May 25, 2019

    A fundus image of a retina, with damaged areas highlighted by the image-processing algorithm. Image: RMIT University
    Early detection of diabetic retinopathy with artificial intelligence - technology short science news

    Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness in adults, and early detection has remained difficult, until now.

    Scientists have developed a deep learning algorithm that detects fluid on the retina with 98% accuracy. Fluid on the retina is one of the earliest symptoms of retinopathy, when eyesight per se is still intact.

    The algorithm relies on retinal images that can be obtained with ordinary optometry equipment. This new method is thus cost-effective, and quick to detect the disease.

    Read the full story: RMIT University
    Scientific publication: Computers in Biology and Medicine

    Giving up Facebook is an expensive affair
    How much would you charge for giving up Facebook; apparently its $1921 dollars - short science news and articles

    Facebook for all its fallacies is an interesting experience. Researchers have found out that Facebook users would need an average of $1000 to deactivate their accounts for a year.

    They used a series of auctions in which people were paid to close their accounts. While the average bid to turn off their Facebook account for one day was $4.17 that for one week was $37.

    Interestingly, with a market capitalization of $400 billion and with 2.2 billion users, the market value of one Facebook user is $180. This shows that Facebook users indeed consider the social media giant of higher value in their life.

    Read the full story: Tuft University
    Scientific publication: PLOS one

    Researchers have made a microscopic Tic-Tac-Toe board with self-assembling DNA tiles.

    To play the game, they have developed tiles that are dynamic, so that they could be reshaped after had been built. This new technique makes use of swapping in and out hundreds to DNA strands at once. While the Tic-Tac-Toe play might be amusing, it is just a first try to use technology to develop nanomachines that can be modified or repaired after they have already been built.

    By the way, “X” won the Tic-Tac-Toe game in the testtube after six days of play…..

    Read the full story: Caltech
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    Fluoride based batteries might be the answer to longer lasting batteries
    Just imagine charging your phone only two times per month - short science news and articles

    Researchers have developed Fluoride-based batteries which could potentially last eight times longer effectively reducing the number of times you need to charge your devices. They have developed the first rechargeable fluoride batteries using liquid components that work at room temperatures.

    Batteries drive electric currents by shuttling ions between positive and negative electrodes. While, the current lithium-based batteries use positive lithium ions for this, the new fluoride-based batteries use negatively charged ions for the same.

    Importantly, it’s more difficult to move the lithium positive ion as compared to the single charged fluoride ion, thereby needing recharging less frequently.

    Read the full story: Caltech
    Scientific publication: Science

    A technology that can potentially mimic the human brain
    Nanowires used to create artificial synapses - short science news and articles

    In a major breakthrough, scientists have produced a memristive element from nanowire which functions similar to a neuron. This element can both process and save information and also receive several signals in parallel.

    These elements are made of a single zinc oxide nanowire, which is approximately a thousand times thinner than a human hair. This nanowire is attached to silver and platinum metals which function as electrodes that can release ions at an appropriate current.

    This paves the way to develop neuromorphic chips which can imitate the human brain functioning, at the same time being small and energy efficient

    Read the full story: Forschungszentrum Juelich
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    Artificial Intelligence used now to curate and deliver audio news on mobile phones and speakers
    AI to deliver audio news feed - daily short science news headlines

    Google has just announced the launch of its Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven audio news feed. The service is similar to radio news journals; however, the content will be personalized by AI algorithms.

    The news feed will be managed and personalized by Google Assistant, the AI program developed by the company. The project is part of the efforts to deliver content through Google’s speakers and smartphones.

    The service will first be available to a small number of people in the United States. It will be interesting to see if this way of following the news will be embraced by the public.

    Read the full story: TechXplore

    Finger pricking for glucose monitoring might be a thing of the past soon
    3D-printed glucose biosensors as a replacement for finger pricking - health technology short science news

    Scientists have succeeded to make a glucose biosensor by 3D printing that can be used in wearable monitors.

    While alternatives for glucose meters that require constant finger printing already exist, the new device is cheaper, uses less material, is much more stable and is much more sensitive. Also, 3D-printing offers the possibility to adapt the biosensor to the biology of each individual for optimal results.

    For large-scale use, the new biosensor has to be integrated with electronic components on a wearable platform. Thus, the 3-D printed glucose biosensor might be a replacement for finger pricking in the not too distant future.

