science + technology news

‘Gadget printer’ promises industrial revolution

January 9, 2003

Research at the University of California at Berkeley will allow fully assembled electric and electronic gadgets such as light bulbs, radios, remote controls, mobile phones and toys to be printed in one go. The trick: print layers of conducting and semiconducting polymers in such a way that the circuitry is built up as part of the bodywork.

Cosy social networks ‘are stifling innovation’

August 5, 2009

Today’s software developers work in social networks in which everyone is closely linked to everyone else, says social scientist Viktor Mayer-Schonberger of the National University of Singapore.

“The over-abundance of connections through which information travels reduces diversity and keeps radical ideas from taking hold,” he suggests.

Hidden supermassive black holes revealed

July 6, 2015

An artist’s illustration of a supermassive black hole, actively feasting on its surroundings. The central black hole is hidden from direct view by a thick layer of encircling gas and dust. (credit: NASA/ESA)

Astronomers have found high-energy x-ray evidence for five hidden supermassive black holes in the Universe that were previously clouded from direct view by dust and gas.

The research, led by astronomers at the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy at Durham University, UK, supports the theory that potentially millions more supermassive black holes exist in the Universe, but are hidden from view, according to the astronomers.… read more

‘Green’ method to make gold nanoparticles

February 29, 2008

University of Missouri scientist Kattesh Katti has discovered how to make gold nanoparticles using gold salts, soybeans and water, an alternative to production methods using toxic chemicals.

The new process could allow medical researchers to expand the use of gold nanoparticles for drug delivery and other purposes.

University of Missouri-Columbia News Release

Nanotubes beam out bright light

November 19, 2005

Physicists have generated extra-bright beams of infrared light from single-walled carbon nanotubes. The new technique is more efficient than many existing methods for producing light and could have applications in optoelectronics.

The IBM-Duke team found that when certain voltages were applied, the nanotubes emitted infrared light localized in a nano-sized area. This resulted in a very bright source of light: a 3 milliamp current was able to produce about… read more

Lasers used to form 3-D crystals made of nanoparticles

June 1, 2011

3D Crystals

Physicists at the University of Michigan have used the electric fields generated by intersecting laser beams to trap and manipulate thousands of microscopic plastic spheres, thereby creating 3-D arrays of optically induced crystals.

The process involves shining laser beams through two opposed microscope lenses, one directly beneath the other. Two infrared laser beams are directed through each lens, and they meet at a common focal… read more

Getting a Closer Look at the Eye

January 24, 2003

Adaptive optics, originally developed for astronomy (using mirrors to eliminate the visual distortion caused by the earth’s atmosphere), is being used by ophthalmologists to see to see individual cells in the retina.
It is being combined with optical coherence tomography, which allows doctors to capture images deep inside tissue.

Tiny ‘MEMS’ devices to filter, amplify electronic signals

August 11, 2009

Researchers are developing a new class of tiny mechanical devices containing vibrating, hair-thin structures that could be used to filter electronic signals in cell phones and for other more exotic applications.

Mind Reading with Functional MRI

March 6, 2008

University of California, Berkeley scientists can accurately predict which of a thousand pictures a person is looking at by analyzing brain activity, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

The scientists first recorded visual cortex activity as subjects looked at several thousand randomly selected pictures. The researchers then developed a computer model that would predict the pattern of brain activity triggered by any image.

When volunteers were later shown… read more

Robots aim to explore and build on other worlds

December 5, 2005

NASA is offering two new $250,000 prizes to stimulate advances in the use of robots in planetary exploration and automated construction.

The Telerobotic Construction Challenge aims to promote the development of semi-autonomous robots that can build complicated structures with minimal remote guidance from human controllers.

The other competition will award funding to teams that build an uncrewed, auto-piloted plane that can follow a complex flight path using only… read more

Re-growing axons after lesions of the central nervous system

June 9, 2011

A key molecule of the vascular system called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) directs axons during the formation of neural circuits, researchers at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM) have found.

The researchers used a microscopic device to control and observe, in real time, the axon’s behavior in response to guidance molecules. This technique allowed the researchers to follow the axon’s trajectory… read more

At one with the universe

February 10, 2003

Is the brain simply a computer, and is consciousness merely the feeling we get when we think? Or is consciousness a primary component of the universe, which the brain can latch on to, like a radio receiver?

August 20 is last day for Singuarity Summit discount

August 20, 2009

The New York-based 2009 Singularity Summit has added AI researchers Marcus Hutter (how to move beyond a narrowly human notion of human intelligence to a full mathematical theory) and Anna Salamon, and three leading technology investors: Peter Thiel, David S. Rose, and Mark Gorenberg.

The $100 discount for early registration ends today, August 20.

A precision brain-controlled prosthesis nearly as good as one-finger typing

My allow people with ALS or spinal cord injuries to communicate faster and more accurately
August 4, 2015

Brain-controlled prostheses sample a few hundred neurons to estimate motor commands that involve millions of neurons. So tiny sampling errors can reduce the precision and speed of thought-controlled keypads. A Stanford technique can analyze this sample and make dozens of corrective adjustments in the blink of an eye to make thought control more precise. (credit: Jonathan Kao, Shenoy Lab)

An interdisciplinary team led by Stanford electrical engineer Krishna Shenoy has developed a technique to improve brain-controlled prostheses. These brain-computer-interface (BCI) devices, for people with neurological disease or spinal cord injury, deliver thought commands to devices such as virtual keypads, bypassing the damaged area.

The new technique addresses a problem with these brain-controlled prostheses: they currently access a sample of only a few hundred neurons, so tiny errors in… read more

All Done With Mirrors: NIST Microscope Tracks Nanoparticles In 3-D

March 11, 2008
 Four side views of a nanoparticle floating in solution (left) are reflected up. A microscope above the well sees the real particle (center, right) and four reflections that show the particle

A new microscope design allows nanotechnology researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to track the motions of nanoparticles in solution as they dart around in three dimensions.

The technology may lead to a better understanding of the dynamics of nanoparticles in fluids and, ultimately, process control techniques for “directed self-assembly.” This capitalizes on physical properties and chemical affinities of nanoparticles in solutions to… read more

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