The most important education technology in 200 years

November 3, 2012


Education is about to change dramatically, says Anant Agarwal, who heads edX, a $60 million MIT-Harvard effort to stream a college education over the Web, free, with plans to teach a billion students, Technology Review reports.

“Massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, offered by new education ventures like edX, Coursera, and Udacity, to name the most prominent (see “The Crisis in Higher Education”) will affect markets… read more

How to watch cancer spread in real time

November 4, 2012

Mouse with surgically implanted window to view growth and spread of cancer cells (credit: Laila Ritsma and Jacco van Rheenen)

Researchers have surgically implanted small glass windows (similar to ship port holes) into the abdomen of living mice to watch cancer spread over the course of 14 days, as reported in Science Translational Medicine.

“Visualization of the formation of metastasis [spread of cancer cells] has been hampered by the lack of long-term imaging windows for metastasis-prone organs, such as the the spleen, kidney, small intestine, pancreas, and liver,”… read more

Will cities of the future be filled with vertical slums?

November 4, 2012

Torre David

After a skyscraper in Caracas was abandoned, it quickly became home to 750 families. As cities develop, will slums build up instead of out? Fast Company Co.EXIST explores.

The 45-story Torre David office tower in Caracas, Venezuela, was nearly complete in the early 1990s when a pair of events changed the building’s trajectory forever: First, the project’s developer, David Brillembourg, died in 1993.

Then, the next year,… read more

How science can build a better you

November 4, 2012

How far would you go to modify yourself using the latest medical technology?

In a New York Times article Saturday, author and broadcaster David Ewing Duncan offers a partial checklist of cutting-edge medical-technology therapies now under way or in an experimental phase that might lead to future enhancements, including:


  • supermemory or attention pill
  • cochlear implant to improve hearing
  • brain-boosting neuro-feedback and

read more

China proposes space collaboration with India

November 4, 2012

Space solar power satellite (credit: SpaceWorks Engineering, Inc./Spaceworks Commercial)

The China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) proposed on Nov. 2 a joint collaboration for a space solar power mission with India and met with former Indian president APJ Abdul Kalam.

“Kalam assured, certainly he will take up this interest to the Government of India and ISRO [Indian Space Research Organization], so that a hard cooperation and collaboration between ISRO, DRDO [Defence Research & Development Organisation of India] and CAST is… read more

First therapy in the western world to correct errors in a person’s genetic code approved

November 5, 2012

Creation of the adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector (credit: uniQure),

European regulators have approved the first therapy in the western world that can correct errors in a person’s genetic code, according to Amsterdam-based uniQure (formerly Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics),

Europe has approved Glybera for treatment of Lipoprotein Lipase Deficiency (LPLD), a very rare, inherited disease. Patients with LPLD are unable to metabolize the fat particles carried in their blood, which leads to inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).… read more

Obama or Romney? Face-reading software monitors viewers’ responses to debate

November 5, 2012


New Scientist asked readers to take part in an online project designed to give a more fine-grained view of the public’s reactions to politics.

About 80 readers watched clips from the third and final presidential debate while face-reading software recorded subtle emotional cues via webcams. Developed by Affectiva of Waltham, Massachusetts, the software tracked six categories of expression: smiles, surprise,… read more

Help discover dark matter in the universe, win money

November 5, 2012

Galaxy Cluster Abell 1689

Can you generate new algorithms to spot dark matter in Hubble images?

Observing Dark Worlds aims to capitalize on the ever-growing field of citizen science, where non-experts are asked to sift through data to help make discoveries, Wired Science reports.

Dark matter is thought to be a strange form of matter that doesn’t interact with electromagnetism and light, accounting for roughly 85 percent of… read more

Physicists build laser tweezers controlled with Kinect

November 5, 2012


Now anybody can pick up and move micron-scale particles using their hands and arms thanks to a Kinect-controlled infrared holographic laser device called HoloHands. The interface allows user to “pick up” and “push” particles they see on a computer screen using hand, arm and body movements alone, Technology Review Physics arXiv Blog reports.

The system shows users the field of view in which the tweezers operate. A wave… read more

Asteroid belts at just the right place are friendly to life

November 6, 2012


Solar systems with life-bearing planets may be rare if they are dependent on the presence of asteroid belts of just the right mass, according to astronomers.

They suggest that the size and location of an asteroid belt, which is shaped by the evolution of the sun’s planet-forming disk and by the gravitational influence of a nearby giant Jupiter-like planet, may determine whether complex life will evolve on an Earth-like… read more

An agile humanoid robot

November 6, 2012


University of Bonn computer scientists have developed a scoccer-playing robot called NimbRo-OP intended to develop new capabilities for humanoid bipedal robots, such as using tools, climbing stairs, and using human facial expressions, gestures and body language for communicating.

With 20 drive elements that convert computer commands into mechanical motions, NimbRo-OP is highly agile. For example, it can kick a soccer ball, and get… read more

Fast, low-cost early cancer detection from a drop of blood

November 6, 2012


It may soon be possible to test a person for cancer with just a drop of their blood and a small machine.

An EPFL team is developing an extremely sensitive, easy-to-use device for detecting the HSP70 protein, which is over-expressed in patients with many types of cancer.

The suitcase-size device is expected to be on the market in 2014. The objective: to make a… read more

A holographic microscope for just $250

November 6, 2012


You can build a holographic microscope for $250 (for parts), MIT Technology Review Physics arXiv Blog reports.

Holographic microscopes record the 3D shape of tiny objects such as cells in high resolution, unlike traditional microscopes, which have a tiny field of view and shallow depth of field.

With a holographic microscope, you make a hologram of the sample: split a laser beam in two, use one as… read more

Can you design the ultimate augmented-reality system for warfighters?

November 6, 2012


Imagine a single camera that can fuse (integrate) images across a wide spectrum on light, from visible light to near-infrared and far-infrared (thermal) images (for night vision), replacing multiple cameras.

It would be part of a head-up display (HUD) that is helmet-mounted. It would be lightweight, low-cost, easy to use, and draw minimal power. And it would interface wirelessly with an Android-based smart phone for fusing images and networking… read more

Blind mole rats may hold key to cancer

November 6, 2012


Some 23% of humans die of cancer, but blind mole rats — which can live for 21 years, an impressive age among rodents — seem to be immune to the disease.

Cell cultures from two species of blind mole rat, Spalax judaei and Spalax golani, behave in ways that render them impervious to the growth of tumors, according to work by Vera Gorbunova at the University of Rochester,… read more

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