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

September 28, 2012

adapteva-parallella-640x363

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

streambed_scalebar

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

A spinning black hole at a galaxy’s center

September 28, 2012

black_hole

An international team, led by researchers at MIT’s Haystack Observatory, has for the first time measured the radius of a black hole at the center of a distant galaxy — the closest distance at which matter can approach before being irretrievably pulled into the black hole.

Black holes that can be billions of times more massive than our sun may reside at the heart of most galaxies.… read more

Homeland Security looking for (more than) a few good drones

September 28, 2012

Reaper Drone (Credit: USAF)

DHS to test unmanned aircraft for variety of applications.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security this week issued a call for unmanned systems makers to participate in a program that will ultimately determine their safety and performance for use in first responder, law enforcement and border security situations, Network World Layer 8 reports.

In a twist that will certainly raise some eyebrows,  the program’s results  of… read more

Weeding out problem stem cells for safer therapy

September 28, 2012

Human induced pluripotent stem cells (credit: UCSD)

Mayo Clinic researchers have found a way to detect and eliminate potentially troublemaking stem cells to make stem cell therapy safer.

Induced Pluripotent Stem cells, also known as iPS cells, are bioengineered from adult tissues to have properties of embryonic stem cells, which have the unlimited capacity to differentiate and grow into any desired types of cells, such as skin, brain, lung and heart cells.… read more

Snakes on a plane!

October 1, 2012

Snakes on a plane!

Engineers at firms like Rolls-Royce and GE are developing “snake robots” with intelligent algorithms to find and repair problems in plane engines, New Scientist reports.

The slithering simulants would be about 12.5 millimeters (1/2 inch) in diameter, controlled by a technician as they are guided through the engine’s insides, beaming back images — a bit like telesurgery, a Rolls-Royce executive said.

Finding and fixing defects in planes is currently a… read more

Animals are conscious and should be treated as such

October 1, 2012

giulio_sacha

Are animals conscious? Yes, says the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, publicly proclaimed by three eminent neuroscientists, David Edelman of the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California, Philip Low of Stanford University and Christof Koch of the California Institute of Technology, Marc Bekoff writes in New Scientist.

“Non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious… read more

The new medicine: hacking our biology

October 1, 2012

mind-controlled_robot

The New Medicine: Hacking Our Biology is part of the series “Engineers of the New Millennium” from IEEE Spectrum magazine and the Directorate for Engineering of the National Science Foundation. These stories explore technological advances in medical inventions to enhance and extend life.

AFTER A STROKE: REGAINING MUSCLE CONTROL — A “music glove” based on the video gameFrets on Fire makes rehabilitation more fun.

SYNAPSEread more

You’re far less in control of your brain than you think

When your eyes tell your hands what to think
October 1, 2012

haptic_torque_perception

You’ve probably never given much thought to the fact that picking up your cup of morning coffee presents your brain with a set of complex decisions. You need to decide how to aim your hand, grasp the handle and raise the cup to your mouth, all without spilling the contents on your lap.

A new Northwestern University study shows that, not only does your brain… read more

How to assemble designer biomolecular nanomachines

October 1, 2012

Precise assembly of protein-based nanostructures (credit: Mathias Strackharn et al./Journal of the American Chemical Society)

Assembling novel biomolecular machines requires nanometer precision. Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) researchers have now found a way to acheive it.

The finely honed tip of the atomic force microscope (AFM) allows one to pick up single biomolecules and deposit them elsewhere with nanometer accuracy. The technique is referred to as Single-Molecule Cut & Paste (SMC&P), and was developed by the research group led by LMU… read more

Surgeons use woman’s own tissue to rebuild ear lost to cancer

Cartilage model placed under forearm skin to grow new covering
October 1, 2012

ear_reconstruction

Surgeons at Johns Hopkins Medicine have successfully created a new ear for a woman who lost one of her ears to an aggressive form of skin cancer.

The reconstruction required six operations over a period of 20 months, beginning in January 2011. It is one of the most complicated ear reconstructions ever performed at Johns Hopkins, according to surgeons involved in the case.… read more

Over-65s at increased risk of developing dementia with benzodiazepine

October 1, 2012

senior_citizens

Patients over the age of 65 who begin taking benzodiazepine (a popular drug used to treat anxiety and insomnia) are at an approximately 50% increased risk of developing dementia within 15 years compared to never-users, an open access study published on bmj.com suggests.

The authors say that “considering the extent to which benzodiazepines are prescribed and the number of potential adverse effects, indiscriminate widespread use… read more

How attention helps you remember: the role of astrocytes

New study finds long-overlooked cells help the brain respond to visual stimuli
October 1, 2012

A human astrocyte cell

A new study from MIT neuroscientists sheds light on a neural circuit that makes us likelier to remember what we’re seeing when our brains are in a more attentive state.

The team of neuroscientists found that this circuit depends on a type of brain cell long thought to play a supporting role, at most, in neural processing. When the brain is attentive, those cells, called… read more

Another augmented-reality glasses design emerges

October 1, 2012

epfl_glasses

EPFL scientists in the Laboratory of Photonic Devices are developing a prototype of a pair of augmented-reality glasses that are similar to Google Glass.

A mini-projector on the frames projects a holographic image on the lens.

One technical challenges is to allow the user to simultaneously see the information displayed on the lenses — which are too close to the eye for… read more

Planetary Resources ‘now hiring asteroid miners’

October 1, 2012

asteroid

“Do you want to be an Asteroid Miner? Well, here’s your chance!” — an email we just received.

“We’re looking for passionate college students for paid coop positions to help us mine asteroids this spring and summer,” it reads. “If you love space and want to contribute directly to the development of the next generation of space exploration technologies, we want to hear from you (or from anyone you… read more

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