science + technology news

Smart ‘Lego’ conjures up virtual 3D twin

February 1, 2008

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have developed “Posey,” a new hands-on way of interacting with computers.

When Posey’s plastic pieces are snapped together, an exact copy of the construction appears on a computer screen. Every twist of, say, a stick figure’s arm, is mirrored in 3D modeling software.

Smart microbes: bacteria anticipate changing environments

May 12, 2008

Princeton University researchers have found that bacteria can evolve to predict upcoming events based on environmental cues.

When E. coli enters the body, it experiences warmth (in the mouth) and then low oxygen (in the gut). The researchers found that warm temperatures alone triggered the E. coli to switch to a less-efficient, low-oxygen mode. When they grew the bacteria in controlled conditions that divorced the rise in temperature from… read more

Smart mud could be the new plastic

January 21, 2010

A mixture of clay and 98 per cent water forms thin sheets of a strong hydrogel that is transparent, elastic, and self-healing, researchers at the University of Tokyo have found.

Smart nanoparticles target cancer cells

March 24, 2004

Researchers at the University of Michigan’s Center for Biologic Nanotechnology are developing “smart” drug delivery devices to knock out cancer cells with lethal doses, leaving normal cells unharmed, and even reporting back on their success.

The U-M group is using lab-made spherical nanoparticles called dendrimers as the backbones of their delivery system. These spheres have loose ends where you can attach a targeting agent that can recognize a cancer… read more

‘Smart’ nanoprobes light up disease

August 2, 2005

Rice University’s Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) researchers have developed a quantum dot that is programmed to light up only when activated by specific proteases.

Altered expression of particular proteases is a common hallmark of cancer, atherosclerosis, and many other diseases.

The probe’s design makes use of a technique called “quenching” that involves tethering a gold nanoparticle to the quantum dot to inhibit luminescence. The tether,… read more

Smart People to Blame for Central Planning

September 7, 2009

Central planning didn’t work in Russia or China — or in the 2007-2008 financial blow-up — but today, in China, the government boosts production, and in America, the central planners are trying to boost consumption, says investment author Bill Bonner.

“In short, the fixers are still fixing. And soon, the world will be in an even worse fix than it is now.”

Smart Phone Suggests Things to Do

November 13, 2007

Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) researchers have developed intelligent software that turns a phone into a thoughtful personal assistant that helps people find fun things to do.

The Magitti software uses a combination of cues–including the time of day, a person’s location, their past behaviors, and even their text messages–to infer their interests. It then shows a helpful list of suggestions, including concerts, movies, bookstores, and restaurants.

Smart Phones: Intelligence Spreads

May 4, 2005

The Yankee Group estimates a global market of 49 million smart phones by yearend and 98 million in 2006 as the devices push deeper into the mainstream.

(A BusinessWeek special report.)

Smart Pill Reports Back

April 7, 2010

University of Florida researchers have developed a smart pill with a tiny antenna and microchip that could signal when it has made it into a patient’s stomach, reporting to a cell phone or computer that they patient has taken the medicine.

This is the latest of several high-tech pill-reporting efforts to improve patient adherence and provide accurate reporting.

Smart plastics change shape with light

April 15, 2005

MIT and German researchers have created the first plastics that can be deformed and temporarily fixed in a second, new shape by illumination with light having certain wavelengths.

These programmed materials will only switch back to their original shape when exposed to light of specific different wavelengths.

MIT news release

‘Smart’ power meters herald future of our electricity use

May 5, 2008

As more utilities install “smart” power meters that track how much electricity flows into a home in real time, they are freer to offer alternatives to the average monthly rate that they traditionally charged to consumers.

Smart Rat ‘Hobbie-J’ Produced By Over-expressing A Gene That Helps Brain Cells Communicate

October 20, 2009

Over-expressing the NR2B gene lets brain cells communicate just a fraction of a second longer and makes a smarter rat, report researchers from the Medical College of Georgia and East China Normal University.

The finding further validates NR2B as a drug target for improving memory in healthy individuals as those with Alzheimer’s or mild dementia, the scientists say.

NR2B is a subunit of NMBA receptors, which are like… read more

Smart robot accelerates cancer treatment research by finding optimal treatment combinations

September 23, 2015

Iterative search for anti-cancer drug combinations. The procedure starts by generating an initial generation (population) of drug combinations randomly or guided by biological prior knowledge and assumptions. In each iteration the aim is to propose a new generation of drug combinations based on the results obtained so far. The procedure iterates through a number of generations until a stop criterion for a predefined fitness function is satisfied. (credit: M. Kashif et al./Scientific Reports)

A new smart research system developed at Uppsala University accelerates research on cancer treatments by finding optimal treatment drug combinations. It was developed by a research group led by Mats Gustafsson, Professor of Medical Bioinformatics.

The “lab robot” system plans and conducts experiments with many substances, and draws its own conclusions from the results. The idea is to gradually refine combinations of substances so that… read more

‘Smart sand’ can self-assemble to duplicate parts or create new tools

April 3, 2012

To attach to each other, to communicate and to share power, the cubes use 'electropermanent magnets,' materials whose magnetism can be switched on and off with jolts of electricity. Each cube has magnets — recognizable by the reddish wires wrapped around them — on four of its six faces (credit: M. Scott Brauer)

New algorithms could enable heaps of “smart sand” that can assume any shape, allowing spontaneous formation of new tools or duplication of broken mechanical parts.

Imagine that you have a big box of sand in which you bury a tiny model of a footstool. A few seconds later, you reach into the box and pull out a full-size footstool: The sand has assembled itself into a large-scale replica of… read more

‘Smart’ Silicon Dust Could Help Screen for Chemical Weapons

September 13, 2002

Scientists report the development of dust-size “smart” silicon crystals that could be used to detect chemical and biological agents from a distance, using a laser light source.

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