    Read the full story: Washington State University
    Scientific publication: Analytica Chimica Acta

    Influential tech people might have different political views compare to other elites. Credit: Brian Solis [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
    Tech entrepreneurs have their own unique political views  - science news

    A new study suggests tech entrepreneurs have different political views compared to other mainstream economic categories.

    Technology innovators tend to support liberal social and redistributive policies, but they have a more conservative approach when it comes to regulation and labor unions. Technology entrepreneurs scored low on measures of authoritarianism and racial resentment, but high on cosmopolitanism.

    As previous generations of economic elites did, it is likely that tech entrepreneurs will try to use their power to influence political decisions. Therefore, this study is important because it allows us to get insight into what the entrepreneurs might actually want to change.

    Read the full story: PsyPost
    Scientific publication: American Journal of Political Science

    New computer chips, using photons instead of electrons might greatly speed up machine learning
    Faster artificial intelligence with light-powered chips - daily science news  - technology

    Researchers are developing a new radical way to accelerate artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. The new approach involves an optical chip that uses light (instead of electrons) to transfer information.

    This can greatly increase the speed of computers and allow AI software to perform much faster than today. How quickly the new chip will perform, depends in practice on how fast it can interact with conventional computer components.

    Previous attempts to produce optical computer chips have failed. However, now the scientists may be close to obtaining the first working prototype. The startup Lightelligence, behind this study, claims they have already started manufacturing the chips.

    Read the full story: Scientific American
    Scientific publication: Science

    Scientists developed better electrochemical systems composed of organic materials and bacteria
    Better organic electrodes with bacteria - science news in brief - technology

    Electrochemical systems containing bacteria have been described before, but in practice, they are difficult to use because of their large size. To improve them, miniaturization is necessary. Now, scientists developed a new technique to create fine organic electrodes of up to 80 micrometers thick.

    The researchers used an electrically conducting polymer (PEDOT:PSS) and the electroactive bacterium Shewanella oneidensis to obtain the new electrodes. When the resulting system is used as the anode in microbial electrochemical cells, the current was 20 times higher compared to using regular anodes.

    The discovery has several applications from water purification to biosensors. Moreover, electrical systems based on bacteria represent an environmentally friendly mean to convert chemical energy to electricity.

    Read the full story: Linkoping University
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports

    Mercury ions (light purple) are attracted to an electrode's surface where they get reduced to metallic mercury. Mercury (dark purple) and platinum (grey) atoms form an alloy, and the mercury is thus removed from the water. Image: B. Wickman and A. Arvidsson/Chalmers University of Technology
    New technique to remove toxic mercury from contaminated water - technology short science news

    Researchers have established a new technique to remove the highly toxic mercury from contaminated water. The new method is based on electrochemistry. Mercury ions are attracted to a metal plate, an electrode of platinum, get reduced to metallic mercury and together, mercury and platinum form a stable alloy. Each platinum atom can bond four mercury atoms, and do not bond with other ions in the water. Mercury can then be safely removed from the electrode, which can thus be reused.

    Read the full story: Chalmers University of Technology
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    A new plane prototype can fly without moving parts and without fossil fuel. Credit: Christine Y. He, MIT
    First-ever plane with no moving parts - science news technology

    Every know aircraft today has some moving parts such as propellers and fans, however, researchers from MIT just announced building the first plane with no moving parts. And it flies, too!

    The new design doesn’t use fossil fuel. Instead, it is powered by ions generated by electrically charged electrodes and lithium-polymer batteries. These parts produce “ionic wind” that enable the plane to lift off. Moreover, it is completely silent while flying.

    The team flew the plane over a distance of 60 meters. The flight was repeated 10 times with success. Maybe this is the first step towards a future with silent planes, without turbines and propellers, and without combustion emissions.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Nature

    Atoms of a gold cone exposed to a strong electric field. Credit: Alexander Ericson
    Melting gold at room temperature - science news in brief

    Researchers have, for the first time, managed to melt gold at room temperature. There’s no need to rush and put your jewelry in the fridge! An intense electrical field is needed for the melting to occur.

    The scientists placed a small piece of gold in an electron microscope and gradually exposed it to an increasingly stronger electrical field. The electric field excited the gold atoms which lost their ordered structure and released almost all their connections to each other. In other words, the gold melted at room temperature.

    The discovery provides a new understanding of the physics of gold and opens the doors for new practical ways to use the precious metal for sensors, catalysts and transistors.

