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Virtual-reality simulator helps teach surgery for brain cancer

NeuroTouch system provides 3D graphics and tactile feedback during simulated brain surgery
September 24, 2012

NeuroTouch (credit: NRC)

A new virtual-reality simulator — including sophisticated 3D graphics and tactile feedback — provides allows neurosurgery trainees to practice essential skills and techniques for brain cancer surgery.

The prototype system, called “NeuroTouch,” uses 3D graphics and haptic (sense of touch) technology to provide a realistic look and feel for practice in performing common tasks in brain cancer surgery. Lead author Sébastien Delorme, PhD, of the National Research Council… read more

Automatic building mapping could help emergency responders

A prototype sensor array that can be worn on the chest automatically maps the wearer’s environment, recognizing movement between floors
September 24, 2012

wearable-sensor_mit

To help emergency responders coordinate disaster response, MIT researchers have built a wearable sensor system that automatically creates a digital map of the environment through which the wearer is moving.

In experiments, a student wearing the sensor system wandered the MIT halls, and the sensors wirelessly relayed data to a laptop in a distant conference room. Observers in the conference room were able to track the… read more

Single-molecule electronic DNA sequencing

September 24, 2012

single_molecule_dna_sequencing_nanopore

A team of researchers at Columbia University, have developed a novel approach to potentially sequence DNA in nanopores electronically at the single molecule level with single-base resolution.

This work, entitled “PEG-Labeled Nucleotides and Nanopore Detection for Single Molecule DNA Sequencing by Synthesis,” is now available in the open access online journal, Scientific Reports.

Background

The major roadblock in DNA sequencing has been the cost and speed of obtaining… read more

First working quantum bit based on a single atom in silicon

September 24, 2012

unsw_quantum_bit

A research team led by Australian engineers has created the first working quantum bit based on a single atom in silicon, opening the way to ultra-powerful quantum computers of the future.

The team was able to both read and write information using the spin, or magnetic orientation, of an electron bound to a single phosphorus atom embedded in a silicon chip.

“For the first time, we have… read more

Custom gene editing rewrites zebrafish DNA

September 24, 2012

800px-Zebrafisch

Researchers led by Stephen Ekker, a molecular biologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, have for the first time made custom changes to parts of the zebrafish (Danio rerio) genome, using artificial enzymes to cut portions of DNA out of targeted positions in a gene sequence, and replace them with synthetic DNA, Nature News reports.

One of the sequences that Ekker and his colleagues inserted into… read more

Optical waveguide connects semiconductor chips

September 24, 2012

Photonic Wire Bond Transmits Data in the Terabit Range

A team of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) researchers directed by Professor Christian Koos has succeeded in developing a novel optical connection between semiconductor chips.

“Photonic wire bonding” reaches data transmission rates in the range of several terabits per second and is suited perfectly for production on the industrial scale.

In the future, this technology may be used in high-performance emitter-receiver systems for optical… read more

Using artificial intelligence to chart the universe

September 25, 2012

cosmic_web

Astronomers at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics have developed an AI algorithm to help them chart and explain the distribution of dark matter with unprecedented accuracy.

The algorithm starts with the fluctuations in the density of the universe seen in the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR), then models the way matter collapses into today’s galaxies over the subsequent 13 billion years. The results of the algorithm are… read more

Robotic tuna developed for Homeland Security

September 25, 2012

BIOSwimmer (credit:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security‘s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is funding the development of an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) modeled on the tuna, called the BIOSwimmer.

BIOSwimmer is designed for high maneuverability in harsh environments, with a flexible aft section and appropriately placed sets of pectoral and other fins.

For cluttered and hard-to-reach underwater places where inspection is necessary, the tuna-inspired frame design is… read more

Worm mind control

Using precisely-targeted lasers, researchers manipulate neurons in worms' brains and take control of their behavior
September 25, 2012

CelegansGoldsteinLabUNC

In the quest to understand how the brain turns sensory input into behavior, scientists have crossed a major threshold.

Using precisely-targeted lasers, Harvard researchers have taken over an animal’s brain, instructing miniature nematode worms Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) to turn in any direction they choose by manipulating neurons in the worms’ “brain.”

They even implanted false sensory information, fooling the animal into thinking food was nearby.… read more

A space-time crystal clock that will last forever

Berkeley Lab researchers propose a way to build the first space-time crystal
September 25, 2012

Zhang-space-time-crystal

Imagine a clock that will keep perfect time forever, even after the heat-death of the universe — a four-dimensional “space-time crystal” with periodic structure in time as well as space.

With such a 4D crystal, scientists would have a new and more effective way to study how complex physical properties and behaviors emerge from the collective interactions of large numbers of individual particles, the “many-body problem” of physics. A space-time crystal… read more

Did life crash to Earth from space on slow-moving rocks?

September 25, 2012

Transfer of meteoroids between two planetary systems embedded in a star cluster using quasi-parabolic orbits of minimal energy. a meteoroid weakly<br />
escaping from a planetary system, and its subsequent weak capture by a neighboring planetary system in<br />
the stellar cluster. (Credit: Edward Belbrunoa et al.)

Microorganisms that crashed to Earth embedded in the fragments of distant planets might have been the sprouts of life on Earth, according to new research from Princeton University, the University of Arizona, and the Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) in Spain.

The researchers report in the journal Astrobiology that under certain conditions there is a high probability that life came to Earth — or spread from Earth to… read more

Toyota unveils helpful Human Support Robot

September 25, 2012

toyota-helper-robot-7

Toyota has unveiled a new assistant robot alled the Human Support Robot (HSR),  designed to help the disabled live more independently, Gizmag reports.

The HSR can be controlled using a simple graphical user interface via tablet. It can also wear a tablet atop its head, which would allow caregivers and family members to communicate with the robot’s owner over Skype or other services.

Unlike recent telepresence robots,… read more

DNA barcode provides virtually unlimited color patterns for tagging molecules and cells

New technology could launch biomedical imaging to next level
September 25, 2012

DNA Barcode Nanotube

Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have created a new kind of barcode (colored fluorescent biomarkers) that could come in an almost limitless array of styles — with the potential to enable scientists to gather vastly more vital information, at one given time, than ever before.

The new method harnesses the natural ability of DNA to self-assemble.

“We… read more

Beam yourself to work in a remote-controlled body

September 26, 2012

beam-robot

To make it more practical for engineers and others living in cheaper places to telecommute to work, Suitable Technologies (a Willow Garage spinoff) has developed a roving telepresence system that is more practical and less awkward to use than previous systems, says founder Scott Hassan, Technology Review reports.

The $16,000 Beam Remote Presence telepresence system, now available, can save on the expense and time of long-haul travel and allows remote workers to be… read more

Deepest-ever view of the Universe

Looking at 5500 galaxies as they were 13.2 billion years ago
September 26, 2012

hubble_extreme_deep_field

Astronomers have assembled a new, improved portrait of our deepest-ever view of the Universe called the eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, by combining ten years of NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope observations taken of a patch of sky within the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field.

The XDF is a small fraction of the angular diameter of the full Moon — a small area of space in the… read more

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