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Force-sensing microrobots to probe cells

October 14, 2014 7:56 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Inexpensive microrobots capable of probing and manipulating individual cells and tissue for biological research and medical applications are closer to reality with the design of a system that senses the minute forces exerted by a robot's tiny probe. Microrobots small enough to interact with cells already exist. However, there is no easy, inexpensive way to measure the small forces applied to cells by the robots, until now.

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Mars One (and done?)

October 14, 2014 7:43 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

In 2012, the Mars One project, led by a Dutch nonprofit, announced plans to establish the first human colony on the Red Planet by 2025. The mission would initially send four astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars, where they would spend the rest of their lives building the first permanent human settlement.

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Obama reviews foreign, domestic response to Ebola

October 13, 2014 6:38 pm | by Jim Kuhnhenn - Associated Press - Associated Press | Comments

President Barack Obama urged his top national security and public health officials on Monday to incorporate lessons from the most recent Texas Ebola infection into the U.S.'s response plans to the deadly virus. He also called on the international community to deliver assistance more quickly to the countries of West Africa that are struggling against the disease.

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Why drop in oil prices has downside for U.S. economy

October 13, 2014 4:38 pm | by Jonathan Fahey - AP Energy Writer - Associated Press | Comments

Low oil prices sure feel nice. But there are downsides to the recent plunge in oil prices. Low fuel prices can help boost economic growth by reducing fuel bills and leaving consumers and companies with more money to spend on other things. Problem is, two factors behind the oil-price drop—a weaker global economy and a stronger dollar—could hurt the U.S. economy by reducing exports, employment and spending.

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Getting sharp images from dull detectors

October 13, 2014 11:14 am | Comments

In a new experiment, Joint Quantum Institute physicists have performed an experiment using incoherent light, where the light is a jumble of waves, and “stupid” photon detectors that only count to zero. The surprising result from sending this light through a double-slit baffle was a sharp 30-nm-wide interference effect, a new extreme for this type of light detection and a possible new avenue to effective sub-wavelength imaging.

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Tailored flexible illusion coatings hide objects from detection

October 13, 2014 10:53 am | Comments

Developing the cloak of invisibility would be wonderful, but sometimes simply making an object appear to be something else will do the trick, according to Penn State Univ. engineers. To do this, they employ what they call "illusion coatings," which are made of a thin flexible substrate with copper patterns designed to create the desired result. The metamaterial coatings can function normally while appearing as something else.

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All that glitters is...slimy? Gold nanoparticles measure snot stickiness

October 13, 2014 10:40 am | Comments

Some people might consider mucus an icky bodily secretion best left wrapped in a tissue, but to a group of researchers in North Carolina, snot is an endlessly fascinating subject. The team has developed a way to use gold nanoparticles and light to measure the stickiness of the slimy substance that lines our airways. The new method could help doctors better monitor and treat lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

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Scientists create mimic of “good” cholesterol to fight heart disease, stroke

October 13, 2014 10:28 am | Comments

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute have created a synthetic molecule that mimics “good” cholesterol and have shown it can reduce plaque buildup in the arteries of animal models. The molecule, taken orally, improved cholesterol in just two weeks.

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Ultra-fast charging batteries last 20 years, charge to 70% in 2 min

October 13, 2014 9:02 am | Comments

Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) in Singapore have developed a new type of lithium-ion battery in which the traditional graphite used for the anode has been replaced with a new gel material made from titanium dioxide. The new design allows the battery to endure more than 10,000 cycles, vs. about 500 recharge cycles for typical rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

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What to do about the dwindling stock of antibiotics

October 13, 2014 8:57 am | by Diana Lutz, Washington Univ. in St. Louis | Comments

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that at least 2 million Americans are sickened by antibiotic resistant infections each year and survive. Twenty-three thousand die. These experiences leave deep impressions not just on the patients but on their family and friends.

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Millions of voiceprints quietly being harvested

October 13, 2014 8:44 am | by Raphael Satter, Associated Press | Comments

Over the telephone, in jail and online, a new digital bounty is being harvested: the human voice. Businesses and governments around the world increasingly are turning to voice biometrics, or voiceprints, to pay pensions, collect taxes, track criminals and replace passwords. Those companies have helped enter more than 65 million voiceprints into corporate and government databases.

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Researchers use real-world data to model the effect of more solar on the grid

October 13, 2014 8:41 am | by Louise Lerner, Argonne National Laboratory | Comments

American electrical utilities do a pretty fantastic job of getting us electricity when we need it. In 2006, the power was out on average for just 0.03% of the year in the U.S. But right now, this system depends on getting most of its power from coal, nuclear and gas plants: big, dependable power plants that can be turned on and off when needed.

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Bio-inspired “nano-cocoons” offer targeted drug delivery against cancer

October 13, 2014 8:39 am | by Matt Shipman, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed a drug delivery system consisting of nanoscale “cocoons” made of DNA that target cancer cells and trick the cells into absorbing the cocoon before unleashing anticancer drugs. The new system is DNA-based, which means it is biocompatible and less toxic to patients than systems that use synthetic materials.

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Solid nanoparticles can deform like a liquid

October 13, 2014 8:24 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

A surprising phenomenon has been found in metal nanoparticles: They appear, from the outside, to be liquid droplets, wobbling and readily changing shape, while their interiors retain a perfectly stable crystal configuration. The research team behind the finding says the work could have important implications for the design of components in nanotechnology, such as metal contacts for molecular electronic circuits.

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Can all U.S. hospitals safely treat Ebola?

October 13, 2014 4:38 am | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | Comments

A breach of infection control resulting in a Dallas health worker getting Ebola raises fresh questions about whether hospitals truly can safely take care of people with the deadly virus, as health officials insist is possible. Even in the U.S., with the best conditions and protective gear available, mistakes can happen that expose more people to Ebola, the new case reveals.

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