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Graphene coating transforms fragile aerogels into superelastic materials

Graphene coating transforms fragile aerogels into superelastic materials | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Like donning a Superman’s cape, fragile carbon nanotube (CNT) aerogels that are covered by a graphene coating can be transformed from a material that easily collapses under compression to one that can resist large amounts of compression and completely recover its original shape after removal of the load. The superelasticity and fatigue resistance provided by the graphene coating could make CNT aerogels useful in a variety of areas, including as electrodes, artificial muscles, and other mechanical structures.

 

While a normal gel consists mostly of liquid material with a cross-linked network that gives it its solid-like structure, an aerogel is created by replacing the liquid material in a gel with a gas. Researchers do this by drying the original gel at a critical temperature. The resulting aerogel is a lightweight material made of 99.9% air by volume, yet one that is also dry, rigid, and strong like a solid.

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NASA: 64 Million Tons of Dust Dominates Foreign Aerosol Imports to North America

NASA: 64 Million Tons of Dust Dominates Foreign Aerosol Imports to North America | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
NASA and university scientists have made the first measurement-based estimate of the amount and composition of tiny airborne particles that arrive in the air over North America each year. With a 3-D view of the atmosphere now possible from satellites, the scientists calculated that dust, not pollution, is the main ingredient of these imports.

 

According to a new analysis of NASA satellite data, 64 million tons of dust, pollution and other particles that have potential climate and human health effects survive a trans-ocean journey to arrive over North America each year. This is nearly as much as the estimated 69 million tons of aerosols produced domestically from natural processes, transportation and industrial sources.

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Predatory beetles eavesdrop on ants' chemical conversations to find best egg-laying sites

Predatory beetles eavesdrop on ants' chemical conversations to find best egg-laying sites | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Predatory beetles can detect the unique alarm signal released by ants that are under attack by parasitic flies, and the beetles use those overheard conversations to guide their search for safe egg-laying sites on coffee bushes. Azteca instabilis ants patrol coffee bushes and emit chemical alarm signals when they're under attack by phorid flies.

 

University of Michigan researchers and their colleagues show that pregnant lady beetles intercept the ants' alarm pheromones, which let the beetles know that it's safe to deposit their eggs. The findings, which may have practical implications for pest management on coffee plantations, are the first documentation of a complex cascade of interactions mediated by ant pheromones, according to the authors.

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Paddlefish's Doubled Genome May Question Theories On Limb Evolution

Paddlefish's Doubled Genome May Question Theories On Limb Evolution | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The American paddlefish -- known for its bizarre, protruding snout and eggs harvested for caviar -- duplicated its entire genome about 42 million years ago, according to a new study published in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution. This finding may add a new twist to the way scientists study how fins evolved into limbs since the paddlefish is often used as a proxy for a more representative ancestor shared by humans and fishes.

 

In order to study how human limbs develop, scientists compare the limb-building genes found in mice with fin-building genes found in fishes. Previous research on paddlefish has suggested that fishes possessed the genetic toolkit required to grow limbs long before the evolution of the four-limbed creatures (tetrapods) that developed into reptiles, birds, amphibians and mammals.

 

In the last decade, paddlefish have become a useful benchmark in evolutionary studies because their position on the evolutionary tree makes them a reasonably good proxy for the ancestor of the bony fishes that evolved into tetrapods such as humans. However, the fact that paddlefish underwent a genome duplication could complicate what its genes tell us about the fin-to-limb transition.

 

 

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Two major areas of the brain shown to be connected - crucial link between hippocampus and prefrontal cortex

Two major areas of the brain shown to be connected - crucial link between hippocampus and prefrontal cortex | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A clue to understanding certain cognitive and mental disorders may involve two parts of the brain which were previously thought to have independent functions, according to a McGill University team of researchers led by Prof. Yogita Chudasama, of the Laboratory of Brain and Behavior, Department of Psychology.

