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Scientists Create Robot Surrogate For Blind Persons In Testing Visual Prostheses

October 20, 2009

(Caltech/Wolfgang Fink, Mark Tarbell)

Scientists at the California Institute of Technology have created a remote-controlled robot that is able to simulate the “visual” experience of a blind person who has been implanted with a visual prosthesis, such as an artificial retina using a silicon chip with electrodes that directly stimulate retinal nerve cells. The system allows for testing new prosthetic technologies.

Shape-shifting skin to reduce drag on planes and subs

April 17, 2008

Aircraft or submarines covered with an undulating skin able to change at a flick of a button would experience 50% less drag than conventional vehicles.

This trick, which naturally occurs in dolphins, is now being tested by engineers at Texas A&M University.

Scientists Bringing ‘Table Top’ Particle Accelerators a Step Closer

September 30, 2004

Three research teams announced new developments in producing relativistic electron beams using laser-produced plasmas to accelerate the beams.

The beams have a narrow energy spread and are focusable. These new developments could help to shrink the size and cost of future particle accelerators for fundamental physics experiments and applications in materials and biomedicine. Laser electron accelerators could eventually fit into a university basement.

All three research teams published… read more

A Virtual Voyage Through the Brain of a Mouse

October 28, 2009

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego have developed the “Whole Brain Catalog,” a repository for data gathered about the mouse brain.

NASA satellite expected to crash to Earth in days

September 19, 2011

NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite is expected to crash to Earth Sept. 23, plus or minus a day, as of the latest NASA update, Sept. 18.

NASA says the 35-foot-long satellite will crash somewhere between 57 degrees north latitude and 57 degrees south latitude — a projected crash zone that covers most of the planet. Although the spacecraft will break into pieces during re-entry, not all of it… read more

‘Babelfish’ to translate alien tongues could be built

April 21, 2008

In the distant future, it might be possible to develop complex software to decode alien languages, says Linguist and anthropologist Terrence Deacon of the University of California believes.

He argues that no matter how abstract a symbol becomes, it is still somehow grounded in physical reality, and that limits the number of relationships it can have with other symbol words. In turn, this defines the grammatical structure that emerges… read more

New Method Identifies Chromosome Changes in Malignant Cells

October 13, 2004

Princeton scientists have invented a fast and reliable method for identifying alterations to chromosomes that occur when cells become malignant. It quickly analyzes an entire genome and produces a reliable list of chromosome sections that have been either deleted or added.

The technique helps to show how cells modify their own genetic makeup and may allow cancer treatments to be tailored more precisely to a patient’s disease.… read more

Sequencing Price Drops Even Lower

November 6, 2009

Complete Genomics has sequenced three human genomes for an average cost of $4,400.

Lowering the cost of sequencing would allow scientists to study large numbers of human genomes, which is now thought necessary to understand the genetic basis of complex disease.

ORNL discovers amazing electrical properties in polymers

September 26, 2011

Piezoelectric properties in non-polar block copolymers are a novelty in the field of electroactive polymers. The piezoelectric susceptibility of poly(styrene-b-isoprene) block copolymer lamellae is found to be up to an order of magnitude higher when compared to classic piezoelectric materials. The electroactive response increases with temperature and is found to be strongest in the disordered phase. (Credit: ORNL)

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have discovered a material that has 10 times the piezoelectric effect of crystals and ceramics, making it suitable for perhaps hundreds of everyday uses.

ORNL’s Volker Urban and colleagues at Technical University Aachen in Germany noticed the reverse piezoelectric effect (creating a mechanical strain by applying an electrical voltage) while conducting fundamental research on polymers.… read more

Storing data for the next 1000 years

April 23, 2008

Researchers from the University of California Santa Cruz have developed the idea of Pergamum, a new disk-based approach for archiving data.

Pergamum uses both intra-disk and inter-disk redundancy to guard against data loss, relying on hash tree-like structures of algebraic signatures to efficiently verify the correctness of stored data.

They believe a 10 petabytes storage system could be built for about $4700, with an annual operational cost (power… read more

Mice do fine without ‘junk DNA’

October 21, 2004

Mice born without large portions of their “junk DNA” seem to survive normally. The result contradicts the beliefs of many scientists who have sought to uncover the function of these parts of the genome.

David Haussler of the University of California, Santa Cruz, who has investigated why genetic regions are conserved, believes that non-coding regions may have an effect too subtle to be picked up in the tests to… read more


November 13, 2009

The latest in immersive media, 3D domes, neurofeedback art, virtual worlds and other cutting-edge media formats and their potential as tools for transformation will be explored at IMMERSE IN THE FUTURE: A VISIONARY EVENING OF ARTS, MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY, Monday, November 16th in Los Angeles and in Second Life.

The event will include presentations by the LA Opera; Kathy Eldon, Founder of Creative Visions Foundation;… read more

Music of the brain: each synapse has its own natural rhythm

October 4, 2011

Plasticity was induced with 50 spikes, delivered at various frequencies in either a periodic fashion (blue) or in a Poisson-distributed fashion (red), using the same mean rate. The amount of plasticity (averaged across 20 trials) induced by homogeneous Poisson spike trains, with mean rates indicated on the x-axis, is shown in red (with gray lines indicating the SE). The amplitude of the plasticity curve is smaller with Poisson stimuli (maximal LTP = 137 ± 1.8% at 40 Hz, maximal LTD = 10 ± 0.4% at 2 Hz) than with periodic stimulation (maximal LTP = 206% at 30 Hz, maximal LTD = 41% at 15 Hz) (credit: Kumar and Mehta, UCLA)

In a discovery that challenges conventional wisdom on the brain mechanisms of learning, UCLA neuro-physicists have found there is an optimal brain “rhythm,” or frequency, for changing synaptic strength, and each synapse is tuned to a different optimal frequency for learning.

“Our work suggests that some problems with learning and memory are caused by synapses not being tuned to the right frequency,” said Mayank R.… read more

Food dyes may protect against cancer

April 25, 2008

Some food dyes exert an anti-cancer effect in fish, Oregon State University scientists have found.

CBEN launches partnership for sustainable nanotechnology

October 29, 2004

Rice University’s Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) today announced the formation of the International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON), a collaboration among academic, industry, regulatory and non-governmental interest groups that will work to assess, communicate, and reduce potential environmental and health risks associated with nanotechnology.

CBEN news release

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