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Reading, writing and playing games may help aging brains stay healthy

November 27, 2012

Frequent cognitive activity in late life is associated with higher microstructural integrity in the brain white matter regions shown in red. White matter contains the fibers that connect different brain regions, and the microstructural integrity of these fibers naturally decreases with age. (Credit: Vasireddi, A. et al./RSNA)

Mental activities like reading and writing can preserve structural integrity in the brains of older people, according to a new study.

Konstantinos Arfanakis, Ph.D., and colleagues from Rush University Medical Center and Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago studied what effect late-life cognitive activity might have on the brain’s white matter, which is composed of nerve fibers, or axons, that transmit information throughout the brain.

“Reading… read more

Minecraft Reality for iOS

November 28, 2012

minecraft_reality_app

Imagine being able to dump your Minecraft creations into the real world for other people to find. 13th Lab’s Minecraft Reality app for iOS, developed by Mojang, lets you do just that.

The app uses your iOS device’s camera to track the surroundings, before projecting creations onto the landscape, using GPS technology, to plant your creations in specific places in the world for other… read more

More Facebook friends means more stress, says report

November 28, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

A study at the University of Edinburgh Business School has found that the more groups of people in someone’s Facebook friends, the greater potential for stress. In particular, adding employers or parents resulted in the greatest increase in anxiety.

Stress arises when a user presents a version of themself on Facebook that is unacceptable to some of their online “friends,” such as posts displaying behavior… read more

Flexible, low-voltage circuits using nanocrystals

Can be "printed" on ink-jet printers
November 28, 2012

Flexible circuit fabricated in the Kagan lab (credit: David Kim and Yuming Lai/University of Pennsylvania)

University of Pennsylvania researchers have shown that nanocrystals of the semiconductor cadmium selenide can be “printed” or “coated” on flexible plastics to form high-performance electronics.

Electronic circuits are typically integrated in rigid silicon wafers. Flexibility opens up a wide range of applications,  but finding materials with the right mix of performance and manufacturing cost remains a challenge.

“We have a performance benchmark… read more

Moderate exercise enhances memory and preserves gray matter

Exercise can improve your memory and preserve brain cells, researchers find
November 28, 2012

Jogging_young_female

A short burst of moderate exercise enhances the consolidation of memories in both healthy older adults and those with mild cognitive impairment, scientists with UC Irvine’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory have discovered.

In their study, post-doctoral researcher Sabrina Segal and neurobiologists Carl Cotman and Lawrence Cahill had people 50 to 85 years old with and without memory deficits view… read more

A solar energy funnel to harness a broader spectrum of light

MIT engineers propose a new way of harnessing photons for electricity, with the potential for capturing a wider spectrum of solar energy
November 28, 2012

A visualization of the broad-spectrum solar energy funnel (credit: Yan Liang/MIT)

The quest to harness a broader spectrum of sunlight’s energy to produce electricity has taken a radically new turn, with the proposal of a “solar energy funnel” that takes advantage of materials under elastic strain.

“We’re trying to use elastic strains to produce unprecedented properties,” says Ju Li, an MIT professor. In this case, the “funnel” is a metaphor: Electrons and their counterparts, holes… read more

Scientists speculate on top-secret Mars Rover discovery

November 28, 2012

curiosity-self-portrait-hi-res

NASA’s Curiosity rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument has likely relayed some provocative findings, Space.com reports.

John Grotzinger, lead mission investigator for the Curiosity rover, set the rumors in motion during an interview with NPR last week, saying, “We’re getting data from SAM … this data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good.”

Most scientists contacted… read more

A ‘second skin’ military fabric to repel chemical and biological agents

November 29, 2012

Polymer material (credit: Kenneth Carter/University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Military uniforms of the future may offer a new layer of critical protection to wearers, thanks to research by teams at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and several other institutions who are developing a nanotube-based fabric that repels chemical and biological agents.

The researchers say the fabric will be able to switch reversibly from a highly breathable state to a protective one inread more

What could you make with a 3D printer on the Moon?

You're on the Moon or Mars, and you urgently need a new tool or replacement part. Solution: feed rocks into a 3D printer. Rocks in your head?
November 29, 2012

(credit: Amit  Bandyopadhyay/Washington State University)

Not for Amit Bandyopadhyay, professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University, and colleagues, who recently published a paper in Rapid Prototyping Journal demonstrating how to do just that.

Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose, professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, are well known researchers in the area of three-dimensional printing, creating bone-like materials for orthopedic implants.

The… read more

Can a jellyfish unlock the secret of immortality?

November 29, 2012

800px-Diplulmaris_antarctica_2

The jellyfish can  transform itself back to a polyp, the organism’s earliest stage of life, author Nathaniel Rich writes in The New York Times.

During rejuvenation, it undergoes cellular transdifferentiation, an unusual process by which one type of cell is converted into another — a skin cell into a nerve cell, for instance. (The same process occurs in human stem cells.)

It is possible to imagine a… read more

‘Fountain of youth’ technique rejuvenates aging stem cells

Study moves scientists one step closer to creating youthful heart patches from old cells
November 29, 2012

A new method of growing cardiac tissue is teaching old stem cells new tricks.

The discovery, which transforms aged stem cells into cells that function like much younger ones, may one day enable scientists to grow cardiac patches for damaged or diseased hearts from a patient’s own stem cells — no matter what age the patient — while avoiding the threat of rejection.

Stem cell therapies… read more

A graphene/nanotube hybrid

November 29, 2012

Forests of Nanotubes

A seamless graphene/nanotube hybrid created at Rice University may be the best electrode interface material possible for many energy storage and electronics applications.

Led by Rice chemist James Tour, researchers have successfully grown forests of carbon nanotubes that rise quickly from sheets of graphene to astounding lengths of up to 120 microns. A house on an average plot with the same… read more

Human brain, Internet, and cosmology: similar laws at work?

November 29, 2012

geometries of the universe and complex networks

The structure of the universe and the laws that govern its growth may be  similar to the structure and growth of the human brain and other complex networks, such as the Internet or a social network of trust relationships between people.

So says Dmitri Krioukov, co-author of an open access paper published by the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA), based at the… read more

NASA technologists test ‘game-changing’ data-processing technology

Back to the future?
November 29, 2012

nasa_pellish_analog_board

NASA technologist Jonathan Pellish believes the analog computing technology of yesteryear could potentially revolutionize everything from autonomous rendezvous and docking to remotely correcting wavefront errors on large, deployable space telescope mirrors like those to fly on the James Webb Space Telescope.

Pellish is meeting with scientists and engineers to explain the technology’s capabilities and is building printed circuit boards that researchers can use to test… read more

Moral machines

Oops! Now other countries have drones.
November 29, 2012

google_car

Google’s driver-less cars are already street-legal in three states, California, Florida, and Nevada, and some day similar devices may not just be possible but mandatory.

Eventually (though not yet) automated vehicles will be able to drive better, and more safely than you can; no drinking, no distraction, better reflexes, and better awareness (via networking) of other vehicles.

Within two or three decades the difference between automated driving and… read more

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