 

The McGill team discovered a critical interaction between two prominent brain areas: the hippocampus, a well-known memory structure made famous by Dr. Brenda Milner’s patient H.M., and the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in decision-making and inhibiting inappropriate behaviours. The interaction between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex shows that brain circuits function not just as specific parts of the brain, but are linked together and work as a system.

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Tractor Beams Work In Lab On Increasingly Larger Objects: First Quantum Effects In An Optomechanical System

Tractor Beams Work In Lab On Increasingly Larger Objects: First Quantum Effects In An Optomechanical System | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A long-time staple of science fiction is the tractor beam, a technology in which light is used to move massive objects – recall the tractor beam in the movie Star Wars that captured the Millennium Falcon and pulled it into the Death Star. While tractor beams of this sort remain science fiction, beams of light today are being used to mechanically manipulate atoms or tiny glass beads, with rapid progress being made to control increasingly larger objects. Those who see major roles for optomechanical systems in a host of future technologies will take heart in the latest results from a first-of-its-kind experiment.

 

Berkeley Lab researchers directly observed quantum optical effects -- amplification and ponderomotive squeezing -- in an optomechanical system. Here the yellow/red regions show amplification, the blue regions show squeezing. On the left is the data, on the right is the theoretical prediction in the absence of noise. Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley, using a unique optical trapping system that provides ensembles of ultracold atoms, have recorded the first direct observations of distinctly quantum optical effects - amplification and squeezing - in an optomechanical system. Their findings point the way toward low-power quantum optical devices and enhanced detection of gravitational waves among other possibilities.

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Looking for dark matter a mile underground

Looking for dark matter a mile underground | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

For the past two years, a small bubble chamber has been on the lookout for dark-matter particles a mile underground at SNOLAB in Sudbury, Ontario. Now that experiment is about to get company – its big brother is moving in. The new particle detector, developed at the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, will be much more sensitive to dark-matter particles than its predecessor.

 

The two bubble chambers, with volumes of 2 and 30 liters respectively, are part of an experiment known as the Chicago Observatory for Underground Particle Physics. Initiated by physicist Juan Collar at the University of Chicago, COUPP initially took data in a hall 350 feet underground at Fermilab to look for dark matter. When scientists improved the sensitivity of their particle detectors, particles stemming from cosmic-ray showers created too much noise and the COUPP collaboration decided to move to the deeper SNOLAB location, which provides more shielding against cosmic rays.

 

Moving the 30-liter COUPP detector into SNOLAB’s clean rooms will require some unusual work. To enter the laboratory, scientists take a mile-long elevator ride underground, walk a mile through an old mining tunnel, take a shower to remove any uranium or thorium dust stemming from the surrounding rock and dress in gowns and hairnets. Like the scientists, all pieces of the detector will need scrubbing and cleaning, too. Only then can they enter the clean rooms that make up SNOLAB.

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Nanotechnology, material science, and photonic research gets boost from new 3-D visualization technology

Nanotechnology, material science, and photonic research gets boost from new 3-D visualization technology | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

For the first time, X-ray scientists have combined high-resolution imaging with 3-D viewing of the surface layer of material using X-ray vision in a way that does not damage the sample.

 

This new technique expands the range of X-ray research possible for biology and many aspects of nanotechnology, particularly nanofilms, photonics, and micro- and nano-electronics.

 

This new technique also reduces “guesswork” by eliminating the need for modeling-dependent structural simulation often used in X-ray analysis. Scientists from the Advanced Photon Source and Center for Nanoscale Materials at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have blended the advantages of 3-D surface viewing from grazing-incident geometry scattering with the high-resolution capabilities of lensless X-ray coherent diffraction imaging (CDI).

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How Google's Self-Driving Car Works

How Google's Self-Driving Car Works | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Once a secret project, Google's autonomous vehicles are now out in the open, quite literally, with the company test-driving them on public roads and, on one occasion, even inviting people to ride inside one of the robot cars as it raced around a closed course.

