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A bandwidth breakthrough

October 23, 2012

Speed test (credit: Speedtest.net)

Academic researchers have improved wireless bandwidth by ten times — not by adding base stations, tapping more spectrum, or cranking up transmitter wattage, but by using algebra to banish the network-clogging task of resending dropped packets, Technology Review reports.

By providing new ways for mobile devices to solve for missing data, the technology not only eliminates this wasteful process but also can seamlessly weave data streams from… read more

2012 State of the Future

October 24, 2012

2012-stateofthefuture

“The world is getting richer, healthier, better educated, more peaceful, and better connected, and people are living longer; yet half the world is potentially unstable,” according to Jerome C. Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project and co-author of the “2012 State of the Future,” an overview of our global situation, problems, solutions, and prospects for the future.

The 16th Annual Edition includes 145 pages and… read more

Scientists build ‘smart’ material made of DNA

October 24, 2012

The DNA gel is composed of stiff DNA nanotubes connected to each other via long, flexible DNA linkers. A motor protein, FtsK50C, binds to special sites on the linkers. When ATP, a biochemical fuel, is allowed to permeate the gel, the motor molecules reel in the linkers to which they are bound, drawing nanotubes together, and stiffening the gel. (Credit: Peter Allen/UCSB)

UC Santa Barbara scientists Omar Saleh and Deborah Fygenson have created a dynamic gel made of DNA that mechanically responds to stimuli in much the same way that cells do.

The project has potential applications in smart materials, artificial muscle, understanding cytoskeletal mechanics, research into nonequilibrium physics, and DNA nanotechnology.

“The gel has active mechanical capabilities in that it generates forces independently, leading to… read more

Building powered by algae growing on its facade

October 24, 2012

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The BIQ house in Germany features a “bio-adaptive façade” that uses microalgae to generate renewable energy and provide shade, PSFK reports.

Designed for the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg, the zero-energy house will be the first real-life test for the new façade system.

Algae in the bio-reactor façades grow faster in bright sunlight to provide more shade. The bio-reactors power the building by capturing solar thermal… read more

A circuit diagram of the mouse brain

Max Planck scientists aim to analyze a whole mouse brain under the electron microscope.
October 24, 2012

Serial block-face electron microscopy stack from the corpus callosum, cut down the middle, with 50 traced myelinated axons emerging, randomly coloured (credit: MPI f. Medical Research)

Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Medical Research scientists are developing a complete circuit diagram of the brain of the mouse using an electron microscope to make fine extensions of almost every single neuron visible.

Most axons are less than one micron thick, some even smaller than 100 nanometers. “The electron microscope is the only microscope with a high enough resolution to enable individual axons lying next to each other… read more

Breakthrough technique images breast tumors in 3D with great clarity, reduced radiation

October 24, 2012

The red area represents a three-dimensional breast tumor (credit: Emmanuel Brun/ESRF-LMU)

A technique developed by UCLA researchers and their European colleagues can produce 3D images of breast tissue that are two to three times sharper than those made using current CT scanners at hospitals.

The technique also uses a lower dose of X-ray radiation than a mammogram.

These higher-quality images could allow breast tumors to be detected earlier and with much greater accuracy.

One… read more

3D Systems partners with Singularity University to develop creative uses of 3D printing

October 24, 2012

ProJet HD3500 professional 3D printer (credit: 3D Systems)

3D printer leader 3D Systems announced today that it plans to provide Singularity University (SU) with several of its 3D printers.

“We are excited to be part of Singularity’s visionary initiative to democratize access to 3D content-to-print solutions that will enable greater entrepreneurialism and inventiveness,” said Abe Reichental, President and CEO of 3D Systems.

