October 18, 2018

    A 3D printed gel which can move underwater created
    A smart 3D printed gel that walks underwater - short science articles

    Scientists have created a 3D-printed smart gel which can walk underwater like an octopus and grab objects to move them. Devices made using soft materials are easier to design as well as control compared to mechanically complex hard devices. The material used is a hydrogel which remains solid despite its 70% water content which is usually found in diapers, contact lens and also Jell-O. This hydrogel once placed in salty water and applied electricity triggers a motion. The speed of motion can be changed by changing its dimensions with thinner the gel faster the movement. This could help build robots which could bump into objects without damaging them and also, build artificial hearts and other muscles, diagnostic tools, drug delivery systems etc.

    Read the full story: Rutgers University
    Scientific publication: ACS Applied and Materials interfaces


    Pulses of laser light and a new type of “processor” make computations much faster than modern computers
    New computing technique uses lasers to make computers 1 million times faster - science news in brief

    Computers think in terms of bits that can switch between a value of “1” and “0”. Today’s computers can do this operation about 1 billion times per second, but this might change soon. A new method was developed to increase the computational power. The new technique uses laser-light pulses that can switch between “1” and “0” states 1 quadrillion times per second, that is 1 million times faster than modern computers. Using tungsten and selenium, the scientists built lattices shaped as honeycombs and then bombarded them with laser pulses. This allowed for a switch between the two values, as usual, but much faster. Researchers still have to incorporate this technique in a real computer.

    Read the full story: LiveScience
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Researchers from MIT have developed a set of molecular blocks that can be assembled in many different ways, depending on the test to be performed. For example, some blocks will let liquid straight through, whereas others can mix ingredients. They are made a sheet of paper or glass fiber sandwiched between a plastic or metal block and a glass cover. They are small, easy to print, very cheap, and no special training is required to use them. The production can be upscaled, so that they can become an economic diagnostics option for laboratories with limited financial possibilities, such as those in developing countries.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Advanced Healthcare Materials


    Engineers have for the first time succeeded in making a miniature robot that can take off in the air without a cable attached to it. This technical breakthrough was made possible by using laser energy and microchips resembling a fly’s brain that operate its wings. The mini-robot, the size of a house fly and the weight of a toothpick, can at the moment only lift off and land vertically while flapping its wings. It has limited autonomy because it depends on the laser beam for its energy supply. Nevertheless, its development is a major step forward to produce mini-robots for many applications, such as the inspection of gas leaks.

    Read the full story: University of Washington


    Bombarding water with X-rays can disrupt the atomic structure leading to sudden heat generation
    Laser heats water to 100,000 degrees Celsius in fraction of a second - science news in brief

    The world’s fastest water heater is here: a group of physicists managed to heat water from room temperature to 100,000 degrees Celsius in less than 75 femtoseconds. That is an incredibly short amount of time, less than 0.000 000 000 000 075 seconds. Now, how’s that for a fast service when ordering your tea? To achieve this, scientists used ultra-short pulses of X-rays generated by a laser. The X-rays displace electrons out of water molecules and in consequence, the atoms start to move violently, generating heat. In the same time, the water is transformed into plasma, similar to some plasmas found in the sun and on Jupiter. The study has both a fundamental importance and practical applications, like the development of techniques to study single molecules with X-ray lasers.

    Read the full story: Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY
    Scientific publication: PNAS


    A 3D bioprinter could one day be used to print biological tissues on demand, for medical applications
    3D printed tissues and organs are now closer - science news in brief

    A group of UCLA researchers developed a device that can print biological tissues in three dimensions. The aim of this 3D bioprinter is to print artificial versions of real tissues to be used for surgeries and transplants. The printing is based on stereolithography (nice word, isn’t it?), a light-based process, and is controlled by a customized 3D printer. The researchers used hydrogels to create the scaffolding for the tissues. After creating several 3D structures, scientists implanted them in lab animals to check for biocompatibility. The implants were not rejected, giving hope that this method could one day be used to provide on-demand biological tissues.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Advanced Materials


    Fundamental physical values, such as the lifetime of a neutron, should not be different. But, this is what researchers observed
    Physics mystery: two different ways of measuring the neutron's life give different results - science news in brief - physics news

    Physics experiments often encounter some oddities. Such an example is the measurement of the survival time of neutrons outside an atom. When measured in two different ways, the value was different by about nine seconds. Physicists tried to understand if this difference was real or due to some experimental errors. To this end, they modified their equipment to improve the accuracy of the tests. Even so, the accuracy of the measurements was not significantly improved; however, the data suggests that the uncertainty was induced in a statistical way (not by noise). Practically speaking, it should be a matter of performing more measurements in order to reduce the uncertainty of the results.