 

Google's fleet of robotic Toyota Priuses has now logged more than 190,000 miles (about 300,000 kilometers), driving in city traffic, busy highways, and mountainous roads with only occasional human intervention. The project is still far from becoming commercially viable, but Google has set up a demonstration system on its campus, using driverless golf carts, which points to how the technology could change transportation even in the near future.

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Many new animal species discovered in sequestered underground cave thriving exclusively off sulfur bacteria

Many new animal species discovered in sequestered underground cave thriving exclusively off sulfur bacteria | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

In a cavernous underworld 100 meters beneath a soft limestone quarry in Ramle, Israel, scientists have found eight new animal species – seven of which are still thriving in the darkness below.

 

Researchers recently completed a comprehensive study on the species – whose habitat quarry workers discovered in 2006 – and have thus far given names to seven out of the eight animals inhabiting the area. Isolated for millions of years in a 40- meter-long hall in a 2.7-kilometer- long cave, the species have survived off of sulfur bacteria in their underground lake. The cave was concealed about 100 meters under the surface with no natural opening to the surface.

 

The only other cave in the world comparable to this isolated Israeli wonder is the Movile Cave in Romania, which has a similar groundwater system and is also sulfuric – essential for internal energy production in place of photosynthesis. The ecosystem in the Romanian cave, however, is larger, with many more species, but many of them also live outside the cave. They are not endemic to the cave. But in Israel, most or perhaps all are endemic to the cave.

 

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More trials, less errors - An effort to lower incorrect scientific claims through a new type of service

More trials, less errors - An effort to lower incorrect scientific claims through a new type of service | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

So many scientific studies are making incorrect claims that a new service has sprung up to fact-check reported findings by repeating the experiments.

 

A year-old Palo Alto, California, company, Science Exchange, announced on Tuesday its "Reproducibility Initiative," aimed at improving the trustworthiness of published papers. Scientists who want to validate their findings will be able to apply to the initiative, which will choose a lab to redo the study and determine whether the results match. The project sprang from the growing realization that the scientific literature - from social psychology to basic cancer biology - is riddled with false findings and erroneous conclusions, raising questions about whether such studies can be trusted. Not only are erroneous studies a waste of money, often taxpayers', but they also can cause companies to misspend time and resources as they try to invent drugs based on false discoveries.

 

Last year, Bayer Healthcare reported that its scientists could not reproduce some 75 percent of published findings in cardiovascular disease, cancer and women's health. In March, Lee Ellis of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and C. Glenn Begley, the former head of global cancer research at Amgen, reported that when the company's scientists tried to replicate 53 prominent studies in basic cancer biology, hoping to build on them for drug discovery, they were able to confirm the results of only six.

 

The new initiative's 10-member board of prominent scientists will match investigators with a lab qualified to test their results, said Elizabeth Iorns, Science Exchange's co-founder and chief executive officer. The original lab would pay the second for its work. How much depends on the experiment's complexity and the cost of study materials, but should not exceed 20 percent of the original research study's costs. Iorns hopes government and private funding agencies will eventually fund replication to improve the integrity of scientific literature.

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CERN physicists create record-breaking subatomic soup with highest man-made temperature ever

CERN physicists create record-breaking subatomic soup with highest man-made temperature ever | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Get the Guinness Book ready: Physicists at the CERN’s Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, have achieved the hottest man-made temperatures ever, by colliding lead ions to momentarily create a quark–gluon plasma, a subatomic soup and unique state of matter that is thought to have existed just moments after the Big Bang. The results come from the ALICE heavy-ion experiment (at right) — a lesser-known sibling to ATLAS and the Compact Muon Solenoid, which produced the data that led to the announcement in July that the Higgs boson had been discovered. ALICE physicists, presenting on Monday at Quark Matter 2012 in Washington DC, say that they have achieved a quark–gluon plasma 38% hotter than a record 4-trillion-degree plasma achieved in 2010 by a similar experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, which had been anointed the Guinness record holder. ALICE spokesman Paolo Giubellino says that the team’s measurement is relatively uncertain and, moreover, they haven’t yet converted an energy measurement into degrees. But he says there’s no reason to suspect that the conversion won’t produce a number like 5.5 trillion degrees.

