science + technology news

Could stem cells repair damaged cones in retinas, allowing for daylight color vision?

Yet another awesome zebrafish story.
February 4, 2013

Zebrafish cone photoreceptor mosaic (credit: Brittany Fraser et al./PLOS ONE

University of Alberta (UA) researchers have discovered that a zebrafish’s stem cells can selectively regenerate its damaged photoreceptor cells.

UA lead researcher Ted Allison says that for some time geneticists have known that stem cells in zebrafish can replace damaged vision cells.

Rods and cones are the most important photoreceptors. In humans, rods provide us with night vision while cones give us… read more

Could ‘solid’ light compute previously unsolvable problems?

An "artificial atom" makes photons behave like exotic matter
September 12, 2014

Oscillations of photons create an image of frozen light. At first, photons in the experiment flow easily between two superconducting sites, producing the large waves shown at left. After a time, the scientists cause the light to 'freeze,' trapping the photons in place. Fast oscillations on the right of the image are evidence of the new trapped behavior. (Credit: Princeton University)

Researchers at Princeton University have “crystallized” light. They are not shining light through crystal — they are actually transforming light into crystal, as part of an effort to develop exotic materials such as room-temperature superconductors.

The researchers locked together photons so that they became fixed in place. “It’s something that we have never seen before,” said Andrew Houck, an associate professor of electrical engineering and… read more

Could smart traffic lights stop motorists fuming?

February 13, 2008

Romanian and US researchers have shown that future “smart” traffic lights that wirelessly keep track of vehicles might reduce the time drivers spend waiting at intersections by more than 28% during rush hours.

Could ‘smart skin’ made of recyclable materials transform medicine and robotics?

How to create sophisticated sensors in your kitchen with aluminum foil, scotch tape, sticky-notes, napkins, and sponges and a $25 computer
February 19, 2016

smart skin disposable pH sensor-ft

Here’s a challenge: using only low-cost materials available in your house (such as aluminum foil, pencil, scotch tape, sticky-notes, napkins, and sponges), build sensitive sensors (“smart skin”) for detecting temperature, humidity, pH, pressure, touch, flow, motion, and proximity (at a distance of 13 cm). Your sensors must show reliable and consistent results and be capable of connecting to low-cost, tiny computers such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi devices.

The… read more

Could robots become ‘aware’ of their own limitations?

April 3, 2013

(credit: Allegra Boverman and Christine Daniloff/MIT)

MIT researchers have developed software for robots that enables them to be more “aware” of their own limitations, such as knowing the whereabouts of an object, or its own location within a room.

Most successful robots today tend to be used either in fixed, carefully controlled environments, such as manufacturing plants, or for performing fairly simple tasks such as vacuuming a room,

But carrying out complicated sequences… read more

Could PTSD be cured by sleep-based therapies?

October 19, 2012

The_Scream

Traumatic memories can be manipulated in sleeping mice to reduce their fearful responses during waking hours.  The finding, announced by  Stanford University researchers at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, suggests that sleep-based therapies could provide new options for treating conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Nature News Blog reports.

Currently, one of the most common treatments for PTSD requires the… read more

Could plasma light extend Moore’s law?

July 2, 2012

uw_plasma

University of Washington lab says it can produce light with enough power to be used in manufacturing microchips.

The lab has been working for more than a decade on fusion energy, harnessing the energy-generating mechanism of the sun.

But in one of the twists of scientific discovery, on the way the researchers found a potential solution to a looming problem in the electronics industry.

“To… read more

Could nanowires be the LEDs of the future?

June 25, 2015

(a) Sketch of an LED nanowire showing the onion-like structure of the layers; (b) Finite element method simulation of strain distribution (credit: Tomas Stankevic, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen)

LEDs made from nanowires with an inner core of gallium nitride (GaN) and a outer layer of indium-gallium-nitride (InGaN) — both semiconductors — use less energy and provide better light, according Robert Feidenhans’l, professor and head of the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.

The studies were performed using nanoscale X-ray microscopy in the electron synchrotron at DESY in Hamburg, Germany.… read more

Could nanomachines be tomorrow’s doctors?

April 29, 2004

Scientists have built a tiny biological computer made of DNA that might be capable of medical diagnosis and treatment.

The biocomputer senses abnormal messenger RNAs produced by genes involved in certain types of lung and prostate cancer (as a proof of principle) and releases an anticancer drug, also made of DNA, which damps expression of the tumor-related gene. Billions of the computers could easily fit inside a human cell.… read more

Could lasers zap away dangerous asteroids?

March 20, 2007

Lasers may be able to detect asteroids from 10 times farther away than current radar observatories, and deflect them away from Earth, too.

Could lab-grown meat soon be the solution to the world’s food crisis?

January 25, 2012

lab meat

Scientists are producing small quantities of “cultured meat” in research laboratories. Mark Post of Maastricht University, one of the pioneers in the field, claims he will be able to produce a cultured burger by the end of the year.

Instead of getting meat from animals raised in pastures, he wants to grow steaks in lab conditions, directly from muscle stem cells. If successful, the technology will… read more

Could killer horse virus spread among humans?

July 25, 2008

Australia is suffering the biggest outbreak of the highly virulent Hendra virus since the disease was identified in 1994.

Now a change in its symptoms is raising fears that new strains may have emerged — and even that a strain capable of spreading from human-to-human could appear.

Could ibuprofen be an anti-aging medicine?

December 19, 2014

Ibuprofen extends the lifespan of C. elegans worms: survival curves treated with ibuprofen at 0.1 mM (red) compared to experiment-matched untreated (credit: Chong He et al./PLOS Genetics)

Ibuprofen, a common over-the-counter drug used to relieve pain and fever, could hold the keys to a longer healthier life, according to a study by researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.  Publishing in PLoS Genetics (open access) December 18, scientists showed that regular doses of ibuprofen extended the lifespan of yeast, worms and fruit flies.

Brian Kennedy, PhD, CEO of the Buck Institute, said treatments, given… read more

Could I Get That Song in Elvis, Please?

November 24, 2003

Vocaloid software, due out in January from Yamaha, allows users to create synthesized songs in a life-like concert-quality voice.

To create the virtual performer’s “vocal font,” technicians record a singer performing as many as 60 pages of scripted phoneme articulations along with assorted pitches and techniques like glissandos and legatos.

The software may allow for “vocal reanimation” of celebrity singers, like Elvis.

Vocaloid could be used as… read more

Could humans ever regenerate limbs?

February 10, 2016

finger regrowth ft

Just lopped off your ring finger slicing carrots (some time in the future)? No problem. Just speed-read this article while you’re waiting for the dronebulance. …

“Epimorphic regeneration” — growing digits, maybe even limbs, with full 3D structure and functionality — may one day be possible. So say scientists at Tulane University, the University of Washington, and the University of Pittsburgh, writing in a review article just published in… read more

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