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The Lead

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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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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Roll up your screen and stow it away?

March 30, 2015 11:38 am | by George Hunka, Tel Aviv Univ. | Comments

From smartphones and tablets to computer monitors and interactive TV screens, electronic displays are everywhere. As the demand for instant, constant communication grows, so too does the urgency for more convenient portable devices, especially devices, like computer displays, that can be easily rolled up and put away, rather than requiring a flat surface for storage and transportation.

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Comet dust: Mercury’s “invisible paint”

March 30, 2015 11:26 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | Comments

A team of scientists has a new explanation for the planet Mercury’s dark, barely reflective surface. In a paper published in Nature Geoscience, the researchers suggest that a steady dusting of carbon from passing comets has slowly painted Mercury black over billions of years.

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Prototype nanoneedles generate new blood vessels in mice

March 30, 2015 11:20 am | by Imperial College London | Comments

Scientists have developed tiny nanoneedles that have successfully prompted parts of the body to generate new blood vessels, in a trial in mice. The researchers, from Imperial College London and Houston Methodist Research Institute, hope their nanoneedle technique could ultimately help damaged organs and nerves to repair themselves and help transplanted organs to thrive.

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Researchers develop computational model to simulate bacterial behavior

March 30, 2015 8:25 am | by Univ. of Notre Dame | Comments

Univ. of Notre Dame applied mathematician Mark Alber and environmental biotechnologist Robert Nerenberg have developed a new computational model that effectively simulates the mechanical behavior of biofilms. Their model may lead to new strategies for studying a range of issues from blood clots to waste treatment systems.

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Recipe for antibacterial plastic

March 30, 2015 8:21 am | by Cal Powell, Univ. of Georgia | Comments

Bioplastics made from protein sources such as albumin and whey have shown significant antibacterial properties, findings that could eventually lead to their use in plastics used in medical applications such as wound healing dressings, sutures, catheter tubes and drug delivery, according to a recent study by the Univ. of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

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Nanoscale “worms” provide new route to nano-necklace structures

March 30, 2015 8:11 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Researchers have developed a novel technique for crafting nanometer-scale necklaces based on tiny star-like structures threaded onto a polymeric backbone. The technique could provide a new way to produce hybrid organic-inorganic shish kebab structures from semiconducting, magnetic, ferroelectric and other materials that may afford useful nanoscale properties.

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Report: Photosynthesis hack needed to feed world by 2050

March 30, 2015 8:03 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | Comments

Using high-performance computing and genetic engineering to boost the photosynthetic efficiency of plants offers the best hope of increasing crop yields enough to feed a planet expected to have 9.5 billion people on it by 2050, researchers report in Cell.

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Solving molybdenum disulfide’s “thin” problem

March 30, 2015 7:55 am | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | Comments

The promising new material molybdenum disulfide has an inherent issue that’s steeped in irony. The material’s greatest asset, its monolayer thickness, is also its biggest challenge. Monolayer molybdenum disulfide’s ultra-thin structure is strong, lightweight and flexible, making it a good candidate for many applications, such as high-performance, flexible electronics.

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Precocious GEM

March 30, 2015 7:46 am | by Michael Baum, NIST | Comments

Scientists working at NIST and the NIH have devised and demonstrated a new, shape-shifting probe, about one-hundredth as wide as a human hair, which is capable of sensitive, high-resolution remote biological sensing that is not possible with current technology. If eventually put into widespread use, the design could have a major impact on research in medicine, chemistry, biology and engineering.

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Do biofuel policies seek to cut emissions by cutting food?

March 30, 2015 7:36 am | by Catherine Zandonella, Princeton Univ. | Comments

A study found government biofuel policies rely on reductions in food consumption to generate greenhouse gas savings. Shrinking the amount of food that people and livestock eat decreases the amount of carbon dioxide that they breathe out or excrete as waste. The reduction in food available for consumption, rather than any inherent fuel efficiency, drives the decline in carbon dioxide emissions in government models, the researchers found.

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Disrupted biological clock linked to Alzheimer’s disease

March 27, 2015 11:58 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | Comments

New research has identified some of the processes by which molecules associated with neurological diseases can disrupt the biological clock, interfere with sleep and activity patterns and set the stage for a spiral of health concerns that can include a decreased lifespan and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Researchers master gene editing technique in mosquito that transmits deadly diseases

March 27, 2015 11:09 am | by Zach Veilleux, Rockefeller Univ. | Comments

Traditionally, to understand how a gene functions, a scientist would breed an organism that lacks that gene, “knocking it out”, then ask how the organism has changed. Are its senses affected? Its behavior? Can it even survive? Thanks to the recent advance of gene editing technology, this gold standard genetic experiment has become much more accessible in a wide variety of organisms.

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HIV can lodge quickly in brain after infection

March 27, 2015 10:29 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | Comments

HIV can establish itself in the brain as soon as four months after initial infection; a finding that dampens hopes of an impending cure for a disease that afflicts more than 35 million people. Within two years of infection, a genetically distinct version of HIV replicates in the brains of as many as one in four patients.

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Antarctic ice shelves rapidly thinning

March 27, 2015 10:08 am | by Mario Aguilera, Univ. of California, San Diego | Comments

A new study led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the Univ. of California, San Diego, researchers has revealed that the thickness of Antarctica’s floating ice shelves has recently decreased by as much as 18% in certain areas over nearly two decades, providing new insights on how the Antarctic ice sheet is responding to climate change.

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