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Video gamers may learn visual tasks more quickly

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

Team discovers new liquid crystal configurations

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

Facebook app encourages individuals to get in touch with their DNA

April 1, 2015 7:48 am | by Laurel Thomas Gnagey, Univ. of Michigan | News | 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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Plants enable highly sensitive temperature sensors

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

A “Wikipedia” for neurons

March 31, 2015 8:43 am | by Jocelyn Duffy, Carnegie Mellon Univ. | Videos | Comments

The decades worth of data that has been collected about the billions of neurons in the brain is astounding. To help scientists make sense of this “brain big data,” researchers at Carnegie Mellon Univ. have used data mining to create www.neuroelectro.org, a publicly available Website that acts like Wikipedia, indexing physiological information about neurons.

Wearable technology can help with public speaking

March 31, 2015 8:34 am | by Leonor Sierra, Univ. of Rochester | Videos | Comments

Speaking in public is the top fear for many people. Now, researchers from the Human-Computer Interaction Group at the Univ. of Rochester have developed an intelligent user interface for “smart glasses” that gives real-time feedback to the speaker on volume modulation and speaking rate, while being minimally distracting.

Microsecond Raman imaging might probe cells, organs for disease

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

Multi-scale Fractal-based Methods for Useful Characterizations of Surface Topographies

March 30, 2015 12:05 pm | by Christopher Brown, Surface Metrology Lab, Worcester Polytechnic Institute | Articles | Comments

Geometrically, fractals have forms, or features, that repeat at different sizes over ranges of scales. These features can repeat exactly, such as the triangles that repeat with scale on a Koch snowflake or Minkowski sausage. Or, these features might repeat statistically, as on ground or abraded surfaces, where these repeating features create self-similar patterns of scratches or over a range of scales.

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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 | News | 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.

Roll up your screen and stow it away?

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

Researchers develop computational model to simulate bacterial behavior

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

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 | News | 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.

Precocious GEM

March 30, 2015 7:46 am | by Michael Baum, NIST | News | 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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Big data allows computer engineers to find genetic clues in humans

March 27, 2015 8:26 am | by Washington Univ. in St. Louis | News | Comments

Big data: It's a term we read and hear about often, but is hard to grasp. Computer scientists at Washington Univ. in St. Louis tackled some big data about an important protein and discovered its connection in human history as well as clues about its role in complex neurological diseases.

Do government technology investments pay off?

March 27, 2015 8:08 am | by Greta Guest, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Studies confirm that IT investments in companies improve productivity and efficiency. Univ. of Michigan professor M.S. Krishnan wondered if the same was true for government. After all, IT spending could either lead to efficiency or create bureaucratic bloat.

Quantum compute this

March 26, 2015 11:05 am | by Washington State Univ. | News | Comments

Washington State Univ. mathematicians have designed an encryption code capable of fending off the phenomenal hacking power of a quantum computer. Using high-level number theory and cryptography, the researchers reworked an infamous old cipher called the knapsack code to create an online security system better prepared for future demands.

Protein shake-up

March 26, 2015 10:47 am | by Chris Samoray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

For living organisms proteins are an essential part of their body system and are needed to thrive. In recent years, a certain class of proteins has challenged researchers’ conventional notion that proteins have a static and well-defined structure. It’s thought that mutations in these proteins, known as intrinsically disordered proteins, are associated with neurodegenerative changes, cardiovascular disorders and diseases like cancer.

Optimize Wireless Power by Comparing Consumer and Industrial Batteries

March 26, 2015 10:28 am | by Sol Jacobs, Tadiran Batteries | Articles | Comments

We live in an increasingly wireless world where self-powered devices are becoming integral to everyday life. A plethora of next-generation wireless technologies are seeing dramatic growth, involving both consumer and industrial applications. Some of the industrial applications include utility meter reading (AMR/AMI), wireless mesh networks, M2M and system control and data acquisition (SCADA) and data loggers, to name a few.

Manufacturing process could yield better solar cells, faster chips

March 25, 2015 10:57 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Videos | Comments

Computer chips, solar cells and other electronic devices have traditionally been based on silicon, the most famous of the semiconductors, that special class of materials whose unique electronic properties can be manipulated to turn electricity on and off the way faucets control the flow of water. There are other semiconductors. Gallium arsenide is one such material and it has certain technical advantages over silicon.

Computer simulation improves offshore drill rig safety

March 25, 2015 8:23 am | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

Los Alamos National Laboratory mechanical and thermal engineering researchers’ efforts to solve the complex problem of how ocean currents affect the infrastructure of floating oilrigs and their computational fluid dynamics numerical simulations received recognition from ANSYS Inc.

Battery boost

March 25, 2015 8:14 am | by Christopher R. Samoray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are commonly found in portable electronics such as cell phones and notebook PCs. They’re also gaining popularity in electric vehicles, where their compact, lightweight build and high-energy storage potential offers a more efficient and environmentally safe alternative to nickel metal hydride and lead-acid batteries traditionally used in vehicles.

Snake robots learn to turn by following real sidewinders’ lead

March 25, 2015 7:59 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon Univ. (CMU) who develop snake-like robots have picked up a few tricks from real sidewinder rattlesnakes on how to make rapid and even sharp turns with their undulating, modular device. Working with colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Zoo Atlanta, they have analyzed the motions of sidewinders and tested their observations on CMU’s snake robots.

“Virtual nose” may reduce simulator sickness in video games

March 25, 2015 7:50 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Virtual reality games often cause simulator sickness, but new research findings point to a potential strategy to ease the affliction. Various physiological systems govern the onset of simulator sickness: a person's overall sense of touch and position, or the somatosensory system; liquid-filled tubes in the ear called the vestibular system; and the oculumotor system, or muscles that control eye movements.

Artificial intelligence systems more apt to fail than destroy

March 23, 2015 1:52 pm | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

The most realistic risks about the dangers of artificial intelligence are basic mistakes, breakdowns and cyber attacks, an expert in the field says—more so than machines that become super powerful, run amok and try to destroy the human race.

Superfast computers a step closer to reality

March 23, 2015 9:03 am | by Univ. of Surrey | News | Comments

The team demonstrated a quantum on/off switching time of about a millionth of a millionth of a second—the fastest-ever quantum switch to be achieved with silicon and over a thousand times faster than previous attempts. The team will  investigate how to connect quantum objects to each other, creating the bigger building blocks needed for quantum computers.

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