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New fragrance created that mosquitoes can’t resist

New fragrance created that mosquitoes can’t resist | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Those pesky mosquitoes snacking on your arms and legs aren’t only out for blood. Like most other creatures, they have a favorite food. In their case, it’s sweet, succulent flower nectar. Mosquitoes don’t pollinate flowers as other insects do. After sniffing out a floral fragrance, they track down the plant and steal its nectar for energy. That weakness for nectar, however, could be their kryptonite. Using flower scents created in a lab, a team of researchers at Ohio State University plans to lure mosquitoes into traps. The objective: Kill the pests that carry life-threatening diseases, including West Nile Virus and malaria. 

 

The first step was building a machine, called an olfactometer, to detect and measure odor. That started in 2006. The team began analyzing plant chemicals in 2008 and got to the tests two years later. The experiment was simple: Give a mosquito two options and see which one it chooses. The research team plans to take its study into the field soon, but the venture won’t be without its challenges. For example, synthetic scents might not be as effective as the real thing outside the lab. They hope someday to expand the study and identify scents that would attract a host of mosquitoes around the world, particularly those that transmit malaria in African countries, where a child dies every minute from the disease, according to the World Health Organization.

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DARPA Clears Path for Advanced Communications Sensors

DARPA Clears Path for Advanced Communications Sensors | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

DARPA researchers have created the world’s first solid state receiver to demonstrate gain at 0.85 terahertz (THz). This is the latest breakthrough in the DARPA THz Electronics program in its quest for transistor-based electronics that will enable electronic capabilities at THz frequencies. This represents progress toward the second major technical milestone on the way to 1.03 THz integrated circuits. Previous milestones included demonstrations at 0.67 THz. Operating at these high frequencies enables a host of DoD electronics capabilities such as advanced communication and sensor systems.

 

“Realizing circuits at 0.85 THz is a remarkable achievement for the program and is the latest success from a long-term investment in frequency-scaled RF transistors,” explained John Albrecht, DARPA program manager. “The ability to coherently process signals at 0.85 THz provides a means to generate and radiate the high frequency signals needed for applications such as DARPA’s Video Synthetic Aperture Radar (ViSAR) program. VISAR seeks to develop and demonstrate a targeting sensor which operates through clouds as effectively as today’s infrared (IR) sensors operate in clear weather. This revolutionary advance would give U.S. warfighters an advantage in an especially challenging portion of the RF spectrum.

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Unique anti-reflective and self-cleaning plastic films to be ramped up for industry use

Unique anti-reflective and self-cleaning plastic films to be ramped up for industry use | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Scientists from A*STAR's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) will partner with companies to develop, prototype and conduct pilot large scale manufacturing of nanoimprinted materials with better performance and at potentially lower cost than current production methods.

 

Fast, high-volume production of plastics with specially engineered surfaces will soon be available using a cheaper and simpler method. IMRE and its Industrial Consortium On Nanoimprint (ICON) partner companies are piloting roll-to-roll nanoimprint technology to mass produce two types of patterned nanoimprinted plastic films.

 

These are films with low reflectivity and better viewing angles, as well as durable, scratch-resistant films with 'self-cleaning' surfaces. This technology can be more cost effective than conventional batch production as ICON uses roll-to-roll processing, which enables the continuous, high throughput production of such materials on a large scale. Potential applications of such mass-produced anti-reflective films are in the mobile device and tablet markets while the self-cleaning plastics can be applied to surfaces such as walls of buildings.

