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New insights into how the brain stores memories

November 26, 2012

Neuronlae Interaktionen

Exactly how does long-term memory get updated (or “written,” in computer language)?

One hypothesis, for example, is that while in deep dreamless sleep, the hippocampus sends messages to the cortex and changes its plasticity, transferring recently acquired knowledge (in short-term memory) to long-term memory.

Background

Many invasive studies in nonhuman primates and clinical investigations in human patients have demonstrated that the hippocampus, one of the oldest, most… read more

A 3D microscopic device for high-speed processing of infrared light

November 26, 2012

An illustration shows the design of Rice University researchers’ antenna-on-a-chip for spatial light modulation. The chip is able to process incident infrared light for signal processing at very high speeds. (Credit Xu Group/Rice University)

Rice University researchers have produced a micron-scale spatial light modulator (SLM) like those used in sensing and imaging devices, but with the potential to run orders of magnitude faster.

Unlike other devices that use two-dimensional semiconducting chips, the Rice chips work in three-dimensional “free space.”

The chips promise to speed up applications that are free-space based, such as imaging, display, holographics, metrology and remote… read more

Scientists see promise in deep-learning programs

November 27, 2012

speech_translation_microsoft

Using deep learning, an AI technique inspired by theories about how the brain recognizes patterns, technology companies are reporting startling gains in fields as diverse as computer vision, speech recognition and the identification of promising new molecules for designing drugs, The New York Times reports.

The advances have led to widespread enthusiasm among researchers who design software to perform human activities like seeing, listening and thinking. They offer… read more

How Google plans to find the UnGoogleable

November 27, 2012

google_data_center

Google wants to improve its mobile search services by automatically delivering information you wouldn’t think to search for online in a research exercise known as the Daily Information Needs Study, MIT Technology Review reports.

For example, contextual information provided by mobile devices — via GPS chips and other sensors — can provide clues about a person and his situation, allowing Google to guess what that person wants.… read more

New hope for sufferers of degenerative muscle disorders

New therapy combines two existing techniques for muscle repair --- cell transplantation (mesoangioblast stem cells) and tissue engineering
November 27, 2012

muscle_fibers

A new therapeutic technique to repair and rebuild muscle for sufferers of degenerative muscle disorders has been developed by an international team of researchers, according to a study published today in BioMed Central’s open access journal Skeletal Muscle.

The therapy brings together two existing techniques for muscle repair — cell transplantation (mesoangioblast stem cells) and tissue engineering, delivering the stem cells via a… read more

A 3D printer to turn waste plastic into composting toilets, rainwater harvesting systems

November 27, 2012

3dprinting_machine_3d4dchallenge

A University of Washington team claimed a $100,000 prize in the first 3D4D Challenge, an international contest to use 3-D printing for social benefit in the developing world.

The three undergraduates won to form a company that will work with partners in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Matthew Rogge, a mechanical engineering grad student, proposed to use giant 3-D printers to create composting latrines that areread more

Proving quantum computers feasible

Researchers show that relatively simple physical systems could yield powerful quantum computers
November 27, 2012

The possible quantum states of a chain of particles can be represented as points in space, with lines connecting states that can be swapped with no change in the chain's total energy. MIT researchers and their colleagues showed that such networks are densely interconnected, with heavily trafficked pathways between points. (Credit: Christine Daniloff)

A group of researchers at MIT, IBM, Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, the Slovak Academy of Sciences and Northeastern University proved that even in simple spin chains, the degree of entanglement scales with the length of the chain.

The research thus offers strong evidence that relatively simple quantum systems could offer considerable computational resources.

Quantum computers are devices — still largely theoretical — that… read more

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

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