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From eons to seconds, proteins exploit the same forces

August 12, 2014 7:58 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Nature’s artistic and engineering skills are evident in proteins. Scientists at Rice Univ. have now employed their unique theories to show how the interplay between evolution and physics developed these skills. The team used computer models to show that the energy landscapes that describe how nature selects viable protein sequences over evolutionary timescales employ the same forces as those that allow proteins to fold.

Researchers show that how fast you drive might reveal exactly where you are going

August 12, 2014 7:41 am | Videos | Comments

Rutgers Univ. researchers have shown that GPS technology is not needed to show where a driver traveled. A starting point and the driver's speed are enough when using a technique dubbed “elastic pathing”, which predicts pathways by seeing how speed patterns match street layouts. This could cause concerns for privacy, however, since many insurance companies offer discounts in return for customers allowing their driving habits to be monitored.

“Seeing” through virtual touch is believing

August 11, 2014 10:10 am | by Tom Robinette, Univ. of Cincinnati | News | Comments

Visual impairment comes in many forms, and it's on the rise in America. A Univ. of Cincinnati experiment aimed at this diverse and growing population could spark development of advanced tools to help all the aging baby boomers, injured veterans, diabetics and white-cane-wielding pedestrians navigate the blurred edges of everyday life.

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Photo editing algorithm changes weather, seasons automatically

August 11, 2014 8:27 am | Videos | Comments

A computer algorithm being developed by Brown Univ. researchers lets users instantly change the weather, time of day, season or other features in outdoor photos with simple text commands. Machine learning and a clever database make it possible. A paper describing the work will be presented at SIGGRAPH 2014.

Pairing old tech with new for next-generation electronic devices

August 11, 2014 7:53 am | by Bex Caygill, Univ. College London | News | Comments

Univ. College London scientists have discovered a new method to efficiently generate and control currents based on the magnetic nature of electrons in semiconducting materials, offering a new way to develop a new generation of electronic devices. One promising approach to developing new technologies is to exploit the electron’s tiny magnetic moment, or spin.

Database accelerates the development of new materials

August 8, 2014 2:05 pm | News | Comments

Performing systematic analyses of both known and imagined chemical compounds to find their key properties, Northwestern Univ. engineers have created a database that takes some of the guesswork out of designing new materials. Called the Open Quantum Materials Database (OQMD), it launched in November and is the largest database in the world of its kind, containing analyses of 285,780 compounds and growing.

Fundamental plant chemicals trace back to bacteria

August 7, 2014 4:55 pm | News | Comments

A fundamental chemical pathway that all plants use to create an essential amino acid needed by all animals to make proteins has now been traced to two groups of ancient bacteria. The pathway is also known for making hundreds of chemicals, including a compound that makes wood strong and the pigments that make red wine red.

Scientists make cheap, fast self-assembling robots

August 7, 2014 3:51 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Borrowing from the ancient Japanese art of origami, children's toys and even a touch of the "Transformers" movies, scientists and engineers at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created self-assembling, paper robots. These complex machines transform themselves from little more than a sheet of paper and plastic into walking automatons.

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Diamonds are a quantum computer’s best friend

August 7, 2014 3:41 pm | News | Comments

For decades, scientists have been trying to use quantum systems for logical calculations, but implementing a system that manages superposition states is challenging. A team of researchers in Austria and Japan has now proposed a new architecture based on microscopic defects in diamond. They are convinced that the basic elements of their newly proposed architecture are better suited to be miniaturized, mass-produced and integrated on a chip.

Artificial retina: Physicists develop an interface to the optical nerve

August 7, 2014 9:49 am | News | Comments

Graphene has excellent biocompatibility thanks to its great flexibility and chemical durability, and its conducting properties suggest uses for prosthetic devices in humans. Physicists are now developing key components of an artificial retina made of graphene. These retina implants may one day serve as optical prostheses for blind people whose optical nerves are still intact.

Geography matters: Model predicts how local “shocks” influence U.S. economy

August 7, 2014 8:57 am | by B. Rose Huber, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs | News | Comments

A team of economists including Esteban Rossi-Hansberg of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs have developed a model that can measure the widespread effects of local industry fluctuations such as sudden closing of a major airline hub. Gauging the power of these fluctuations, or shocks, could be a useful tool when it comes to designing policies to manage past and future shocks.

Report: Russian hackers steal 1.2B passwords

August 6, 2014 10:10 am | News | Comments

Russian hackers have stolen 1.2 billion user names and passwords in a series of Internet heists affecting 420,000 websites, according to a report published Tuesday. The thievery was described in a New York Times story based on the findings of Hold Security, a Milwaukee firm that has a history of uncovering online security breaches. For confidentiality reasons, the identities of the affected websites weren't identified by the Times.

