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Intracellular microlasers for precise labeling of a trillion individual cells

August 3, 2015

Massachusetts General Hospital investigators have induced subcutaneous fat cells in a piece of skin from a pig to emit laser light in response to energy delivered through an optical fiber (credit: Matjaž Humar, PhD, and Seok Hyun Yun, PhD, Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital)

Imagine being able to label a trillion cells in the body to detect what’s going on in each individual cell.

That’s the eventual goal of a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) study to allow individual cells to produce laser light. The wavelengths of light emitted by these intracellular microlasers differ based on factors such as the size, shape, and composition of each microlaser, allowing precise labeling of individual… read more

Obama signs executive order authorizing development of exascale supercomputers

A viable path forward for future HPC (high-performance computing) systems even after the limits of current semiconductor technology are reached (the "post-Moore's Law era")
August 3, 2015

Titan supercomputer (credit: ORNL)

President Obama has signed an executive order authorizing the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), with the goal of creating the world’s fastest supercomputers. The NSCI is charged with building the world’s first-ever exascale (1,000-petaflops) computer — 30 times faster than today’s fastest supercomputer.

The order mandates:

  1. Accelerating delivery of a capable exascale computing system that integrates hardware and software capability to deliver approximately

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A high-performance single-molecule diode

The ultimate limit in electronic miniaturization just got a lot closer
August 3, 2015

Researchers from Berkeley Lab and Columbia University have created the world’s highest-performance single-molecule diode using a combination of gold electrodes and an ionic solution (credit: Latha Venkataraman, Columbia University)

A team of researchers from Berkeley Lab and Columbia University has created “the world’s highest-performance single-molecule diode,” using a combination of gold electrodes and an ionic solution.

The diode’s rectification ratio (ratio of forward to reverse current at fixed voltage) is in excess of 200, “a record for single-molecule devices,” says Jeff Neaton, Director of the Molecular Foundry, a senior faculty scientist… read more

Millennium Project releases ’2015–16 State of the Future’ report

August 3, 2015

2015-16 State of the Future

The Millennium Project released today its annual “2015-16 State of the Future” report, listing global trends on 28 indicators of progress and regress, new insights into 15 Global Challenges, and impacts of artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, nanotechnology and other advanced technologies on employment over the next 35 years.

“Another 2.3 billion people are expected to be added to the planet in… read more

New supercapacitor design offers record high-energy storage

Rivals thin-film lithium ion batteries in energy density; potential uses include electric vehicles and defibrillators
July 31, 2015

Schematic representation of bilayer capacitor (not to scale). The gray discs represent aluminum electrodes. (credit: Yunsang Kim et al./ Advanced Energy Materials)

Using a hybrid silica sol-gel material and self-assembled monolayers of a common fatty acid, Georgia Tech researchers have developed a new supercapacitor material that provides electrical-energy storage capacity rivaling some batteries.

Capacitors can provide large amounts of current quickly (high power density), unlike batteries. So if this material can be scaled up from laboratory samples, devices made from it could surpass traditional electrolytic (high-capacity) capacitors for applications… read more

An incredible nanoscale 3-D voyage through a tiny part of the mouse brain

July 31, 2015

Synapses in contact with a dendrite (the large red object). The white dots are synaptic vesicles inside axons. (credit: N. Kasthuri et al./Cell)

Using an electron microscope, researchers have peered down inside the brain of an adult mouse at a scale previously unachievable, generating dramatic color images at 3-nm-pixel resolution. The research was published Thursday July 30 in an open-access paper in the journal Cell.

Focusing on a small area of the mouse brain that receives sensory information from mouse whiskers, the researchers built a system that automatically slices a subject… read more

Ebola vaccine found 100% effective in initial trial

July 31, 2015

The Ebola vaccine rVSV Zebov-GP is being prepared for injection (credit: WHO/S. Hawkey)

An Ebola vaccine known as VSV-EBOV, provided by Merck, Sharp & Dohme, has shown 100% efficacy in individuals, according to results from an interim analysis published (open access) today (July 31) in the British journal The Lancet.