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Gene-expression data to hit one million deposited data sets

Gene-expression data to hit one million deposited data sets | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

DNA microarrays allow researchers to analyze the expression of a huge number of genes simultaneously. Data promises to drive down costs and speed up progress in understanding disease. With close to one million gene-expression data sets now in publicly accessible repositories, researchers can identify disease trends without ever having to enter a laboratory. Entering the search term “breast cancer” into a public repository called the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO), the postdoctoral researcher retrieves a list of 1,170 experiments, representing nearly 33,000 samples and a hoard of gene-expression data that could reveal previously unseen patterns.

 

And those numbers are rising rapidly. Since 2002, many scientific journals have required that data from gene-expression studies be deposited in public databases such as GEO, which is maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in Bethesda, Maryland, and ArrayExpress, a large gene-expression repository at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in Hinxton, UK.

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PLoS Collections: Article collections published by the Public Library of Science

PLoS Collections: Article collections published by the Public Library of Science | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
his collection aims to highlight PLOS ONE's role in the emerging interdisciplinary field of synthetic biology. The collection has its roots in PLOS ONE's very first issue, which included two publications from the field and since then, the number of synthetic biology articles published by the journal has grown steadily. As the field continues to develop, this collection will be updated to include new publications, thereby tracking the evolution of this dynamic research area.

 

Synthetic biology occurs at the intersection of a number of traditional disciplines, including biology, chemistry, and engineering. It aims to create biological systems that can be programmed to do useful things such as producing drugs and biofuel. The interdisciplinary nature of synthetic biology can make it difficult to publish in traditional journals. PLOS ONE's broad scope, however, allows for the publication of work crossing many traditional research boundaries, making it an ideal venue for many different types of synthetic biology publications. In addition, the journal's focus on rigorous peer review without considering impact has made it possible to publish a body of articles that truly reflects the multifaceted nature of this research area.

 

One overarching theme of synthetic biology is standardization, which can only be achieved through concerted community effort. To this end, each article published in PLOS ONE can be the start of a lively conversation. The ability to comment on articles provides the community with a means to engage in a dialogue focused on specific articles, and the "Share this Article" feature allows readers to quickly send an article they find interesting to their entire networks, because all the content is openly accessible.

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Success of engineered tissue depends on where it’s grown

Success of engineered tissue depends on where it’s grown | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Tissue implants made of cells grown on a sponge-like scaffold have been shown in clinical trials to help heal arteries scarred by atherosclerosis and other vascular diseases. However, it has been unclear why some implants work better than others.

 

MIT researchers led by Elazer Edelman, the Thomas D. and Virginia W. Cabot Professor of Health Sciences and Technology, have now shown that implanted cells’ therapeutic properties depend on their shape, which is determined by the type of scaffold on which they are grown. When cells are grown on a scaffold with surfaces of contact whose dimensions are similar in size to the cells, they mold to the curved surfaces, assuming a more elongated shape. In those cells, the structural elements — made of bundles of the protein actin — run parallel to each other. Those shapes determine what types of chemokines the cells secrete once implanted into the body. In this study, the researchers focused on a chemokine known as MCP1, which recruits inflammatory cells called monocytes.

 

The researchers found that the architecture of the cytoskeleton appears to determine whether or not the cell turns on the inflammatory pathway that produces MCP1. The elongated cells grown on porous surfaces produced eight times less of this inflammatory chemokine than cells grown on a flat surface, and recruited five times fewer monocytes than cells grown on a flat surface. This helps the tissue implants to suppress inflammation in damaged blood vessels. The researchers also identified biomarkers that correlate the cells’ shape, chemokine secretion and behavior. One such parameter is the production of a focal adhesion protein, which helps cells to stick to surfaces. In cells grown on a flat surface, this adhesion protein, known as vinculin, accumulates around the edges of the cell. However, in cells grown on a 3-D surface, the protein is evenly distributed throughout the cell. These distribution patterns serve as molecular cues to inhibit or activate the pathway that recruits monocytes.

