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Finger-mounted reading device for the blind

March 10, 2015 | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Comments

Researchers at the MIT Media Laboratory have built a prototype of a finger-mounted device with a built-in camera that converts written text into audio for visually impaired users.             

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Soft, energy-efficient robotic wings

March 31, 2015 12:40 pm | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | Comments

Dielectric elastomers are novel materials for making actuators or motors with soft and lightweight properties that can undergo large active deformations with high-energy conversion efficiencies. This has made dielectric elastomers popular for creating devices such as robotic hands, soft robots, tunable lenses and pneumatic valves, and possibly flapping robotic wings.

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Plants enable highly sensitive temperature sensors

March 31, 2015 12:32 pm | by Fabio Bergamin, ETH Zurich | Comments

Scientists from ETH Zurich have developed a thermometer that is at least 100 times more sensitive than previous temperature sensors. It consists of a bio-synthetic hybrid material of tobacco cells and nanotubes. Humans have been inspired by nature since the beginning of time. We mimic nature to develop new technologies, with examples ranging from machinery to pharmaceuticals to new materials.

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Biology in a twist

March 31, 2015 12:21 pm | by Amal Naquiah, National Univ. of Signapore | Comments

Researchers at the National Univ. of Singapore have discovered that the inherent handedness of molecular structures directs the behavior of individual cells and confers them the ability to sense the difference between left and right. This is a significant step forward in the understanding of cellular biology.

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Scientists discover elusive secret of how continents formed

March 31, 2015 11:58 am | by John Pastor, Virginia Tech | Comments

An international research team, led by a Virginia Tech geoscientist, has revealed information about how continents were generated on Earth more than 2.5 billion years ago, and how those processes have continued within the last 70 million years to profoundly affect the planet's life and climate.

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Experimental cancer drug restores memory in mouse model of Alzheimer’s

March 31, 2015 11:12 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | Comments

Memory and as well as connections between brain cells were restored in mice with a model of Alzheimer’s given an experimental cancer drug, Yale School of Medicine researchers reported in the Annals of Neurology. The drug, AZD05030, developed by Astra Zeneca proved disappointing in treating solid tumors but appears to block damage triggered during the formation of amyloid-beta plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

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The unseen way organisms cope with climate change

March 31, 2015 10:55 am | by Robert Perkins, Univ. of Southern California | Comments

Scientists have found a way to measure the unseen toll that environmental stress places on living creatures, showing that they can rev up their metabolism to work more than twice as hard as normal to cope with change. Stresses from climate change such as rising temperatures and increasing ocean acidity can move an organism closer and closer to the brink of death without visible signs.

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New tool to understand volcanic supereruptions

March 31, 2015 8:25 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | Comments

To understand when and why volcanoes erupt, scientists study the rocks left behind by eruptions past. A method called geobarometry uses the composition of volcanic rocks to estimate the pressure and depth at which molten magma was stored just before it erupted. A research team has tested a new type of geobarometer that is well-suited to study the kind of magma often produced in explosive and destructive volcanic eruptions.

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Battery bounce test often bounces off target

March 31, 2015 8:15 am | by John Sullivan, Office of Engineering Communications, Princeton Univ. | Comments

Don't throw away those bouncing batteries. Researchers at Princeton Univ. have found that the common test of bouncing a household battery to learn if it is dead or not is not actually an effective way to check a battery's charge. 

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Scientists reveal mechanism of natural product with powerful antimicrobial action

March 31, 2015 8:04 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | Comments

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have uncovered the unique mechanism of a powerful natural product with wide-ranging antifungal, antibacterial antimalaria and anticancer effects. The new study sheds light on the natural small molecule known as borrelidin.

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Electric vehicles may be more useful than previously thought

March 31, 2015 7:54 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

In the first study of its kind, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory quantitatively show that electric vehicles (EVs) will meet the daily travel needs of drivers longer than commonly assumed. Many drivers and much prior literature on the retirement of EV batteries have assumed that EV batteries will be retired after the battery has lost 20% of its energy storage or power delivery capability.

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New drug stalls estrogen receptor-positive cancer cells, shrinks tumors

March 31, 2015 7:43 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois | Comments

An experimental drug rapidly shrinks most tumors in a mouse model of human breast cancer, researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. When mice were treated with the experimental drug, BHPI, the tumors immediately stopped growing and began shrinking rapidly.

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Better traffic signals can cut greenhouse gas emissions

March 31, 2015 7:34 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Sitting in traffic during rush hour is not just frustrating for drivers; it also adds unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. Now a study by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology could lead to better ways of programming a city’s stoplights to reduce delays, improve efficiency and reduce emissions.

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Microsecond Raman imaging might probe cells, organs for disease

March 30, 2015 1:03 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

A vibrational spectroscopic imaging technology that can take images of living cells could represent an advanced medical diagnostic tool for the early detection of cancer and other diseases. High-speed spectroscopic imaging makes it possible to observe the quickly changing metabolic processes inside living cells and to image large areas of tissue, making it possible to scan an entire organ.

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As stars form, magnetic fields influence regions big and small

March 30, 2015 12:34 pm | by Christine Pulliam, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics | Comments

Stars form when gravity pulls together material within giant clouds of gas and dust. But gravity isn't the only force at work. Both turbulence and magnetic fields battle gravity, either by stirring things up or by channeling and restricting gas flows, respectively. New research focusing on magnetic fields shows that they influence star formation on a variety of scales, from hundreds of light-years down to a fraction of a light-year.

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High-tech method allows rapid imaging of functions in living brain

March 30, 2015 11:49 am | by Julie Flory, Washington Univ. of St. Louis | Comments

Researchers studying cancer and other invasive diseases rely on high-resolution imaging to see tumors and other activity deep within the body's tissues. Using a new high-speed, high-resolution imaging method, a team at Washington Univ. in St. Louis were able to see blood flow, blood oxygenation, oxygen metabolism and other functions inside a living mouse brain at faster rates than ever before.

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