“SU has shown a great deal of foresight and leadership in… read more

Identifying the brain’s own facial recognition system

October 25, 2012

Two locations in the brain's fusiform gyrus respond to faces (red) but not to other objects (yellow) (credit: J. Parvizi et al./J. Neurosci, Advance Online Edition)

The ability to recognize faces is so important in humans that the brain appears to have an area solely devoted to the task: the fusiform gyrus in the temporal lobe, Science Now reports.

Brain imaging studies consistently find that this region of  becomes active when people look at faces. Skeptics have countered, however, that these studies show only a correlation, but not proof, that activity in this… read more

Sequencing the Connectome

Genetic barcoding to trace the brain's wiring down to the neuron level
October 25, 2012

DNA barcode

A team of neuroscientists led by Professor Anthony Zador, Ph.D., of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have proposed a revolutionary new way to create a connectivity map (“connectome”) of the whole brain of the mouse at the resolution of single neurons: high-throughput DNA sequencing.

The only current method for obtaining the connectome with high precision relies on laboriously examining individual cell-to-cell contacts (synapses) in electron microscopes, which is slow, expensive… read more

Looking deeper into semiconductors to create faster, smaller electronics

October 25, 2012

gallium_ucdavis1

University of California, Davis researchers for the first time have looked inside gallium manganese arsenide, which could open up an entirely new class of faster, smaller devices based on an emerging field known as “spintronics.”

Materials of this type might be used to read and write digital information not by using the electron’s charge, as is the case with today’s electronic devices, but by using… read more

American schools go on utterly insane hiring spree since 1950. Kids shrug, continue to do poorly on tests

October 25, 2012

2011-03-01-studentspendvsachievement

A new study from the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice finds that America’s public schools saw a 96 percent increase in students but increased administrators and other non-teaching staff a staggering 702 percent since 1950. Teaching staff, in comparison, increased 252 percent, Reason reports.

If non-teaching personnel had grown at the same rate as student population, American public schools would have an additional $24.3… read more

Can diabetes devices be damaged by airport security scanners?

October 25, 2012

Insulin pump, showing an infusion set loaded into spring-loaded insertion device. A reservoir is attached to the infusion set (shown here removed from the pump).(Credit: Jacopo Werther/Wikimedia Commons)

Full-body or X-ray scanners used for airport security screening may affect the function of insulin pump or continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices.

Andrew Cornish and H. Peter Chase, MD, University of Colorado, Denver, caution that the motor of an insulin delivery pump or glucose monitoring device may experience electromagnetic malfunctioning when passed through an airport security scanner.

“Given the increased use of insulin pump therapy around the world, with hundreds… read more

Parkinson’s breakthrough could slow disease progression

October 25, 2012

688px-Protein_CACNA1D_PDB_2be6

Northwestern University scientists have developed a new family of compounds that could slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s, the second most common neurodegenerative disease, is caused by the death of dopamine neurons, resulting in tremors, rigidity and difficulty moving. Current treatments target the symptoms but do not slow the progression of the disease.

The compounds work by blocking calcium. The compounds target and shut a relatively… read more

A biology-friendly robot programming language

October 25, 2012

PaR-PaR-robot1

For researchers in the biological sciences, however, the future training of robots has been made much easier thanks to a new program called “PaR-PaR” (Programming a Robot).

Nathan Hillson, a biochemist at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), led the development of PaR-PaR, a simple high-level, biology-friendly, robot-programming language that allows researchers to make better use of liquid-handling robots… read more

Safer bioimaging of cancer cells without biopses

October 25, 2012

A new fluorescent glucose-amine probe can make identification of cancer cells (green) using two-photon microscopy easier and safer (credit: Guan Wang/National University of Singapore)

Early detection of soft-tissue diseases, such as breast cancer, typically requires invasive biopsies. Now, a new self-assembled nanoparticle developed by Bin Liu at the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering and co-workers may soon make biopsies obsolete.

The team’s material significantly enhances the safety of two-photon microscopy (TPM) — a technique that uses fluorescent probes to generate three-dimensional pictures of cancer cell structures in… read more

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