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Controlling swarms of robots with a finger

May 13, 2015 8:05 am | by Jason Maderer, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Using a smart tablet and a red beam of light, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have created a system that allows people to control a fleet of robots with the swipe of a finger. A person taps the tablet to control where the beam of light appears on a floor. The swarm robots then roll toward the illumination, constantly communicating with each other and deciding how to evenly cover the lit area.

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Out with heavy metal

May 11, 2015 11:29 am | by Dawn Zimmerman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated a new process for the expanded use of lightweight aluminum in cars and trucks at the speed, scale, quality and consistency required by the auto industry. The process reduces production time and costs while yielding strong and lightweight parts, for example delivering a car door that is 62% lighter and 25% cheaper than that produced with today's manufacturing methods.

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Molecular homing beacon redirects human antibodies

May 7, 2015 8:28 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | Comments

With the threat of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens growing, new ideas to treat infections are sorely needed. Researchers at Univ. of California, San Diego report preliminary success testing an entirely novel approach: tagging bacteria with a molecular “homing beacon” that attracts pre-existing antibodies to attack the pathogens.

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A better way to build DNA scaffolds

May 6, 2015 12:47 pm | by Chris Chipello, McGill Univ. | Comments

Imagine taking strands of DNA and using it to build tiny structures that can deliver drugs to targets within the body or take electronic miniaturization to a whole new level. While it may still sound like science fiction to most of us, researchers have been piecing together and experimenting with DNA structures for decades.

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Engineering students create real-time 3-D radar system

May 5, 2015 7:44 am | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | Comments

Spencer Kent stands nervously in front of Team D.R.A.D.I.S.’ booth at Rice Univ.’s annual Engineering Design Showcase. Judging begins in about 10 min, and his teammate Galen Schmidt is frantically typing computer code into a laptop beside the team’s custom-made radar system.

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How studying bat touch could help build better planes

May 4, 2015 8:51 am | by Columbia Univ. Medical Center | Comments

Bats are masters of flight in the night sky, capable of steep nosedives and sharp turns that put our best aircrafts to shame. Although the role of echolocation in bats’ impressive midair maneuvering has been extensively studied, the contribution of touch has been largely overlooked. A study published in Cell Reports shows, for the first time, that a unique array of sensory receptors in the wing provides feedback to a bat during flight.

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How some beetles produce a scalding defensive spray

May 1, 2015 9:36 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Bombardier beetles, which exist on every continent except Antarctica, have a pretty easy life. Virtually no other animals prey on them, because of one particularly effective defense mechanism: When disturbed or attacked, the beetles produce an internal chemical explosion in their abdomen and then expel a jet of boiling, irritating liquid toward their attackers.

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How metal contamination makes gasoline production inefficient

May 1, 2015 8:45 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Comments

Scientists have identified key mechanisms of the aging process of catalyst particles that are used to refine crude oil into gasoline. This advance could lead to more efficient gasoline production. Their recent experiments studied so-called fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) particles that are used to break long-chain hydrocarbons in crude oil into smaller, more valuable hydrocarbons like gasoline.

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Students use smarts for damaged hearts

April 30, 2015 8:23 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

A smartphone app created by students at Rice Univ. may someday serve as the ultimate remote to help control the flow of blood through human hearts. The Flowtastic team of Rice senior engineering students created a combined software-hardware interface that works with an Android app to monitor and even control a high-tech pump that resides in the aorta and regulates the flow of blood.

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Magnifying vibrations in bridges, buildings

April 23, 2015 9:40 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

To the naked eye, buildings and bridges appear fixed in place, unmoved by forces like wind and rain. But in fact, these large structures do experience imperceptibly small vibrations that, depending on their frequency, may indicate instability or structural damage. Researchers have now developed a technique to “see” vibrations that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye, combining high-speed video with computer vision techniques.

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Gamers feel the glove

April 23, 2015 7:51 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Rice Univ. engineering students are working to make virtual reality a little more real with their invention of a glove that allows a user to feel what they’re touching while gaming. The Hands Omni glove developed at Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen will provide a way for gamers and others to feel the environments they inhabit through the likes of 3-D heads-ups displays.

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New tactic targets brain tumors

April 20, 2015 11:41 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Drugs that target insulin pathways to slow or stop the growth of brain tumors are going in the right direction, but appear to be on the wrong track, according to new research. Through detailed computer models and experiments on two distinct glioblastoma cell types, the researchers have found reason to believe therapies that attack the insulin signaling pathway thought to influence tumor development have had mixed results in trials.

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Technology can transfer human emotions to your palm through air

April 20, 2015 8:03 am | by Univ. of Sussex | Comments

Human emotion can be transferred by technology that stimulates different parts of the hand without making physical contact with your body, a Univ. of Sussex-led study has shown. Sussex scientist Dr. Marianna Obrist has pinpointed how next-generation technologies can stimulate different areas of the hand to convey feelings of, for example, happiness, sadness, excitement or fear.

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Science Connect: Positive Energy: Sustaining a Great Lab Environment

April 17, 2015 1:33 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Comments

The design of laboratories for sustainable construction and operation has become a major driver in the A/E/C industry over the past 10 to 15 years. These days, most lab clients are looking for sustainable design approaches at a minimum—and third-party certification, such as LEED, in many cases.

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Could maple syrup help cut use of antibiotics?

April 17, 2015 8:42 am | by Chris Chipello, McGill Univ. | Comments

A concentrated extract of maple syrup makes disease-causing bacteria more susceptible to antibiotics, according to laboratory experiments by researchers at McGill Univ. The findings suggest that combining maple syrup extract with common antibiotics could increase the microbes’ susceptibility, leading to lower antibiotic usage.

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