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Brain implant gives early warning of epileptic seizure

May 2, 2013


A new brain implant can warn of seizures minutes before they strike, enabling them to get out of situations that could present a safety risk, New Scientist reports.

With funding from NeuroVista, a medical device company in Seattle, Mark Cook of the University of Melbourne and his colleagues have developed a brain implant that consists of a small patch of electrodes that measure brain… read more

Radical new graphene design operates at terahertz speed

May 2, 2013

Tunnelling transistor based on vertical graphene heterostructures. Tunnelling current between two graphene layers can be controlled by gating (Credit: Condensed Matter Physics Group/University of Manchester)

A new transistor capable of revolutionizing technologies for medical imaging and security screening has been developed by graphene researchers from the Universities of Manchester and Nottingham.

This is the first graphene-based transistor with bistable characteristics, which means that the device can spontaneously switch between two electronic states.

Such devices are in great demand as emitters of terahertz (trillions of oscillations per second, or thousands of gigahertz)… read more

DARPA seeks new ideas for mobile ad hoc networks

Would bypass Internet limitations, expand mobile network 20 times
May 2, 2013

MANETs (credit: DARPA)

Troops operating in forward locations without telecommunication infrastructure often rely on a mobile ad hoc network (MANET) to communicate and share data.

The communication devices  double as nodes on the mobile network. But the network can only scale to around 50 nodes before network services become ineffective.

So DARPA is looking for revolutionary new ideas for technologies unencumbered by Internet Protocols (IP) that could… read more

Lab-on-chip detects multiple tropical infectious diseases

May 2, 2013

Inserting natural samples directly into the VereTropTM chip, allowing fast and accurate identification of various tropical diseases that share the same fever symptoms (credit: A*STAR)

VereTrop, the first biochip that can identify 13 different major tropical diseases from a single blood sample, has been launched by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and Veredus Laboratories.

“Tropical diseases often reflect common symptoms like fever, and may not be accurately diagnosed early by doctors. This portable test kit is a rapid and reliable method to accurately test for multiple… read more

Global networks must be redesigned

May 2, 2013

Illustration of the principle of a "time bomb" --- a single,<br />
local perturbation of a node may cause large-scale damage through a<br />
cascade effect, similar to chain reactions in nuclear fission.

Our global networks have generated many benefits and new opportunities. However, they have also established highways for failure propagation, which can ultimately result in man-made disasters. For example, today’s quick spreading of emerging epidemics is largely a result of global air traffic, with serious impacts on global health, social welfare, and economic systems.

In a Nature paper on globally networked risks, ETH Zürich Prof. Dr. Dirk Helbing, Chair of Sociology, illustrates… read more

Bug’s eye inspires hemispherical digital camera

May 2, 2013

Nearly hemispheric (credit: John A. Rogers/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Inspired by the complex fly eye, researchers have developed a nearly hemispherical digital camera with 180 tiny lenses, delivering exceptionally wide-angle field of view and sharp images.

Humans capture pictures using the two lenses of our relatively flat eyes, while a top-of-the-line SLR camera has just one flat lens.

The new camera — a rounded half bubble, similar to a bug’s eye — has 180 microlenses mounted… read more

Memory implants

A maverick neuroscientist believes he has deciphered the code by which the brain forms long-term memories
May 1, 2013


Teodore Berger, a biomedical engineer and neuroscientist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, envisions a day in the not too distant future when a patient with severe memory loss can get help from an electronic implant, MIT Technology Review reports.

In people whose brains have suffered damage from Alzheimer’s, stroke, or injury, disrupted neuronal networks often prevent long-term memories from forming. For more than… read more

A ‘super-resolution’ microscope for nanostructures

May 1, 2013

A new type of super-resolution optical microscopy takes a high-resolution image (at right) of graphite "nanoplatelets" about 100 nanometers wide. The imaging system, called saturated transient absorption microscopy, or STAM, uses a trio of laser beams and represents a practical tool for biomedical and nanotechnology research. (Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, Purdue University)

Researchers have found a way to see synthetic nanostructures and molecules, using a new type of super-resolution optical microscopy that does not require fluorescent dyes, representing a practical tool for biomedical and nanotechnology research.