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US military to test hypersonic vehicle over Pacific: X-51A to reach Mach 6

US military to test hypersonic vehicle over Pacific: X-51A to reach Mach 6 | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The US military plans to launch a hypersonic unmanned vehicle in a test flight Tuesday over the Pacific, with the X-51A due to reach mind-boggling speeds of Mach 6, a spokesman said. The Waverider, which resembles a missile with a flat nose, will be dropped off the wing of a B-52 bomber off the California coast at an altitude of about 15,000 meters (50,000 feet), according to the US Air Force. The latest test of the experimental vehicle is tentatively scheduled for 10 am local time (1700 GMT) at Edwards Air Force Base in southern California. A solid rocket booster will catapult the vehicle to a speed of about Mach 4.5 in 30 seconds before the X-51A's engine accelerates to Mach 6, six times the speed of sound or more than 7,300 kilometers (4,500 miles) per hour. After a scheduled flight of about five minutes -- in which it is expected to reach an altitude of 21,000 meters (70,000 feet) -- the Waverider will splash down in the Pacific, the Air Force said.

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A miniature, massively parallel computer, powered by a million ARM processors to model a Billion Neurons

A miniature, massively parallel computer, powered by a million ARM processors to model a Billion Neurons | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

It’s a little sobering, actually. The average human brain packs a hundred billion or so neurons—connected by a quadrillion (10^15) constantly changing synapses—into a space the size of a cantaloupe. It consumes a paltry 20 watts, much less than a typical incandescent lightbulb. But simulating this mess of wetware with traditional digital circuits would require a supercomputer that’s a good 1000 times as powerful as the best ones we have available today. And we’d need the output of an entire nuclear power plant to run it.

 

Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on traditional, power-hungry computers to get us there. Scattered around the world are at least half a dozen projects dedicated to building brain models using specialized analog circuits. Unlike the digital circuits in traditional computers, which could take weeks or even months to model a single second of brain operation, these analog circuits can model brain activity as fast as or even faster than it really occurs, and they consume a fraction of the power. But analog chips do have one serious drawback—they aren’t very programmable. The equations used to model the brain in an analog circuit are physically hardwired in a way that affects every detail of the design, right down to the placement of every analog adder and multiplier. This makes it hard to overhaul the model, something we’d have to do again and again because we still don’t know what level of biological detail we’ll need in order to mimic the way brains behave. To help things along, my colleagues and I are building something a bit different: the first low-power, large-scale digital model of the brain. Dubbed SpiNNaker, for Spiking Neural Network Architecture, our machine looks a lot like a conventional parallel computer, but it boasts some significant changes to the way chips communicate. We expect it will let us model brain activity with speeds matching those of biological systems but with all the flexibility of a supercomputer.

 

Additionally, a research team, led by Dharmendra Modha at IBM Almaden Research Center, in San Jose, Calif., works on supercomputer models of the cortex, the outer, information-processing layer of the brain, using simpler neuron models. In 2009, team members at IBM and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory showed they could simulate the activity of 900 million neurons connected by 9 trillion synapses, more than are in a cat’s cortex. But as has been the case for all such models, its simulations were quite slow. The computer needed many minutes to model a second’s worth of brain activity.One way to speed things up is by using custom-made analog circuits that directly mimic the operation of the brain. Traditional analog circuits—like the chips being developed by the BrainScaleS project at the Kirchhoff Institute for Physics, in Heidelberg, Germany—can run 10 000 times as fast as the corresponding parts of the brain. They’re also fabulously energy efficient. A digital logic circuit may need thousands of transistors to perform a multiplication, but analog circuits need only a few. When you break it down to the level of modeling the transmission of a single neural signal, these circuits consume about 0.001 percent as much energy as a supercomputer would need to perform the same task. Considering you’d need to perform that operation 10 quadrillion times a second, that translates into some significant energy savings. While a whole brain model built using today’s digital technology could easily consume more than US $10 billion a year in electricity, the power bill for a similar-scale analog system would likely come to less than $1 million.

