MIT conference counters myths of manufacturing

May 11, 2012


The U.S. manufacturing sector, which is burdened by negative stereotypes, is showing signs of revival, according to speakers at The Future of Manufacturing in the U.S. conference held on May 8 and 9 at MIT.

The United States added about 50,000 manufacturing jobs this January alone, the largest monthly gain since 1998, and companies such as Ford Motor Co. have moved overseas plants back to the United States.… read more

Psychopathy linked to brain abnormalities

May 11, 2012

anterior temporal cortex_slices

New research provides the strongest evidence to date that psychopathy is linked to specific structural abnormalities in the brain. The study, led by researchers at King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) is the first to confirm that psychopathy is a distinct neuro-developmental sub-group of anti-social personality disorder (ASPD).

Most violent crimes are committed by a small group of persistent male offenders with ASPD. Approximately half of male prisoners… read more

Why Google’s self-driving car may save lives — if all cars are computer-driven

May 11, 2012


The technology behind Google’s self-driving car represents a potential leap forward in auto safety.

More than 30,000 people are killed each year in crashes despite huge advances in auto safety. The overwhelming majority of those crashes are caused by human-driver error.

Computer driven cars could reduce traffic deaths by a very significant degree, said David Champion, head of auto testing at Consumer Reports, but only if all cars are… read more

Privacy perils of social reading

May 11, 2012


The Internet and social media have opened up new vistas for people to share preferences in films, books and music, providing what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls “frictionless sharing.” But a world of automatic, always-on disclosure should give us pause,” says Neil M. Richards, JD, privacy law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis.

“’Frictionless sharing’ isn’t really frictionless – it forces on… read more

Assessing brain function in unconscious, brain-injured patients

May 14, 2012

MRI Head

New functional and imaging-based diagnostic tests that measure communication and signaling between different brain regions may provide valuable information about consciousness in patients unable to communicate.

The new tests, described in an open-access survey article, are functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) combined with electroencephalograpy (EEG), and response to neuronal perturbation, measuring, for example, sensory evoked potentials (ERP).

Disorders of consciousness such as coma… read more

‘Dolphin speaker’ to enhance study of dolphin vocalizations and acoustics

May 14, 2012


To gain new insights into how dolphins communicate, researchers at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology and  Fusion Inc. created a prototype of an extremely broadband “dolphin speaker” capable of projecting dolphins’ communication sounds, whistles, burst-pulse sounds, as well as detection sounds such as echolocation clicks.

Dolphins rely on the combination of a variety of vocalizations and vastly better acoustic abilities than humans to communicate with each other… read more

Glial cells supply axon nerve fibers with energy, researchers find

May 14, 2012

Electron microscope cross-section image of the nerve fibres (axons) of the optic nerve. Axons are surrounded by special glial cells, the oligodendrocytes, wrapping themselves around the axons in several layers. Between the axons, there are extensions of astrocytes, another type of glial cells

Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine researchers have discovered a possible mechanisms by which glial cells in the brain support axons and keep them alive.

Oligodendrocytes are a group of highly specialized glial cells in the central nervous system. They form the fat-rich myelin sheath that surrounds the nerve fibers as an insulating layer increases the transmission speed of the axons and also reduces ongoing… read more

Improving doctor-patient communication via social media and lower costs

May 14, 2012

Hospital social media accounts (credit: Peter D. DeVries/International Journal of Electronic Finance)

A new social media platform geared towards healthcare might enable patients to share information with other patients and gain knowledge — and enable physicians to share and learn from their peers more readily, says a study in the International Journal of Electronic Finance.

The meshing of these two threads could also make improve doctor-patient communication, and healthcare industry as a whole,by reducing inefficiencies and making healthcare provision and advice more immediate and… read more

A computer interface that takes a load off your mind

May 14, 2012

A user tries the Brainput system (credit: Erin Treacy Solovey)

Postdoctoral MIT researcher Erin Treacy Solovey and her team have designed Brainput, a system using a headband that recognizes when a person’s workload is excessive and automatically modifies a computer interface to make it easier.

The researchers used a lightweight, portable brain monitoring technology called functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), which senses brain activitythrough the skull (no electrodes neeed).

Analysis of the brain scan data was then fed into a… read more

Connected sky: surfing the web above the clouds

May 14, 2012


A recent deal between the British satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat and one of the biggest global aviation suppliers, Honeywell, may help give in-flight connectivity speed a boost.

Inmarsat plans to launch three satellites into orbit in the years to come, with the first one planned for 2013. The firm says the project, called Global Xpress, will provide global coverage and essentially make in-flight Wi-fi fast, cheap, reliable, and available… read more

New type of retinal prosthesis could restore sight to blind

May 14, 2012

A photovoltaic retinal prosthesis --- a flexible sheet of silicon pixels that convert light into electrical signals that can be picked up by neurons in the eye. A scanning-electron micrograph shows the implant in a pig’s eye. (Credit: Nature Photonics/Stanford)

Using tiny solar-panel-like cells surgically placed underneath the retina, scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have devised a system that may someday restore sight to people who have lost vision because of certain types of degenerative eye diseases.

This device — a new type of retinal prosthesis — involves a specially designed pair of goggles, which are equipped with a miniature camera and… read more

Wearing a computer is good for you

May 15, 2012

(credit: iBGStar)

Fitness trends and health-care problems are creating demand for tiny computers we won’t even notice we’re carrying.

What if your doctor had already received the information from a tiny device built into your cell phone, wallet, or undershirt? Sonny Vu, a cofounder of the medical-device company AgaMatrix, believes a device like this could fundamentally change health care.

He created the first FDA-approved glucose sensor that plugs into an iPhone;… read more

Generating electricity from viruses as you walk

May 15, 2012


Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a way to generate power using harmless viruses that convert mechanical energy into electricity.

The generator produces enough current to operate a small liquid-crystal display. It works by tapping a finger on a postage stamp-sized electrode coated with specially engineered viruses. The viruses convert the force of the tap into an electric… read more

Android payback: Apple to cut Google out of stunning new 3D maps app in iOS6

May 15, 2012

New Apple maps image based on C3 3D technology (credit: Apple)

It was widely reported yesterday that Apple will likely announce at its WWDC in June that the new version of the built-in maps app in iOS6 will not be fed by Google maps. Instead, Apple has developed its own, in-house 3-D mapping database, based on the acquisition of three mapping software companies between 2009 and 2011, PlacebaseC3read more

Italian quadruped robot goes for a walk

May 15, 2012

hyq robot outdoor test

Researchers from the Italian Institute of Technology took their quadruped robot HyQ for a test run outside the lab for the first time to test new tricks HyQ has learned, including the ability to trot over obstacles without falling, IEET Spectrum Automaton reports

The robot is still a strange headless creature, and though a sensor head is in the works, this quadruped might get even weirder with… read more

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