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New theory of visual computation reveals how brain makes sense of natural scenes

November 20, 2008

Computational neuroscientists at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a computational model that provides insight into the function of the brain’s visual cortex and the information processing that enables people to perceive contours and surfaces, and understand what they see in the world around them.

The model employs an algorithm that analyzes the myriad patterns that compose natural scenes and statistically characterizes those patterns to determine which patterns are most… read more

Ray Kurzweil: Building bridges to immortality

December 28, 2010

Make it to the year 2045 and you can live forever, the controversial futurist claims. So how’s his personal quest for immortality going?

Fragments boost 3D TV

June 29, 2004

The ultimate in video is a system that renders three-dimensional images in real-time and lets the viewer change viewpoints at will.

It takes a lot of network bandwidth to transmit that much information, however. A system that turns two-dimensional pixels from a camera array into a set of independent points in space promises to lighten the load.

Stanford scientists make major breakthrough in regenerative medicine

April 25, 2007

Findings described in a new study by Stanford scientists may be the first step toward a major revolution in human regenerative medicine — a future where advanced organ damage can be repaired by the body itself.

In the May 2007 issue of The FASEB Journal, researchers show that a human evolutionary ancestor, the sea squirt, can correct abnormalities over a series of generations, suggesting that a similar regenerative process… read more

Brain works better with neurological disease

November 26, 2008

Huntington’s disease improves ability at some cognitive tests, possibly because neurons become abnormally sensitive to the neurotransmitter glutamate, which is vital for sensory discrimination.

The finding by the Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors in Germany strengthens the glutamate theory and suggests that the cognitive tasks be used as a test for drugs that block the glutamate response.

Scientists squeeze more than 1,000 cores onto computer chip

January 5, 2011

Xilinx Virtex FPGA chip

Scientists at the University of Glasgow and the University of Massachusetts Lowell have created an ultra-fast 1,000-core computer processor.

They used a field programmable gate array (FPGA) chip, which can be configured into specific circuits by the user,  enabling the researchers to divide up the transistors within the chip into small groups and ask each to perform a different task.

By creating more than 1,000 mini-circuits within the… read more

A nickel investment for future’s grid will pay off

July 12, 2004

“Energy is the single most important challenge facing humanity today,” says Richard Smalley, director of the Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory at Rice University.

“We will need revolutionary breakthroughs to find the clean, low-cost energy necessary for advanced civilization of the 10 billion souls we expect to be living on this planet before this century is out.”

Nanotechnology will play a key role, he says. For example, single-wall carbon nanotubes… read more

Eating Radiation: A New Form of Energy?

June 4, 2007

In a bizarre alternative to photosynthesis, some fungi transform radiation into energy to use as food for growth–with the role of chlorophyll taken by melanin, a chemical also found in human skin.

The fungi might be used as a biofuel to be grown in high-altitude regions.

Cheap source of energy: Cell splits water via sunlight to produce hydrogen

May 2, 2007

Engineers at Washington University have developed a unique photocatalytic cell that splits water to produce hydrogen and oxygen in water using sunlight and the power of a nanostructured catalyst.

Back-Button to the Future

December 5, 2008

A new browser tool called Zoetrope from Adobe Systems allows users to browse backward through time.

Zoetrope will recognize a price as it goes up or down and will show the results as a graph. It’s also possible to draw lenses on different websites and sync them in order to carry out a historical comparison.

Video

Nanodisk gene therapy

January 13, 2011

A team of scientists at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB) has demonstrated that the peptide R9, formed by a specific type of amino acid (arginine), can encapsulate genetic material, assemble itself with other identical molecules to form nanoparticles, and enter directly into the cell nucleus to release the material it contains. The nanoparticles have the shape of a disk, with a diameter of 20 nm. and a height of… read more

Endangered species’ DNA stored on ‘Ark’

July 27, 2004

Britain’s “Frozen Ark” project hopes to collect frozen DNA and tissue specimens from thousands of endangered species.

Like Noah, the scientists harbor hopes of repopulating the Earth.

With about 10,000 species listed as in danger of extinction, the ark will fill quickly.

New implant may ‘bring music to the deaf’

June 13, 2007

A simple change to the design of “bionic ear” implants dramatically improves the quality of sound they provide, say University of Michigan and University of California, San Francisco researchers who have tested a prototype on cats.

The new device bypasses the cochlear and instead connects directly to the nerves that carry information to the brain.

Supplying the World’s Energy Needs with Light and Water

May 10, 2007

Understanding how photosynthesis works, thinks Daniel Nocera, professor of chemistry at MIT, could lead to ways to produce and store solar energy in forms that are practical for powering cars and providing electricity even when the sun isn’t shining.

New Ways to Boost Memory

December 11, 2008

EnVivo Pharmaceuticals, a drug company based in Watertown, MA, is developing histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors (to enable gene expression) that are more potent than existing ones and can easily enter the brain; its lead HDAC inhibitor can enhance both short- and long-term memory in mice.

While scientists don’t yet know exactly how this epigenetic regulation affects memory, the theory is that certain triggers, such as exercise, visual stimulation, or… read more

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