A powerful lens technology inspired by the human eye

November 15, 2012

These light-gathering polymer lenses are 3.5 times more powerful than glass, and are the first commercial nanolayered product to come out of many years of R&D at Case Western Reserve University. To create the lenses, a 4,000-layer film is coextruded, and then 200 layers of film are stacked to create an 800,000-nanolayer sheet. (Credit: Michael Ponting/PolymerPlus)

Drawing heavily upon nature for inspiration, a team of researchers has created a new artificial lens made up of thousands of nanoscale polymer layers that is nearly identical to the natural lens of the human eye.

The lens may one day provide more natural performance in implantable lenses to replace damaged or diseased human eye lenses, as well as consumer vision products; it also may lead to… read more

Cyber threats forecast for 2013

November 15, 2012


The year ahead will feature new and increasingly sophisticated means to capture and exploit user data, escalating battles over the control of online information, and continuous threats to the U.S. supply chain from global sources.

Those were the findings by the Georgia Tech Information Security Center (GTISC) and the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) in the Georgia Tech Emerging Cyber Threatsread more

Technology that helps the aged stay home

A more cost-effective, practical solution than robots --- for now
November 15, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)


University of Adelaide computer scientists are developing a network of sensors attached to objects and AI software to track what a senior is doing — a practical, low-cost solution for helping older people to keep living independently and safely in their own homes.

The researchers are adapting radio-frequency identification (RFID) and other sensor technologies to automatically identify and monitor human activity,… read more

New brain gene gives us edge over apes

November 15, 2012


An international team led by the University of Edinburgh has discovered a new gene called miR-941 that helps explain how humans evolved evolved from apes by playing a crucial role in human brain development, and may shed light on how we learned to use tools and language.

The researchers say it is the first time that a new gene — carried only by humans and not by apes —… read more

Fuel from waste, poised at a milestone

November 15, 2012


So far, alternative fuels from waste have not moved beyond small pilot plants, despite federal incentives to encourage companies to develop them. That could be about to change, The New York Times reports.

Officials at two companies that have built multimillion-dollar factories say they are very close to beginning large-scale, commercial production of these “cellulosic… read more

Nanocrystals and nickel catalyst substantially improve light-based hydrogen production

November 15, 2012


Hydrogen is an attractive fuel source because it can easily be converted into electric energy and gives off no greenhouse emissions. A group of chemists at the University of Rochester is now adding to its appeal by increasing the output of current light-driven hydrogen-production systems while lowering the cost.

The chemists say their work advances what is sometimes considered the “holy grail” ofread more

Google TV: now faster and easier

November 15, 2012


Last year, Google TV devices received an update that added Google Play and simplified the entertainment discovery experience. The next update, starting this week, makes finding whatever you want on Google TV even faster and easier, Google TV Blog reports.

The update includes:

  • Voice Search

    Just speak to watch TV shows and movies, start playing a YouTube video, open applications,

read more

Can cloud computing boost GDP?

November 15, 2012


Gross domestic product (GDP) can be boosted by cloud computing, the system in which remote computers on the Internet are used to store, manage and process data rather than the users’ local machines, according to a report to be published in the International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management. 

The report suggests that governments should collaborate to boost the adoptionread more

New metamaterial lens focuses radio waves

Device could improve satellite and molecular imaging
November 15, 2012

The orientation of 4,000 S-shaped units forms a metamaterial lens that focuses radio waves with extreme precision, and very little energy lost (credit: Dylan Erb/MIT)

MIT researchers have fabricated a three-dimensional, lightweight metamaterial lens that focuses radio waves with extreme precision.

The concave lens exhibits a property called negative refraction, bending electromagnetic waves — in this case, radio waves — in exactly the opposite sense from which a normal concave lens would work.

Concave lenses typically radiate radio waves… read more

Hovering moon base may be on NASA’s horizon

November 16, 2012


NASA is considering plans for a hovering moon base parked in orbit about 60,000 kilometers from the moon’s far side, at Lagrange point 2 (EML-2)New Scientist reports.

There, the combined gravity of Earth and the moon would tug on a spacecraft with exactly the force needed for it to hover near the moon without spending fuel. This might assist human missions to an asteroid or to Mars… read more

Lost in space: rogue planet spotted?

November 16, 2012


Astronomers have identified an object that could be a planet wandering through space without a parent star at a distance of about 100 light-years. Its closeness and the absence of a nearby bright star have allowed the team to study its atmosphere in great detail.

Free-floating planets are planetary-mass objects that roam through space without any ties to a star. Possible… read more

Google has officially eaten the newspaper industry

November 16, 2012


Newspapers have continued to churn out the same content while watching their advertisers steadily flee for sites like Craigslist, Yahoo, the Huffington Post/AOL, Facebook, and Google, says writer Will Oremus in Slate Future Tense.  

The chart above, from Statista’s Felix Richter, plots Google’s digital advertising revenue against the print advertising revenue of all U.S.… read more

Carbon nanotubes may protect DNA from oxidation

November 16, 2012

Scanning electron microscope image of a typical sample of the NIST single-wall carbon nanotube soot standard reference material. Recent NIST research suggests that, at least in the laboratory, carbon nanotubes may help protect DNA molecules from damage by oxidation. The image shows an area just over a micrometer wide. (Color added for clarity.) (Credit: Credit: Vladar/NIST)

Single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) may help protect DNA molecules from damage by oxidation, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have found.

In nature, oxidation is a common chemical process in which a reactive chemical removes electrons from DNA and may increase the chance for mutations in cells.

More studies are needed to see if the in vitro protective effect of… read more

‘Cloning’ could make structurally pure nanotubes for nanoelectronics

May be key to separating electrical conductors and semiconductors
November 16, 2012

Cloning nanotubes: In this computer model, small, pre-selected nanotube "seeds" (yellow) are grown to long nanotubes of the same twist or "chirality" in a high-temperature gas of small carbon compounds (Credit: Jia Liu et al./USC)

A technique for growing virtually pure samples of single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) with identical structures has been demonstrated by researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

They liken this process to “cloning” the nanotubes. If it can be suitably scaled up, their approach could solve an important materials problem in nanoelectronics: producing carbon nanotubesread more

Internet activists on red alert ahead of United Nations conference

How the ITU could put the Internet behind closed doors
November 16, 2012


Internet activists are warning that next month’s meeting of the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations body charged with overseeing global communications, may have significant and potentially disastrous consequences for everyday Internet users, Mashable reports.

Called the World Conference on International Telecommunications, the meeting is intended to update some of the aging international law that governs the flow of information online. The meeting is mostly closed to… read more

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