    Read the full story: ArsTechnica
    Scientific publication: Science


    False news spreads like fire on Twitter and users seem to not debunk it
    Twitter users more likely to spread false news during disasters - short science articles

    While Twitter is filled with 'fake news', we expect the most active users of this platform to detect falsehood more so during public emergencies. Researchers studied four false rumours, two each from the Boston marathon and Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, 86-91% users spread the false news by retweeting or liking the original post and only 5-9% sought to confirm this false news. Worse only 1-9% people expressed doubt about the false news. Further, researchers found that even after Twitter and traditional media had debunked the false claims, less than 20% deleted their retweet or replaced it with a new correct tweet.

    Read the full story: University at Buffalo
    Scientific publication: Natural Hazards


    A startup is developing a system to avoid car sickness in self driving cars
    Preventing car sickness in self-driving cars - short science articles

    Self-driving cars are going to be riddled with the problem of motion sickness since ears will detect the motion of the vehicle but the eye will see that interiors of the vehicle are stationary. Now, a startup ClearMotion is trying to come up with a solution, to cancel out the movement of the car which indicates to the ear that the body is in motion. The company is using a device called the 'activalve', which is an electrohydraulic device, that is attached to the shock absorbers of all four wheels. It anticipates the road inputs to avoid the vibrations before they occur. This creates a much smoother ride and decreases the motion sickness associated with autonomous cars.

    Read the full story: MIT Technology Review
    Scientific publication: SAE international


    MRI glove could provide detailed anatomical information of the hand
    An MRI glove to look closer at the hand anatomy - short science articles

    Researchers have developed an MRI system shaped like a glove, to deliver high-quality images of the bones, tendons and ligaments moving together. This prototype MRI glove could be useful in the diagnosis of repetitive stress injuries like the carpal tunnel syndrome observed in athletes, musicians and office workers. Also, since this new system shows how different tissues work together, it could help in the construction of a more detailed atlas of the hand anatomy and thus guide surgeries with hand images in a more realistic position. It could also help in developing better prosthetics.

    Read the full story: NYU Langone
    Scientific publication: Nature Biomedical Engineering


    This new technique allows researchers to see and record the activity of many brain cells at the same time. Credit: Alipasha Vaziri Lab, via Rockefeller University
    Tiny microscope allows scientists to see millions of neurons in action in living animals - short science news

    Scientists have developed a new way to watch brain cells in action. The technology uses a tiny microscope that can be attached to the head of a mouse and capture images deep inside the brain, under different angles and depths. The result is a 3D image that shows the neurons turning on and off while they communicate inside the brain. This approach is faster and more effective than other currently available methods and brings neuroscience closer to the dream of recording millions of neurons working together in a freely moving organism.

    Read the full story: Rockefeller University
    Scientific publication: Nature Methods


    Artificial intelligence could help identifying people at risk of cholera
    Artificial intelligence identifies gut microbes for cholera risk - short science articles

    Scientists have used sophisticated machine learning algorithms to identify patterns with the gut bacteria community which could indicate who amongst the one billion people in the world are at risk of cholera infections. The researchers collected rectal swabs from residents of the same house who reported a cholera patient and hence were at an increased risk of cholera themselves. Of the 76 household contacts studied about 1/3rd went on to develop cholera and the machine learning algorithm was able to identify 100 microbes which could be associated with risk to cholera. This research could prove useful for developing novel vaccines and develop preventive measures for cholera as well as other diseases.

    Read the full story: Duke University
    Scientific publication: The journal of infectious diseases


    A polymer based filter could help clean water from any source
    New polymer membranes for water treatment - short science articles

    Since the freshwater resources of the world are decreasing scientists are trying to find new efficient ways to make use of other water sources like the seawater or brackish water. Now, researchers have developed a self-assembled polymer membrane which could act as a filter to desalinate and remove selectively contaminants from different water sources. More interestingly, these self-assembled block polymers can modify the pore wall chemistry of the membrane and thus can be customized for different water sources for filtration.

