capsule, which was built by the private spaceflight company SpaceX. It… read more

NASA challenges ‘makers’ to design 3-D printed habitats for deep-space exploration

May 18, 2015

Credit: NASA

NASA and the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (America Makes) are holding a new $2.25 million competition, the 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge, to design and build a 3-D printed habitat for deep space exploration, including the agency’s journey to Mars.

The program is designed to advance the additive construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth and beyond. The idea is to… read more

New injectable hydrogel encourages regeneration and improves functionality after a heart attack

February 22, 2013

Microscopic images of pig hearts damaged by heart attack show the growth of new heart muscle tissue (Shown in Red, Figure A) after treatment with an injectable hydrogel compared to a heart left untreated (Figure B, right) (credit: Karen Christman/UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering)

University of California, San Diego bioengineers have demonstrated in a study in pigs that a new injectable hydrogel can repair damage from heart attacks, help the heart grow new tissue and blood vessels, and get the heart moving closer to how a healthy heart should.

The gel is injected through a catheter without requiring surgery or general anesthesia — a less invasive procedure for patients.… read more

‘Rain Man’-like brains mapped with network analysis

March 1, 2013

The connectome of brain malformation

Researchers at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley have mapped the three-dimensional global connections within the brains of seven adults who have genetic malformations that leave them without the corpus callosum, which connects the left and right sides of the brain.

These “structural connectome” maps, which combine hospital MRIs with the mathematical tool known as network analysis, reveal new details about the condition known as… read more

Star ripped apart by unknown black hole

Scientists record signal as distant black hole consumes star
August 4, 2012

750px-Black_Hole_Milkyway

Astronomers think they have seen a star being ripped to pieces by a previously unknown black hole (see ‘The awakening of a cosmic monster‘), says Nature News.

The astronomers saw a pulse of X-rays that rose and fell in intensity every 200 seconds. The team thinks that the oscillation is coming from the last bits of the star, which are making their final orbits before being sucked… read more

A holographic microscope for just $250

November 6, 2012

Holographic-micrscope

You can build a holographic microscope for $250 (for parts), MIT Technology Review Physics arXiv Blog reports.

Holographic microscopes record the 3D shape of tiny objects such as cells in high resolution, unlike traditional microscopes, which have a tiny field of view and shallow depth of field.

With a holographic microscope, you make a hologram of the sample: split a laser beam in two, use one as… read more

How to build a robotic bat wing

Could lead to the design of a small aircraft
February 26, 2013

A robotic bat wing lets researchers measure forces, joint movements, and flight parameters — and learn more about how the real thing operates in nature (credit: Breuer and Swartz labs/Brown University)

Researchers at Brown University have developed a robotic bat wing that is providing valuable new information about dynamics of flapping flight in real bats — the function of ligaments, the elasticity of skin, the structural support of musculature, skeletal flexibility, upstroke, and downstroke.

The strong, flapping flight of bats offers great possibilities for the design of small aircraft, among other applications.

The robot, which… read more

Social networking is about to get exponentially more annoying

December 9, 2011

MagnetU (credit: MagnetU)

 

MagnetU is a $24 device that broadcasts your social media profile to other “nodes” (people) around you, Technology Review Mims’s Bits reports.

If anyone else with a MagnetU has a profile that matches yours sufficiently, the device will alert both of you via text and/or an app. It also links to Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and other online social networks.

Colossal explosion from supermassive black hole at center of galaxy revealed

September 25, 2013

black_hole_jet

Two million years ago, a supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy erupted in an explosion so immensely powerful that it lit up a cloud 200,000 light years away, a team of researchers led by the University of Sydney has revealed.

The finding is an exciting confirmation that black holes can “flicker,” moving from maximum power to switching off over short periods of… read more

Open-source Internet of Things platform could help spur smarter homes and cities

October 15, 2013

open_remote

If you buy several Internet-connected home gadgets — say, a “smart” thermostat, “smart” door lock, and “smart” window blinds — you’ll likely have to control each one with a separate app, meaning it exists in its own little silo.

That’s not how Elier Ramirez does it. In his home, an iPad app controls his lights, ceiling fans, and TV and stereo. Pressing a single button within… read more

Brussels wants e-identities for EU citizens

May 24, 2012

Your papers, please! (Credit: 2009Bruno Rouchouze/EUROSMART eID Working Group)

The European Commission plans legislation that would make electronic IDs compulsory.for all Europeans.

Neelie Kroes, the EU’s Digital Agenda Commissioner, will present by the beginning of June a new legislative proposal which aims “to facilitate cross-border electronic transactions” through the adoption of harmonized e-signatures, e-identities and electronic authentication services (eIAS) across EU member states, according to an internal document seen by EurActiv.

“A clear regulatory environment for eIAS would… read more

Genetic variants build a smarter brain

June 21, 2012

brain_gain

Taking a step in understanding how genes influence intelligence, an international team of scientists has identified a network of genes that may boost performance on IQ tests by building and insulating connections in the brain.

Intelligence runs in families, but although scientists have identified about 20 genetic variants associated with intelligence, each accounts for just 1% of the variation in IQ scores.

Because the effects of these genes… read more

Experts declare ‘cyber war’ on cancer’s ‘social networking’

Researchers at Rice, Tel Aviv and Johns Hopkins universities aim to break cancer’s command-and-control codes
September 5, 2012

cyber_war_on_cancer

In the face of mounting evidence that cancer cells communicate, cooperate and even engage in collective decision-making, biophysicists and cancer researchers at Rice University, Tel Aviv University and Johns Hopkins University are suggesting a new strategy for outsmarting cancer through its own social intelligence.

“We need to get beyond the notion that cancer is a random collection of cells running amok —  these cells lead… read more

Nanoparticles against cellular aging

October 9, 2012

Intracellular controlled release of molecules within senescent cells was achieved using mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) capped with a galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS) to contain the cargo molecules (magenta spheres; see scheme). The GOS is a substrate of the senescent biomarker, senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SA-β-gal), and releases the cargo upon entry into SA-β-gal expressing cells. (Credit: Alessandro Agostini et al./Angewandte Chemie)

A team of Spanish scientists has developed nanoparticles to selectively release therapeutic substances in aged human cells.

They are intended to treat diseases involving cellular degeneration of tissue, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, among other accelerated aging pathologies.

The mesoporous nanoparticles contain galactooligosaccharide (a chemical normally used in probiotics, which are pills to stimulate growth of healthy bacteria).

The next step of this research is… read more

How to design proteins from scratch

November 8, 2012

protein_model_vs_structure

Given the exponential number of contortions possible for any chain of amino acids, dictating a sequence that will fold into a predictable protein structure has been a daunting task.

Now a team from David Baker’s laboratory at the University of Washington reports that they can do just that, Nature News reports.

By following a set of rules, they designed five proteins from scratch that fold reliably into… read more

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