    Read the full story: Chalmers University of Technology
    Scientific publication: Physical Review Materials

    A temperature six time higher than the sun was achieved in the lab
    “Artificial sun” reaches 100 million degrees - a key step for fusion science - science news headlines in brief

    Scientists working with the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) nicknamed the “Chinese artificial sun” reported an amazing achievement: they reached a plasma central electron temperature of 100 million Celsius degrees, six times hotter than the Sun itself!

    This is a crucial step towards achieving the dream of fusion energy. For stable fusion, a temperature of 100 million C is one of the most fundamental elements. Nuclear fusion needs very high temperature and great pressure, and since the required pressure cannot be achieved on Earth, scientists can only raise the temperature.

    This result establishes an important foundation for the development of clean fusion energy.

    Read the full story: Hefei Institues of Physical Science Chinese Academy of Sciences

    Revolution in science: four fundamental units of measurements will be redefined. Credit: BIPM - International System of Units
    The kilogram and three other fundamental units of measurement redefined - daily science news in brief - metrology

    The kilogram is defined by a platinum cylinder, International Prototype Kilogram (informally Le Grand K or IPK), manufactured in 1889 and stored in Paris. Countries made copies of this reference cylinder and used them to measure the mass.

    However, this approach induces small variations in the results of metrological measurements. Not all copies are perfect replicas of the Le Grand K. Changes in the environment can also impact the mass. Similar issues apply to other units of measurement.

    To eliminate these issues and ensure precise and constant measurements all over the world, the International System of Units (SI) is redefining the kilogram together with other three fundamental units in terms of fundamental units, which are unchanging numbers. The changes will come into effect on 20 May 2019.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: BIPM - Bureau International des Poids et Mesures

    By using a polymer on the lithium interface in metal batteries, battery life is prolonged and recharge time reduced
    Use of a polymer increases lithium battery life - technology short science news

    Lithium batteries that run longer and charge faster can become a reality soon. Scientists have developed the next generation of such metal batteries by using a special polymer on the interface of the lithium metal. This material acts as a porous sponge that not only promotes ion transfer, but also stops deterioration of lithium, even when batteries are being charged fast. Scientists estimate that the life of lithium batteries can double this way, meaning less recharging of your mobile phone or increasing the autonomy of electric cars.

    Read the full story: Penn State
    Scientific publication: Nature Energy

    High-speed camera capabilities can be achieved for virtually any regular camera using new technology
    Researchers make any electronic camera shoot a million frames per second - technology news - science

    Did you know that the camera in your smartphone is actually an ultra-high-speed image capturing device? Well, it is now, with the development of a new technique that allows ordinary electronic cameras to acquire images at record speed (but only in black and white).

    The key idea is that one single image can be thought of as many black-and-white snapshots. The researchers developed a mathematical technique to extract these snapshots from a single image, an idea they call the virtual frame technique.

    The results were amazing and showed that even an iPhoneX could record up to a million frames per second using this technique. The virtual frame technology is a great step forward in photography and has many potential applications.

    Read the full story: MIT Technology Review
    Scientific publication: Arxiv

    The structure of small molecules can now be identified in a record time
    Structure of small molecules uncovered in 30 minutes with this new technology - daily science news in brief

    A recent study describes a new approach that achieves the amazing capability of allowing identification of the structures of small molecules (hormones, drugs) in as little as 30 minutes. Using current approaches, such a task could take hours or even days.

    The technique is called micro-electron diffraction (MicroED), previously used to discover the structure of large molecules. It works even on powders, without the requirement of converting the compound into crystals, or other complicated preparations.

    This works on molecules weighing less than about 900 daltons and it has major implications for chemistry and other fields such as drug discovery, forensics, medical testing, etc.

    Read the full story: California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
    Scientific publication: ACS Central Science

    A new device can measure oxygen levels in the blood in regions of the body previously inaccessible to oximeters. Credit: UC Berkeley photo by Yasser Khan, Arias Research Group
    Flexible sensor measures blood-oxygen anywhere in the body - short science news

    A new type of sensor (oximeter) allows detection of the blood-oxygen levels over large areas of the body, providing crucial medical information.

    The sensor is made of organic electronics printed on flexible plastic that molds to the shape of the body. It can detect blood-oxygen levels at nine points in a grid and can be placed anywhere on the skin. Previous oximeters only work on “transparent” areas of the body, such as fingertips, but the new design can be used anywhere.