    Read the full story: University of Notre Dame
    Scientific publication: Clean Water


    A new type of conductive paint converts the walls into huge interactive surfaces. Credit Disney Research
    Paint makes walls smart and interactive - short technology science news

    Researchers have come out with a cheap way to convert regular, dull walls into big interactive surfaces. This is achieved with the help of a special conductive paint that comes at the relatively low cost of $20 per square meter. The paint transforms walls into structures that can sense touch (like touchpads) and recognize gestures. The applications are endless. One could play video games using only gestures; the wall could adjust the light levels in a room, based on requirements, or deliver an alarm when the food is ready in the oven.

    Check out this video demonstrating the Wall++ concept

     

    Read the full story: Carnegie Mellon University
    Scientific publication: ACM


    Video showing neuron activity in three layers of the somatosensory cortex of a mouse’s brain. Neurons that are activated by holographic laser light are indicated by purple arrows. Projected via a microscope through a window into the brain, the holographic system can activate neurons to simulate real brain activity and insert false sensations. Credit: UC Berkeley video by Stephen McNally and Roxanne Makasdjian using Alan Mardinly footage

    As sci-fi as it sounds, a group of researchers claims one day we could edit our brain activity, for example by introducing images that we never saw before, smells that didn’t exist, or even erasing undesired sensations form memory. This could be done with a new device that uses holographic projections to control the activity of thousands of neurons. It can “copy and paste” patterns of neuronal activity in order to deceive our brain to change memories and perception. The concept was promisingly tested on neurons from lab animals and it is the first step towards this type of technology. This has practical applications in prosthetics, but also raises ethical concerns. 

    Read the full story: University of California, Berkeley
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications
    Scientific publication: Nature Neuroscience


     

    Hydra's behaviour can be analysed reliably with the aid of artificial intelligence
    Artificial Intelligence could replace human observers of animal behaviour - technology science news

    An algorithm for filtering spam has been shown to accurate extract the behavioural repertoire of a tiny, fresh water relative of jelly fish and sea anemones, called Hydra. The algorithm analysed hours of video footage, and managed to recognise behaviours such as predator evasion, moving and feeding, which turned out to be very predictable. While analysis of behaviour by human observers is a painstaking, long endeavour, and can be flawed by interpretation of an observer, the algorithm might provide a reliable and time-saving alternative in the future.

    Read the full story: Columbia University New York
    Scientific publication: eLIFE


    Man vs Machine... Machine learning could help in more accurate diagnostic tools
    Deep learning algorithms defeat humans in a diagnostic imaging lab - short science articles

    Researchers claim that their deep learning computers routinely defeat their human counterparts in the diagnosis of heart failure, detection of various cancers and their levels. The computational imaging system can correctly predict with 97% accuracy evidence of heart failure. Researchers claim that these diagnostic tools also help in identifying those patients with less aggressive cancers who hence might not need more aggressive therapy. The computational systems were 5-8% more superior compared to two human experts in distinguishing between benign and malignant lung nodules. However, the researchers also dismiss the claim that these machines will totally replace pathologists and radiologists but instead all more value to their diagnosis. This should help in better decision making for the doctors.

    Read the full story: Case Western Reserve University
    Scientific publication: PLOS one


    A new type of valleytronic material has the potential to make computers more powerful
    Technological breakthrough allows more computing power in smaller microchips - technology science news

    The power of a microchip is proportional to the number of transistors. However, there is a limit to how many transistors can fit in a given space, known as the Moore’s Law. Conventional materials must obey this limit, but now, a new research study has found a new material that can allow computers to overcome this limitation. A new material - tin(II) sulfide – SnS - allows computing binary information using the material’s own properties (like the spin of electrons). This has the potential to increase speed and power using smaller computer chips. With this finding, researchers will be able to develop the so-called operational valleytronic devices, which may one day be integrated into better electronic circuits.

