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Whole-brain imaging method identifies common brain disorders

New chemical allows for measuring the density of synapses in the entire brain in vivo for the first time, using a PET scan
July 22, 2016

Human synaptic density ft

How many of the estimated 100 trillion synapses in your brain are actually functioning? It’s an important question for diagnosis and treatment of people with common brain disorders, such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, depression, schizophrenia, and traumatic brain injury (TBI), but one that could not be answered, except in an autopsy (or an invasive surgical sample of a small area).

Now a Yale-led team of researchers… read more

Facebook’s internet-beaming drone completes first test flight

July 21, 2016

(credit: Facebook)

Facebook Connectivity Lab announced today the first full-scale test flight of Aquila — a solar-powered unmanned airplane/drone designed to bring affordable internet access to some of the 1.6 billion people living in remote locations with no access to mobile broadband networks.

When complete, Aquila will be able to circle a region up to 60 miles in diameter, beaming internet connectivity down from an altitude of more than… read more

New nanomaterial mimics cell membranes

Applications include water purification, fuel cells, and selective drug delivery
July 20, 2016

This simulated cross-section shows how the lipid-like peptoids interact to form a membrane. Each peptoid has two sections: a fatty-like region that interacts via benzene rings (shown in pink) with its neighbors to form a sheet. And a water-loving region that juts above or below the flat sheet. Each region can be designed to have specific functions. (credit: Chun-Long Chen/PNNL)

Materials scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have created a new material that performs like a biological cell membrane — a material that has long been sought for applications like water purification and drug delivery.

The “peptoid” material can assemble itself into a sheet that’s thinner, but more stable, than a soap bubble, the researchers report this week in Nature Communications. The assembled… read more

Musk’s new master plan for Tesla

July 20, 2016

Tesla Autopilot ft

Elon Musk revealed his new master plan for Tesla today (July 20) in a blog post published on Tesla’s website:

  • Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage.
  • Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments.
  • Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning.
  • Enable your car to make money for you when you

read more

Why partially automated cars should be deployed in ‘light-duty vehicles’

Could prevent or reduce the severity of up 1.3 million crashes in the U.S. a year, including 10,100 fatal wrecks
July 20, 2016

crash avoidance technologies

U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Mark Rosekind said at a conference today (July 20) that the government “will not abandon efforts to speed the development of self-driving cars … to reduce the 94 percent of car crashes attributed to human error, despite a fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S operating on an autopilot system,” Reuters reports. But autonomous vehicles must be “much safer” than human… read more

New brain map provides unprecedented detail in 180 areas of the cerebral cortex

Aims to help researchers understand brain disorders, help neurosurgeons avoid damaging important brain areas
July 20, 2016

A detailed new map by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis lays out the landscape of the cerebral cortex – the outermost layer of the brain and the dominant structure involved in sensory perception and attention, as well as distinctly human functions such as language, tool use and abstract thinking. (credit: Matthew Glasser and Eric Young)

A detailed new map by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and associates* lays out the landscape of 180 areas of the cerebral cortex in painstaking detail; 97 of these areas have never been previously described.

The new map is intended to help researchers studying brain disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, dementia and epilepsy. They will be able to use it to understand… read more

US has potential to produce more than a billion tons of biomass annually by 2040

Could substantially decrease greenhouse gas emissions and reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil
July 18, 2016

biomass

Oak Ridge National Laboratory | 2016 Billion-Ton Report

The U.S. has the potential to sustainably produce at least 1 billion dry tons of nonfood biomass resources annually by 2040, according to the 2016 Billion-Ton Report, jointly released by the U.S. Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. That amount would substantially decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the utility and transportation sectors and (as the domestic bioeconomy… read more

World’s smallest storage device writes information atom by atom

Storage density of 500 terabits per square inch --- 500 times better than the best commercial hard disk drive
July 18, 2016

Atomic data storage scheme (credit: Kavli Institute of Nanoscience)

Scientists at Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University have built a nanoscale data storage device containing 1 kilobyte (8,000 bits) with a storage density of 500 terabits per square inch (Tbpsi) — 500 times denser than the best commercial hard disk drive currently available. Each bit is represented by the position of one single chlorine atom.

