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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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Mighty microexons take center stage in shaping of the brain

April 1, 2015 8:52 am | by Liam Mitchell, Univ. of Toronto | Comments

Complex brain disorders, such as autism or schizophrenia, still puzzle scientists because their causes lie hidden in early events of brain development, which are still poorly understood. This is about to change thanks to research by Univ. of Toronto Profs. Ben Blencowe and Sabine Cordes, who have developed a powerful model that will allow researchers to better understand the physiology behind many disorders.

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Video gamers may learn visual tasks more quickly

April 1, 2015 8:44 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | Comments

Many studies show that video gamers perform better than non-gamers on certain visual tasks, like managing distractors and identifying targets, but a small new Brown Univ. study provides gamers with some cognitive bonus points. The study results suggest that gaming not only improves their visual skill but also may improve their learning ability for those skills.

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U.S. pledges to cut emissions in global treaty

April 1, 2015 8:32 am | by Josh Lederman, Associated Press | Comments

The U.S. pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions up to 28% as part of a global treaty aimed at preventing the worst effects of climate change, the White House said. The Obama administration's contribution to the treaty, which world leaders expect to finalize in December, codifies a commitment President Barack Obama first made late last year in Beijing.

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Adding renewable energy to power grid requires flexibility

April 1, 2015 8:24 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | Comments

Solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles and other power sources are proliferating rapidly, but their reliable integration into the existing electric grid is another story. A new study offers a comprehensive reimagining of the power grid that involves the coordinated integration of small-scale distributed energy resources. The study, asserts that the proliferation of renewable energy must happen at the periphery of the power grid.

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Measurement of components in 3-D under water

April 1, 2015 8:18 am | by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft | Comments

Conveying systems for oil and gas, operated in the sea, have many important underwater components. The maintenance of such components is elaborate and expensive, as measuring them is complicated. Fraunhofer researchers are presenting a compact 3-D measurement system at the trade fair in Hannover.

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Team discovers new liquid crystal configurations

April 1, 2015 8:08 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | Comments

Oil-based liquid crystals are ubiquitous; an understanding of their properties is behind the displays in most electronics. Water-based liquid crystals are less well understood, though their biocompatibility makes them a candidate for a variety of applications. New research has advanced the field's understanding of these materials, demonstrating never-before-seen configurations by confining a water-based liquid crystal in a cylinder.

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Facebook app encourages individuals to get in touch with their DNA

April 1, 2015 7:48 am | by Laurel Thomas Gnagey, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

Have you ever wondered if your dad's fight with prostate cancer means you could face the same reality? Perhaps your family has several members who have struggled with obesity and you wonder if it's something you inherited or if it's caused by the environment. Maybe you have always wanted to learn where your ancestors came from beyond the basic paper trail. Good news: Researchers have an app for that.

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Natural nanocrystals shown to strengthen concrete

April 1, 2015 7:40 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Cellulose nanocrystals derived from industrial byproducts have been shown to increase the strength of concrete, representing a potential renewable additive to improve the ubiquitous construction material. The cellulose nanocrystals could be refined from byproducts generated in the paper, bioenergy, agriculture and pulp industries.

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Skin tough

April 1, 2015 7:31 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

When weighing the pluses and minuses of your skin add this to the plus column: Your skin, like that of all vertebrates, is remarkably resistant to tearing. Now, a collaboration of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Univ. of California, San Diego, has shown why.

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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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