    The device has many applications: map oxygenation of sky grafts, monitor transplanted organs and supervise healing wounds.

    Read the full story: University of California Berkeley
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    A new piece of hardware is able to both write and read quantum information, a first in the field
    New device reads and writes quantum information - technology science news latest

    Quantum computers technology just got a boost with the development of a new silicon-based device capable of reading and writing quantum information, two essential functions for error correction in computers.

    It is the first time these two operations were achieved simultaneously on the same device. The team of scientists used existing technologies combined in an ingenious way to allow the design of a novel device.

    The hardware was produced using conventional semiconductor manufacturing technology and the researchers will try to scale it up in order to create a silicon-based quantum-computer chip.

    Read the full story: Physics World
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    Fluorescent cells shaped as number 10 (to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Department of Biosystems in Basel). In response to the light, transcription was initiated in the illuminated cells. Credit: Group Mustafa Khammash/ETH Zurich
    Controlling genes with light - science news

    Scientists report the development of a new technology that controls gene transcription using light. Gene transcription is the process that allows the conversion of DNA into RNA, a crucial step in producing proteins that impact how cells function.

    The researchers used single yeast cells genetically engineered to respond to blue light. When the light is present, the cells activate a transcription factor and thereby promote the transcription of a specific gene.

    Currently, the technique only works under the microscope, so the applications are limited. However, it is very useful for research, tissue engineering and, stem cells. Further studies will be conducted to expand the applicability of the discovery.

    Read the full story: ETH Zurich
    Scientific publication: Molecular Cell

    Graphene-integrated devices could be the key ingredient in the evolution of 5G, the Internet-of-Things (IoT), and Industry 4.0. Image: Lauren V. Robinson / © Springer Nature Ltd
    Graphene technologies to transform cutting edge applications in telecommunications - technology science news

    Technology for telecommunications is expected to benefit from graphene, which enables ultra-wide bandwidth communications with low power consumption, researchers report. While current semiconductor technologies are approaching their physical limitations, graphene may offer solutions to enable the realization of 5G, the Internet-of-Things, and Industry 4.0, as it enhances the performance of key components for optical and radio communications to levels that are even beyond the requirements. It is thus expected that graphene-based optical components, integrated on a silicon platform, will become key components in the 5G era.

    Read the full story: Graphene Flagship
    Scientific publication: Nature Reviews Materials

    Broken screens of portable telephones might be a thing of the past soon with the development of new self-healing polymers that can be used for the coating of the screen.
    Self-healing polymers produced at low cost - technology science news

    A new study reports the production of a new self-healing polymer that is cheap and can be applied to for instance the coating of cell phone screens, plastics, and paints. The researchers took advantage of interactions between co-polymers that look like spaghetti strands with little brushes on the side. When they get longer, they become more entangled, and the side groups interlock so that it becomes harder to pull them apart. Also, when they are being pulled out, they come back together, and are self-healing like our skin. Researchers expect that the polymers can be synthesized at an industrial scale relatively soon.

    Read the full story: Clemson University
    Scientific publication: Science

    A single nanocluster of 22 gold atoms -- Au22 -- is only 1 nanometer in diameter, allowing it to easily slip through the bacterial cell wall. Image: Peidong Yang, UC Berkeley
    Feed bacteria with gold, and they will produce more biofuel - biotechnology science news

    Researchers have established that feeding the bacterium Moorella thermoacetica with gold clusters of 1 nm in size transforms them into an artificial photosynthesis system. The bacteria take up the gold particles quite efficiently, and have thus a sunlight-absorbing metal inside that is close to the enzymes involved in photosynthesis and electron transfer to generate energy. This energy can be used for the production of useful chemicals, including biofuel.

    Read the full story: UC Berkeley – College of Chemistry
    Scientific publication: Nature Nanotechnology

    Compacting reactors could reduce the danger of excess heat for fusion power plants. Credit: MIT
    New approach solves problem with excess heat for fusion power plants - science news - energy production

    The development of real fusion power plants is facing several problems. For example: how to get rid of the excess heat that would cause structural damage to the plant?

    Now, a group of scientists came up with a possible solution to this problem: using an innovative approach the scientists can compact fusion reactors using superconducting magnets.

    The new design has several added advantages, like allowing the replacement of critical components, which is not possible in typical fusion plants designs.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Fusion Engineering and Design

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