science + technology news

Caltech researchers create ‘sound bullets’

April 22, 2010

Sound Bullets

Caltech researchers have built a nonlinear acoustic lens that produces highly focused, high-amplitude acoustic “sound bullets” that could be used for more powerful medical ultrasound imaging and for hyperthermia procedures.

The device is a longer version of a Newton’s cradle toy, which consists of a line of identical balls suspended from a frame by wires. In the lens, a pulse is excited at one end by an impact with… read more

Digitizing Old Text and Fighting Spam, Too

August 15, 2008

Carnegie Mellon University scientists have developed a program called reCAPTCHA that collects words flagged as unreadable by optical scanners as they digitize texts, sending those words (in the form of OCR scans) to cooperating Web sites and used in place of random CAPTCHAs.

The reCAPTCHA system now automatically collects about 4 million responses every day from 40,000 Web sites, the equivalent of 1500 people working full-time and transcribing 60… read more

Salk scientist discovers novel mechanism in spinal cord injury

July 29, 2013


“See-saw” molecule may offer clues to potential therapies in the long-term.

More than 11,000 Americans suffer spinal cord injuries each year, and since over a quarter of those injuries are due to falls, the number is likely to rise as the population ages.

The reason so many of those injuries are permanently disabling is that the human body lacks the capacity to regenerate nerve fibers. The best our… read more

Animal-human hybrid cloning deferred

January 11, 2007

Controversial proposals to make embryos by merging human and animal material remain on hold following a decision on Thursday by the UK regulator of embryo research.

The researchers want to use cow or rabbit eggs as a short cut to making cloned embryos which could yield human embryonic stem cells. These are vital for research into major illnesses.
Opponents of embryo research say the creation of embryos from animal… read more

First 3D structural model of cancer-prevention molecule

January 27, 2012


Cancer Research UK scientists have mapped the first 3D structure of c-Cbl, a key protein that protects against the development of cancer.

The team at Cancer Research UK’s Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, in Glasgow used X-ray analysis to map the structure of a protein called c-Cbl and showed that it changes shape when it is switched on.

c-Cbl controls cell growth , which when unregulated… read more

First robot moved by muscle power

March 1, 2004

A silicon microrobot just half the width of a human hair has begun to crawl around in a Los Angeles lab, using legs powered by the pulsing of living heart muscle. It is the first time muscle tissue has been used to propel a micromachine.

The development could lead to muscle-based nerve stimulators that would allow paralysed people to breathe without the help of a ventilator. And NASA which… read more

Heart operation performed with robotic arm

April 30, 2010

The world’s first heart operation to use a remote-controlled robotic arm has been carried out at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, U.K.

The technique, designed to cure irregular heart beats, involved using a Remote Catheter Manipulation System (RCMS) to steer catheters into blood vessels at the top of the groin and into the heart.

The procedure, which can take over six hours, is currently carried out by surgeons who… read more

Boosting ‘good’ fat to burn off the bad

August 21, 2008

A simple solution to the growing obesity problem might be to find a way to generate extra “brown fat” (burns a tremendous amount of energy) and let the body burn away the energy stored in its excess “white fat.”

Coated nanoparticles slip through mucus

January 23, 2007

Nanoparticles coated with polyethylene glycol can quickly slip through human mucus. The results raise hopes for more efficient delivery of a variety of drugs.

Multilevel Molecular Memory

March 12, 2004

USC/NASA-Ames have produced a nanowire-based memory cell with three different controllable bit states, for a total of 8 distinct levels, allowing for cramming more data into a fixed lateral region on a data storage device.

Robots With Knives: A Study of Soft-Tissue Injury in Robotics

May 7, 2010

To find out what would happen if a robot handling a sharp tool accidentally struck a person and design and test a collision-detection system to prevent or minimize injury, Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics researchers performed a series of stabbing, puncturing, and cutting experiments.

No Big Bang? Endless Universe Made Possible by New Model

January 31, 2007

A new cyclic cosmological model demonstrates the universe can endlessly expand and contract, providing a rival to Big Bang theories and solving a thorny modern physics problem, according to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill physicists.

New Studies Question Value of Opening Arteries

March 22, 2004

Most bypass surgery and angiogplasty are worthless, or even worse, because they are based on the wrong model of heart disease: fixing narrowings of specific blood vessels.

Heart patients may have hundreds of vulnerable plaques, so preventing heart attacks means going after all their arteries, not one narrowed section, by attacking the disease itself. That is what happens when patients take drugs to aggressively lower their cholesterol levels, get… read more

Building organs using ‘biological Legos’

May 14, 2010

Researchers at the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology built this tubular tissue by encasing cells in polymer "bricks" and attaching them to a tube-shaped template. (Javier Gomez Fernandez)

Researchers at the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) have come up with a new way to assemble artificial tissues by encapsulating living cells in cubes and arranging them into 3-D structures.

The new “micromasonry” technique employs a gel-like material that acts like concrete, binding the cell “bricks” together as it hardens.

To obtain single cells for tissue engineering, researchers have to first break tissue apart,… read more

Book Excerpt: The Numerati by Stephen Baker

September 2, 2008

The Numerati introduces us to the mathematical wizards who are digging through our data to decode us as patients, shoppers, voters, potential terrorists — even lovers.

IBM mathematicians are building predictive mathematical models of 50,000 of IBM’s tech consultants, creating inventories of all of their skills to calculate, mathematically, how best to deploy them.

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