science + technology news

An ingredient in olive oil that appears to kill cancer cells

February 20, 2015

(credit: iStock)

A Rutgers nutritional scientist and two cancer biologists at New York City’s Hunter College have found that an ingredient in extra-virgin olive oil kills a variety of human cancer cells without harming healthy cells.

The ingredient is oleocanthal, a compound that ruptures a part of the cancerous cell, releasing enzymes that cause cell death.

Paul Breslin, professor of nutritional sciences in the … read more

This radical air-filter design could help Beijing and L.A. residents breathe easily

February 20, 2015

PM capture by PAN3

Stanford’s Yi Cui and his students have turned a material commonly used in surgical gloves into a low-cost, highly efficient air filter that could be used to improve facemasks and window screens, and maybe even scrub the exhaust from power plants.

Finding himself choked by smog from produced by automobiles and coal power plants on trips to China, Yi Cui, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at… read more

New paper-like material for lithium-ion batteries could boost electric vehicle range

February 19, 2015

Scanning electron microscope image silicon nanofibers after etching, under high magnification (Credit: UCR)

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have developed a novel paper-like material for lithium-ion batteries.

It has the potential to boost by several times the specific energy, or amount of energy that can be delivered per unit weight of the battery.

This paper-like material is composed of sponge-like silicon nanofibers more than 100 times thinner than human hair. It could be used in… read more

Could dark matter cause some mass extinctions and geologic upheavals?

February 19, 2015

NGC 4565, an edge-on spiral galaxy. The stars, dust and gas are concentrated into a thin disc, much like the one in our Milky Way galaxy. (Credit: Jschulman555)

In Earth’s path around and through our Galaxy’s disc, dark matter may perturb the orbits of comets and lead to additional heating in the Earth’s core, both of which could be connected with mass extinction events, according to a research finding by New York University Biology Professor Michael Rampino.

Writing in an open-access paper published today, Feb. 19, in Monthly Notices ofread more

Scientists find ‘strongest’ natural material

February 19, 2015

A scanning electron microscope image of limpet teeth (credit: University of Portsmouth)

Limpet teeth might be the strongest natural material known, with biological structures so strong (3.0 to 6.5 GPa tensile strength) they could be copied to make future cars, boats, and planes, a new study by researchers from the University of Portsmouth has found.

The research was published (open access) Wednesday Feb. 18 in the Royal Society journal Interface.

“Until now, we thought that spider… read more

New algorithms locate where a video was shot from its images and sounds

Could help recognize locations of missing people or terrorist executions in the future
February 18, 2015

sample frames2

Researchers from the Ramón Llull University (Spain) have created a system capable of geolocating some videos by comparing their images and audio with a worldwide multimedia database, for cases where textual metadata is not available or relevant.

In the future, this could help to find people who have gone missing after posting images on social networks, or even to recognize locations of terrorist executions by organizations such as ISIS.… read more

New molecular shape for electronic circuits discovered

February 18, 2015


Corannulene — a carbon molecule with molecular shape similar to fullerene (C60) — has properties that could be ideal for building molecule-size circuits, a team of scientists from SISSA, the University of Zurich, and the University of Nova Gorica in Slovenia has found in theoretical studies.

Imagine taking a fullerene sphere and cutting it in half like a melon. What you get is a corannulene (C20H10)… read more

An ‘in silico’ method of predicting effectiveness of cognitive enhancers

February 17, 2015

pathway activation profile2

The Biogerontology Research Foundation (BGRF) has used gene expression data to evaluate activated or suppressed signaling pathways in tissues or neurons of the mouse brain that has been cognitively enhanced with nootropic drugs.

Currently used cognitive enhancers are those that are widely available, rather than optimal for the user, the researchers note. These include drugs typically prescribed for treatment of ADHD (e.g., methylphenidate) and sleep… read more

Gold nanotubes image and destroy cancer cells in three ways

February 17, 2015

Pulsed near infrared light (shown in red) is shone onto a tumour (shown in white) that is encased in blood vessels. The tumour is imaged by multispectral optoacoustic tomography via the ultrasound emission (shown in blue) from the gold nanotubes. (credit: Jing Claussen/iThera Medical, Germany)

Leeds scientists have shown that gold nanotubes can fight cancer in three ways: as internal nanoprobes for high-resolution photoacoustic imaging, as drug delivery vehicles, and as agents for destroying cancer cells.

