science + technology news

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Robotic system can 3-D print basic structure of an entire building

The annual $8.5 trillion construction industry may in for a major redesign
May 1, 2017

urban building concept ft

MIT researchers have designed a “Digital Construction Platform” system that can 3-D print the basic structure of an entire building. It could enable faster, cheaper, more adaptable building construction — replacing traditional fabrication technologies that are dangerous, slow, and energy-intensive in the annual $8.5 trillion construction industry .

Described in an open-access paper in the journal Science Robotics, this free-moving system is intended to be self-sufficient and can… read more

New artificial photosynthesis process converts CO2 in air to fuel

April 28, 2017

Professor Fernando Uribe-Romo and his team of students created a way to trigger a chemical reaction in a synthetic material called metal-organic frameworks (MOF) that breaks down carbon dioxide into harmless organic materials. Think of it as an artificial photosynthesis process similar to the way plants convert carbon dioxide (CO2) and sunlight into food. But instead of producing food, Uribe-Romo's method produces solar fuel. (credit: UCF: Bernard Wilchusky)

A University of Central Florida (UCF) chemistry professor has invented a revolutionary way to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from air by triggering artificial photosynthesis in a synthetic material — breaking down carbon dioxide while also producing fuel for energy.

UCF Assistant Professor Fernando Uribe-Romo and his students used a synthetic material called a metal–organic framework (MOF), which converts carbon dioxide into harmless organic materials — similar… read more

In a neurotechnology future, human-rights laws will need to be revisited

April 28, 2017

New forms of brainwashing include transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to neuromodulate the brain regions responsible for social prejudice and political and religious beliefs, say researchers (credit: U.S. National Library of Medicine)

New human rights laws to prepare for rapid current advances in neurotechnology that may put “freedom of mind” at risk have been proposed in the open access journal Life Sciences, Society and Policy.

Four new human rights laws could emerge in the near future to protect against exploitation and loss of privacy, the authors of the study suggest: The right to cognitive liberty, the right to mental privacy, the right… read more

AI will upload and access our memories, predicts Siri co-inventor

"Instead of asking how smart we can make our machines, let's ask how smart our machines can make us."
April 26, 2017

"Hey Siri, who did I just talk to?" (credit: Apple Computer)

Instead of replacing humans with robots, artificial intelligence should be used more for augmenting human memory and other human weaknesses, Apple Inc. executive Tom Gruber suggested at the TED 2017 conference yesterday (April 25, 2017).

Thanks to the internet and our smartphones, much of our  personal data is already being captured, notes Gruber, who was one the inventors of voice-controlled intelligent-assistant Siri. Future AI memory enhancement could… read more

Quadriplegia patient uses brain-computer interface to move his arm by just thinking

New Braingate design replaces robot arm with muscle-stimulating system
April 26, 2017

Bill Kochevar, who was paralyzed below his shoulders in a bicycling accident, is first person with quadriplegia in the world to have arm and hand movements restored without robot help (credit: Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland FES Center)

A research team led by Case Western Reserve University has developed the first implanted brain-recording and muscle-stimulating system to restore arm and hand movements for quadriplegic patients.*

In a proof-of-concept experiment, the system included a brain-computer interface with recording electrodes implanted under his skull and a functional electrical stimulation (FES) system that activated his arm and hand — reconnecting his brain to paralyzed muscles.

The research… read more

The first 2D microprocessor — based on a layer of just 3 atoms

May one day replace traditional microprocessor chips as well as open up new applications in flexible electronics
April 24, 2017

Overview of the entire chip. AC = Accumulator, internal buffer; PC = Program Counter, points at the next instruction to be executed; IR = Instruction Register, used to buffer data- and instruction-bits received from the external memory; CU = Control Unit, orchestrates the other units according to the instruction to be executed; OR = Output Register, memory used to buffer output-data; ALU = Arithmetic Logic Unit, does the actual calculations. [3] (credit: TU Wien)

Researchers at Vienna University of Technology (known as TU Wien) in Vienna, Austria, have developed the world’s first two-dimensional microprocessor — the most complex 2D circuitry so far. Microprocessors based on atomically thin 2D materials promise to one day replace traditional microprocessors as well as open up new applications in flexible electronics.

Consisting of 115 transistors, the microprocessor can run, simple user-defined programs stored in… read more

‘Negative mass’ created at Washington State University

April 21, 2017

Experimental images of an expanding spin-orbit superfluid Bose-Einstein condensate at different expansion times (credit: M. A. Khamehchi et al./Physical Review Letters)

Washington State University (WSU) physicists have created a fluid with “negative mass,” which means that if you push it, it accelerates toward you instead of away, in apparent violation of Newton’s laws.

The phenomenon can be used to explore some of the more challenging concepts of the cosmos, said Michael Forbes, PhD, a WSU assistant professor of physics and astronomy and an affiliate assistant professor… read more

Elon Musk wants to enhance us as superhuman cyborgs to deal with superintelligent AI

April 21, 2017

(credit: Neuralink Corp.)