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10 emerging technologies in 2012 (MIT list)

10 emerging technologies in 2012 (MIT list) | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The TR10 list represents the 10 most important technological milestones reached in the last 12 months. To compile the list, Technology Review selects the technologies we believe will have the greatest impact on the shape of innovation in years to come.

 

This impact can take very different forms: one technology points toward a method of discovering better battery materials for mobile devices and electric vehicles; another offers a new way for entrepreneurs to fund the commercialization of emerging technologies. But in all cases, these are breakthroughs with the potential to transform the world.

 

Technologies include: Egg Stem Cells, Ultra-Efficient Solar Cells, Light-Field Photography, Solar Microgrids, 3-D Transistors, Sparce Fourier Transform, Nanopore Sequencing, Crowdfunding, High-Speed Materials, and Facebook Timeline.

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Bill Gates wants to reinvent the toilet: Solar-powered, hydrogen and electricity producing

Bill Gates wants to reinvent the toilet: Solar-powered, hydrogen and electricity producing | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has launched a search for a new toilet better suited to developing countries to help prevent disease and death. "Toilets are extremely important for public health, and the flush toilets we use in the wealthy world are irrelevant, impractical and impossible for 40 per cent of the global population, because they often don't have access to water, and sewers, electricity, and sewage treatment systems", Gates said.

 

The recently organized Toilet Fair was described as a swirl of about 200 inventors, designers, investors, partners and others passionate about creating safe, effective, and inexpensive waste management systems.

 

Universities from Britain, Canada, and the United States were awarded prizes in a competition launched a year ago challenging inventors to come up with a better toilet.

 

First place went to the California Institute of Technology for designing a solar-powered toilet that generates hydrogen gas and electricity.

 

Loughborough University came in second for a toilet that transforms waste into biological charcoal, minerals, and clean water.

Third place went to the University of Toronto for a toilet that sanitises human waste and recovers minerals and water.

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New technology produces up to 50 fold more electricity from wastewater using microbial fuel cells

New technology produces up to 50 fold more electricity from wastewater using microbial fuel cells | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Engineers at Oregon State University have made a breakthrough in the performance of microbial fuel cells that can produce electricity directly from wastewater, opening the door to a future in which waste treatment plants not only will power themselves, but will sell excess electricity. The new technology developed at OSU can now produce 10 to 50 more times the electricity, per volume, than most other approaches using microbial fuel cells, and 100 times more electricity than some.

 

Researchers say this could eventually change the way that wastewater is treated all over the world, replacing the widely used “activated sludge” process that has been in use for almost a century. The new approach would produce significant amounts of electricity while effectively cleaning the wastewater.

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Scientists develop 'bionic eye' implants which could restore near-normal sight to the blind

Scientists develop 'bionic eye' implants which could restore near-normal sight to the blind | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers have dramatically boosted the performance of retinal implants by cracking a “code” that communicates visual signals to the brain. The code consists of specific patterns of electrical pulses. By incorporating it into their device, the scientists came close to restoring normal vision in totally blind mice lacking any light-sensitive cells.

 

Tests showed that the animals were able to discern facial features and track images with their eyes. A reconstruction based on electrical signals from the implant showed recognisable features of a baby’s face. In contrast, a standard retinal implant without the new encoder produced a confused pattern of bright and dark spots.

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The biological impacts of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan on the pale grass blue butterfly

The biological impacts of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan on the pale grass blue butterfly | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The collapse of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant caused a massive release of radioactive materials to the environment. A prompt and reliable system for evaluating the biological impacts of this accident on animals has not been available.The accident caused physiological and genetic damage to the pale grass blue Zizeeria maha, a common lycaenid butterfly in Japan. The F1 offspring from the first-voltine females showed more severe abnormalities, which were inherited by the F2 generation. Adult butterflies collected in September 2011 showed more severe abnormalities than those collected in May. Similar abnormalities were experimentally reproduced in individuals from a non-contaminated area by external and internal low-dose exposures. Conclusion: the artificial radionuclides released from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant caused a variety of physiological and genetic damage to this species.

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