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Silk bio-ink could help advance tissue engineering with 3-D printers

Could allow for printing tissues loaded with pharmaceuticals or for use in biomedical implants and tissue engineering
September 3, 2015

Scientists have developed a silk-based, 3-D printer ink for use in biomedical implants or tissue engineering. (credit: American Chemical Society )

Tufts University scientists have developed a silk-based bio-ink that could allow for printing tissues that could be loaded with pharmaceuticals, cytokines (for directing stem cell functions), and antibiotics (for controlling infections), for example, or used in biomedical implants and tissue engineering.

Current 3-D printing processes are limited to simple body parts such as bone. And most inks currently being developed for 3-D printing are made of thermoplastics, silicones, collagen,… read more

Intel invests US$50 million in quantum-computing research

September 3, 2015

(credit: Intel)

Intel announced today (Thursday Sept. 3) an investment of $50 million and “significant engineering resources” in quantum computing research, in a 10-year collaborative relationship with the Delft University of Technology and TNO, the Dutch Organisation for Applied Research.

“A fully functioning quantum computer is at least a dozen years away, but the practical and theoretical research efforts we’re announcing today mark… read more

Completely paralyzed man voluntarily moves his legs, UCLA scientists report

In 1998, athlete Mark Pollock became the first blind man to race to the South Pole; now "Iron ElectriRx" man is making history again --- in a robotic exoskeleton
September 2, 2015

Mark Pollock and trainer Simon O’Donnell (credit: Courtesy of Mark Pollock)

A 39-year-old man who had been completely paralyzed for four years was able to voluntarily control his leg muscles and take thousands of steps in a “robotic exoskeleton” device during five days of training, and for two weeks afterward, UCLA scientists report.

This is the first time that a person with chronic, complete paralysis has regained enough voluntary control to actively work with a robotic device designed… read more

First US patients treated with noninvasive focused ultrasound for Parkinson’s disease

September 2, 2015

University of Maryland medical doctors monitor focused ultrasound treatment for essential tremor, guided by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (credit: University of Maryland School of Medicine)

Researchers at the University of Maryland have performed the first focused ultrasound treatments on a deep structure within the brain related to Parkinson’s disease* called the globus pallidus.

These treatments are part of international pilot studies of 40 patients assessing the feasibility, safety, and preliminary efficacy of focused ultrasound treatments for Parkinson’s disease, guided by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).… read more

Life expectancy climbs worldwide but people spend more years living with illness and disability

Global life expectancy has risen by more than six years since 1990
September 2, 2015

Life expectancy at birth, both sexes, 2013 (credit: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation)

The good news: as for 2013, global life expectancy for people in 188 countries has risen 6.2 years since 1990 (65.3 to 71.5). The bad news: healthy life expectancy (HALE) at birth rose by only 5.4 years (56.9 to 62.3), due to fatal and nonfatal ailments (interactive visualization by country here).

In other words, people are living more years with illness and disability. Ischemic heart disease, lower… read more

Magnetic fields provide a lower-power, more secure wireless body network

September 1, 2015

This is a prototype of the magnetic field human body communication, developed in Mercier's Energy-Efficient Microsystems Lab at UC San Diego, consists of magnetic-field-generating coils wrapped around three parts of the body, including the head, arm and leg. (credit: Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego)

A new wireless communication technique that works by sending magnetic signals through the human body could offer a lower power and more secure way to communicate information between wearable electronic devices than Bluetooth, according to electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego.

While this work is still a proof-of-concept demonstration, researchers envision developing it into an ultra low power wireless system that can easily transmit… read more

Lack of sleep connected to catching a cold, new research confirms

If you sleep six hours a night or less, you are 4 times more likely to catch a cold
September 1, 2015

(Credit: iStock)

If you sleep six hours a night or less a night, you are 4.2 times more likely to catch a cold (five hours or less, 4.5 times more likely) compared to those who sleep more than seven hours in a night.

That’s the finding of a study by  Carnegie Mellon University’s Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty University Professor of Psychology in the… read more

World’s most powerful, largest digital camera will image 37 billion stars and galaxies

3.2-gigapixel digital camera will take digital images of the entire visible southern sky every few nights, producing 15 Terabytes of data
September 1, 2015

LSST ft

The Department of Energy has approved the start of construction for a 3.2-gigapixel digital camera — the world’s largest — at the heart of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), revealing unprecedented details of the universe and helping unravel some of its greatest mysteries.

Assembled at the DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the camera will be the eye of LSST.