“In theory, this storage density would allow all books ever created by… read more

Peering into atomically thin transistors with microwaves, scientists make a radical discovery: a one-dimensional transistor

July 18, 2016

credit: University of Texas at Austin

Physicists at The University of Texas at Austin have had the first-ever glimpse into what happens inside an atomically thin semiconductor device. In doing so, they discovered that a transistor may be possible within a space so small (the edge) that it’s effectively one-dimensional.

Future tech innovations will require finding a way to fit more transistors on computer chips to keep up with Moore’s law, so… read more

Middle-age-plus memory decline may just be a matter of changing focus

MRI study reveals different parts of the brain involved with younger vs. older subjects
July 15, 2016

When middle-aged and older adults were shown a series of faces, red regions of the brain were more active; these include an area in the medial prefrontal cortex that is associated with self-referential thinking. In young adults, by contrast, blue regions -- which include areas important for memory and attention -- were more active during this task. (credit: N. Rajah, McGill University)

Are you middle-aged or older and having problems remembering details, like where you left the keys or parked your car?

Cheer up, it may simply be the result of a change in what information your brain focuses on during memory formation and retrieval, rather than a decline in brain function, according to a study by McGill University researchers.

In the study, published in the journal, NeuroImage,… read more

Mayo Clinic researchers discover drug combination that helps immune system attack cancer cells

July 15, 2016

Effects of combination drug treatment on mouse tumor size in millimeters over 67 days (credit: Soraya Zorro Manrique et al./Oncotarget)

Mayo Clinic researchers have developed a drug combination that could enhance the immune system’s ability to attack cancer cells. The drugs have shown a pronounced therapeutic effect against advanced and metastatic cancers in mice, according to a  study published in the July 12 edition of the online journal Oncotarget.

“Cancers can remain inconspicuous in the body for months to years before causing major problems, leading the immune system… read more

Why your immune system may control your social behavior

Implications for autism-spectrum disorders and schizophrenia
July 15, 2016

normal-brain-activity-ft

In a discovery that raises fundamental questions about human behavior, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have found that the immune system directly affects — and even controls — our social behavior, such as our desire to interact with others. That finding could have significant implications for neurological diseases such as autism-spectrum disorders and schizophrenia, the researchers suggest.

“The brain and the adaptive immune… read more

DNA origami creates a microscopic glowing Van Gogh

Proof-of-concept of nanoscale precision placement of DNA origami for building hybrid nanophotonic devices
July 15, 2016

This reproduction of The Starry Night contains 65,536 glowing pixels and is just the width of a dime across. (credit: Paul Rothemund and Ashwin Gopinath/Caltech)

Using folded DNA to precisely place glowing molecules within microscopic light resonators, researchers at Caltech have created one of the world’s smallest reproductions of Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night. The feat is a proof-of-concept of how precision placement of DNA origami can be used to build hybrid nanophotonic devices at smaller scales than ever before.

DNA origami, developed 10 years ago by Caltech’s research professor Paulread more

Dark energy measured with record-breaking map of 1.2 million galaxies

July 14, 2016

This is one slice through the map of the large-scale structure of the Universe from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and its Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey. Each dot in this picture indi-cates the position of a galaxy 6 billion years into the past. The image covers about 1/20th of the sky, a slice of the Universe 6 billion light-years wide, 4.5 billion light-years high, and 500 million light-years thick. Color indicates distance from Earth, ranging from yellow on the near side of the slice to purple on the far side. Galaxies are highly clustered, revealing superclusters and voids whose presence is seeded in the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang. This image contains 48,741 galaxies, about 3% of the full survey dataset. Grey patches are small regions without survey data. (credit: Daniel Eisenstein and SDSS-III)

A team of hundreds of physicists and astronomers have announced results from the largest-ever, three-dimensional map of distant galaxies, created to make one of the most precise measurements yet of the dark energy currently driving the accelerated expansion of the Universe.

“We have spent five years collecting measurements of 1.2 million galaxies over one quarter of the sky to map out the structure of the Universe over a volume… read more

A biocompatible, transparent therapeutic window to the brain

Skull implant delivers life-saving laser treatments to patients with brain disorders; also treats infections
July 14, 2016

window to brain ft

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a transparent “window to the brain” — a skull implant that is biocompatible, infection-resistant, and does not need to be repetitively replaced.

Part of the ongoing “Window to the Brain” project, a multi-institution, cross-disciplinary effort, the idea is to use transparent skull implants to provide laser diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of brain pathologies, including brain cancers, traumatic… read more

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