A roadmap for metabolic reprogramming of aging

December 4, 2012

Electron microscope image of a mitochondrion

To survey previously uncharted territory, a team of researchers at UW-Madison has created an “atlas” that maps more than 1,500 unique landmarks within mitochondria that could provide clues to the metabolic connections between caloric restriction and aging.

The map, as well as the techniques used to create it, could lead to a better understanding of how cell metabolism is rewired in some cancers, age-related diseases… read more

Assessing network security analysts’ abilities to prevent ‘cyber Pearl Harbor’

December 4, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta warned that the United States is facing the possibility of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor” and is increasingly vulnerable to foreign computer hackers who could disrupt the government, utility, transportation, and financial networks.

Key to protecting online operations is a high degree of “cyber security awareness,” according to human factors/ergonomics researchers Varun Dutt, Young-Suk Ahn, and Cleotilde Gonzalez.

In their Human Factors article, “… read more

Origin of intelligence and mental illness linked to ancient genetic accident

How humans --- and other mammals --- have evolved to have intelligence
December 4, 2012

mice, we found that humans with mutations in DLG2 made significantly more errors than healthy control subjects from the general population in tests of visual discrimination acquisition and cognitive flexibility (credit: J. Nithianantharajah et al/Nature Neuroscience)

Researchers have identified the moment in history when the genes that enabled us to think and reason evolved.

This point 500 million years ago provided our ability to learn complex skills, analyze situations and have flexibility in the way in which we think.

According to Professor Seth Grant of the University of Edinburgh, who led the research, intelligence in humans developed as the result… read more

Most of the harmful mutations in people arose in the past 5,000 to 10,000 years

European Americans have a larger proportion of potentially harmful variants than African Americans --- probably an artefact of their original migration out of Africa
December 4, 2012

(Credit: iStock)

The human genome has been busy over the past 5,000 years. Human populations have grown exponentially, and new genetic mutations arise with each generation, says Nature News.

Humans now have a vast abundance of rare genetic variants in the protein-encoding sections of the genome.

A study published in Nature now helps to clarify when many of those rare variants arose.

Researchers used deep sequencing to locate… read more

Studies of gene regulation in brain development may lead to new treatment of mental disorders

December 4, 2012


A team of researchers at the University of California, San Diego and the Institut Pasteur, Paris has come up with a novel way to describe brain development.

The findings could lead to new drug designs for mental disorders such as autism-spectrum disorders (ASD) and schizophrenia.

In the paper, the researchers identified the hierarchical tree of two types of gene networks that determine the… read more

How to build a million-qubit quantum computer

December 4, 2012

Hybrid dual-quantum dot/superconducting resonator device

A team led by Princeton‘s Associate Professor of Physics Jason Petta has developed a new method that could eventually allow engineers to build a working quantum computer consisting of millions of quantum bits (qubits).

Quantum computers take advantage of the strange behaviors of subatomic particles like electrons. By harnessing electrons as they spin, scientists could use the particles to form the basis for a… read more

An algorithm for speech-based emotion classification

December 5, 2012


University of Rochester engineers have developed a computer program that gauges human feelings by analyzing 12 features of speech, such as pitch and volume, to identify one of six emotions from a sound recording with 81 percent accuracy.

The program has used to develop a prototype of an app that displays either a happy or sad face after it records and analyzes the user’s voice. It… read more

NASA Mars rover fully analyzes first soil samples

December 5, 2012


NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has used its full array of instruments to analyze Martian soil for the first time, and found a complex chemistry within the Martian soil, including water and sulfur and chlorine-containing substances.

The rover’s laboratory includes the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite and the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument. SAM used three methods to analyze gases given off from the dusty… read more

Squirrel and bird deception techniques inspire military-robot design

December 5, 2012

Deceptive Robots (credit: Arkin et al./Georgia Institute of Technology)

Using deceptive behavioral patterns of squirrels and birds, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed robots that are able to deceive each other.

The research is led by Professor Ronald Arkin, a Regents Professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing, who suggests the applications could be implemented by the military in the future.

Animal deception tactics

Squirrels gather… read more

Exploding killer plasmonic nanobubbles

Has potential for cancer (and other cell) and gene therapy, and bone-marrow transplantation
December 5, 2012

After the laser pulse, red-stained cells show evidence of massive damage from exploding nanobubbles, while blue-stained cells remained intact, but with green fluorescent dye pulled in from the outside (credit: Plasmonic Nanobubble Lab/Rice University)

Researchers at Rice University have found a way to kill some diseased cells, including cancer cells, and treat others at the same time. The process, activated by a pulse of laser light, leaves neighboring healthy cells untouched. The process, which uses “tunable plasmonic nanobubbles” developed in the Rice lab of Dmitri Lapotko, shows promise to replace several difficult processes now used to treat cancer patients… read more

Next year’s 3D printers

December 5, 2012


The 3-D printing industry is on track to be a $3.1 billion business by 2016 and the innovations on display this week at Euromold, a manufacturing trade show, show its foundation is growing — both in revenue and in physical print size, Wired News reports.

Objet 1000

The big news out of Euromold is the new Objet 1000 3-D printer,… read more

High-energy physicists smash records for network data transfer

December 5, 2012


Physicists led by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have smashed yet another series of records for data-transfer speed. The international team of high-energy physicists, computer scientists, and network engineers reached a transfer rate of 339 gigabits per second (Gbps) — equivalent to moving four million gigabytes (or one million full length movies) per day, nearly doubling last year’s record.

The team also reached a… read more

Biophysicists unravel cellular ‘traffic jams’ in active transport

December 5, 2012

This image depicts motor protein traffic along a single microtubule highway. Much like vehicular traffic in real life, kinesin motor traffic reduces the velocity of single motors. Multi-motor “cargos,” such as the quantum dot depicted, can stay attached to the microtubule much longer because they can add multiple motors. (Credit: Leslie Conway and Jennifer Ross/UMass Amherst)

UMass Amherst biophysicists, using a unique microscope, have improved upon earlier studies that used too-simple models not able to account for the densely crowded, dynamic conditions of a active transport in a real cell

Inside many growing cells, an active transport system runs on nano-sized microtubule tracks that resemble a highway, complete with motors carrying cargo quickly from a central supply depot to growing tips or wherever… read more

Automated drug design using synthetic DNA self-assembly

Reducing the time required to create and test cancer and other medications
December 6, 2012

A collection of pharmaceutical molecules is shown after self-assembly. The detail shows a single molecule, made up of strands of DNA, a therapeutic agent and other components that improve its ability to target cancer. (Credit: Parabon NanoLabs)

Using a simple “drag-and-drop” computer interface and DNA self-assembly techniques, Parabon NanoLabs researchers have developed a new automated method of drug development that could reduce the time required to create and test medications, with the support of an NSF Technology Enhancement for Commercial Partnerships grant.

“We can now ‘print,’ molecule by molecule, exactly the compound that we want,” says Steven Armentrout, the principal investigator… read more

Driverless vehicles to zip at full speed through intersections

December 6, 2012


Driverless vehicles will safely wiz through intersections at the full speed limit, according to researchers from Virginia Tech Transportation Research.

Autonomous vehicles will turn themselves over to an automated intersection controller, with the controller tweaking their trajectory to prevent crashes, explained Ismail Zohdy of Cairo, Egypt, a Ph.D. student in civil engineering at Virginia Tech, and Hesham Rakha, director of the Center for Sustainableread more

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