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Pebbly rocks testify to old streambed on Mars

May 31, 2013


Detailed analysis and review have borne out researchers’ initial interpretation of pebble-containing slabs that NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity investigated last year: they are part of an ancient streambed.

The rocks are the first ever found on Mars that contain streambed gravels. The sizes and shapes of the gravels embedded in these conglomerate rocks — from the size of sand particles to the size of golf balls… read more

Augmented Reality: Another (Virtual) Brick in the Wall

February 16, 2005

Augmented Reality (AR) — a broad class of user interface techniques intended to enhance a person’s perception of the world around them with computer generated information — aims to enhance the analog world.

Users, via wearable display screens, see the non-virtual world around them with digital information superimposed into their surroundings.

Programs are also being developed that can make smart assumptions about what users want to do next.… read more

Organized chaos gets robots going

January 18, 2010

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization have developed a walking robot that can flexibly and autonomously switch between different gaits, modeled on human-animal neural circuits called “central pattern generators” (CPG): a simple network with just a few sensors can create very diverse movement patterns.

The secret of its functioning lies in “chaos control”: If uncontrolled, the CPG produces a chaotic activity pattern, BUT This activity… read more

New Ideas in the War on Bioterrorism

October 10, 2001

Ideas for better technology to detect, diagnose and treat biological agents are currently being pursued in the nation’s newest medical battle -— the war against bioterrorism.
There are dozens of pathogens that might conceivably be used in an attack, including some unnatural ones made by genetic engineering, and it would be impractical to develop vaccines for all of them. So the new battle will be fought with the tools of… read more

Origins of the brain: Complex synapses drove brain evolution

June 9, 2008

Contrary to current thinking, it is the increase in number and complexity of synapse proteins–with the evolution of invertebrates and vertebrates–that accounts for more sophisticated thought in larger animals, not size alone, say scientists in the Genes to Cognition Program at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Simple invertebrate species have a set of simple forms of learning powered by molecularly simple synapses, while complex mammalian species show a wider… read more

Alternate Reality Video Games Blur Many Lines

March 1, 2005

“Alternate-reality gaming” — an obsession-inspiring genre that blends real-life treasure hunting, interactive storytelling, coded web sites, video games and online community — may, incidentally, be one of the most powerful guerrilla marketing mechanisms ever invented.

Brain protein critical to movement, memory, and learning deciphered at the Advanced Light Source

January 25, 2010

Brain protein

The complete atomic-level architecture of the nervous system’s glutamate receptor protein has been fully mapped for the first time using Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Advanced Light Source.

This much-anticipated milestone could lead to new treatments for neurological diseases and a better understanding of how the nervous system controls movement, memory, and learning.

Next-gen GPS satellite upgrade: 3 feet accuracy

December 19, 2011

Block III GPS satellite (credit: Lockheed Martin)

Block III GPS satellites, which will begin replacing older orbiting GPS satellites in 2014 (part of a $5.5 billion upgrade), will improve the accuracy of military and civilian GPS worldwide to within three feet, compared with 10 feet now, AP reports.

Benefits: more accurate directions while driving, more reliable in covered areas (trees, skyscrapers, shopping malls), compatible with European and Russian systems, and more jamming-resistant.

MathWorld online encyclopedia returns

November 7, 2001

MathWorld, a free, online encyclopedia of mathematics, returned to the Web today, after legal wrangling with CRC Press. MathWorld is a comprehensive, interactive math encyclopedia intended for students, educators, math enthusiasts, and researchers.

You’ve Had a Genetic Test. Now What?

June 13, 2008

A new project by Coriell Institute for Medical Research aims to incorporate the results of genetic screening into medicine.

The researchers will evaluate the relevance of specific genes in terms of their disease risk and clinical utility, and make a direct effort to involve medical professionals.

Unlike some private services, the Coriell project will give participants only that genetic information deemed by an advisory board to be medically… read more

Damaged DNA may lead to anti-cancer drugs and therapies

March 15, 2005

Johns Hopkins chemists have discovered a new way to sabotage DNA’s ability to reproduce, a finding that could eventually lead to the development of more targeted anti-cancer drugs and therapies.

They created a synthetic, double-stranded DNA with special chemical characteristics and exposed it to long wavelength light that selectively switches on the DNA damage process.

The synthetic DNA is very similar to that which is produced when cells… read more

Real-time webcam images painted onto Google Earth

February 1, 2010

A new project to keep the virtual world of Google Earth more up to date has been developed by Austin Abrams, a PhD candidate at Washington University.

His “Live3D” browser-based application replaces the static “skin” of virtual buildings and other features with images from the Archive of Many Outdoor Scenes (AMOS), a collection of live feeds from nearly 1000 webcams streaming from various sites around the world.

A nanowire endoscope for imaging inside a single cell

December 22, 2011

Endoscope Sensing

An endoscope that can provide high-resolution optical images of the interior of a single living cell, or precisely deliver genes, proteins, therapeutic drugs or other cargo without injuring or damaging the cell, has been developed by researchers from Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley.

The researchers  attached a tin-oxide nanowire waveguide to the tapered end of an optical fiber to create a novel endoscope system. Light… read more

IBM: New transistor to boost chip speed

December 3, 2001

IBM will describe a new type of Double Gate transistor this week that it says will vastly increase the performance and reduce the power consumption of chips in the coming decade.
Double Gate transistors improve on existing designs, according to IBM, because they effectively double the electrical current that can be sent through a given transistor, or, alternatively, lower the amount of electricity running through a given gate for better… read more

Electric Muscle Stimulation Allows Breathing Without a Ventilator

June 19, 2008

Researchers at Synapse Biomedical have developed an implanted “Diaphragm Pacing Stimulation” system that can replace mechanical ventilation for patients with spinal cord injuries.

The device uses electrodes attached directly to the diaphragm to stimulate its movement, letting patients breathe normally.

Patients using mechanical ventilators require extensive medical supervision (in a ventilator ward) and have a high risk of catching pneumonia.

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