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Heart Implants, 3-D-Printed to Order
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 12:13
sensors for a heart

It’s a poetic fact of biology that everyone’s heart is a slightly different size and shape. And yet today’s cardiac implants—medical devices like pacemakers and defibrillators—are basically one size fits all. Among other things, this means these devices, though lifesaving for many patients, are limited in the information they can gather.

Researchers recently demonstrated a new kind of personalized heart sensor as part of an effort to change that. The researchers used images of animals’ hearts to create models of the organ using a 3-D printer. Then they built stretchy electronics on top of those models. The stretchy material can be peeled off the printed model and wrapped around the real heart for a perfect fit.

The research team has also integrated an unprecedented number of components into these devices, demonstrating stretchy arrays of sensors, oxygenation detectors, strain gauges, electrodes, and thermometers made to wrap perfectly around a particular heart. For patients, this could mean more thorough, better-tailored monitoring and treatment.

Read more... [Heart Implants, 3-D-Printed to Order]
 
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Computer engineer patents quantum computing device
Monday, 03 March 2014 12:52

While widespread quantum computing may still be 15 years away, a computer engineering professor at Missouri University of Science and Technology has patented a quantum processor capable of parallel computing that uses no transistors.

Dr. C.H. Wu, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Missouri S&T, patented the device and will speak about the research behind the patent at the American Physical Society March Meeting 2014 in Denver on Monday, March 3. His research will also be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Cellular Automata. Wu's work on the subject was also published in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Applied Physics.

Wu believes his device could replace current electronic computing systems, but it could also provide quantum computing capabilities.

Traditional computers use a series of transistors as a type of "logic gate" to perform computing tasks. The transistors perform a logical operation on one or more logical inputs to produce a single logical output. Wu's quantum processor replaces 24 transistors, using symbolic substitution rules instead of logic gates.

"This is a great departure in computing," Wu says. "People believe that as transistors get smaller and smaller, one day they will stop working. Quantum computing based on what I have developed is a viable alternative and I believe it is the only one of its kind available."

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Could mushrooms be the cure for cancer?
Monday, 03 March 2014 12:41

Mushrooms are being hailed as a miracle cure for cancer. But can a shiitake stir-fry really work wonders?

Behold the mighty mushroom. Neither plant nor animal, the mysterious fungus is a class, or kingdom, of its own, and has fascinated cultures around the world for centuries. But while they do make a tasty omelette filling, does the real magic of mushrooms lie not in their flavour, but in their potential to combat one of our biggest killers – cancer?

The ancient Egyptians believed eating mushrooms brought long life. While their scientific method was perhaps not entirely sound, modern scientists investigating the medicinal properties of the organism are beginning to produce some fascinating results. There are thousands of species of mushroom growing in the wild, but most studies have focused on three main varieties – reishi, maitake and shiitake.

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First single-molecule LED created
Monday, 03 February 2014 17:40

The ultimate challenge in the race to miniaturize light emitting diodes (LED) has now been met: a team led by the Institut de Physique et de Chimie des Matériaux de Strasbourg (IPCMS, CNRS/Université de Strasbourg), in collaboration with UPMC and CEA, has developed the first ever single-molecule LED. The device is formed from a single polythiophene wire placed between the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope and a gold surface. It emits light only when the current passes in a certain direction. This experimental tour de force sheds light on the interactions between electrons and photons at the smallest scales. Moreover, it represents yet another step towards creating components for a molecular computer in the future. This work has recently been published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Light emitting diodes are components that emit light when an electric current passes through them and only let light through in one direction. LEDs play an important role in everyday life, as light indicators. They also have a promising future in the field of lighting, where they are progressively taking over the market. A major advantage of LEDs is that it is possible to make them very small, so point light sources can be obtained. With this in mind, one final miniaturization hurdle has recently been overcome by researchers at IPCMS in Strasbourg, in collaboration with a team from the Institut Parisien de Chimie Moléculaire (CNRS/UPMC): they have produced the first ever single-molecule LED.

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Can reading make you smarter?
Thursday, 23 January 2014 17:25
When I was eight years old, I still couldn't read. I remember my teacher Mrs Browning walking over to my desk and asking me to read a few sentences from a Dick and Jane book. She pointed to a word. "Tuh-hee," I said, trying to pronounce it. "The," she said, correcting me, and that's when it clicked – the moment when I learned to read the word "the".

Growing up in Teaneck, New Jersey, in the 1960s, I was what Mrs Browning called "slow". During a parent-teacher meeting, she told my mother: "Daniel is a slow learner." I sat during lunch in the gymnasium with the – forgive the term – dumb kids. I was grouped with them during reading and maths: the "slow group".

And then, a year later, I was rescued by Spider-Man. My best friend Dan, who was reading chapter books by kindergarten, had started reading Spider-Man and other comics with some other kid, and together they began drawing and writing their own comics. In response to this loathsome intruder's kidnapping of my best friend, I began reading comics, too, and then began scrawling and scribbling my own. Soon, Dan and I were happily spending every afternoon on our masterworks, while the interloper was never heard from again. We even convinced Dan's father, Dr. Feigelson (rest his soul), to film a Super-8 movie that we scripted: "Bob Cat and Bat v Disappearo!"

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A less-expensive way to duplicate the complicated steps of photosynthesis in making fuel
Thursday, 23 January 2014 17:08

Argonne National Laboratory researchers have found a new, more efficient, less-expensive way to make fuel — principally, hydrogen — from sunlight and water: linking a synthetic cobalt-containing catalyst to an organic light-sensitive molecule called a chromophore.

Chromophore molecules, such as chlorophyll, are involved in capturing light for photosynthesis.

Currently, the most efficient methods we have for  making fuel involve rare and expensive metal catalysts, such as platinum. Although cobalt is significantly less efficient than platinum when it comes to light-induced hydrogen generation, the drastic price difference between the two metals makes cobalt the obvious choice as the foundation for a synthetic catalyst, said Argonne chemist Karen Mulfort.

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