Diamond defects engineered for quantum computing and subatomic imaging

August 6, 2014 9:54 am | by Catherine Meyers, Univ. of Chicago | News | Comments

By carefully controlling the position of an atomic-scale diamond defect within a volume smaller than what some viruses would fill, researchers have cleared a path toward better quantum computers and nanoscale sensors. These diamond defects are attractive candidates for qubits, the quantum equivalent of a computing bit, and accurate positioning is key to using them to store and transmit information.

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The Preferred Method for Electronic Test

August 6, 2014 9:40 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

Oscilloscope technology is developing at a fast pace with more features packed into smaller and less expensive packages, providing engineers with more choices in the expanding marketplace. Recent market analysis from TechNavio notes the global oscilloscope market will grow at a 20% CAGR through 2016.

Making the Connection

August 6, 2014 9:31 am | by Paul Livingstone | Articles | Comments

Wireless technology is already widespread in the research laboratory and industrial settings, where solutions are supported by WiFi and the advent of smartphones and tablets. Dedicated wireless platforms for scientific instruments, however, are more unusual. The reason for this is economies of scale.

Nano Testing for Future Electronics

August 6, 2014 8:56 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

The engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale, nanotechnology refers to the applied part of nanoscience which typically includes the engineering to control, manipulate and structure matter at an atomically small scale. Nanotechnology as a field is nothing less than diverse, ranging from extensions of conventional device physics to new approaches based upon molecular self-assembly.

No-power Wi-Fi connectivity could fuel Internet of Things reality

August 6, 2014 8:11 am | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | Videos | Comments

Imagine a world in which your wristwatch or other wearable device communicates directly with your online profiles, storing information about your daily activities where you can best access it—all without requiring batteries. Or, battery-free sensors embedded around your home could track minute-by-minute temperature changes and send that information to your thermostat to help conserve energy.

Thin diamond films provide new material for micro-machines

August 5, 2014 6:12 pm | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Most MEMS are made primarily of silicon for reasons of convenience, but they wear out quickly due to friction and they are not biocompatible. Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory and a handful of other institutions around the world have directed their focus on ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD), which are smooth and wear-resistant diamond thin films. Recent work opens the door to using diamond for fabricating advanced MEMS devices.

Photo editing tool enables object images to be manipulated in 3-D

August 5, 2014 5:59 pm | News | Comments

Editors of photos routinely resize objects, or move them up, down or sideways, but Carnegie Mellon Univ. researchers are adding an extra dimension to photo editing by enabling editors to turn or flip objects any way they want, even exposing surfaces not visible in the original photograph.

Researchers uncover clues to flu’s mechanisms

August 4, 2014 3:13 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

A flu virus acts like a Trojan horse as it attacks and infects host cells. Scientists at Rice Univ. and Baylor College of Medicine have acquired a clearer view of the well-hidden mechanism involved. Their computer simulations may lead to new strategies to stop influenza, perhaps even a one-size-fits-all vaccine.

Extracting audio from visual information

August 4, 2014 12:17 pm | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Researchers at MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have developed an algorithm that can reconstruct an audio signal by analyzing minute vibrations of objects depicted in video. In one set of experiments, they were able to recover intelligible speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag photographed from 15 feet away through soundproof glass.

NASA’s IBEX and Voyager spacecraft drive advances in outer heliosphere research

August 4, 2014 11:52 am | News | Comments

The million-mile-per-hour solar wind pushed out by the Sun inflates a giant bubble in the interstellar medium called the heliosphere, which envelops the Earth and the other planets. At the 40th International Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Scientific Assembly in Moscow this week, scientists highlighted an impressive list of achievements in researching the outer heliosphere, which barely registered as a field of research ten years ago.

FEI reports new advances in neuroscience in collaboration with NIH

August 4, 2014 11:43 am | News | Comments

Using cryo-electron microscopy technology from FEI Corp., researchers at the NIH-FEI Living Lab for Structural Biology have determined the structural mechanism by which glutamate receptors participate in the transmission of signals between neurons in the brain. The findings suggest a major breakthrough: that the determination of membrane proteins may no longer be limited by size or the need for crystallization.

Top U.S. research institutions announce major neuroscience collaboration

August 4, 2014 11:34 am | News | Comments

Several prominent leaders in neuroscience research have announced the formation of a collaboration aimed at making databases about the brain more usable and accessible for neuroscientists. With funding from GE, these institutions, which include the Kavli Foundation and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will soon embark on this year-long project.

MRI for quantum simulation and spin diagnostics

August 4, 2014 10:24 am | by S. Kelley and E. Edwards, Joint Quantum Institute | News | Comments

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is best-known for its use in medicine, but because MRI operates by quantum principles it translates to other quantum systems. Recently, physicists at the Joint Quantum Institute have executed an MRI-like diagnostic on a crystal of interacting quantum spins. The technique reveals many features of their system, such as the spin-spin interaction strengths and the energies of various spin configurations.

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