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Similar patterns in genes, brains, feeding

October 25, 2002

Scientists have used a mathematical algorithm to detect recurring patterns in the networks making up everything from food webs to the Internet to gene regulation in cells.

By uncovering these crucial building blocks of networks, researchers have taken an important step toward unraveling the bewildering complexity of these systems, which they term “motifs.”

Simple brain exercise can boost IQ

April 29, 2008

Experiments by University of Michigan at Ann Arbor neuropsychologists showed improved “fluid intelligence,” or Gf, the ability to reason, solve new problems and think in the abstract.

The first part of the “dual n-back” exercise involves small squares on a screen that pop into a new location every three seconds. Volunteers have to press a button when the current location is a duplicate of two views earlier.

For… read more

Simple Casting Technique To Create Ordered Nanocarbons

May 10, 2005

Carnegie Mellon University scientists have harnessed an experimental technology to produce polymer films with long-range-ordered nanostructure and easily convert them into highly ordered “nanocarbon arrays.”

Called zone casting, this technology could revolutionize the way industrial nanoelectronic components are made.

They used “block copolymers,” which are made of long-chain molecules with distinct “blocks” of chemically different repeating units. To create self-assembling nanostructures from block copolymers, they used molecules with… read more

Simple finger device may help predict future heart attack

March 30, 2009

Results of a Mayo Clinic study show that a simple, noninvasive finger sensor test, the EndoPAT by Itamar Medical, that measures the health of endothelial cells by measuring blood flow, is “highly predictive” of a major cardiac event, such as a heart attack or stroke.

Simple mathematical computations underlie brain circuits

Discovery of how some neurons inhibit others could shed light on autism, other neurological disorders
August 9, 2012

Mapping functional inhibition by neurons

MIT neuroscientists report that two major classes of brain cells repress neural activity in specific mathematical ways: One type subtracts from overall activation, while the other divides it.

The brain has billions of neurons, arranged in complex circuits that allow us to perceive the world, control our movements and make decisions. Deciphering those circuits is critical to understanding how the brain works and what goes wrong in neurological… read more

Simple mathematical pattern describes shape of neuron ‘jungle’

Follows a power law
June 22, 2012

Target points (red) are distributed in a spherical volume V and connected to optimize wiring to a tree (black) with total length L  (credit: H. Cuntz et al./PNAS)

University College London (UCL) neuroscientists have found that there is a simple pattern that describes the tree-like shape of all neurons.

Neurons look remarkably like trees, and connect to other cells with many branches that effectively act like wires in an electrical circuit, carrying impulses that represent sensation, emotion, thought and action.

Over 100 years ago, Santiago Ramon y Cajal, the father of modern neuroscience,… read more

Simple motion-capture system for programming robots

May 15, 2011

The robotic arm can be controlled with an input device. When the hand holding the device is moved, the robot emulates the movement. (Credit: Fraunhofer IPA)

Programming robotic arms just got a lot easier thanks to the efforts of Bernhard Kleiner and his team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart.

The key breakthrough is a set of inertial sensors in a hand-held input device, and software that ties their inputs together to reconstruct a detailed model of body motion.

The device records precise motions… read more

Simple new method of writing magnetic data

August 2, 2011

Up–down magnetic switching of a cobalt dot (credit: Ioan Mihai Miron et al./Nature)

Scientists from the Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology, ICREA, the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, and collaborators have discovered a new method to write magnetic data.

It eliminates the need for cumbersome magnetic fields and provides extremely simple and reversible writing of memory elements by injecting an electric current parallel to the plane of a magnetic bit.

The researchers said that the… read more

Simple ‘superlens’ sharpens focusing power

April 25, 2008

University of Michigan researchers have created a simple-to-make planar “superlens” that can focus 10 times more sharply than a conventional lens.

It could shrink the size of features on computer chips by focusing light into smaller spots during photolithography to etch smaller features onto computer chips, and facilate wireless transmission of power.

Simple Vibrating Bot Climbs Tubes With Ease

May 13, 2010

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have developed a robot that can climb three-dimensional tubes.

Its simple motor turns an unbalanced mass at a uniform velocity. As the mass swings around, it causes the robot to bounce back and forth between the tube walls. Two rubber o-rings let the researches specify the exact contact points and increase friction with the walls.

Simple vision-correcting overlay and algorithm could replace reading glasses for viewing devices

July 30, 2014

Researchers placed a printed pinhole array mask on top of an iPod touch as part of their prototype display. Shown above are top-down and side-view images of the setup. (Credit: Fu-Chung Huang)

UC Berkeley and MIT researchers have developed a prototype of a simple vision-correcting display (and associated algorithm) that uses a printed pinhole screen sandwiched between two layers of clear plastic attached to an iPod display to enhance image sharpness.

The tiny pinholes are 75 microns (millionths of a meter) each and spaced 390 microns apart.

The algorithm adjusts the intensity of each direction of light that emanates from… read more

Simple way to create nanocircuitry on graphene developed

June 11, 2010

(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

A method of drawing nanoscale circuits onto atom-thick sheets of graphene has been developed by researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The simple, quick one-step process for creating nanowires, based on thermochemical nanolithography (TCNL), tunes the electronic properties of reduced graphene oxide, allowing it to switch from being an insulating material to a conducting material.… read more

Simpler antidote for heavy eyelids

May 23, 2011

Anti Sleep Pilot (credit:ASP Technology, Ltd.)

The makers of the $179 Anti Sleep Pilot have taken a simpler and different approach to the problem of driver fatigue.

Rather than focus on looking for clues that the driver is about to fall asleep, this device requires regular input from drivers to ensure they are alert.

Placed on the dashboard, the Oreo-size Anti Sleep Pilot has a built-in motion detector, flashing lights, and an audible… read more

Simpler, smarter consumer-electronics interfaces

January 10, 2012


Several products that eliminate remote controls and other awkward interfaces are being shown at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, or are in the labs.

read more

‘Sims’ creator inks TV deal with Fox

June 4, 2003

Will Wright, creator of “The Sims,” has signed a deal with Fox Broadcasting Co. to develop a TV show starring a robot.

“I’d like to fast-forward into the future a bit and explore how machines and artificial intelligence will impact human beings and how robots will help us define ourselves,” Wright said.

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