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Memory implants

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

electrode_array

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

neurally_controlled_animat

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_viewport

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

samsung.mind_.controlx299

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

evolvability_heat_map

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

Shape-shifting mobile devices

April 30, 2013

The phone screen can bend to provide privacy when needed (credit: University of Bristol)

Prototype mobile devices that can change shape on-demand and lead to high “shape resolution” devices of the future.were presented on Monday at the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Paris.

In the presentation, Dr. Anne Roudaut and Professor Sriram Subramanian, from the University of Bristol‘s Department of Computer Science used shape resolution to… read more

Pressure-controlled tactile pixels (‘taxels’) convert motion to electronic signals for imaging

April 30, 2013

Georgia Tech researcher Wenzhuo Wu holds an array of piezotronic transistors capable of converting mechanical motion directly into electronic controlling signals. The arrays are fabricated on flexible substrates. (Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek)

KurzweilAI has covered a number of recent developments aimed at giving robots a better sense of touch and humans better control of devices, such as TakkTile (Robot hands gain a gentler touch), allowing a robot to pick up a balloon without popping it (see “Related” below for other examples).

Now Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have taken it to a whole new level.… read more

Further proof for controversial quantum computer

April 29, 2013

dwave_ones_in_the_lab_large

Is the world’s only commercial quantum computer really a quantum device, or a just regular computer in disguise? Controversy has long swirled around the computer produced by D-Wave, a company based near Vancouver, Canada.

Now a paper published on the arXiv preprint server takes a step forward in showing that it really does operate on a quantum level, Nature News Blog reports.
In… read more

Scientists discover why a specific cancer drug is so effective

April 29, 2013

rituximab_cancer_cells

Scientists from the Manchester Collaborative Center for Inflammation Research (MCCIR) have discovered why a particular cancer drug is so effective at killing cells. Their findings could be used to aid the design of future cancer treatments.

Professor Daniel Davis and his team used high quality video imaging to investigate why the drug rituximab is so effective at killing cancerous B cells. It is widely used… read more

Imaging nanoparticles in action, scientists discover nanoscale tidal waves

The hidden effects of nanoparticles on human health seen at unprecedented atomic resolution
April 29, 2013

EM image of gold nanorods in liquid indicate the presence of high-resolution features. The gold lattice spacing of 2 Angstroms (.2 nm) can be identified in the image. Scale bar, 7 nm. (Credit: Madeline J. Dukes et al./Chemical Communications)

The macroscopic effects of certain nanoparticles on human health have long been clear to the naked eye. What scientists have lacked is the ability to see the detailed movements of individual particles that give rise to those effects.

Now, scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have invented a technique for imaging nanoparticle dynamics with atomic resolution as these dynamics occur in a liquid… read more

Harnessing the energy of 2,000 suns

April 29, 2013

HCPVT

The Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation has awarded scientists a $2.4 million (2.25 million CHF) grant to develop an affordable photovoltaic system capable of concentrating solar radiation 2,000 times and converting 80 percent of the incoming radiation into useful energy.*

The system would also provide desalinated water and cool air in sunny, remote locations where they are often in short supply.

The prototype HCPVT system… read more

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