    Read the full story: Berkley Lab
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Two new improvements to aluminium batteries could make them suitable for economical large-scale, stationary power storage
    New type of battery is cheap and could help the environment - short science news - technology

    The transition towards renewable, sustainable energy requires temporary storage of the energy on cheap and environmentally-friendly electric devices. Aluminium batteries are a good candidate. These batteries are inexpensive and the raw material is readily available, but they have limitations. A new study has discovered two new materials that could greatly advance the aluminium batteries. One is a corrosion-resistant compound designed for conductivity (titanium nitride) and the second one (polypyrene) will be used for the positive electrode. Both materials are flexible, thus opening the possibility for constructing flexible batteries. This new technology is seen as a promising option for storing renewable power in the future.

    Read the full story: ETH Zurich
    Scientific publication: Advanced Materials


    Renewable power plants will become the major source of energy in the US in the coming years
    US in energy transition : renewable power plants are dominating 2018 - technology science news

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reports that 98% of all new electricity generation built in January and February 2018 is renewable. The remaining 2% is from new natural gas plants. Coal seems to be out of favor : no new coal plants have been built, and many existing ones will be closed before 2022. Wind power as energy source will have increased by then, so that essentially all new power concerns renewable energy.

    Read the full story: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission


    Aadeel Akhtar, an M.D./Ph.D. student at Illinois, developed a control algorithm to give prosthetic arm users reliable sensory feedback. Credit: L. Brian Stauffer, University of Illinois
    Major breakthrough: prosthetic arm allows regain of sensations - science news

    Prosthetic arms feel like a tool but, scientists want to change this perception. In the quest for making prosthetic arms become part of the body, scientists from the University of Illinois developed a robotic arm that employs brain-machine interface technology in order to allow users to regain sensations. The arm has sensors and electrodes that deliver electrical current to nerves which in turn makes people without an arm feel sensation again, like touch for example. The device was tested on two patients, with good results.

    Read the full story: University of illinois
    Scientific publication: Science Robotics


    Dragon fly drying its wings
    What can scientists learn from dragonflies? - technology science news

    Scientists have created a new form of highly-efficient, low-cost insulation based on the wings of a dragon fly. The insulation material (aerogel) is extremely porous and ultralight, but its use has been hampered by problems with drying the aerogel to a strong material. Now, scientist have learned how to dry aerogel without destroying the fine silica structure of the material by replicating the process by which dragon flies dry their wings. Once the synthesis process has been scaled up, the material can be used on large scale, for instance to isolate our houses to reduce energy consumption.

    Read the full story: Newcastle University
    Scientific publication: Advanced Materials


    Inexpensive organic solar cells are here- efficient and ready for commercialization
    Organic solar cells are here, efficient and ready for commercialization - short science articles - technology

    Scientists have developed organic solar cells which are inexpensive, flexible and show 15% energy efficiency thereby being similar to the many currently available solar cells in the market. The organic solar cells incorporate carbon in their construction thereby adding to the advantage over conventional inorganic cells. They claim that these organic cells could decrease the cost of the total solar energy system thereby making solar a truly all-available clean energy source. At an efficiency of 15% and a 20 year life-time, researchers estimate that these cells could produce electricity at a cost of 7 cents per kilowatt-hour.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Nature Energy


    A new type of contact lenses is designed to reduce the activity of the retina by producing light. Credit: Caltech
    Glowing contact lenses could prevent diabetes-induced blindness - short science news - health technology

    Diabetes is often associated with retinopathy, a disease in which cells inside the retina die due to insufficient supply of oxygen. A new original approach to prevent this problem was developed by scientists in the shape of glow in the dark contact lenses. The lenses produce a faint light at night, while the wearer sleeps, which reduced the metabolic demands of cells from the retina. Reducing the metabolic rate also decreases the consumption of oxygen, thus keeping the cells alive. The lenses are in developing and testing stage and the team estimates they will be able to apply for clinical trials tests in the immediate future.

    Read the full story: Caltech


    A smart watch might not be a smart option anyways
    Wearable technology also contributes to distractions during driving - short science articles - technology

    Scientists have now studied the effects of wearable technology on the concentration of drivers. The smart devices used in the study were Google Glass or a smartphone. They found that texting with a wearable device is similar to texting with an ordinary cell phone making it equally dangerous. While the smart wearable devices are quicker to respond and are voice controlled, the drivers are also more likely to engage with the device offsetting the advantage of increased efficiency. As we move towards a more technologically advanced society it is imperative to ask such questions.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss


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