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Bioengineers invent way to speed up drug discovery

June 19, 2014 4:20 pm | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Comments

Think of the human body as an intricate machine whose working parts are proteins: molecules that change shape to enable our organs and tissues to perform tasks such as breathing, eating or thinking. Of the millions of proteins, 500 in the kinase family are particularly important to drug discovery. Kinases are messengers: They deliver signals that regulate and orchestrate the actions of other proteins.

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Ice cream chemistry: The inside scoop on a classic summer treat

June 17, 2014 4:21 pm | Comments

The summer weather is here, and if you’ve been out in the sun, you’re probably craving some ice cream to cool off. In the American Chemical Society’s latest Reactions video, American Univ. Asst. Prof. Matt Hartings, breaks down the chemistry of this favorite frozen treat, including what makes ice cream creamy or crunchy, and why it is so sweet.

New computer program aims to teach itself everything about anything

June 13, 2014 11:11 am | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | Comments

Without a specific search term in mind, it can be surprisingly hard to find information on the Internet , or to know how to start searching. To help, computer scientists have created the first fully automated computer program that teaches everything there is to know about any visual concept. Called Learning Everything about Anything (LEVAN), the program searches millions of books and images to learn all possible variations of a concept.

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R&D Scene: 3-D Printing Ushers In New Era of Manufacturing

June 9, 2014 1:42 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Comments

Thirty years have passed since 3-D printers first appeared, but only recently have they hinted at a new era of manufacturing. The first working 3-D printer was created in 1984 by Chuck Hull of 3D Systems Corp. This early device, based on stereolithography, gave way to the first truly practical 3-D printing technology patented by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1993.

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New molecule enables quick drug monitoring

June 9, 2014 10:07 am | Comments

Scientists in Switzerland have invented a molecule that can easily and quickly show how much drug is in a patient’s system. All that is needed to perform accurate measurements is a conventional digital camera. The result of innovative protein engineering and organic chemistry, the molecule has been shown to work on a range of common drugs for cancer, epilepsy and immunosuppression.

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Are squiggly lines the future of password security?

June 5, 2014 9:16 am | Comments

The need for robust password security has never been more critical than now, as people use smartphones or tablets to pay bills and store personal information. A new Rutgers study shows that free-form gestures can be used to unlock phones and grant access to apps. These gestures are less likely to be observed and reproduced than than traditional methods such as typed passwords.

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Rice produces carbon-capture breakthrough

June 4, 2014 7:47 am | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have created an Earth-friendly way to separate carbon dioxide from natural gas at wellheads. A porous material invented by the Rice laboratory of chemist James Tour sequesters carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, at ambient temperature with pressure provided by the wellhead and lets it go once the pressure is released. The material shows promise to replace more costly and energy-intensive processes.

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Solar Impulse 2 makes maiden flight

June 2, 2014 9:20 am | Comments

A Swiss-made solar-powered aircraft has made a successful inaugural flight as its makers prepare for what they hope will be the first round-the-world solar flight. The aircraft spent 2 hours and 17 minutes in the air above western Switzerland early Monday. The Solar Impulse 2 is a bigger and better version of a single-seat prototype that first took flight five years ago and can theoretically stay airborne indefinitely.

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“Quadrapeutics” works in preclinical study of hard-to-treat tumors

June 2, 2014 7:52 am | Comments

The first preclinical study of a new Rice Univ.-developed anticancer technology found that a novel combination of existing clinical treatments can instantaneously detect and kill only cancer cells without harming surrounding normal organs. The research reports that Rice’s “quadrapeutics” technology was 17 times more efficient than conventional chemoradiation therapy against aggressive, drug-resistant head and neck tumors.

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SpaceX finishes qualification testing for 3-D printed rocket engine

May 30, 2014 8:58 am | Comments

The SuperDraco thruster, an engine that will power SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft to orbit, has completed a test regimen held over the last month at SpaceX’s Rocket Development Facility in Texas. This qualification test involves a variety of conditions conditions including multiple starts, extended firing durations and extreme off-nominal propellant flow and temperatures.

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Hitchhiking nanotubes show how cells stir themselves

May 30, 2014 7:50 am | Comments

A team of researchers has successfully tracked single molecules inside living cells with carbon nanotubes. Through this new method, the researchers found that cells stir their interiors using the same motor proteins that serve in muscle contraction. The study, which sheds new light on biological transport mechanisms in cells, appears in Science.

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Bake your own robot

May 30, 2014 7:40 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Comments

At this year’s IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, a research team introduced a new wrinkle on the idea of printable robots: bakable robots. In two new papers, the researchers demonstrate the promise of printable robotic components that, when heated, automatically fold into prescribed 3-D configurations.

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Researchers target brain circuitry to treat intractable mental disorders

May 28, 2014 11:46 am | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | Comments

Neuroscientists, engineers and physicians are teaming up for an ambitious five-year, $26 million project to develop new techniques for tackling mental illness. By using devices implanted in the brain, they aim to target and correct malfunctioning neural circuits in conditions such as clinical depression, addiction and anxiety disorders.

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Engineer invents safe way to transfer energy to medical chips in the body

May 22, 2014 11:43 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Comments

A Stanford Univ. electrical engineer has invented a way to wirelessly transfer power deep inside the body, and then use this power to run tiny electronic medical gadgets such as pacemakers, nerve stimulators or new sensors and devices yet to be developed. The discoveriesculminate years of efforts to eliminate the bulky batteries and clumsy recharging systems that prevent medical devices from being more widely used.

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Robots transform into furniture at EPFL

May 21, 2014 2:26 pm | Comments

Scientists from the Biorobotics Laboratory (BIOROB) at EPFL in Switzerland have developed small robotic modules that can change their shape to create reconfigurable furniture. Like Lego bricks, these robotic pieces, or Roombots, can be stacked upon each other to create various structures. Each piece has three motors that allow the module to pivot with three degrees of freedom, and each also has a battery and wireless connection.

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