“This is an extremely promising development,” said Margaret Chan, M.D., Director-General of the World Health Organization. “The credit goes to the Guinean Government, the people living in the communities and our… read more

How to tune graphene properties by introducing defects

July 30, 2015

Exfoliation setup. Inset: graphite electrode during exfoliation (credit: Mario Hofmann/Nanotechnology)

Taiwanese researchers reported today (July 30) in the journal Nanotechnology that they have developed a simple electrochemical approach that allows for defects to intentionally be created in graphene, altering its electrical and mechanical properties and making the material more useful for electronic devices and drug delivery, for example.

Current graphene synthesis techniques, such as chemical vapor deposition and reduction of graphene oxide, can only produce graphene with a narrow… read more

Memory problems? Go climb a tree.

Working memory capacity increase of 50 percent found in research
July 30, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Climbing a tree or balancing on a beam can dramatically improve cognitive skills, according to a study recently conducted by researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of North Florida.

The study is the first to show that proprioceptively dynamic activities like climbing a tree, done over a short period of time, have dramatic working memory benefits.

Working memory (the… read more

Non-surgical electrical/drug stimulation helps patients with paralysis to voluntarily move their legs — a first

July 30, 2015

Range of voluntary movement prior to receiving stimulation compared to movement after receiving stimulation, physical conditioning, and buspirone. The subject’s legs are supported so that they can move without resistance from gravity. The electrodes on the legs are used for recording muscle activity. (credit: Edgerton Lab/UCLA)

In a study conducted at UCLA, five men who had been completely paralyzed were able to move their legs in a rhythmic motion thanks to a new, noninvasive neuromodulation and pharmacological procedure that stimulates the spinal cord.

The researchers believe this to be the first time voluntary leg movements have ever been relearned in completely paralyzed patients without surgery. The results are reported in an… read more

Scientists successfully edit human immune-system T cells

New CRISPR research has implications for autoimmune diseases, AIDS, and cancer
July 29, 2015

Cas9 edit

In a project led by investigators at UC San Francisco , scientists have devised a new strategy to precisely modify human immune-system T cells, using the popular genome-editing system known as CRISPR/Cas9. T cells play important roles in a wide range of diseases, from diabetes to AIDS to cancer, so this achievement provides a path toward CRISPR/Cas9-based therapies for many serious health problems, the scientists say.… read more

Sri Lanka to be first country in the world with universal Internet access

July 29, 2015

(credit: Google)

Sri Lanka may soon become the first country in the world to have universal Internet access. On July 28, the government of Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Google to launch Project Loon, according to Sri Lanka Internet newspaper ColumboPage.

Google is providing high-altitude balloons, using the standard telco high-speed 4G LTE protocol, according to Project Loon project lead Mike Cassidy, in a… read more

A simulated robot with bacterial brain

Models how bacteria might affect the mind (bacteria that act like tigers?); applications may include treating mental and physical illnesses, agriculture, and remediating oil spills
July 28, 2015

computational simulation ft

Virginia Tech scientist Warren Ruder, an assistant professor of biological systems engineering, has created an in silico (computer-simulated) model of a biomimetic robot controlled by a bacterial brain.

The study was inspired by real-world experiments where the mating behavior of fruit flies was manipulated using bacteria, and in which mice exhibited signs of lower stress when implanted with probiotics (“healthy” bacteria).

A math modelread more

The brain’s got rhythm

First in-depth study to show how rhythms control communication between brain regions
July 28, 2015

The anterior (blue) and posterior (orange) regions of the prefrontal cortex sync up to communicate cognitive goals to one another. (credit: Bradley Voytek)

Like a jazz combo, the human brain improvises while its rhythm section keeps up a steady beat. But when it comes to taking on intellectually challenging tasks, groups of neurons tune in to one another for a fraction of a second and harmonize, then go back to improvising, according to new research led by UC Berkeley.

These findings, reported Monday (July 27) in the journal Nature Neuroscience, could pave… read more

How hybrid solar-cell materials may capture more solar energy

July 27, 2015

Chemists at the University of California, Riverside have found an ingenious way to make solar energy conversion more efficient. (credit: David Monniaux)

Innovative techniques for reducing solar-cell installation costs by capturing more solar energy per unit area by using hybrid materials have recently been announced by two universities.

Capturing more of the spectrum

The University of California, Riverside strategy for making solar cells more efficient is to use the near-infrared region of the sun’s spectrum, which is not absorbed by current solar cells.

The researchers… read more

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