The study, published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, details the first successful demonstration of the biomedical use of gold nanotubes in a mouse model of human cancer — an alternative to existing chemotherapy and… read more

Purdue spinoff commercializes new design tool that helps users create computer-generated shapes without using a mouse

February 17, 2015

Karthik Ramani, Purdue University's Donald W. Feddersen Professor of Mechanical Engineering and co-founder and chief scientist of Zero UI, demonstrates how the Handy Potter can be used as a hand-free, gesture-based 3-D modeling software to create digital models and then print the designs on a 3D printer. The technology is being commercialized by Zero UI, a Cupertino, California-based company. (credit: Purdue Research Foundation)

A Purdue innovation that enables people to use a new class of hands-free, gesture-based 3D modeling software is being commercialized by Zero UI, a Cupertino, California-based company that specializes in 3D modeling technology.

The technology, called Handy-Potter, addresses the complexity and limitations of conventional computer-aided-design (CAD) tools used to create geometric shapes.

Handy-Potter uses a Kinectdepth-sensing camera with advanced software algorithms to interpret hand movements… read more

How to store data error-free for millions of years

February 16, 2015

fossil data storage

ETH researchers have found an error-free  way to store information in the form of DNA, potentially preserving it for millions of years: encapsulate the information-bearing segments of DNA in silica (glass), using an error-correcting information-encoding scheme.

Scrolls thousands of years old provide us with a glimpse into long-forgotten cultures and the knowledge of our ancestors. In this digital era, in contrast, a large part of our knowledge is… read more

New laser probe identifies brain cancer cells in real time

Promises to improves tumor surgeries and extend survival times for brain cancer patients
February 16, 2015

The image depicts a 3D rendering of the brain, with the cancer detectable on T1- and T2-weighted MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in red and yellow respectively. The bright points indicate cancer detected using Raman spectroscopy (probe measurements were made at these points), as far as 1cm beyond what is detectable using MRI, and the actual cancer cells are depicted conceptually in the pop out. By detecting these invasive cancer cells, we can provide the surgeon with a tool to allow for more complete resection and thereby improve patient survival. (credit: Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital - The Neuro)

A new intraoperative handheld probe for cancer-cell-detection enables surgeons, for the first time, to detect more than 92% of invasive brain cancer cells in real time during surgery, according to its developers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro, McGill University MUHC, and Polytechnique Montréal.

“Often it is impossible to visually distinguish cancer from normal brain, so invasive brain cancer cells frequently remain after surgery, leading… read more

Precision growth of light-emitting nanowires

February 13, 2015

Nanowires grown using catalyst rich in gold (top) and nickel (bottom). (Credit: Berkeley Lab)

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab) scientists have demonstrated a new technique for growing nanowires with control over their light-emitting and electronic properties, using specially engineered catalysts.

The new approach could allow for making better next-generation devices such as solar cells, light emitting diodes, and high-power electronics, says Shaul Aloni, staff scientist at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, and lead author on the study published in read more

A prosthetic hand that moves and provides sensation, just like a natural hand

DARPA's program aims to restore touch to amputees
February 13, 2015


In another major step toward dissolving the boundaries between machine and human, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded prime contracts for Phase 1 of its Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) program to a multi-institution research team. HAPTIX (a play on “haptics“) seeks to create a prosthetic hand system that moves and provides sensation like a natural hand, according to DARPA.

Despite recent… read more

Training computers to understand sentiments conveyed by images

February 12, 2015


Jiebo Luo, professor of computer science at the University of Rochester, in collaboration with researchers at Adobe Research has come up with a more accurate way than currently possible to train computers to be able to digest big data that comes in the form of images.

‪In a paper presented at the recent American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) conference in Austin, Texas,… read more

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