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Plastic on Steroids

March 9, 2004

Research in electroactive polymers (EAPs), a type of artificial muscle, seems to have finally paid off with some useful products. Among them: powerful pumps and motors, nearly silent propulsion technologies, and novel drug-delivery systems.

EAPs could fundamentally alter drug delivery. Marc Madou of UC Irvine is developing implantable, matchstick-sized capsules with microscopic pores. When sensors detect that a patient needs, say, more insulin, artificial muscles open valves under the… read more

Too scary to be real, research looks to quantify eeriness in virtual characters

September 24, 2009

Research by Indiana University’s Karl MacDorman into human photorealism in robots, androids and computer-generated characters is calling into question the
“uncanny valley” premise that a computer-generated face looks the eeriest when it looks nearly human.

Study pinpoints area in brain linked to smoking addictions

January 26, 2007

An unusual study of people with brain damage, caused in most cases by a stroke, suggests the compulsion to light up might be driven by the same little-studied brain region, the insula, that helps us make sense of hunger pangs, nervous twitches and all sorts of visceral body signals.

Researchers said the findings identify an important new target for research into the biological underpinning of addiction. It might even… read more

Brain DNA ‘remodeled’ in alcoholism

April 3, 2008

University of Illinois at Chicago researchers and colleagues have found that alcoholism changes the DNA scaffolding that supports and controls gene expression in the brain.

These epigenetic changes (DNA functional changes not caused by sequence changes) relate to how DNA and histones are wound together, and may cause anxiety and other alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Ultra-fast shocks scramble cells

March 17, 2004

Using very powerful electric shocks lasting namoseconds, researchers are developing a way to jolt cancer cells into committing suicide, or healthy cells into healing wounds.

Curling Up With Hybrid Books, Videos Included

October 1, 2009

The notion of the book is becoming increasingly elastic as publishers mash up text, video and Web features, or enable conversations among readers.

Simon & Schuster is releasing four “vooks,” which intersperse videos throughout electronic text that can be read and viewed online or on an iPhone or iPod Touch. In “The Amanda Project,” HarperCollins has invited readers to discuss clues and characters on a Web site,and as the… read more

How cells respond to biochemical signals

August 18, 2011

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have discovered that structural elements in the cell play a crucial role in organizing the motion of cell-surface receptors, which are proteins that enable cells to receive signals from other parts of the organism.

This discovery fills a fundamental gap in the understanding of how cells relate to biochemical signals, including pharmaceuticals, and could have profound implications… read more

MIT ‘optics on a chip’ may revolutionize telecom, computing

February 6, 2007

MIT researchers have

In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop

April 7, 2008

A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.

Robot-controlled inks create 3D structures

March 25, 2004

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are creating complex, three-dimensional structures with micron-size features using a robotic deposition process called direct-write assembly.

The precisely patterned parts could be used as bio-scaffolds, micro-fluidic networks, sensor arrays or templates for photonic materials for such applications such as drug-delivery, micro-fluidics, photonics and tissue engineering.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign news release

Light-Switched Drug Delivery

October 7, 2009

(Raghavendra Palankar/Small)

Researchers in England and Germany have created gold-studded polymer microcapsules that release compounds into cells by rupturing when exposed to ultraviolet light.

The capsules could be useful for researchers studying the effects of drugs on cells, and eventually they could perhaps serve as a clinical tool for administering medication.

Moving pictures

February 15, 2007

A project combining 3D imagery with hand-tracking and speech recognition technology could change the way the next generation of computers presents information, as well as how we interact with it.

The system uses gesture recognition technology that tracks natural hand movements and uses the information to manipulate images. Speech recognition enables the user to turn, flip or resize 3D objects with simple verbal commands, and call up contextual information… read more

Manufactured buckyballs don’t harm microbes that clean the environment

April 9, 2008

Even large amounts of manufactured nanoparticles, also known as Buckyballs, don’t faze microscopic organisms that are charged with cleaning up the environment, according to Purdue University researchers.

Machine rage is dead … long live emotional computing

April 12, 2004

The days of the unfeeling, infuriating machine will soon be over. Scientists are now creating computers and robots that can detect and respond to users’ feelings.

The discoveries are being channelled by Humaine, a £6 million program just launched by the EU to give Europe a lead in emotional computing.

The systems depend on scientists’ new-found ability to recognize the physiological expressions of emotions — changes in stature,… read more

‘Matrix for mice’ probes how mental maps are made

October 15, 2009

Support for a theory that activity occurring within place cells in the brain’s hippocampus is key to how mental maps are made has been provided by an experiment with mice using a VR game.

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