Software predicts tomorrow’s news by analyzing today’s and yesterday’s

February 4, 2013


Prototype software can give early warnings of disease or violence outbreaks by spotting clues in news reports.

Researchers have created software that predicts when and where disease outbreaks might occur, based on two decades of New York Times articles and other online data. The research comes from Microsoft and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, MIT Technology Review reports.

The system could someday help aid organizations and… read more

Mind-meld brain power is best for steering spaceships

February 4, 2013


Researchers are discovering that they get better results in some tasks by combining the signals from multiple brain-computer interface (BCI) users.

Until now, this “collaborative BCI” technique has been used in simple pattern-recognition tasks, but a team at the University of Essex in the UK wanted to test it more rigorously, New Scientist reports.

So they developed a simulator in which pairs of BCI… read more

If you give people virtual superpowers, will they use those abilities for good or evil?

February 4, 2013


Researchers at Stanford recently investigated the subject by giving people the ability of Superman-like flight in the university’s Virtual Human Interaction Laboratory (VHIL).

While several studies have shown that playing violent videogames can encourage aggressive behavior, the new research suggests that games could be designed to train people to be more empathetic in the real world.

To test this hypothesis, the group — which… read more

British Army deploys tiny helicopters

February 4, 2013


A tiny remote-control helicopter is being used for surveillance on the front line to detect enemy threats to British troops.

British troops are using a nano drone just 10cm long and weighing 16 grams on the front line in Afghanistan to provide vital information on the ground, Sky News reports.

They are the first to use the state-of-the-art handheld tiny surveillance helicopters, which relay reliable full… read more

Dramatic improvements in quantum-dot performance

New production method could enable everything from more efficient computer displays to enhanced biomedical testing
February 5, 2013

An MIT  research team has developed a major new process for producing quantum dots with four important qualities:

  • uniform sizes and shapes;
  • bright emissions, producing close to 100 percent emission efficiency;
  • a very narrow peak of emissions, meaning that the colors emitted by the particles can be precisely controlled;
  • elimination of a tendency to blink on and off, which

read more

Defect-free graphene discovery could led to large-scale manufacturing of graphene-based devices

New method could open the way to large-scale manufacturing of graphene-based devices with applications in fields such as electronics, energy, and healthcare
February 5, 2013

Scanning Electron Microscope image of well-aligned hexagonal graphene domains (credit:

A team led by Oxford University scientists has overcome a key problem of growing graphene — a one atom-thick layer of carbon — without the defects that weaken it and prevent electrons from flowing freely within it when using chemical vapor deposition.

With the previous methods, tiny flakes of graphene form with random orientations, leaving defects or seams between flakes that grow together.… read more

How to use Amazon Cloud supercomputers to view molecules in remarkable detail

Cloud computing code speeds processing of data-intensive microscopy data
February 5, 2013

Salk Institute for Biological Studies researchers have shared a how-to secret for biologists: code for Amazon Cloud that significantly reduces the time necessary to process data-intensive microscopic images.

The method promises to speed research into the underlying causes of disease by making single-molecule microscopy of practical use for more laboratories.

“This is an extremely cost-effective way for labs to process super-resolution images,” says … read more

A fiber-optic method of arresting epileptic seizures

February 5, 2013

Blocking a seizure. The vertical green bar indicates online seizure detection, prior to the start of stage 4–5 behaviour (arrow). The yellow bars under the trace highlight the theoretical window for intervention.


UC Irvine neuroscientists have developed a way to stop epileptic seizures with fiber-optic light signals, heralding a novel opportunity to treat the most severe manifestations of the brain disorder.

Using a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy, Ivan Soltesz, Chancellor’s Professor and chair of anatomy & neurobiology, and colleagues created an EEG-based brain-waves-sensing) computer system that lights up hair-thin fiber optic… read more

3D-printing human embryonic stem cells for drug testing, future replacement of human organs

New 3D printing process is first to print the more delicate (and more useful) hESCs
February 6, 2013

3D printing with embryonic stem cells (credit: )

A new 3D printing process using human stem cells could pave the way to custom replacement organs for patients, eliminating the need for organ donation and immune suppression, and solving the problem of transplant rejection.

The process, developed at Edinburgh-based Heriot-Watt University, in partnership with Roslin Cellab, could also speed up and improve the process of reliable, animal-free drug testing by growing three-dimensional human tissues and structures… read more

Creating artificial nanostructures to house living cells

Important for artificially growing biotissue, finding new drugs, and stem cell research
February 6, 2013

A three dimensional grid can be produced, which keeps the cell in place (credit: Aleksandr Ovsianikov et al./Vienna University of Technology)

Using lasers, a research team at the Vienna University of Technology is developing microstructures for embedding living cells.

The process allows living cells to be incorporated into intricate custom structures, similar to biological tissue, in which cells are surrounded by the cell’s normal extracellular matrix.

This technology is particularly important for artificially growing biotissue, for finding new drugs, or for stem cell research.… read more

The threat of silence

Meet the groundbreaking new encryption app set to revolutionize privacy and freak out the feds
February 6, 2013


For the past few months, some of the world’s leading cryptographers have been keeping a closely guarded secret about a pioneering new invention. Today, they’ve decided it’s time to tell all, Slate Future Tense reports.

Back in October, the startup tech firm Silent Circle ruffled governments’ feathers with a “surveillance-proof” smartphone app to allow people to make secure phone calls and send texts… read more

Criminals and terrorists can fly drones too

February 6, 2013


Drones are no longer the sole domain of the military, and just as with many new technologies, they can easily fall into the wrong hands,  global security advisor, writer and consultant  reports in Time.

Criminal organizations are early adopters of technology, and some have already used UAVs and other forms of robotics to violate the law… read more

Earth-like planets are right next door

Life on such a planet would be "much older and more evolved than life on Earth"
February 7, 2013


Six percent of red-dwarf stars have habitable, Earth-sized planets, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have found.

Red dwarfs are the most common stars in our galaxy; about 75 percent of the closest stars are red dwarfs. The closest Earth-like planet could be just 13 light-years away, Harvard astronomer and lead author Courtney Dressing calculated.

“We thought we would have to search… read more

First test of seismic invisibility cloak

February 7, 2013


Engineers and physicists are developing acoustic versions of metamaterials that steer sound, which could be used to steer seismic waves around high-value buildings such as nuclear power stations or airports.

The Institut Fresnel in Marseille and the ground improvement specialist company, Menard, both in France, say they’ve built and tested a seismic invisibility cloak in an alluvial basin in southern France, MIT Technology Review reports.

The… read more

Stroke damage in mice overcome by training that ‘rewires’ brain centers

Study findings suggest physical and pharmacological solutions for human stroke victims
February 7, 2013


Mice can recover from physically debilitating strokes that damage the primary motor cortex, the region of the brain that controls most movement in the body if the mice are quickly subjected to physical conditioning that rapidly “rewires” a different part of the brain to take over lost function, Johns Hopkins researchers have found. The research uses precise, intense and early treatment.read more

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