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Electrical brain stimulation helps people learn math faster

May 20, 2013

TRNS-NIRS

A harmless form of brain stimulation called transcranial random noise stimulation (TRNS) can help you learn math faster, researchers report.

“With just five days of cognitive training and noninvasive, painless brain stimulation, we were able to bring about long-lasting improvements in cognitive and brain functions,” says Roi Cohen Kadosh of the University of Oxford.

The enhancements to the speed of calculation- and memory-recall-based arithmetic learning held for a… read more

Transforming graphene into a semiconductor

New technique creates the necessary "band gap," opening the possibility of new electronic and optical devices
May 20, 2013

graphene_hbn

It’s been a long-sought goal that has proved elusive: how to engineer a property called a band gap into graphene, needed to use graphene in making transistors and other electronic devices.

Now MIT researchers have taken a major step toward making graphene with a band gap.

The new technique involves placing a sheet of graphene — a carbon-based material whose structure is… read more

First fully integrated artificial photosynthesis nanosystem

May 20, 2013

Arrays of tree-like nanowires consisting of Si trunks and TiO2 branches facilitate solar water-splitting in a fully integrated artificial photosynthesis system (credit:

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) scientists have developed the first fully integrated nanosystem for artificial photosynthesis,  in which solar energy is directly converted into chemical fuels.

“Similar to the chloroplasts in green plants that carry out photosynthesis, our artificial photosynthetic system is composed of two semiconductor light absorbers, an interfacial layer for charge transport, and spatially separated co-catalysts,” says Peidong Yang, a… read more

World record for wireless data transmission

May 20, 2013

The high frequency chip only measures 4 x 1.5 mm², as the size of electronic devices scales with frequency / wavelength. Photo: Sandra Iselin / Fraunhofer IAF

Researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics and the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology have achieved wireless transmission of 40 Gbit/s over a distance of one kilometer, a new world record.

The technology may help provide future broadband access to the Internet in rural areas and places which are difficult to access.

Using a high frequency range between 200 and 280 GHz… read more

The world of wearable computers

May 20, 2013

watch

(Credit: Credit Suisse)

“The next big thing” is the rise of sophisticated wearable technology, such as smart watches, and other accessories, according to Credit Suisse semiconductor analysts, Fortune reports.

The wearables market is perhaps $3 billion to $5 billion today, rising to perhaps $30 billion to $50 billion over the next three to five years, the analysts forecast, adding that there may… read more

NSA Google search tips

May 20, 2013

NSA

A book Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research (PDF) produced by the The National Security Agency to uncover intelligence hiding on the web has just been released by the NSA, following a FOIA request, Wired reports.

It offers advice for using search engines, the Internet Archive, and other online tools. But the most interesting is the chapter titled “Google Hacking.” For example: to… read more

Thought experiment: build a supercomputer replica of the human brain

May 17, 2013

Neocortical column in Henry Markram's Blue Brain project (Credit: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)

Henry Markram’s Human Brain Project (HBP), backed by 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) funding Jan. 2013 from the European Commission, plans to integrate findings from the Allen Brain Atlas, the National Institutes of Health-funded Human Connectome Project, and the Brain (“Brain Activity Map”) project, Wired reports.

The HBP is an ambitious attempt to build a complete model of a human brain using predictive reverse-engineering and simulate it… read more

A paper-thin wearable pulse sensor

May 17, 2013

This flexible skin-like heart monitor is small enough to wear under a bandage (credit:

Engineers combine layers of flexible materials into pressure sensors to create a wearable heart monitor thinner than a dollar bill. The skin-like device could one day provide doctors with a safer way to check the condition of a patient’s heart.

Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford, has developed a heart monitor thinner than a dollar bill and no wider than… read more

Brain rewires itself after damage or injury, life scientists discover

May 17, 2013

connectome_brain_wiring

When the hippocampus, the brain’s primary learning and memory center, is damaged, complex new neural circuits — often far from the damaged site — arise to compensate for the lost function, say life scientists from UCLA and Australia who have pinpointed the regions of the brain involved in creating those alternate pathways.

The researchers found that parts of the prefrontal cortex take over when the hippocampus is… read more

Cells as living calculators

May 17, 2013

MIT engineers have created synthetic biology circuits that can perform analog computations such as taking logarithms and square roots in living cells (credit:

By combining existing genetic “parts,” or engineered genes, in novel ways, MIT engineers have transformed bacterial cells into living calculators that can compute logarithms, divide, and take square roots, using three or fewer genetic parts.

The circuits perform those calculations in an analog fashion by exploiting natural biochemical functions that are already present in the cell rather than by reinventing them with digital logic.… read more

Google and NASA launch Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab

May 17, 2013

dwave.quantumx

Google, in partnership with NASA and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), has launched an initiative to investigate how quantum computing might lead to breakthroughs in machine learning, a branch of AI that focuses on construction and study of systems that learn from data..

The new lab will use the D-Wave Two quantum computer.A recent study (see “Which is faster:read more

Which is faster: conventional or quantum computer?

D-Wave quantum computer much faster for specific problems
May 17, 2013

The D-Wave Systems Fridge with Cryogenic Packaging (credit:

A computer science professor at Amherst College has conducted experiments to test the speed of a quantum computing system (from D-Wave) against conventional computing methods.

“Ours is the first paper to my knowledge that compares the quantum approach to conventional methods using the same set of problems,” says Catherine McGeoch, the Beitzel Professor in Technology and Society (Computer Science) at Amherst.

McGeoch,… read more

Human stem cells created by cloning

May 16, 2013

cloning_stem_cells

It was hailed some 15 years ago as the great hope for a biomedical revolution: production of patient-specific embryonic stem cells (ESCs) from cloning to create perfectly matched tissues that would someday cure ailments ranging from diabetes to Parkinson’s disease.

Since then, the approach has been enveloped in ethical debate. A paper published by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a reproductive biology specialist at the Oregon Health and Science University in Beaverton,… read more

Wireless signals could transform brain-trauma diagnostics

May 16, 2013

University of California, Berkeley researchers have developed a device that uses wireless signals to provide real-time, non-invasive diagnoses of brain swelling or bleeding.

The device analyzes data from low energy, electromagnetic waves, similar to the kind used to transmit radio and mobile signals. It could potentially become a cost-effective tool for medical diagnostics and to triage injuries in areas where access to medical care, especially medical imaging, is… read more

Google escalates the competition in map services

May 16, 2013

New Google maps: search results appear

On Wednesday, Google unveiled a new Google Maps, by far the biggest redesign since it introduced Maps eight years ago, The New York Times reports.

When users who are logged into Google visit Maps, they will see the places they frequently visit highlighted, like restaurants, museums and their home. Google learns the places they go by drawing information from all of Google’s services — including search and… read more

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