Bioinspired robot shakes a tail to fool fish

December 7, 2012

Ethorobotics Fish (credit: Vladislav Kopman et al./Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Zebrafish are attracted to robots that can convincingly imitate Zebrafish tail motions, researchers at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) found in an experiment in “ethorobotics” — the study of bioinspired robots interacting with live animal counterparts.

Maurizio Porfiri, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NYU-Poly and students used image-based tracking software to analyze the movement of the live… read more

Organic metamaterial flows like a liquid, remembers its shape

"The striking similarity to Terminator T-1000 is purely coincidental" --- officials
December 7, 2012

Under an electron microscope the material is revealed to consist of tiny "bird's nests" of tangled DNA, top, which are tied together by more DNA stands into a mass, bottom. The tangled structure creates many tiny spaces that absorb water like a sponge. (Credit: Jong Bum Lee et al./Cornell University)

A new material created by Cornell researchers is so soft that it can flow like a liquid and then, strangely, return to its original shape.

Rather than liquid metal, it is a hydrogel, a mesh of organic molecules with many small empty spaces that can absorb water like a sponge. It qualifies as a “metamaterial” with properties not found in nature and may be the… read more

Could synthetic fuels eliminate entire US need for crude oil, create ‘new economy’?

December 7, 2012

Graphical representation of the locations of selected facilities for 50% replacement of petroleum fuels. The facilities are represented by dark brown circles with corresponding sizes. The amounts of coal, biomass, and natural gas feedstock in the United States are represented by the proposed color scheme in the map legend. (Credit: Josephine A. Elia, Richard C. Baliban, and Christodoulos A. Floudas/Princeton University)

The U.S. could eliminate the need for crude oil by using a combination of coal, natural gas, and non-food crops to make synthetic fuel, a team of Princeton researchers has found.

Besides economic and national security benefits, the plan has potential environmental advantages. Because plants absorb carbon dioxide to grow, the United States could cut vehicle greenhouse emissions by as much as 50 percent in… read more

New evidence on how compound found in red wine can help prevent cancer

How resveratrol can prevent cancer, heart disease and diabetes
December 7, 2012


University of Leicester scientists have presented groundbreaking new evidence about how a chemical found in red wine can help prevent cancer.

Experts from around the world attended Resveratrol 2012, a major conference at the University to assess the latest advances in the study of resveratrol — a compound found in the skins of red grapes.

The conference featured new findings based on… read more

Johns Hopkins surgeons implant first brain ‘pacemaker’ for Alzheimer’s disease in US

December 7, 2012


Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine have surgically implanted a pacemaker-like device into the brain of a patient in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the first such operation in the United States.

The device, which provides deep brain stimulation and has been used in thousands of people with Parkinson’s disease, is seen as a possible means of boosting memory and reversing cognitive decline.

The… read more

Nanostructured ‘sandwich’ boosts solar-cell efficiency almost three times

December 10, 2012

A conventional solar cell, left, reflects light off its surface and loses light that penetrates the cell. New technology, right, develop by Princeton professor Stephen Chou and colleagues in electrical engineering, prevents both types of loss and is much thinner. (Credit: Dimitri Karetnikov/Princeton University)

Princeton researchers have found a simple and economical way to nearly triple the efficiency of organic solar cells, the cheap and flexible plastic devices that many scientists believe could be the future of solar power.

The researchers, led by electrical engineer Stephen Chou, the Joseph C. Elgin Professor of Engineering, were able to increase the efficiency of the solar cells 175 percent by using… read more

Get ready for ads that follow you from one device to the next

December 10, 2012

(Credit: Drawbridge)

To make advertising pay as audiences move over to mobile devices, Drawbridge is using statistical methods that rely on anonymous data to track people as they move between their smartphones, tablets, and PCs, MIT Technology Review reports.

