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Online learning at Stanford goes open source with OpenEdX

MIT, Harvard study: what works in online learning?
June 13, 2013

EdX2

Stanford online coursework will be available starting this summer on a new open-source platform, OpenEdX, the university has announced.

In April, Stanford and edX, the nonprofit online learning enterprise founded by Harvard and MIT, announced they would collaborate on future development of the edX online platform. As part of that effort, edX has released the platform as open-source for developers around the world to… read more

The world as free-fire zone

How drones made it easy for Americans to kill a particular person anywhere on the planet
June 13, 2013

Reaper Drone (Credit: USAF)

“The rise of the drone is not a case of technology run amok. It is the result of human decision: of political calculation and, too often, strategic evasion,” says author Fred Kaplan in MIT Technology Review.

“Judging from its expanded use over the past five years, the drone’s chief danger is that it makes war too easy — so easy that commanders, including the commander-in-chief, can fool themselves… read more

Turning human spare parts into exports

June 13, 2013

800px-HertValve

Professor György K.B. Sándor believes that tissue engineering can become a new global export item.

Sándor specializes in oral and maxillofacial surgery, and does research on bone regeneration, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, tissue engineering, and stem cells.

The goal of his research at the University of Tampere in Finland is to produce bone and cartilage using tissue engineering and to optimize the use of tissue-derived stem cells for… read more

Video gamers capture more information faster for visual decision-making

June 13, 2013

teaser-warface_2

Hours spent at the video gaming console probably train the brain to make better and faster use of visual input, according to Duke University researchers.

“Gamers see the world differently,” said Greg Appelbaum, an assistant professor of psychiatry in the Duke School of Medicine. “They are able to extract more information from a visual scene.”

The study

In… read more

New tasks become as simple as waving a hand with brain-computer interfaces

A new marker for BCI task learning
June 13, 2013

This image shows the changes that took place in the brain for all patients participating in the study using a brain-computer interface. Changes in activity were distributed widely throughout the brain. (Credit: University of Washington)

Small brain-computer interface (BCI) electrodes placed on or inside the brain allow patients to interact with computers or control robotic limbs simply by thinking about how to execute those actions.

This technology could improve communication and daily life for a person who is paralyzed or has lost the ability to speak from a stroke or neurodegenerative disease.

Now, University of Washington researchers have demonstrated that… read more

Nanofiber sensor instantly detects diabetes or lung cancer in breath

Expect these sensors for medical diagnosis in smartphones and tricorders
June 13, 2013

Breath sensor-cover

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a highly sensitive exhaled-breath sensor, using tin dioxide (SnO2)  fibers assembled from thin, wrinkled SnO2 nanotubes.

These metal-oxide nanofiber-based chemiresistive gas sensors allow for portable real-time breath tests that could be available on smart phones or tablets in the near future.

They sensors allow for diagnosing serious diseases such as diabetes or lung… read more

A diabetes ‘breathalyzer’

June 12, 2013

A transmission electron microscopy image of the hybrid material revealing the formation of “titanium dioxide on a stick” (credit:

Diabetes patients often receive their diagnosis after a series of glucose-related blood tests in hospital settings, and then have to monitor their condition daily through expensive, invasive methods. But what if diabetes could be diagnosed and monitored through cheaper, noninvasive methods?

Chemists at the University of Pittsburgh have demonstrated a sensor technology that could significantly simplify the diagnosis and monitoring of diabetes through breath analysis… read more

Astrobiologists find Martian clay contains chemical implicated in the origin of life

June 12, 2013

Electron microscope image showing the 700-million-year-old Martian clay veins containing boron (100 µm = one tenth of a millimeter) (credit:

Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa NASA Astrobiology Institute (UHNAI) have discovered high concentrations of boron in a Martian meteorite.

When present in its oxidized form (borate), boron may have played a key role in the formation of RNA, one of the building blocks for life. The work was published on June 6 in open-access PLOS One.

“Borates may have been important… read more

Lifespan-extending drug given late in life reverses age-related heart disease in mice

June 12, 2013

Lightmatter_lab_mice

Elderly mice suffering from age-related heart disease saw a significant improvement in cardiac function after being treated with the FDA-approved drug rapamycin for just three months.

The research, led by a team of scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, shows how rapamycin impacts mammalian tissues, providing functional insights and possible benefits for a drug that has been shown to extend the lifespan… read more

Microsoft’s robot touch screen lets you palpate a brain

June 12, 2013

TouchMover

Microsoft Research is developing a prototype of a haptic feedback touch screen called TouchMover, IEEE Spectrum reports.

The robotic system behind a curtain pushes back with a pressure that reflects the physical properties of virtual objects on the screen.

Researchers uploaded a full set of MRI brain scans and demoed how doctors might scroll through them and annotate specific slides.

Wth some additional programming, the… read more

86 civil liberties groups and Internet companies demand an end to NSA spying

June 12, 2013

nsa-square

A bipartisan coalition of 86 civil liberties organizations and Internet companies — including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, reddit, Mozilla, FreedomWorks, and the American Civil Liberties Union — are demanding swift action from Congress in light of the recent revelations about unchecked domestic surveillance, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In an open letter to lawmakers sent today, the groups call for a congressional investigatory committee, similar to… read more

Sensing individual biomolecules with optical sensors inside ‘nanoboxes’

June 12, 2013

dimer_antenna_nanobox

Researchers at the Fresnel Institute in Marseille and ICFO, Institute for Photonic Sciences in Barcelona have designed and built the smallest optical device capable of detecting and sensing individual biomolecules at concentrations similar to those found in cells.

The device consists on a tiny dimer (dual) sensor made out of two gold semi-spheres, separated from each other by a gap as small as 15nm (size… read more

Nanorods found better than spherical nanoparticles for targeted drug delivery

June 12, 2013

nanorods

Conventional treatments such as drugs for diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease can carry harmful side effects, mainly because the treatments are not targeted specifically to the cells of the body where they’re needed.

Now a new study has found that rod-shaped nanoparticles (nanorods) — as opposed to spherical nanoparticles — appear to adhere more effectively to the surface of endothelial cells (which line… read more

A low-cost, implantable electronic biosensor

June 12, 2013

Design of chip with protective coaiting. A sensing channel connects the source (S) and drain (D) with a reference electrode (RE). When a target protein binds to the receptor, it induces charges in the substrate, causing a change in the current flow between the source and drain. Inset: typical structure of a MOS capacitor used in this study (Credit: A. Ramesh et al.)

Ohio State University engineers are developing low-cost electronic devices that work in direct contact with living tissue inside the body.

The initial objective is to develop an in vivo biosensor to detect the presence of proteins that mark the first signs of organ rejection in the body. Such biosensors could also be used for detecting glucose, pH, and diseases such as cancer.

Doctors would… read more

The RoboRoach: control a living insect from your smartphone

June 11, 2013

RoboRoach

The RoboRoach, a Kickstarter project, is the “world’s first commercially available cyborg” — part cockroach and part machine.

The backpack communicates directly to the roach’s neurons in its antennas via small electrical pulses.

The cockroach undergoes a short surgery (under anesthesia) in which wires are placed inside the antenna. Once it recovers, a backpack is temporarily placed on its back.

When you send a command… read more

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