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It might be possible to restore lost memories

Memories not stored in synapses, neurobiologist finds
December 22, 2014

Synapse (credit: Curtis Neveu/Wikimedia Commons)

New UCLA research indicates that lost memories can be restored, offering hope for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

For decades, most neuroscientists have believed that memories are stored at the synapses — the connections between brain cells, or neurons — which are destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease. The new study provides evidence contradicting the idea that long-term memory is stored at synapses.

“Long-term memory is not… read more

An affordable holodeck for civil engineers

December 21, 2014

VuePod2

Brigham Young University (BYU) student civil engineers have constructed an affordable 3D immersive visualization system from commercial off-the-shelf components and open-source software.

The “VuePod” system uses 12 high-definition, 55-inch 3D televisions all connected to a computer capable of supporting high-end, graphics-intensive visualization.  Images are controlled by a Wii remote that interacts with a Kinect-like  3D tracking device called SMARTTRACK. 3D glasses worn by the user create the… read more

Could ibuprofen be an anti-aging medicine?

December 19, 2014

Ibuprofen extends the lifespan of C. elegans worms: survival curves treated with ibuprofen at 0.1 mM (red) compared to experiment-matched untreated (credit: Chong He et al./PLOS Genetics)

Ibuprofen, a common over-the-counter drug used to relieve pain and fever, could hold the keys to a longer healthier life, according to a study by researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.  Publishing in PLoS Genetics (open access) December 18, scientists showed that regular doses of ibuprofen extended the lifespan of yeast, worms and fruit flies.

Brian Kennedy, PhD, CEO of the Buck Institute, said treatments, given… read more

New magnetoelectric memory promises low-power, instant-on computing devices

December 19, 2014

multiferroic12-18a

A team led by postdoctoral associate John Heron of Cornell University has developed a room-temperature magnetoelectric memory design that replaces power-hungry electric currents with an electric field. It could lead to low-power, instant-on computing devices.

“The advantage here is low energy consumption,” Heron said. “It requires a low voltage, without current, to switch it. Devices that use currents consume more energy and dissipate a significant amount of that energy… read more

Deep neural network rivals primate brain in object recognition

December 19, 2014

object category recognition ft

A new study from MIT neuroscientists has found that for the first time, one of the latest generation of “deep neural networks” matches the ability of the primate brain to recognize objects during a brief glance.

Because these neural networks were designed based on neuroscientists’ current understanding of how the brain performs object recognition, the success of the latest networks suggests that neuroscientists have a fairly accurate grasp of… read more

Organic matter detected on Mars

December 18, 2014

PIA16937-web

The team responsible for the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite on NASA’s Curiosity rover has made the first definitive detection of organic molecules at Mars, but there’s not enough evidence to tell if the matter came from ancient Martian life or from a non-biological process, such as interplanetary dust or fragments of asteroids and comets.

The surface of Mars is currently inhospitable to life as we know it,… read more

Quadriplegic shapes robot hand with her thoughts

Demonstrates ability of brain-computer interface
December 18, 2014

Using mind control, a woman with quadriplegia moves robot arm and hand in. (Credit: Journal of Neural Engineering/IOP Publishing)

In an experiment, a woman with quadriplegia shaped the almost-human hand of a robot arm with just her thoughts, directing it to pick up big and small boxes, a ball, an oddly shaped rock, and fat and skinny tubes and showing that brain-computer interface technology has the potential to improve the function and quality of life of those unable to use their own arms.

The findings by researchers at… read more

Spider webs, leaves inspire touch-screen, solar-cell designs

December 18, 2014

Refined by natural selection, spider webs and leaves serve as models for new and highly effective optoelectronic networks and displays (credit: Boston College)

Natural scaffoldings perfected by evolution such as spider webs and leaf veins can lead to near-optimal performance when copied to create flexible and durable networks for optoelectronic applications such as photovoltaic devices and display screens, researchers at Boston College, South China Normal, and University of Houston reported in the journal Nature Communications.