Starting in… read more

A high-efficiency, sustainable process using solar and carbon dioxide to produce methane for natural gas

Replaces fossil fuel with solar and uses C02 instead of generating it
September 1, 2015

Artificial photosynthesis used to produce renewable molecular hydrogen for synthesizing carbon dioxide into methane. (credit: Berkeley Lab)

A team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has developed a hybrid system that produces hydrogen and uses it (via microbes) to synthesize carbon dioxide into methane, the primary constituent of natural gas.

“We can expect an electrical-to-chemical efficiency of better than 50 percent and a solar-to-chemical energy conversion efficiency of 10 percent if our system is coupled with state-of-art solar panel and electrolyzer,”… read more

Older people in Germany and England getting smarter, but not fitter

September 1, 2015

smarter not fitter

People over age 50 are scoring better on cognitive tests than people of the same age did in the past — a trend that could be linked to higher education rates and increased use of technology in our daily lives, according to a new study published in an open-access paper in the journal PLOS ONE. But the study also showed that average physical health of the older population has declined.… read more

How mass extinctions can accelerate robot evolution

August 31, 2015

At the start of the simulation, a biped robot controlled by a computationally evolved brain stands upright on a 16 meter by 16 meter surface. The simulation proceeds until the robot falls or until 15 seconds have elapsed. (credit: Joel Lehman)

Robots evolve more quickly and efficiently after a virtual mass extinction modeled after real-life disasters, such as the one that killed off the dinosaurs, computer scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have found.

Mass extinctions speed up evolution by unleashing new creativity in adaptations.

Computer scientists Risto Miikkulainen and Joel Lehman co-authored the study published in an open-access paper in… read more

Soaking up carbon dioxide and turning it into valuable products

August 31, 2015

Conceptual model showing how porphyrin COFs  could  be used to split CO2 into CO and oxygen . (credit: Omar Yaghi, Berkeley Lab/UC Berkeley)

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a system that absorbs carbon dioxide and also selectively reduces it to carbon monoxide (which serves as a primary building block for a wide range of chemical products including fuels, pharmaceuticals and plastics).

The trick: they’ve incorporated molecules of carbon dioxide reduction catalysts into the sponge-like crystals of covalentread more

Engineered bacteria form multicellular circuit to control protein expression

Care for some programmed yogurt biocomputers?
August 31, 2015

In a microscopic image created at Rice University, two strains of synthetically engineered bacteria cooperate to create multicellular phenomena. Rice scientists created the biological circuit by programming bacteria to alter gene expression in an entire population. Their fluorescence indicates the engineered capabilities have been activated. (credit: Bennett Lab/Rice University)

Rice University scientists and associates have created a biological equivalent to a computer circuit using multiple types of bacteria that change protein expression. The goal is to modify biological systems by controlling how bacteria influence each other. This could lead to bacteria that, for instance, beneficially alter the gut microbiome (collection of microorganisms) in humans.

The research is published in the journal Science.

Humans’… read more

Light-speed interconnects may lead to ultra-high-speed computers

August 31, 2015

Specially designed, extremely small metal structures can trap light. Once trapped, the light becomes a confined wave known as a surface plasmon. The plasmons propagate from the source to locations several hundred microns away, almost as fast as light through the air. Here the surface plasmons are represented by the blue waves, which begin at the pump beam and are detected hundreds of microns away by the probe beam. (credit: Image courtesy of Hess et al. Nano Lett. 15, 3472-3478 (2015). Copyright 2015 American Chemical Society)

Light waves trapped on a metal’s surface (surface plasmons) travel farther than expected, up to 250 micrometers from the source — which may be far enough to create ultra-fast nanoelectronic circuits, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have discovered.

Future computer circuits could use this phenomenon as interconnects between nanocircuits. Because a surface plasmon travels at near the speed of light, computer circuits with this… read more

Speech-classifier program is better at predicting psychosis than psychiatrists

100% accurate
August 31, 2015

This image shows discrimination between at-risk youths who transitioned to psychosis (red) and those who did not (blue). The 'convex hull' polyhedron contains all the at-risk youth who did NOT develop psychosis (blue). All of the at-risk youth who DID later develop psychosis (red) are outside the polyhedron. Thus the speech classifier had 100 percent discrimination or accuracy. The speech classifier consisted of 'mínimum semantic coherence' (the flow of meaning from one sentence to the next), and indices of reduced complexity of speech, including phrase length, and decreased use of 'determiner' pronouns ('that', 'what', 'whatever', 'which', and 'whichever'). (credit: npj Schizophrenia and Cheryl Corcoran et al./Columbia University Medical Center)

An automated speech analysis program correctly differentiated between at-risk young people who developed psychosis over a later two-and-a-half year period and those who did not.

In a proof-of-principle study, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center, New York State Psychiatric Institute, and the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center found that the computerized analysis provided a more accurate classification than clinical ratings.  The study was… read more

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