“Super-resolution optical microscopy has opened a new window into the nanoscopic world,” said Ji-Xin Cheng, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and chemistry at Purdue University.

Conventional… read more

XPrize After Earth challenge

May 1, 2013

xprize after earth

The XPrize Foundation has teamed up with  Sony Pictures Entertainment and Overbrook Entertainment to launch a robotics competition celebrating the release of After Earth, in theaters May 31.

In Phase 1 of the challenge, teams will create a 2–3 minute video essay that answers targeted questions and describes their thinking on the importance of space exploration, and the relationship between sustainability and survival. Video entries will be judged, and ten… read more

Subcellular magnetic imaging of living cells

May 1, 2013

A typical electron microscope image of a bacterium; magnetic nanoparticles inside the bacterium appear as black spots. A new technique has been developed that is capable of studying living cells at comparable spatial resolutions by taking advantage of the presence of these magnetic particles.<br />
Credit: Nature

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) scientists have developed a method for determining the magnetic structure of living biological specimens down to a sub-cellular level.

In their study, they use “magnetotactic” bacteria (MTB), which contain magnetic nanoparticles.

The researchers, David Le Sage, David Glenn, and Ron Walsworth, together with their collaborators, place these live bacteria onto a diamond surface that has been modified to contain crystal defects… read more

Network of brain cells models smart power grid

Studying how neural networks integrate and respond to complex information could inspire methods for managing power supply and use
April 30, 2013


A team of neuroscientists and engineers at Clemson University is using neurons grown in a dish to control simulated power grids.

The researchers hope that studying how neural networks integrate and respond to complex information will inspire new methods for managing the country’s ever-changing power supply and demand.

“The brain is one of the most robust computational platforms that exists,” says Ganesh Kumar Venayagamoorthy, Ph.D., director… read more

Microsoft could make 3D Skype calls a reality with new meeting tech

April 30, 2013


Microsoft is developing a 3D telepresence technology for remote workers, The Verge reports.

The company says it is also looking to extend the technology to Skype, allowing consumers to enjoy “high-definition communication” in its voice and video calling software and “a realistic physical ‘body-double’ or proxy in a remote meeting.”

Microsoft’s job listing suggests it is looking to develop its Viewport research project into… read more

Nanowire transistors could keep Moore’s Law alive

April 30, 2013

Diagram of a 3D nano-transistor showing the gate (red) surrounding the vertical nanowires (green) and separating the contacts at the ends of each nanowire (beige) (credit: X-L Han and G. Larrieu/CNRS)

Two researchers working in France report the creation of a nanowire transistor that could be scaled down to to power the microprocessors of the 2020s, IEEE Spectrum reports.

It consists of an array of 225 doped-silicon nanowires, each 30 nm wide and 200 nm tall, vertically linking the two platinum contact planes that form the source and drain of the transistor. Besides their narrowness, what’s… read more

Brain-computer interfaces inch closer to mainstream, raising questions

April 30, 2013


Soon, we might interact with our smartphones and computers simply by using our minds, suggests The New York Times.

“Some crude brain-reading products already exist, letting people play easy games or move a mouse around a screen.

“But the products commercially available today will soon look archaic. ‘To really be able to understand what is going on with the brain today you need to surgically implant… read more

A new spin on origins of evolvability: survival of the evolvable

Diversity trumps competition
April 30, 2013


Scientists have long observed that species seem to have become increasingly capable of evolving in response to changes in the environment.

But computer science researchers now say that the popular explanation of competition to survive in nature may not actually be necessary for evolvability to increase.

In a paper published this week in open-access PLOS ONE, the researchers report that evolvability… read more

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