A network design inspired by the quasi-fractal vein-laced structure of a leaf served as an effective electrode for solar… read more

Stanford to host 100-year study on artificial intelligence

December 16, 2014

AI100

Stanford University has invited leading thinkers from several institutions to begin a 100-year effort to study and anticipate how the effects of artificial intelligence on every aspect of how people work, live, and play.

This effort, called the One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100) is the brainchild of computer scientist and Stanford alumnus Eric Horvitz. As former president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence,… read more

Stanford engineers invent radical ‘high-rise’ 3D chips

December 16, 2014

A four-layer prototype high-rise chip built by Stanford engineers. The bottom and top layers are logic transistors. Sandwiched between them are two layers of memory. The vertical tubes are nanoscale electronic “elevators” that connect logic and memory, allowing them to work together efficiently. (Credit: Max Shulaker, Stanford)

Stanford engineers have build 3D “high-rise” chips that could leapfrog the performance of the single-story logic and memory chips on today’s circuit cards, which are subject to frequent traffic jams between logic and memory.

The Stanford approach would attempt to end these jams by building layers of logic atop layers of memory to create a tightly interconnected high-rise chip. Many thousands of nanoscale electronic “elevators” would move data between… read more

Android app from GCHQ emulates the Enigma Machine

December 15, 2014

(Credit: GCHQ)

GCHQ, the British counterpart of the NSA, announced Friday a free Android (iOS planned) educational app called Cryptoy, which “enables users to understand basic encryption techniques, learn about their history, and then have a go at creating their own encoded messages.

“These can then be shared with friends via social media or more traditional means and the recipients can use the app to see “how… read more

New pulsed-magnetic method uses nanorods to deliver drugs deeply in the body

December 14, 2014

A new treatment technique applies quick magnetic pulses to ferromagnetic nanorods to delivery therapies to exact locations in the body in real time (credit: Iron Focus Medical)

A new technique to magnetically deliver drug-carrying nanorods to deep targets in the body using fast-pulsed magnetic fields could transform the way deep-tissue tumors and other diseases are treated, say researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) and Bethesda-based Weinberg Medical Physics LLC (WMP).

Instead of surgery or systemically administered treatments (such as chemotherapy), the use of magnetic nanoparticles as drug carriers could potentially allow clinicians to use external magnets to focus… read more

Could a Blu-ray disc improve solar-cell performance?

December 12, 2014

It was rated of one of the 25 worst movie conversions to Blu-ray. But never mind that. A Teen Wolf Blu-ray disc will work just as fine in improving your future solar collector. (Credit: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

Here’s an idea: recycle that old grade-B movie Blu-ray disc to improve your future solar collector. Well, sort of. It turns out the Blu-ray data storage pattern when used with a solar collector increases light absorption by 21.8 percent, according to new research from Northwestern University, thanks to Blu-ray discs’ quasi-random pattern and high data density.

The researchers tested a wide range of movies and television shows stored on… read more

A disposable organic oximeter

December 12, 2014

UC Berkeley engineers have created a pulse oximeter sensor composed of all-organic optoelectronics that uses red and green light. The red and green organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) are detected by the organic photodiode (OPD). The device measures arterial oxygen saturation and heart rate as accurately as conventional, silicon-based pulse oximeters. (Credit: Yasser Khan)

Engineers at UC Berkeley have designed a wearable organic (carbon-based) oximeter (for  blood-oxygen levels) device that could ultimately be thin, cheap, and flexible enough to be slapped on like a Band-Aid.

“There are various pulse oximeters already on the market that measure pulse rate and blood-oxygen saturation levels, but those devices use rigid conventional electronics, and they are usually fixed to the fingers or earlobe,” said Ana Arias, an… read more

Saving information on a computer boosts human memory resources for new information

.. but only when the storage medium is trusted
December 11, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

The simple act of saving something, such as a file on a computer, may improve our memory for the information we encounter next, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The research suggests that the act of saving helps to free up cognitive resources that can be used to remember new information.

“Our findings show that people are significantly better at… read more

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