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Large-scale quantum chip validated

July 1, 2013


A team of scientists at USC has verified that quantum effects are indeed at play in the first commercial quantum optimization processor.

The team demonstrated that the D-Wave processor housed at the USC-Lockheed Martin Quantum Computing Center behaves in a manner that indicates that quantum mechanics has a functional role in the way it works. The demonstration involved a small subset of the… read more

Revolutionary space engine turns an airplane into a spaceplane

July 1, 2013


A revolutionary engine that can turn an aircraft into an orbiting spaceplane has won fresh backing from the British Government.

The hybrid engine called Skylon (Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine) — is currently being developed by Reaction Engines, SEN reports.

Until now, spacecraft heading for orbit have had to be launched by conventional rockets because of the amount of fuel needed to be get them… read more

Repairing bad memories

July 1, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Recent research has shown that memories are not unchanging physical traces in the brain. Instead, they are malleable constructs that may be rebuilt every time they are recalled, MIT Technology Review reports.

Doctors (and psychotherapists) might be able to use this knowledge to help patients block the fearful emotions they experience when recalling a traumatic event, converting chronic sources of debilitating anxiety into benign trips down memory… read more

If you must wear your tech, try not to look like an idiot

"If wearable tech companies are going to proliferate and incorporate themselves into our daily lives, they should start hiring fashion directors,"
July 1, 2013


Your wearable tech is making you look like a tool, advises TechCrunch writer Eliza Brooke. She recommends:

Fitbit Flex: Fitness bands are the easiest entry point into wearables, because everyone knows that if you want to be cool, go where the jocks go. This one is best, she says.

Nike Hyperdunk+: Basketball shoes embedded with sensors synced to the Nike+Basketball… read more

The incredible shrinking tabletop particle accelerator

Coming: "seeing the atomic structure of single protein molecules in a living sample"
July 1, 2013


Physicists at The University of Texas at Austin have built a tabletop particle accelerator that can generate energies and speeds previously reached only by major facilities that are hundreds of meters long and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build.

“We have accelerated about half a billion electrons to 2 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) over a distance of about 1 inch,” said… read more

‘First bionic eye’ retinal chip for blind to be available in 12 major markets in US later this year

July 1, 2013


University Hospitals (UH) Eye Institute will be one of the first medical centers in the United States to offer the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System (“Argus II”).

The Argus II is the first and only “bionic eye” to be approved in countries throughout the world, including the U.S. It is used to treat patients with late stage retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Argus II was developed by… read more

Twisted light could vastly increase data transmission rates

Different-shaped beams could increase fiberoptic capacity, easing Internet congestion
July 1, 2013


Boston University and USC researchers have developed a novel type of fiber optic line that allows them to encode data in a whole new way called “orbital angular momentum (OAM),” using the way light waves corkscrew as they travel. It could vastly increase data transmission rates.

Optics researchers have encoded information this way for more than a decade in open air. However, they were not able to do it… read more

A telescope for your eye

New contact lens design may improve sight of patients with macular degeneration, switches between magnified and normal vision
July 1, 2013

telescopic contact lens

An international team of researchers led by University of California San Diego Professor Joseph Ford has created a slim, telescopic contact lens that can switch between normal and magnified vision. With refinements, the system could offer age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patients a relatively unobtrusive way to enhance their vision.

Visual aids that magnify incoming light help AMD patients see by spreading light around to undamaged parts of… read more

Researchers track facial expressions to improve teaching software

July 1, 2013


Research from North Carolina State University shows that software which tracks facial expressions can accurately assess the emotions of students engaged in interactive online learning and predict the effectiveness of online tutoring sessions.

“This work is part of a larger effort to develop artificial intelligence software to teach students computer science,” says Dr. Kristy Boyer, an assistant professor of computer science at NC State and… read more

Transistors without semiconductors

Breakthrough transistor design uses quantum tunneling at room temperature, solving the heat problem with existing FET transistor designs
June 29, 2013

gold quantum_dots_on_boron_nitride_nanotubes

Michigan Technological University scientists led by professor of physics Yoke Khin Yap have created a quantum tunneling device that acts like like an FET transistor and works at room temperature — without using semiconducting materials.

The trick was to use boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) with quantum dots made from gold.

When sufficient voltage is applied to the device, it switches from insulator to a conducting… read more

First robot fish with autonomous 3D movement

June 28, 2013


Researchers from the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering have developed a robot fish that mimics the movements of a carp.

This robot — essentially an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) — is ready for applications and can be programmed to perform specific functions, such as underwater archaeology, exploring nooks and corners of wreckage or a sunken city. These are difficult… read more

Microscopy technique could help develop 3D chips

June 28, 2013

These three-dimensional tri-gate (FinFET) transistors are among the 3-D microchip structures that could be measured using through-focus scanning optical microscopy (TSOM) (credit: Intel Corporation)

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) scientists have applied a microscopy technique for viewing nanoscale objects to monitoring the next generation of 3D computer chip circuit components, potentially providing the semiconductor industry with a crucial tool for improving chips for the next decade or more.

The scientists showed that the technique, called Through-Focus Scanning Optical Microscopy (TSOM), can detect nanoscale differences in the three-dimensional… read more

Virus brain-mapping technique uncovers circuits involved in Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease

June 28, 2013

Basal ganglia (credit: Wikimedia Commons)


Gladstone Institutes and Salk Institute researchers have assembled brain-wide maps of neurons that connect with the basal ganglia, a region of the brain involved in movement and decision-making.

Developing a better understanding of this region is important as it could inform research into disorders causing basal ganglia dysfunction, including Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.

Team leaders Gladstone Investigator… read more

An ultrasensitive molybdenum-based image sensor

June 28, 2013


An EPFL team has built a prototype image sensor based on the semiconducting properties of molybdenite (molybdenum disulfide, MoS2). It could one day result in cameras that are five times more light-sensitive than current technology.

This level of sensitivity would open up the huge area of low-light or night photography, without resorting to “noise”-generating amplification techniques or high-ISO settings, slowing down the shutter speed, using… read more

Neurala to turn robots into ‘adaptive, learning beings’

June 27, 2013


Cambridge startup Neurala expects that its software for giving intelligence and autonomy to robots will part of commercial products by the end of the year, CEO and co-founder Max Versace said in an interview with Boston Business Journal.

The software aims to allow humans to control robots by telling them what to do, instead of operating them using remote control or programming for a specific… read more

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