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New hope for the blind from neuroscientists?

Electrical stimulation of the visual cortex generates flashes of light
October 22, 2012

Phosphenes

Scientists in the Texas Medical Center believe that there may be a way to use mental images to help some of the estimated 39 million people worldwide who are blind.

Scientists in the laboratories of Michael Beauchamp, Ph.D., an associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School, and Daniel Yoshor, M.D., an associate… read more

Viruses act like ‘self-packing suitcases’

October 22, 2012

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Researchers at the University of Leeds have identified a crucial stage in the life cycle of simple viruses like polio and the common cold that could open a new front in the war on viral disease.

The team is the first to observe at a single-molecule level how the genetic material (genome) that forms the core of a single-strand RNA virus particle packs itself into… read more

Cold viruses point the way to new cancer therapies

Salk findings on cold virus proteins may spur new cancer treatments
October 22, 2012

Salk researchers discovered that a small protein produced by cold viruses disables large cellular machines involved in growth, replication and cancer. These proteins accomplish this by forming a three-dimensional web inside a cell's nucleus (yellow) that traps these components. The findings point the way to new ways to target and destroy tumors. (Credit: Salk Institute for Biological Studies)

Cold viruses generally get a bad rap — which they’ve certainly earned — but new findings by a team of scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies suggest that these viruses might also be a valuable ally in the fight against cancer.

Adenovirus, a type of cold virus, has developed molecular tools — proteins — that allow it to hijack a cell’s molecular machinery,… read more

Microsoft’s plan to bring about the era of gesture control

October 22, 2012

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With its Kinect for Windows program, Microsoft wants to make it common to wave your arms at or speak to a computer, Technology Review reports.

“We’re trying to encourage [software] developers to create a whole new class of app controlled by gesture and voice,” says Peter Zatloukal, head of engineering for the Kinect for Windows program.

Zatloukal says the result will be on a par with other… read more

Cosmo Wenman’s mind-blowing 3D-printed sculptures

October 22, 2012

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Cosmo Wenman is a California artist who has just reminded us not to limit our imaginations when it comes to what can be made, MakerBot Blog reports.

The horse head and human bust you see here were made entirely of MakerBot PLA Filament (White) on the original MakerBot Replicator.

“We believe so strongly in the potential of the… read more

Student engineers design, build, fly ‘printed’ airplane

October 23, 2012

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The MITRE Corporation hired two University of Virginia engineeering students to build an unmanned aerial vehicle, using 3D printing technology, part of a Department of the Army project to study the feasibility of using such planes.

The result was a plane with a 6.5-foot wingspan, made from assembled “printed” parts.  It achieved a cruising speed of 45 mph and is only the third 3D-printed plane known to… read more

Optical vortex beams on a chip

October 23, 2012

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An international research group has  demonstrated integrated arrays of emitters of “optical vortex beams” on a silicon chip.

Light in such beams does not propagate in straight rays. Instead, it travels in a spiral fashion in a hollow conical beam shape.

In quantum mechanics, this feature is associated with the orbital angular momentum (OAM) of photons.

When such light interacts with matter, it asserts a… read more

Scientists read dreams

Brain scans during sleep can decode visual content of dreams
October 23, 2012

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Scientists have learned how to discover what you are dreaming about while you sleep, Nature News reports.

Researchers led by Yukiyasu Kamitani of the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan used functional neuroimaging to scan the brains of three people as they slept, simultaneously recording their brain waves using electroencephalography (EEG).

The researchers woke the participants whenever they detected the pattern… read more

First micro-structure atlas of the human brain completed

October 23, 2012

Rendering of long white-matter fiber bundles (credit: CONNECT)

European scientists have built the first atlas of white-matter microstructure in the human brain in a project called CONNECT (Consortium of neuroimagers for the non-invasive exploration of brain connectivity and tracts).

The new atlas combines 3D images from the MRI scans of 100 brains of volunteers. To achieve this, the scientists developed advanced diffusion… read more

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

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