Political posts

November 6, 2012

Last evening, I posted a video and a blog item related to the U.S. economy and election, meant to stimulate a one-time discussion on a subject that is normally off-topic on KurzweilAI. Some readers found them offensive or irrelevant to the science/technology focus of KurzweilAI. I have now removed them, with apologies to anyone who was offended. It was solely my decision to post them, based on my own political… read more

VISTA gigapixel mosaic of the central parts of the Milky Way

November 7, 2012


This striking view of the central parts of the Milky Way was obtained with the VISTA survey telescope at the European Southern Observatory (ESO)’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. This huge picture is 108,500 by 81,500 pixels — nearly nine billion pixels. It was created by combining thousands of individual images from VISTA, taken through three different infrared filters, into a single monumental mosaic. VISTA has a… read more

Researchers create laser the size of a virus particle

Miniature laser operates at room temperature and defies the diffraction limit of light
November 7, 2012

Plasmonic lasers (credit: Jae Yong Suh et al./NANO Letters)

A Northwestern University research team has found a way to manufacture single laser devices that are the size of the HIV virus (about 150 nm.) and operate at room temperature.

These plasmonic nanolasers could be readily integrated into silicon-based photonic devices, all-optical circuits, and nanoscale biosensors.

Reducing the size of photonic (such as lasers) and electronic elements is critical for ultra-fast data processing and ultra-dense… read more

Are you elderly and having memory or concentration problems?

November 7, 2012


They might be caused by common medications used to treat insomnia, anxiety, itching or allergies, according to Dr. Cara Tannenbaum, Research Chair at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM, Montreal Geriatric University Institute) and Associate Professor of Medicine and Pharmacy at the University of Montreal (UdeM).

Up to 90 percent of people over the age of 65 take at least one prescription medication. Eighteen… read more

A pressure switch inside the head

November 8, 2012

View of the not yet completely enclosed intracranial pressure sensor (credit: Dr. Thomas Velten/Fraunhofer IBMT)

An increase in cerebral pressure may cause dementia or even destroy the brain, but there’s no reliable sensor available (they quickly corrode), and current intracranial pressure systems keep patients in a hospital for days or weeks.

So Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBMT) researchers have developed a small implantable sensor for cerebral pressure that’s waterproof, using a casing made from high-grade titanium. It’s… read more

How the Internet of everything will change the world

November 8, 2012


From the Internet of Things (IoT), where we are today, we are just beginning to enter a new realm: the Internet of Everything (IoE), where things will gain context awareness, increased processing power, and greater sensing abilities, says Cisco in their blog.

Add people and information into the mix and you get a network of networks where billions or even trillions of connections create unprecedented opportunities and… read more

Recyclable electronics: just add hot water

November 8, 2012


The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), along with partners In2Tec Ltd (UK) and Gwent Electronic Materials Ltd, have developed a printed circuit board (PCB) whose components can be easily separated by immersion in hot water.

The project partners designed, developed and tested a series of unzippable polymeric layers that allow the assemblies to be easily separated at end-of-life into their constituent parts, after immersion in hot… read more

Medical devices powered by the ear itself

Could power cochlear implants, diagnostics, and implantable hearing aids
November 8, 2012


Deep in the inner ear of mammals is a natural battery — a chamber filled with ions that produces an electrical potential to drive neural signals.

A team of researchers from MIT, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) have demonstrated for the first time that this battery could power implantable electronic devices without impairing hearing.… read more

How to design proteins from scratch

November 8, 2012


Given the exponential number of contortions possible for any chain of amino acids, dictating a sequence that will fold into a predictable protein structure has been a daunting task.

Now a team from David Baker’s laboratory at the University of Washington reports that they can do just that, Nature News reports.

By following a set of rules, they designed five proteins from scratch that fold reliably into… read more

A challenge facing designers of future computer chips

November 8, 2012

The total conductance per unit area is similar for both tungsten (W) and gold (Au). However, by joining the two highly conducting metals, one finds a conductance density that is about 4 times lower of either material individually. (Credit: David J. Olivera et al./PNAS)

To build the computer chips of the future, designers will need to understand how an electrical charge behaves when it is confined to metal wires only a few atom-widths in diameter.

Researchers at at McGill University General Motors R&D, have shown that electrical current could be drastically reduced when wires from two dissimilar metals meet. The surprisingly sharp reduction in current reveals a significant challenge… read more

Congenitally blind learn to see and read with soundscapes

November 9, 2012

Example of seeing an object with sound (credit: Striem-Amit et al./Neuron)

Congenitally blind people have learned to ”see” and describe objects, and even identify letters and words, by using a visual-to-auditory sensory-substitution algorithm and sensory substitution devices (SSDs), scientists at Hebrew University and in France have found.

SSDs are non-invasive sensory aids that provide visual information to the blind via their existing senses. For example, using a visual-to-auditory SSD in a clinical or everyday setting, users wear a miniature camera… read more

Discovery may help nerve regeneration in spinal injury

November 9, 2012


Scientists at the Universities of Liverpool and Glasgow have discovered a possible new method of enhancing nerve repair in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.

It is known that scar tissue, which forms following spinal cord injury, creates an impenetrable barrier to nerve regeneration, leading to the irreversible paralysis associated with spinal injuries. The scientists found that long-chain sugars, called heparan sulfates, play a significant… read more

Stronger than a speeding bullet, but lighter

New tests of nanostructured material could lead to better armor against everything from gunfire to micrometeorites
November 9, 2012


While traditional shields have been made of bulky materials such as steel, body armor made of lightweight material such as Kevlar has shown that thickness and weight are not necessary for absorbing the energy of impacts.

Now, a new study by researchers at MIT and Rice University has shown that even lighter materials may be capable of doing the job just as effectively.… read more

New stem-cell-derived cells hold promise for Alzheimer’s, other brain diseases

November 9, 2012


UC Irvine researchers have created a new stem cell-derived cell type with unique promise for treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Edwin Monuki of UCI’s Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center and colleagues developed these cells — called choroid plexus epithelial cells (CPECs) — from existing mouse and human embryonic stem cell lines.

CPECs are critical for proper… read more

Iran warplane fired at US drone in early November

November 9, 2012

MQ-1 Predator drone (credit: USAF)

An Iranian warplane opened fire on an unarmed U.S. military drone conducting surveillance near Iranian airspace Nov. 1, the Pentagon said Thursday, the first such incident over the Persian Gulf and one that is all but certain to draw attention to Washington’s use of unmanned aircraft, The Washington Post reports.

The MQ-1 Predator drone returned to its base unscathed, even as theread more

close and return to Home