MIT researchers discover a new kind of magnetism

‘Quantum spin liquid’ could have applications in new computer memory storage
December 21, 2012

MIT physicists grew this pure crystal of herbertsmithite in their laboratory. This sample, which took 10 months to grow, is 7 mm long (just over a quarter-inch) and weighs 0.2 grams. (Credit: Tianheng Han/MIT)

MIT researchers have demonstrated experimentally the existence of a fundamentally new kind of magnetic behavior called a quantum spin liquid (QSL),adding to the two previously known states of magnetism.

Ferromagnetism — the simple magnetism of a bar magnet or compass needle — has been known for centuries. In a second type of magnetism, antiferromagnetism, the magnetic fields of the ions within a metal or alloy cancel… read more

Research debunks the ‘IQ myth’

December 21, 2012

(credit: Adam Hampshire et al./Western University)

After conducting the largest online intelligence study on record, with more than 100,000 participants, a Canadian Western University-led research team has concluded that the notion of measuring one’s intelligence quotient or IQ by a singular, standardized test is highly misleading.

Utilizing an online study open to anyone, anywhere in the world, the researchers asked respondents to complete 12 cognitive tests tapping memory, reasoning, attention and… read more

Woman with quadriplegia feeds herself chocolate using mind-controlled robot arm

December 21, 2012


Reaching out to “high five” someone, grasping and moving objects of different shapes and sizes, feeding herself dark chocolate.

For Jan Scheuermann and a team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC, accomplishing these seemingly ordinary tasks demonstrated for the first time that a person with longstanding quadriplegia can maneuver a mind-controlled, human-like robot arm in seven dimensions (7D) to consistently… read more

Finally: a free, open-source medical journal

Are you med-Cureus?
December 21, 2012


Stanford neurosurgeon John Adler, MD, has launched Curēus, a new open-source medical journal that leverages crowdsourcing to make scientific research more readily available to the general public.

Leveraging the power of an online, crowd-sourced community platform (readers can rate material based on the article’s quality), Curēus promotes medical research by offering tools that better serve and highlight the people who create it, resulting in… read more

Pocket test measures 50 things in a drop of blood

December 21, 2012


A new device about the size of a business card could allow health care providers to test for insulin and other blood proteins, cholesterol, and even signs of viral or bacterial infection all at the same time — with one drop of blood.

Preliminary tests of the V-chip, created by scientists at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute and MD Anderson Cancer Center, were published by… read more

We’re all living longer, but longevity increases not benefitting everybody

December 21, 2012


Global lifespans have risen dramatically in the past 40 years, but the increased life expectancy is not benefitting body equally, say University of Toronto researchers. In particular, adult males from low- and middle-income countries are losing ground.

People are living longer on average than they were in 1970, and those extra years of life are being achieved at lower cost, the researchers, led by U of… read more

Monitoring air pollution on smart phones

December 24, 2012

The CitiSense sensors transmit their air quality readings to smart phones (credit: Jacobs School of Engineering - UC San Diego)

Computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego have built a small fleet of experimental portable pollution sensors that allow users to monitor air quality in real time on their smart phones.

The sensors could be particularly useful to people suffering from chronic conditions, such as asthma, who need to avoid exposure to pollutants.

CitiSense is the only air-quality monitoring system capable of… read more

Peel-and-stick solar panels

Decal-like application process lets you stick thin, flexible solar panels onto virtually any surface, from roofs to window panes and paper
December 24, 2012

Peel-off solar cell applied to cell phone (credit: Chi Hwan Lee et al./Scientific Reports)

Stanford University researchers have developed the world’s first peel-and-stick thin-film solar cells.

The thin-film solar cells can be applied to “paper, plastic, and window glass, helmets, cell phones, convex windows, portable electronic devices, curved roofs, clothing — virtually anything,” and without modifying any existing processes, facilities or materials, said Xiaolin Zheng, a Stanford assistant professor of mechanical engineering and senior author of a… read more

Low-cost, transparent, flexible, light solar cells

MIT researchers develop a new approach using graphene sheets coated with nanowires
December 24, 2012

Illustration shows the layered structure of the new device, starting with a flexible layer of graphene, a one-atom-thick carbon material. A layer of polymer is bonded to that, and then a layer of zinc-oxide nano wires (shown in magenta), and finally a layer of a material that can extract energy from sunlight, such as quantum dots or a polymer-based material. (Credit: MIT)

MIT researchers have produced a new kind of photovoltaic cell based on sheets of flexible graphene coated with a layer of nanowires.

The approach could lead to low-cost, transparent and flexible solar cells that could be deployed on windows, roofs or other surfaces.

The new approach is detailed in a report published in the journal Nano Letters, co-authored by MIT postdocs Hyesung Park and… read more

How to ID people exposed to ionizing radiation

Research could lead to a blood test that triages victims after a radiation-related incident
December 24, 2012

DNA damage

Research conducted by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) could lead to a blood test that detects if a person has been exposed to radiation, measures their dose, and separates people suffering from inflammation injuries — all in a matter of hours.

Background: dealing with a nuclear incident

There’s a reason emergency personnel train for the aftermath of… read more

What will your next body be like?

December 25, 2012

A scene from R.U.R., showing three robots (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

“Many engineers, including me, think that some time around 2050, we will be able to make very high quality links between the brains and machines. … If your mind is so well connected, you could inhabit a new body, without having to vacate your existing one,” suggests futurologist Ian Pearson.

“Using a detachable brain is one option, or not to put a brain in at all, using empty immobile husks that… read more

Advanced humanoid Roboy to be ‘born’ in nine months

December 26, 2012


Meet Roboy, “one of the most advanced humanoid robots,” say researchers at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich.

Their 15 project partners and over 40 engineers and scientists are constructing Roboy as a tendon-driven robot modeled on human beings (robots usually have their motors in their joints, giving them that “robot” break-dance look), so it will move almost as elegantly as a… read more

Thiel Fellowship applications open until December 31

Program awards $100,000 grants to innovative, driven young people with creative ideas who want to make a difference for the world
December 27, 2012


Applications for the Thiel Foundation’s 20 Under 20 fellowship program for 2013 are due by 11:59 P.M. (UTC–12) on December 31, 2012.

Thiel Fellowships consist of separate grants of $100,000 to 20 people under 20 years old, so that they can leave the classroom and pursue innovation. In addition to the financial support, Thiel Fellows are mentored by hundreds of highly accomplished entrepreneurs, scientists, investors, thinkers, and innovators of the Thiel Network.… read more

A high-resolution nanoscale window to the live biological world

December 27, 2012


Investigators at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have invented a way to directly image biological structures at nanometer-resolution in their natural habitats (a liquid environment).

The technique is a major advancement toward the ultimate goal of imaging biological processes in action at the atomic level.

The technique uses two silicon-nitride microchips with windows etched in their centers and pressing them together until only… read more

‘Neuristor’: memristors used to create neuron-like behavior

December 27, 2012


HP Labs researchers may have figured out a way to create a chip that generates neuron-like spikes (sharp signal pulses), using a combination of memristors and capacitors to create a spiking output pattern, Ars Technica reports.

Neurons encode information in the pattern and timing of  spikes. The researchers used a simplified model of neurons based on sodium-potassium ion channels to turn the neuron on and off.… read more

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