March 21, 2019

    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

    Immune cell moving through the ear of a zebrafish while collecting sugar particles (blue)

    Scientists have constructed a new microscope to make detailed 3D images of of cells and intracellular structures. With this microscope, researchers can study cells in the body (instead of on glass outside the body), and even follow them as they move through the body of a living organism. This is a majar breakthrough in microscopy, and although the new microscope is still very costly, it is expected that prices will go down and that this microscope can be used to solve questions concerning biological systems in the body, in health and disease. 

    Read the full story: Howard Hughes Medical Institute
    Scientific publication: Science

    Body support wont turn you to a superhero
    An exoskeleton won't turn you into a superhero - use with caution - short science articles - technology

    Researchers tested the commercially available exoskeletons which are typically used by workers to carry heavy objects hands-free. They found that while the exoskeleton relieved the stress on the arms just as it is supposed to do, it increased the stress on the back by more than 50%. Stress on other muscles also increased by 56-120% on other torso muscles. The problem is the exoskeleton is pulling and tugging in unexpected directions and the body reacts to compensate thereby increasing stress on other parts of the body. People participating in the study reacted negatively saying they would never use it again if not compulsory.

    Read the full story: Ohio State University
    Scientific publication: Applied Ergonomics

    Spider silk protein was used to create“glue” for repairing broken bones
    Spider silk helps repair bones - health technology news

    Spider silk was used to create a biodegradable material that can help repair broken bones. Normally, repairing bones, especially the ones that bear the load of the body, can be a long and difficult process. The new material provides a better alternative by using silk fibroin, a protein naturally found in spider silk. After trying many different combinations of silk fibroin and other materials, the scientists finally found the correct recipe. The new composite material is very promising for bone repairs and practical since no surgery is required for removal, as in the case of the standard metal plates used for fractures.

    Read the full story: University of Connecticut
    Scientific publication: Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials

    This scanning electron microscope image shows ultrafine diamond needles being pushed on by a diamond tip (dark shape at top). These images reveal that the diamond needles can bend as much as 9% and still return to their original shape. Credit: MIT
    Diamonds can be bent and stretched with this new method - short science news

    Diamond is the strongest natural material, but it is also brittle, which limits its applications. A team of scientists found a way to make diamonds flexible, opening the door for using this material in new ways. The trick is to convert diamonds into extremely small needle-like shapes which can be stretched like rubber. In a way, these needles behave like the tips of a toothbrush. The results could lead to new diamond-based devices with applications in data storage, electronics, drug delivery and imaging.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Science

    Not to worry if you are not so handy in the house, soon robots might be able to do the job for you! A robot designed by the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore managed to assemble an IKEA chair in 20 minutes (including planning and assembly time). It was equipped with a 3D camera and two robotic arms with grippers to pick up the pieces. The robot was programmed with algorithms that made planning, finding of objects, applying the proper force and fine arm movements possible. This sort of robots, and improved versions by implementing more artificial intelligence, are envisaged to become important in performing varied tasks where precision is required.

    Read the full story: Nanyang Technological University
    Scientific publication: Science Robotics

    Artificial intelligence could identifying early risks of heart diseases
    Detect heart disease using AI - short science articles - technology and health

    Heart disease is a leading cause of death with at least 1 in 4 deaths associated with it. Further, predicting heart diseases is an expensive affair requiring expensive equipment and invasive procedures. All this could change since researchers have developed an algorithm which by measuring a patient's pulse data can ascertain risks for cardiovascular diseases and arterial stiffness using a smartphone. They record a single carotid artery pressure wave using a smartphone's camera to feed a mathematical model called intrinsic frequency identifying different phases of a patient's heartbeat. This could be then used to determine arterial stiffness and other risk factors.

    Read the full story: USC Viterbi School of Engineering
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports

    An artificial muscle could help you do pull ups like this
    Worlds' strongest man could envy this artificial muscle - short science articles - technology

    Researchers have developed an artificial muscle which is capable of lifting 12,600 times its own weight, support 60MPa of mechanical stress and provide a 25% higher tensile strength. The muscle is made up of commercial carbon fibre and polydimethylsiloxane. The artificial muscle when electrically stimulated demonstrates excellent performance without the requirement of the high input voltage. Scientists have been able to show that a 0.4 mm diameter muscle bundle could lift half a gallon of water by 1.4 inches by applying only 0.172 V/cm voltage. The applications are limitless such as prosthetics, robotics, orthotics and human assistance devices.

    Read the full story: University of Illinois
    Scientific publication: Smart materials and structures

    A plastic eating enzyme could solve or major plastic waste crisis
    How cool is this - a plastic eating enzyme developed accidentally - short science articles - technology

    First discovered in Japan in 2016, scientists have accidentally created a mutant enzyme which breaks down plastic and also overperforms its natural variant. The bacteria Ideonella sakaiensis breaks down polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which is a major component of plastic using the enzyme PETase. The new mutant variant was created by accident when scientists were trying to tweak the natural enzyme. PET usually takes centuries to naturally break down and the enzyme enables its break down in a matter of days. This could be the answer to our massive plastic problem.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: PNAS

    You can't hide anymore. A new face recognition system works even in the dark.
    Nowhere to hide - A face recognition tech effective even in the dark - short science news - technology

    Researchers have developed a face recognition system that can identify faces from thermal face images which are usually captured by thermal cameras. Under low light conditions, there is insufficient illumination to accurately capture facial imagery without active illumination which might give away the position of surveillance cameras. This new system could be used for covert military operations which are usually carried out in the dark and could help inform soldiers if a person is a person of interest like someone on a watchlist. The technology uses artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to match thermal face images and existing biometric face databases.

    Read the full story: ScienceDaily

    Smartphone cameras could replace lab microscopes one day by employing artificial intelligence techniques
    Smartphones as microscopes - artificial intelligence at its best - short science technology news

    Since smartphone cameras of today are specially designed to photograph scenery but not to develop high-resolution microscopic images, researchers have developed an attachment which can be placed on the smartphone lens to increase its resolution to one-millionth of a meter. However, since this 3D printed attachment wasn't enough to give results of high-end lab microscopes, they then developed artificial intelligence algorithms to develop microscope level images. Researchers fed the images shot by the smartphone and a microscope to a computer system to rapidly enhance the mobile phone images. This innovation could help develop cheap alternatives to the expensive lab microscopes.

    Read the full story: University of California Los Angeles
    Scientific publication: ACS Photonics

    Scientists developed a new type of biocompatible, flexible polymer, using caffeine as a catalyst. Credit: MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital
    Caffeine used to create polymers with applications in medicine - short science news - technology news

    Caffeine is now used in a totally unexpected way: to stimulate the formation of a new type of polymer material. Caffeine acts as a catalyst, facilitating the production of a gel-like biomaterial, scientists discovered. The gel has several potential medical applications, including the delivery of drugs in the body. The researchers showed that they could load two malaria drugs, artesunate and piperaquine, into these polymers and they found do harmful effects of the gels in four different types of cells tested.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Biomaterials

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