It’s the year 2021. A quadriplegic patient has just had one million “neural lace” microparticles injected into her brain, the world’s first human with an internet communication system using a wireless implanted brain-mind interface — and empowering her as the first superhuman cyborg. …

No, this is not a science-fiction movie plot. It’s the actual first public step — just four years from now — in Tesla CEO Elon… read more

What if you could type directly from your brain at 100 words per minute?

Former DARPA director reveals Facebook's secret research projects to create a non-invasive brain-computer interface and haptic skin hearing
April 19, 2017

(credit: Facebook)

Regina Dugan, PhD, Facebook VP of Engineering, Building8, revealed today (April 19, 2017) at Facebook F8 conference 2017 a plan to develop a non-invasive brain-computer interface that will let you type at 100 wpm — by decoding neural activity devoted to speech.

Dugan previously headed Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects Group, and before that, was Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

She explained… read more

Neuron-recording nanowires could help screen drugs for neurological diseases

Ultimate goal is a neural-lace-like device that can be implanted in the brain to bridge or repair networks
April 18, 2017

This is a colorized SEM image of a neuron (orange) interfaced with the nanowire array. (credit: Integrated Electronics and Biointerfaces Laboratory, UC San Diego)

A research team* led by engineers at the University of California San Diego has developed nanowire technology that can non-destructively record the electrical activity of neurons in fine detail.

The new technology, published April 10, 2017 in Nano Letters, could one day serve as a platform to screen drugs for neurological diseases and help researchers better understand how single cells communicate in large neuronal networks.

A brain implantread more

Could there be life below Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa?

April 16, 2017

During Cassini’s deepest dive through the plume of Saturnian moon Enceladus, Southwest Research Institute scientists discovered hydrogen gas in the erupting material in the plume. This discovery provides further evidence for hydrothermal activity (illustrated here) and heightens the possibility that the ocean of Enceladus could have conditions suitable for microbial life. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Two NASA missions — Cassini and Hubble — have provided new evidence for life on icy, ocean-bearing moons of Saturn and Jupiter, NASA announced Friday, April 14, 2017.

Scientists from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) have discovered hydrogen gas in the plume of material erupting from Saturn’s moon Enceladus — suggesting conditions suitable for microbial life in an underground ocean. The finding, published April 14, 2017 in the… read more

How to condense water out of air using only sunlight for energy

MIT-UC Berkeley invention may offer hope for the two-thirds of the world’s population experiencing water shortages, including the one third living in desert climates
April 13, 2017

A water harvester designed and built at MIT condenses water from air. The harvester uses sunlight to heat a metal-organic framework (MOF), driving off the water vapor and condensing it for use. (photo credit: Hyunho Kim/MIT)

MIT scientists have invented a water harvester that uses only sunlight to pull water out of the air under desert conditions, using a “metal-organic framework” (MOF) powdered material developed at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley).

Under conditions of 20–30 percent humidity (a level common in arid areas), the prototype device was able to pull 2.8 liters (3 quarts) of water from the air over a 12-hour period,… read more

Graphene-oxide sieve turns seawater into drinking water

April 13, 2017

Schematic illustrating the direction of ion/water permeation along graphene planes (credit: J. Abraham et al./ Nature Nanotechnology)

British scientists have designed a way to use graphene-oxide (GO) membranes to filter common salts out of salty water and make the water safe to drink.

Graphene-oxide membranes developed at the National Graphene Institute had already demonstrated the potential of filtering out small nanoparticles, organic molecules, and even large salts. And previous research at The University of Manchester also found that if immersed in water,… read more

Nanopores map small changes in DNA for early cancer detection

April 12, 2017

Nanopore cancer detection. To detect DNA methylation changes (for cancer early warning), researchers punched a tiny hole (pore) in a flat sheet of graphene (or other  2D material). They then submerged the material in a salt solution and applied an electrical voltage to force the DNA molecule through the pore. A dip in the ionic current (black A) identified a methyl group is passing through, but a dip in the electrical current (blue A) could detect smaller DNA changes. (credit: Beckman Institute Nanoelectronics and Nanomaterials Group)

University of Illinois researchers have designed a high-resolution method to detect, count, and map tiny additions to DNA called methylations*, which can be a early-warning sign of cancer.

The method threads DNA strands through a tiny hole, called a nanopore, in an atomically thin sheet of graphene or other 2D material** with an electrical current running through it.

Many methylations packed close together suggest… read more

Glowing nanoparticles open new window for live optical biological imaging

“Quantum dots” emit infrared light, providing highly detailed images of internal body structures
April 12, 2017

quantum-dot SWIR imaging

A team of researchers has created bright, glowing nanoparticles called quantum dots that can be injected into the body, where they emit light at shortwave infrared (SWIR) wavelengths that pass through the skin — allowing internal body structures such as fine networks of blood vessels to be imaged in vivo (in live animals) on high-speed video cameras for the first time.

The new findings are described in an… read more

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