Biolab on a chip

September 26, 2012


MIT researchers figured out a way to get instant blood tests.

If you throw a ball underwater, you’ll find that the smaller it is, the faster it moves: A larger cross-section greatly increases the water’s resistance. The researchers plan to use this basic principle, on a microscopic scale, to carry out biomedical tests that could eventually lead to fast, compact and versatile medical-testing devices.

The balls used here… read more

Hundreds of biochemical analyses on a single device

September 26, 2012

Design drawing of the k-MITOMI microfluidic device. Blue and grey lines represent flow and control channels, The four separately addressable “button” control channels (BF1 to BF4) are highlighted in red, cyan, green, and yellow. (Credit: Marcel Geertza/PNAS)

Scientists at EPFL and the University of Geneva have developed a microfluidic device smaller than a domino that can simultaneously measure up to 768 biomolecular interactions.

Inside our cells, molecules are constantly binding and separating from one another. It’s this game of constant flux that drives gene expression asides essentially every other biological process.

Understanding the specific details of how these interactions take place… read more

Nanoscale technologies to cut DNA sequencing costs

National Human Genome Research Institute makes grants totalling $19 million
September 26, 2012

dna sequencing costs

Grants of almost $19 million will help to develop technologies to dramatically reduce the cost of DNA sequencing, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, has announced.

During the past decade, DNA sequencing costs have fallen dramatically (see www.genome.gov/sequencingcosts), fueled by tools, technologies and process improvements developed by genomics researchers. In 2004, NHGRI… read more

Making old muscles young again

September 27, 2012

Muscular tissue (credit: Polarlys/Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers at King’s College London, Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital have identified a key factor responsible for declining muscle repair during aging, and discovered how to halt the process in mice with a common drug.

The finding provides clues as to how muscles lose mass with age, which can result in weakness that affects mobility and may cause falls.

The study looked at stem… read more

At last: a low-cost, professional-grade light-based 3D printer

September 27, 2012


Formlabs’ new Form 1 3D printer could bring professional-grade 3-D prints to the home workshop.

Desktop 3-D printing has largely been the domain of extrusion-based machines like MakerBot’s Replicator and homebrew RepRap designs.

These lag behind the capabilities of pricier, professional stereolithography devices, where UV light cures incredibly thin layers of resin to create objects on par with manufactured goods.

Developing this type of printer at a… read more

How to remotely control cockroach cyborgs

Send in the WiFi-controlled cockroaches! (Minority Report alert)
September 27, 2012


A technique to remotely control cockroaches has been developed by Dr. Alper Bozkurt, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of North Carolina State University.

Bozkurt, co-author of a paper on the work, wanted to see if he could create a wireless biological interface with cockroaches, “which are robust and able to infiltrate small spaces.”

In a scene right of Minority Report, Bozkurt… read more

3D printing: the desktop drugstore

Printers that create artificial limbs, cheap drugs, and replacement organs could radically change medicine in poorer countries.
September 27, 2012


A small Indian village is perhaps the last place you would expect to see the future of manufacturing, but in the Maharashtra region, there are plans to create one of the hottest pieces of technology around, BBC Future reports.

“Learning while doing” is the philosophy behind an educational project in Pabal called the Vigyan Ashram — part of a worldwide project called FabLab, set up… read more

Can computers understand art?

Another “only humans can…” belief has just been shattered
September 27, 2012


Computer scientists Computer scientists Lior Shamir and Jane Tarakhovsky of Lawrence Technological University in Michigan have developed a program that analyzes paintings in a manner similar to how expert art historians perform their analysis, and conducted an  experiment that showed that machines can outperform untrained humans in the analysis of fine art.

In the experiment, the researchers used approximately 1, 000 paintings of 34 well-known artists, and let the computer… read more

AI game bots ‘more human-like’ than half of human competitors

A ‘Turing test' for game bots
September 27, 2012


An artificially intelligent virtual game bot created by computer scientists at The University of Texas at Austin has won the BotPrize by convincing a panel of judges that it was more human-like than half the humans it competed against.

The competition, sponsored by 2K Games, was set inside the virtual world of “Unreal Tournament 2004,” a first-person shooter video… read more

Google venture fund seeks forward-thinking biotech entrepreneurs

September 27, 2012


Google’s venture fund is planning to invest $1 billion in a wide-range of start-ups over the next five years and seeks entrepreneurs that “have a healthy disregard for the impossible,” with forward-thinking ideas, especially in biotech,William Maris, says Google Ventures managing partner.

Maris said some of the areas he is interested in include businesses that are focused on radical life extension, cryogenics, and nanotechnology,  CNBC reports.

One biotech… read more

Cyborg surgeon: new surgical tool enables superhuman precision

September 28, 2012


By harnessing a specialized optical fiber sensor, a new “smart” surgical tool can compensate for a surgeon’s imperceptible hand tremor by making hundreds of precise position corrections each second — fast enough to keep the surgeon’s hand on target.

Even the most skilled and steady surgeons experience minute, almost imperceptible hand tremors when performing delicate tasks. Normally, these tiny motions are inconsequential, but for doctors specializing in fine-scale… read more

Biodegradable electronics that vanish in the body

A new class of tiny electronic devices capable of dissolving completely in water or bodily fluids
September 28, 2012

A biodegradable integrated circuit (credit: John Rogers)

A new type of biodegradable electronics technology that could revolutionize medical implants, environmental monitors, and consumer devices has been developed by researchers at the University of Illinois, in collaboration with Tufts University and Northwestern University.

“We refer to this type of technology as transient electronics,” said John A. Rogers, the Lee J. Flory-Founder Professor of Engineering at the U. of I., who led the multidisciplinary research team.… read more

‘Bi-Fi’ — the biological Internet

September 28, 2012


Using the innocuous M13 bacterial virus, bioengineers at Stanford have created a biological mechanism to send genetic messages from cell to cell — which they term the “biological Internet,” or “Bi-Fi.”

The system greatly increases the complexity and amount of data that can be communicated between cells and could lead to greater control of biological functions within cell communities.

The advance could prove a boon to bioengineers looking… read more

$99 Raspberry Pi-sized ‘supercomputer’ touted in Kickstarter project

September 28, 2012


Chipmaker Adapteva wants to make parallel computing available to everyone, using a Kickstarter project to raise at least $750,000 and a stretch goal of $3 million, Ars Technica reports.

Adapteva calls it “Parallella: A Supercomputer For Everyone,” a 16-core board hitting 13GHz and 26 gigaflops performance, costing $99 each. If the $3 million goal is hit, Adapteva will make a $199 64-core board hitting… read more

NASA rover finds old streambed on Martian surface

September 28, 2012


NASA’s Curiosity rover mission has found evidence a stream once ran vigorously across the area on Mars where the rover is driving.

There is earlier evidence for the presence of water on Mars, but this evidence — images of rocks containing ancient streambed gravels — is the first of its kind.

Scientists are studying the images of stones cemented into a layer of conglomerate… read more

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