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Why you should go paperless in 2013

January 3, 2013


Are you still printing things out? Really?

Amazingly, the average office worker still uses about 10,000 sheets of paper per year, the EPA says.

To make a new push for a really paperless office, the “Paperless Coalition,” which includes Google Drive, HelloFax, Manilla, HelloSign, Expensify, Xero and Fujitsu ScanSnap, has launched a… read more

Method to replace silicon with carbon nanotubes developed by IBM Research

Could work down to the 1.8 nanometer node in the future
October 2, 2015

Schematic of a set of molybdenum end-contacted nanotube transistors (Qing Cao et al./Science)

IBM Research has announced a “major engineering breakthrough” that could lead to carbon nanotubes replacing silicon transistors in future computing technologies.

As transistors shrink in size, electrical resistance increases within the contacts, which impedes performance. So IBM researchers invented a metallurgical process similar to microscopic welding that chemically binds the contact’s metal (molybdenum) atoms to the carbon atoms at the ends of nanotubes.

The new method promises… read more

Boosting ‘cellular garbage disposal’ can delay the aging process, UCLA biologists report

May 8, 2013

In this image, fewer protein aggregates (green) accumulate in the aged fly brain when the gene parkin is overexpressed. (F-actin, a cytoskeleton protein, is seen in red and cell nuclei are seen in blue.) (Credit: Anil Rana/UCLA Life Sciences)

UCLA life scientists have identified a gene previously implicated in Parkinson’s disease that can delay the onset of aging and extend the healthy life span of fruit flies. The research, they say, could have important implications for aging and disease in humans.

The gene, called parkin, serves at least two vital functions: it marks damaged proteins so that cells can discard them before they become… read more

Bio-printing transplantable tissues and organs is now a step closer

July 1, 2014

Blood vessels (credit: University of Sydney)

Scientists from the Universities of Sydney, Harvard, Stanford, and MIT have bio-printed artificial vascular networks mimicking the body’s circulatory system.

These networks are necessary for growing large complex transplantable tissues and organs for people affected by major diseases and trauma injuries.

“Thousands of people die each year due to a lack of organs for transplantation,” says study lead author and University of Sydney researcher Luiz Bertassoni. ”Many more are… read more

Male birth control pill may be ready soon

September 7, 2012


Attention men: The day may be coming soon when you can take your own birth control pill with no side effects, according to a study done by a group of scientists that includes a Texas A&M University researcher.

Working on mice, the team found that a compound called JQ1 acts as an inhibitor to sperm production and also sperm mobility.

“Both of these are needed for… read more

DARPA envisions the future of machine learning

New wutomated tools aim to make it easier to teach a computer than to program it
March 22, 2013


DARPA has launched a new programming paradigm for managing uncertain information called “Probabilistic Programming for Advanced Machine Learning”(PPAML).

Machine learning — the ability of computers to understand data, manage results, and infer insights from uncertain information — is the force behind many recent revolutions in computing.

Unfortunately, every new machine-learning application requires a Herculean effort. Even a team of specially trained machine learning experts makes only… read more

A solar energy funnel to harness a broader spectrum of light

MIT engineers propose a new way of harnessing photons for electricity, with the potential for capturing a wider spectrum of solar energy
November 28, 2012

A visualization of the broad-spectrum solar energy funnel (credit: Yan Liang/MIT)

The quest to harness a broader spectrum of sunlight’s energy to produce electricity has taken a radically new turn, with the proposal of a “solar energy funnel” that takes advantage of materials under elastic strain.

“We’re trying to use elastic strains to produce unprecedented properties,” says Ju Li, an MIT professor. In this case, the “funnel” is a metaphor: Electrons and their counterparts, holes… read more

How to reconstruct from brain images which letter a person was reading

August 24, 2013

Each letter is predicted using models trained on fMRI data for the remaining letter classes to improve the reconstructions.

Researchers from Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands have succeeded in determining which letter a test subject was looking at.

They did that by analyzing the corresponding functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanned images of activity in the visual cortex of the brain, using a linear Gaussian mathematical model.

The researchers “taught” the model how 1200 voxels (volumetric pixels) of 2x2x2 mm from the… read more

Researchers observe never-before-detected brain activity in deep coma

September 25, 2013

Flat line and Nu-complex (credit: Daniel Kroeger et al./PLoS ONE)

University of Montreal researchers have found brain activity that kicks in after a patient’s EEG shows an isoelectric (“flat line”) EEG, according to their paper in PLoS ONE (open access).

The flatline EEG (brainwave) pattern is usually recorded during very deep coma and is considered to be one of the limit points in establishing brain death. In particular clinical conditions, it is accepted as the only criterion.… read more

Life on other planets could be far more widespread

Some of it could be underground
January 16, 2014


Earth-sized planets can support life at least ten times farther away from stars than previously thought, according to researchers at the University of Aberdeen and the University of St Andrews.

A new paper published in Planetary and Space Science claims cold rocky planets previously considered uninhabitable may actually be able to support life beneath the surface.

The team challenges the traditional “habitable zone” or “Goldilocks zone”… read more

How would you like a graduate degree for $100?

June 7, 2012

Sebastian Thrun

Getting a master’s degree might cost just $100 from education startup Udacity, says Google Fellow and Udacity co-founder Sebastian Thrun.

However, “It’s pretty obvious that degrees will go away,” Thrun says. “The idea of a degree is that you spend a fixed time right after high school to educate yourself for the rest of your career. But ­careers change so much over a lifetime now that this model isn’t valid… read more

Biologists engineer algae to make complex anti-cancer ‘designer’ drug

December 13, 2012

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a green alga used widely in biology laboratories, can produce many kinds of “designer proteins” (credit: Nathan Schoepp/University of California - San Diego)

Biologists at UC San Diego have succeeded in genetically engineering algae  to produce what has been a complex and expensive human therapeutic drug used to treat cancer.

Their achievement opens the door for making these and other “designer” proteins in larger quantities and much more cheaply than can now be made from mammalian cells.

“Because we can make the exact same drug in algae,… read more

IBM Research achieves new record for quantum computing device performance

February 28, 2012


Scientists at IBM Research have achieved major advances in quantum computing device performance that they say may accelerate the realization of a practical, full-scale quantum computer, with quantum states lasting up to 100 microseconds — a 2 to 4 times improvement over previous results.

The scientists have established three new records for reducing errors in elementary computations and retaining the integrity of quantum mechanical properties in quantum bits (qubits)… read more

Google, Facebook, Amazon advance machine-learning applications

Teaching machines to read/comprehend websites, recognize and group faces, and reject fake reviews
June 22, 2015

Syncing photos to friend in Moments (credit: Facebook)

Three new significant developments in machine-learning were announced last week.

Reading and comprehending natural-language documents

Google DeepMind in London said it has developed a way to teach machines to read natural-language documents and comprehend them, and like Watson, answer complex questions with minimal prior knowledge of language structure — at least for CNN and Daily Mail websites.

As noted by the researchers in an… read more

Apple’s new iPhone? Wraparound display, no buttons

March 30, 2013


According to patent application 20130076612, just filed by Apple, a potential smartphone design could include a full wraparound display, have no buttons.

A flexible display panel would be configured to display content at any portion of the gadget’s frame, ZDNET reports.

The use of AMOLED and a conical shape for the flexible panel could offer users “an illusion of depth perception [...] mimicking a… read more

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