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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

A novel thought-controlled prosthesis for amputees

November 30, 2012

When amputee patients have received their new prosthesis, it will be controlled with their own brain signals. The signals are transferred via the nerves through the arm stump and captured by electrodes. These will then transmit the signals through a titanium implant (OPRA Implant System) to be decoded by the prosthetic arm. The prosthesis is anchored directly to the skeleton by a process known as osseointegration. (Credit: Integrum)

An implantable robotic arm controlled by thoughts is being developed by Chalmers University of Technology industrial doctoral student Max Ortiz Catalan in Sweden.

Ever since the 1960s, amputees have been able to use prostheses controlled by electrical impulses in the muscles, their functionality is limited because they are difficult to control, according to Catalan.

Today’s standard socket prostheses, which are attached to the body… read more

Giant black hole could upset galaxy evolution models

November 30, 2012

Image of the disk galaxy (lenticular galaxy) NGC 1277, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. This small, flattened galaxy contains one of the biggest central super-massive black holes ever found in its center. With the mass of 17 billion Suns, the black hole weighs in at an extraordinary 14% of the total galaxy mass. (Credit: NASA / ESA / Andrew C. Fabian / Remco C. E. van den Bosch (MPIA))

A group of astronomers led by Remco van den Bosch from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) have discovered a black hole that could shake the foundations of current models of galaxy evolution.

At 17 billion times the mass of the Sun, its mass is much greater than current models predict — in particular in relation to the mass of its host galaxy. This… read more

Waterloo researchers create ‘world’s largest functioning model of the brain’

November 30, 2012

Serial working memory task (from movie)

A team of researchers from the University of Waterloo have built what the claim is the world’s largest simulation of a functioning brain.

The purpose is to help scientists understand how the complex activity of the brain gives rise to the complex behavior exhibited by animals, including humans.

The model is called Spaun (Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network). It consists of 2.5… read more

This radical discovery could turn semiconductor manufacture inside out

How to "grow" self-assembling semiconductors, atomic layer by atomic layer
November 30, 2012

Aerotaxy production process (credit: Lars Samuelson et al./Lund University)

A completely new method of manufacturing the smallest structures in electronics could make their manufacture thousands of times quicker, allowing for cheaper semiconductors.

Instead of starting from a silicon wafer or other substrate, the idea is to grow gallium arsenide semiconductor structures from freely suspended nanoparticles of gold in a flowing gas. Semiconductor nanowires are key building blocks for the next generation of light-emitting diodes, solar cells,… read more

Is this the biggest breakthrough in propulsion since the jet engine?

November 30, 2012

skylon_sabre_open_610

Reaction Engines Ltd. has announced what is says is the “biggest breakthrough in aerospace propulsion technology since the invention of the jet engine.”

Critical tests have been successfully completed on the key technology for SABRE, an engine that will enable aircraft to reach the opposite side of the world in under four hours, or to fly directly into orbit and return in a single stage,… read more

Implantable silk optics tissue improves imaging, enables photothermal therapy, drug delivery/monitoring

November 30, 2012

Microscopic image of a silk optical implant embedded with gold nano particles. When implanted in tissue and illuminated with green laser light, the particles converted light to heat, turning the reflector into a thermal therapy to control bacterial infection or kill malignant cells. (Credit: Fiorenzo Omenetto)

Tufts University School of Engineering researchers have demonstrated silk-based implantable optics that  offer significant improvement in tissue imaging while simultaneously enabling photothermal therapy, administering drugs, and  monitoring drug delivery.

The devices also lend themselves to a variety of other biomedical functions.

Biodegradable and biocompatible, these tiny mirror-like devices dissolve harmlessly at predetermined rates and require no surgery to remove them.

The technology is the brainchild… read more

The music of the silks

Researchers synthesize a new kind of silk fiber --- and find that music can help fine-tune the material’s properties
November 30, 2012

This diagram of the molecular structure of one of the artificially produced versions of spider silk depicts one that turned out to form strong, well-linked fibers. A different structure, made using a variation of the same methods, was not able to form into the long fibers needed to make it useful. Musical compositions based on the two structures helped to show how they differed. (Credit: Markus Buehler/MIT)

Research by MIT’s Markus Buehler — together with David Kaplan of Tufts University and Joyce Wong of Boston University — has synthesized new variants on silk’s natural structure, and found a method for making further improvements in the synthetic material.

The work stems from a collaboration of civil and environmental engineers, mathematicians, biomedical engineers and musical composers. The results are reported in a paper published… read more

NASA spacecraft finds new Mercury water ice evidence

December 1, 2012

messenger_mercury_mosaic

Instruments aboard NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft studying the planet Mercury have provided compelling support for the long-held hypothesis the planet harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials within its permanently shadowed polar craters.

“About the last thing you would expect on a planet so close to the sun is water ice,” said Matthew Siegler, a scientist at… read more

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