science + technology news

Brainy beverage: study reveals how green tea boosts brain cell production to aid memory

September 7, 2012

Green tea leaves steeping in a gaiwan (credit: Wikimol/Wikimedia Commons)

It has long been believed that drinking green tea is good for the memory. Now Chinese researchers have discovered how the chemical properties of China’s favorite drink affect the generation of brain cells, providing benefits for memory and spatial learning.

The researchers, led by Professor Yun Bai from the Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China, focused on the organic chemical EGCG (epigallocatechin-3 gallate), the major polyphenol in green tea.… read more

Brain wave-reading robot might help stroke patients

New device would help rehabilitate stroke survivors by turning thoughts into actions, retraining motor pathways
September 6, 2012


New research by Rice University, the University of Houston (UH) and TIRR Memorial Hermann aims to help victims recover from stroke to the fullest extent possible by developing and validating a noninvasive brain-machine interface (BMI) to a robotic orthotic device that is expected to innovate upper-limb rehabilitation.

The new neurotechnology will interpret brain waves that let a stroke patient willingly operate an exoskeleton that wraps around… read more

Wireless power system replaces batteries in implants

A breakthrough for miniaturizing implanted devices
September 5, 2012

High-frequency wireless power transmission to a device in the human heart. Red indicates greatest power; blue is least. (Credit: John Ho, Stanford Engineering)

Stanford University engineers have demonstrated the feasibility of a super-small, implantable cardiac device that gets its power from radio waves transmitted from a small transmitter on the surface of the body.

This is an impressive achievement that may lead to replacing bulky batteries in implants. That means the implants can be further miniaturized, while eliminating surgery to replace or charge batteries (or require a wired connection outside the body).… read more

All of a sudden I could see a little flash of light. It was amazing.

First implantation of an early prototype bionic eye with 24 electrodes
September 3, 2012

Early bionic eye prototype drawing (credit: Bionics Institute)

Bionic Vision Australia researchers have successfully performed the first implantation of an early prototype bionic eye with 24 electrodes.

Dianne Ashworth has profound vision loss due to retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited condition. She has now received what she calls a “pre-bionic eye” implant that enables her to experience some vision.

Her implant was switched on last month at the Bionics Institute, while researchers held their breaths in… read more

Blurring the boundary between biology and machines, engineers create light-activated skeletal muscle for robots

Technique may enable robotic animals that move with the strength and flexibility of their living counterparts
August 31, 2012


Many robotic designs take nature as their muse: sticking to walls like geckos, swimming through water like tuna, sprinting across terrain like cheetahs. Such designs borrow properties from nature, using engineered materials and hardware to mimic animals’ behavior.

Scientists at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania have genetically engineered muscle cells to flex in response to light, and are using the light-sensitive tissue to build… read more

High-resolution remote-sensing for structures and objects, using optical fibers

August 29, 2012

Optical fiber system for Brillouin optical time-domain analysis (credit: GFO, EPFL)

EPFL’s Group for Fibre Optics (GFO) has developed a technology that improves the resolution of measurements taken by optical fibers embedded in structures such as nuclear reactors, bridges, dams and buildings, or in smaller objects, providing valuable information about a structure’s heat or state of fatigue and wear.

Until now, data could be collected from points about one meter apart using optical fibers (thin glass threads) embedded in construction… read more

Merging nanoelectronics into 3D engineered human tissues

Researchers grow cyborg tissues with embedded nanoelectronics
August 28, 2012

3D reconstructed confocal microscopy image of synthetic 3D neural tissue with red corresponding to neurons and green/blue corresponding to the macroporous nanoelectronic circuitry seamlessly innervating the neural tissue (credit:  Tian, et al/Harvard University)

Harvard scientists have created a type of “cyborg” tissue for the first time by embedding a three-dimensional network of functional, biocompatible, nanoscale wires into engineered human tissues.

The research team led by Charles M. Lieber, the Mark Hyman Jr. Professor of Chemistry at Harvard, and Daniel Kohane, a Harvard Medical School professor in the Departmentread more

DARPA seeks probabilistic inference-based intel/recon sensor processing system to minimize energy requirements

Seeks unconventional processors for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data analysis to deal with exponential growth of data
August 27, 2012


DARPA is looking for a new, ultra-low power processing method that may enable faster, mission critical analysis of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data.

Today’s Defense missions rely on a massive amount of sensor data collected by ISR platforms, says the agency. “Not only has the volume of sensor data increased exponentially, there has also been a dramatic increase in the complexity of analysis required for applications such as… read more

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