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Quantum dots could be safe for deep-tissue imaging

No toxic effects in non-human primates
August 2, 2013

Bright light emission from silicon quantum dots in a cuvette. The image is from a camera that captures the near-infrared light that the quantum dots emit. The light emission shown is a psuedo color, as near-infrared light does not fall in the visible spectrum. (Credit: Folarin Erogbogbo/University at Buffalo)

Tiny silicon crystals caused no health problems in monkeys three months after large doses were injected, marking a step forward in the quest to bring such materials into clinics as biomedical imaging agents, according to a new study.

The findings, published July 10 in the journal ACS Nano, suggest that the silicon nanocrystals, known as quantum dots, may be a safe tool for diagnostic imaging in humans.… read more

Single-cell RNA sequencing yields genetic makeup of human and mouse embryos in unprecedented detail

Are we about to usher in a new age of eugenics and designer babies?
August 2, 2013


UCLA scientists, in collaboration with teams in China, have used the powerful technology of single-cell RNA sequencing to track the genetic development of a human and a mouse embryo at an unprecedented level of accuracy.

The technique could lead to earlier and more accurate diagnoses of genetic diseases — even when the embryo consists of only eight cells.

The study was led by Guoping… read more

Giant hollow magnetic-cage molecules could deliver drugs non-invasively

August 2, 2013

Illustration depicts a Mn24C18 cluster carrying a magnetic moment of 70 Bohr magnetons. Image courtesy of Menghao Wu, Ph.D./VCU.

Large hollow magnetic cage molecules could one day be used in medicine as a drug delivery system to non-invasively treat tumors, according to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) researchers.

About 25 years ago, scientists first made the discovery of C60 fullerene — better known as Buckminster Fullerene — a molecule composed of 60 carbon atoms that formed a hollow cage.

Its unique hollow cage structure offers… read more

How did Earth’s primitive chemistry get kick-started?

At alkaline hydrothermal vents at the bottom of oceans, says NASA JPL scientist
August 2, 2013


Three new papers co-authored by Mike Russell, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., strengthen the case that Earth’s first life began at alkaline hydrothermal vents at the bottom of oceans.

Scientists are interested in understanding early life on Earth because if we ever hope to find life on other worlds — especially icy worlds with subsurface oceans such as Jupiter’s moon… read more

A promising new direction for organ regeneration and tissue repair

Promising effects for liver, kidney and lung regeneration and wound healing
August 2, 2013

Liver regeneration

Most human tissues do not regenerate spontaneously. But now, researchers have identified an entirely new approach to enhance normal tissue growth, a finding that could have widespread therapeutic applications, according to a team led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.

Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)read more

Create a printable 3D model of any object using only a camera and Web browser

August 1, 2013

3D camera

Volumental‘s 3D Scan-to-Print web app will be the world’s first browser-based, 3D-printable model creator. The idea is to scan (and later, print) a 3D object as easily as printing a document, using just a depth camera (such as a Kinect*) and computer browser.

The team just launched a Kickstarter. “We need $20,000 in funding to hire a dedicated developer for this project as well as… read more

Capturing black hole spin could further understanding of galaxy growth

August 1, 2013

black hole spin courtesy of nasa-jpl-caltech

Durham University Astronomers have found a new way of measuring the spin in supermassive black holes, which could lead to better understanding about how they drive the growth of galaxies.

The astronomers observed a black hole — with a mass 10 million times that of our Sun — at the center of a spiral galaxy 500 million light years from Earth while it was feeding on the… read more

Plant bacteria breakthrough enables crops worldwide to take nitrogen from the air

"N-Fix" can replace expensive and environmentally damaging nitrate fertilizers
August 1, 2013

Professor Ted Cocking from University of Nottingham with a plant grown using nitrogen fixation N Fix technology

The University of Nottingham scientists have developed a new technology that would enable all of the world’s crops to take nitrogen from the air, instead of requiring expensive and environmentally damaging fertilizers.

Nitrogen fixation, the process by which nitrogen is converted to ammonia, is vital for plants to survive and grow. However, only a very small number of plants, most notably legumes (such as peas,… read more

Rooftop solar, other renewables make 9GW of baseload fossil fuels no longer needed in Australia

August 1, 2013


AGL Energy, one of the big three power utilities in Australia, says that 9,000MW of fossil-fuel baseload capacity needs to be taken out of the national electricity market (NEM) to bring it back into balance, RenewEconomy reports.

That assessment of 9,000MW equates to nearly one-third of the country’s baseload generation — a sure sign that renewables, and in particularly rooftop solar, are changing the dynamics of the… read more

XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the Internet’

NSA analysts require no prior authorization for searches of emails, social media activity, and browsing history
August 1, 2013

XKeyscore map

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals — its “widest-reaching” system for developing intelligence from the Internet — according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald reported Wednesday.

The latest revelations come as senior intelligence officials… read more

Cellular mechanisms for attention in the brain found

July 31, 2013


The ability to pay attention to relevant information while ignoring distractions is a core brain function. Without the ability to focus and filter out “noise,” we could not effectively interact with our environment.

But despite much study of attention in the brain, the cellular mechanisms responsible for the effects of attention have remained a mystery.

Researchers from Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine and the University of… read more

Psychotherapy via Internet found as good as or better than face-to-face

July 31, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Online psychotherapy is just as efficient as conventional therapy, University of Zurich clinical researchers have found in a study of online psychotherapy vs. conventional face-to-face therapy.

And three months after the end of the therapy, patients given online treatment even displayed fewer symptoms.

Six therapists treated 62 patients, the majority of whom were suffering from moderate depression. The patients were divided into two equal groups… read more

International Space Station astronauts remotely control planetary rover from space

July 31, 2013


NASA has begun studying how remotely-operated vehicles may one day help astronauts explore other worlds.

NASA tested the Surface Telerobotics exploration concept, in which an astronaut in an orbiting spacecraft remotely operates a robot on a planetary surface. In the future, astronauts orbiting other planetary bodies, such as Mars, asteroids or the moon, could use this approach to perform work on the surface using robotic avatars.… read more

Future quantum computers with machine learning could attack larger sets of data than classical computers

July 31, 2013


Seth Lloyd of MIT and his collaborators have developed a quantum version of machine learning — a type of AI in which programs can learn from previous experience to become progressively better at finding patterns in data. It would take advantage of quantum computations to speed up machine-learning tasks exponentially, Nature News reports.

Data can be split into groups — a task that is at the core… read more

How chemical components protected each other to create RNA

July 31, 2013

A computer graphic of an RNA molecule (credit: Richard Feldmann)

The chemical components crucial to the start of life on Earth may have primed and protected each other in never-before-realized ways, according to new research led by University of Washington scientists.

It could mean a simpler scenario for how that first spark of life came about on the planet, according to Sarah Keller, UW professor of chemistry, and Roy Black, UW affiliate professor… read more

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