Drawbridge works by looking at the cookie data that comes with a request from a mobile or desktop browser or app to an ad exchange, and using its… read more

Graphene towers promise ‘flexi-electronics’

The 3D ‘monoliths’ --- grown between forming ice crystals --- add elasticity to the super-strength and conductivity of graphene sheets
December 10, 2012


It can support 50,000 times its own weight, springs back into shape after being compressed by up to 80%, and has a density much lower than most comparable metal-based materials.

It’s a new superelastic, 3D form of graphene developed at Monash University that can even conduct electricity, paving the way for flexible electronics, Nature News reports.

The researchers adapted an industrial technique called freeze casting to… read more

Breakthrough: compound generated by low carb/low-calorie diet blocks effects of aging

Discovery suggests way to protect cells from damage caused by oxidative stress
December 10, 2012


Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have identified a novel mechanism by which a type of low-carb, low-calorie diet — called a “ketogenic diet” — could delay the effects of aging: the compound  β-hydroxybutyrate (βOHB), a “ketone body” that is generated during a prolonged low-calorie or ketogenic diet.

Blocking oxidative stress

While ketone bodies such as βOHB can be toxic when… read more

Seeing in color at the nanoscale

Berkeley Lab scientists develop a new nanotech tool to probe solar-energy conversion
December 10, 2012

A new microscopy tool promises to revolutionize nanoscale imaging. Left, a design schematic of the "campanile" microscopy tip. Right, an electron micrograph of the tip and, inset, the UC Berkeley campanile bell-tower for which it is named. (Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Lab)

A new microscopy tool from researchers at the Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) delivers exquisite chemical details with a resolution once thought impossible.

The team developed the tool, which they call a “campanile,” to investigate solar-to-electric energy conversion at its most fundamental level, but their invention promises to reveal new worlds of data to researchers in all walks of nanoscience.… read more

When the first stars blinked on

The very first stars may have turned on when the universe was 750 million years old
December 10, 2012

An artist's rendering of the quasar 3C 279 (credit: European Southern Observatory)

Researchers at MIT, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of California at San Diego have peered far back in time, to the era of the first stars and galaxies, and found matter with no discernible trace of heavy elements, such as carbon and oxygen.

To make this measurement, the team analyzed light from the most distant known quasar, a galactic nucleus more than… read more

Silver nanocubes make super-light-absorbers

December 10, 2012


Microscopic metallic cubes could unleash the enormous potential of metamaterials to absorb light, leading to more efficient and cost-effective large-area absorbers for sensors or solar cells, Duke University researchers have found.

Metamaterials are man-made materials that have properties often absent in natural materials. They are constructed to provide exquisite control over the properties of waves, such as light.

Creating these materials for visible light… read more

IBM ‘silicon nanophotonics’ breakthrough integrates optical and electrical circuits

Light pulses can move data at blazing speeds to help solve bandwidth limitations of servers, datacenters and supercomputers
December 10, 2012


IBM announced today a major advance in the ability to use light instead of electrical signals to transmit information for future computing.

The breakthrough technology — called “silicon nanophotonics” — allows the integration of different optical components side-by-side with electrical circuits on a single silicon chip using, for the first time, sub-100nm semiconductor technology.

Silicon nanophotonics takes advantage of pulses of light for communication and provides… read more

How to focus light at the nanoscale

New light-focusing device may lead to radical improvements in hard drives, microscopes, and communications
December 11, 2012

(credit: Young-Hee Lee)

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) engineers have created a device that can focus light into a point just a few nanometers (billionths of a meter) across — an achievement they say may lead to next-generation applications in computing, communications, and imaging.

The Caltech device complements IBM’s just-announced “silicon nanophotonics,” which allows for the integration of different optical components side-by-side with electrical circuits on… read more

The many maps of the brain

December 11, 2012


Your brain has at least four different senses of location — and perhaps as many as 10 — and each is different, according to new research from the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

The brain has a number of “modules” dedicated to self-location, they found. Each module contains its own internal GPS-like mapping system that keeps track… read more

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