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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

Brainwave training boosts brain network for cognitive control

October 25, 2012

eeg_amplitide_change_during_feedback

Researchers at  University of Western Ontario and the Lawson Health Research Institute have found that functional changes within a key brain network occur directly after a 30-minute session of noninvasive, neurofeedback training.

Background

Dysfunction of this cognitive-control network has previously been implicated in a range of brain disorders including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

During neurofeedback, users learn to… read more

ProtoHouse

October 26, 2012

ProtoHouse (credit: Softkill Disign)

Softkill Design‘s ProtoHouse project investigates the architectural potential of the latest Selective laser sintering technologies, testing the boundaries of large scale 3D printing by designing with computer algorithms that micro-organize the printed material itself.

With the support of Materialise, Softkill Design produced a high-resolution prototype of a 3D printed house at 1:33 scale. The model consists of 30 detailed fibrous pieces that can be assembled into one… read more

Tiny pores in graphene could form a membrane

New membranes may filter water, separate biological samples, or deliver drugs
October 26, 2012

sem_graphene_hole

By assembling large membranes from single sheets of graphene grown by chemical vapor deposition, researchers from MIT, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and elsewhere have found that graphene has intrinsic defects, or holes, in its atom-sized armor.

In experiments, the researchers found that small molecules like salts passed easily through a graphene membrane’s tiny pores, while larger molecules were unable to penetrate.

The researchers found… read more

Living power cables discovered

Multicellular bacteria transmit electrons across relatively enormous distances
October 26, 2012

Electrifying_microbial_filaments

A multinational research team has discovered filamentous bacteria that function as living power cables that transmit electrons thousands of cell lengths away.

The Desulfobulbus bacterial cells, which are only a few hundreds of a nanometer long each, are so tiny that they are invisible to the naked eye. And yet, under the right circumstances, they form a multicellular filament that can transmit electrons across a distance as large as 1 centimeter… read more

The island where people forget to die

October 26, 2012

Ikaria

For a decade, with support from the National Geographic Society, I’ve been organizing a study of the places where people live longest, Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zoneswrites in The New York Times.

The project grew out of studies by my partners, Dr. Gianni Pes of the University of Sassari in Italy and Dr. Michel Poulain, a Belgian demographer. In 2000, they identified a region of… read more

Singularity Summit videos posted

October 27, 2012

summitvideos

The Singularity Institute has just posted videos here for all sessions at the recent Singularity Summit 12. (To view the videos, click on the preview video, and scroll down to WATCH FULL PROGRAM.)

The consequences of machine intelligence

October 28, 2012

race_against_the_machine

In their 2011 book, Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy, authors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argued that “technological progress is accelerating innovation even as it leaves many types of workers behind,” says Rice University professor of computational engineering Moshe Y. Vardi in The Atlantic.

“While the loss of millions of jobs over the past… read more

Unleash your inner Asimov

October 28, 2012

science_fiction_prototyping_book

Writing science-fiction stories about encounters with imaginary worlds and futuristic devices could have a decisive influence on innovation, G. Pascal Zachary, writer and professor at Arizona State University, suggests in IEEE Spectrum.

David Brian Johnson, Intel’s staff futurist, even insists in a recent book, Science Fiction Prototyping, that by writing stories about future products, engineers can do a better job of actually making them, he… read more

Seniors to robots: don’t get too familiar

October 29, 2012

robots_at_home

Seniors (ages 65 to 93 years) preferred robotic more than human help for chores such as cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry and taking out the trash, but not for help getting dressed, eating and bathing, or for social activities, a Georgia Institute of Technology study found.

“It seems that older people are less likely to trust a robot with decision-making tasks than with monitoring or physical assistance,” said… read more

Boeing missile zaps electronic devices in first test flight

October 29, 2012

Boeing

A recent weapons flight test in the Utah desert may change future warfare after the missile successfully defeated electronic targets with little to no collateral damage.

Boeing and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., successfully tested the Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) during a flight over the Utah Test and Training Range.… read more

Stimulating brain cells with light to combat Parkinson’s disease

October 29, 2012

kokaia_optogenetics

Lund University researchers plan to use optogenetics to stimulate neurons to release more dopamine to combat Parkinson’s disease.

Optogenetics allows scientists to control specific cells in the brain using light, leaving other cells unaffected.

To do this, the relevant cells are equipped with genes that express a special light-sensitive protein. The protein switches on cells when they are illuminated with light from a thin optic fiber… read more

Capturing more of the Sun’s energy to improve photovoltaic cells

October 29, 2012

SEM image of the four-layer antireflective coating on a silicon substrate (credit: Martin F. Schubert et al./Appl. Phys. Express)

Photovoltaic cell efficiency may soon get a big boost from new materials that capture more of the Sun’s energy.

Professor E. Fred Schubert, of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute‘s Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering, is investigating new ways to achieve four-layer antireflection transparent thin-film materials that capture more of the Sun’s energy by achieving a low refractive index (how much light is bent).

These tunable-refractive-index materials are based on… read more

Given tablets but no teachers, Ethiopian children teach themselves

October 29, 2012

olpc_children

Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. “I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day.

Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android,” Negroponte said. “Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.” ….read more

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