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Animation research moves forward, one wardrobe at a time

August 12, 2015 12:30 pm | by Joshua Preston, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Animated characters can mimic human behavior extremely well. They can perform jaw-dropping feats of life and death. But there's one trick that digital denizens haven’t quite yet mastered: getting dressed and putting their pants on one leg at a time. Research from the Georgia Institute of Technology has produced a systematic tool that allows animators to create realistic motion for virtual humans who are getting dressed.


Tantalizing discovery may boost memory technology

August 11, 2015 7:57 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Scientists at Rice Univ. have created a solid-state memory technology that allows for high-density storage with a minimum incidence of computer errors. The memories are based on tantalum oxide, a common insulator in electronics. Applying voltage to a 250-nm-thick sandwich of graphene, tantalum, nanoporous tantalum oxide and platinum creates addressable bits where the layers meet.


The Lexus Hoverboard: What Do You Think?

August 7, 2015 1:30 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

It’s 2015, and though Marty McFly hasn’t popped out of a time warp in a flying DeLorean, Lexus International did unveil the Lexus Hoverboard this week in a roughly two minute video. Set in a Barcelona, Spain, skatepark specifically constructed for the device, the video shows professional skater Ross McGouran and others attempting to glide over water and even grind railings with the board, dubbed “Slide."


The Reason Insects Are So Clean

August 7, 2015 12:30 pm | by Ryan Bushey, Associate Editor | Comments

A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge and University of Warwick used a combination of electron microscopes, video recordings, and other methods to analyze the cleaning abilities of carpenter ants. 


Giant Plant with Sap That Blisters Skin, Causes Blindness Found in Michigan

August 7, 2015 11:30 am | by Ryan Bushey, Associate Editor | Comments

Public health officials in Calhoun County, Michigan issued a warning Tuesday saying they had discovered giant hogweed in the area. 


Making a better nitrate test kit

August 7, 2015 7:46 am | by Allison Mills, Michigan Technological Univ. | Comments

The dull black plastic of the device on Joshua Pearce’s desk belies its usefulness. Pearce picks up the box, which has a switch on the side and a small opening on top. A handful of vials sit in a bag nearby, and each would fit snugly in the opening. The set-up seems generic, even bland, except that it could radically change how we deal with water quality issues.


Astronomers unveil a distant protogalaxy connected to the cosmic web

August 6, 2015 7:26 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, California Institute of Technology | Comments

A team of astronomers led by Caltech has discovered a giant swirling disk of gas 10 billion light-years away: a galaxy-in-the-making that is actively being fed cool primordial gas tracing back to the Big Bang. Using the Cosmic Web Imager at Palomar Observatory, the researchers were able to image the protogalaxy and found that it is connected to a filament of the intergalactic medium.


“Failed stars” host powerful auroral displays

July 30, 2015 11:20 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, California Institute of Technology | Comments

Brown dwarfs are relatively cool, dim objects that are difficult to detect and hard to classify. They are too massive to be planets, yet possess some planet-like characteristics; they are too small to sustain hydrogen fusion reactions at their cores, a defining characteristic of stars, yet they have star-like attributes.


Twin discoveries, “eerie” effect may lead to manufacturing advances

July 28, 2015 7:45 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

The discovery of a previously unknown type of metal deformation, sinuous flow, and a method to suppress it could lead to more efficient machining and other manufacturing advances by reducing the force and energy required to process metals.  Researchers at Purdue Univ. discovered sinuous flow deformation and were surprised to find a potentially simple way to control it.


Tiny mechanical wrist gives dexterity to needlescopic surgery

July 24, 2015 12:20 pm | by David Salisbury, Vanderbilt Univ. | Comments

With the flick of a tiny mechanical wrist, a team of engineers and doctors at Vanderbilt Univ.’s Medical Engineering and Discovery Laboratory hope to give needlescopic surgery a whole new degree of dexterity. Needlescopic surgery, which uses surgical instruments shrunk to the diameter of a sewing needle, is the ultimate form of minimally invasive surgery.


Worming into our hearts

July 24, 2015 11:00 am | by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office | Comments

Tasting and spitting out toxic food is a survival trait shared by many complex organisms. Now Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have shown that a simple roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans, has the ability to spit out potentially deadly substances—a finding that could have surprising implications for human heart research.


Long-sought discovery fills in missing details of cell “switchboard”

July 23, 2015 11:15 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Comments

A biomedical breakthrough, published in Nature, reveals never-before-seen details of the human body’s cellular switchboard that regulates sensory and hormonal responses. The work is based on an x-ray laser experiment at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The much-anticipated discovery, a decade in the making, could have broad impacts on development of more highly targeted and effective drugs with fewer side effects. 


Finding the origins of life in a drying puddle

July 21, 2015 7:39 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Anyone who’s ever noticed a water puddle drying in the sun has seen an environment that may have driven the type of chemical reactions that scientists believe were critical to the formation of life on the early Earth. Research demonstrates that important molecules of contemporary life, known as polypeptides, can be formed simply by mixing amino and hydroxy acids and then subjecting them to cycles of wet and dry conditions.


The secret to the sea sapphire’s colors, invisibility

July 16, 2015 7:40 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Sapphirina, or sea sapphire, has been called “the most beautiful animal you’ve never seen,” and it could be one of the most magical. Some of the tiny, little-known copepods appear to flash in and out of brilliantly colored blue, violet or red existence. Now scientists are figuring out the trick to their hues and their invisibility.


Bacteria: The next frontier of mind control

July 16, 2015 7:18 am | by Amy Loeffler, Virginia Tech | Comments

Forget the Vulcan mind-meld of the Star Trek generation. As far as mind control techniques go, bacteria is the next frontier. In a paper published in Scientific Reports, a Virginia Tech scientist used a mathematical model to demonstrate that bacteria can control the behavior of an inanimate device like a robot.



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