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Scientists are working on biological fuel cells, that could be used to power medical impla...

While there’s no denying that implantable medical devices such as pacemakers save peoples’ lives, powering those implants is still a tricky business. The batteries in a standard pacemaker, for instance, are said to last for about eight years – after that, surgery is required to access the device. Implants such as heart pumps are often powered by batteries that can be recharged from outside the body, but these require a power cord that protrudes through the patient’s skin, and that keeps them from being able to swim or bathe. Now, however, scientists at Germany’s University of Freiburg are developing biological fuel cells, that could draw power for implants from the patient’s own blood sugar.  Read More

Lab-grown meat offers significant environmental benefits over conventional meat farming te...

As a meat lover, it's been hard not to notice the rise in the price of meat at my local supermarket over the last few years. But it’s not just the cost to consumers that is a major concern; it’s the major role that livestock production plays on climate change. While cultured meat, also known as in vitro meat, lab-grown meat and even Frankenmeat, might not sound that appetizing to many meat lovers, a new study carried out by scientists from Oxford University and the University of Amsterdam says that cultured meat would provide substantial environmental benefits.  Read More

Fluorescent near-infrared waves pass readily through a mouse's tissues to reveal its brigh...

There are several techniques used by researchers and physicians to image the internal organs of people and animals, but each of these techniques have their shortcomings. X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scanning, for instance, involve exposing the subject to radiation. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is safer, although subjects must sometimes ingest a contrasting agent in order to obtain more distinct images. The use of injected colored fluorescent proteins is another approach, but has been limited by the fact that hemoglobin in the subject’s blood absorbs much of the wavelength of the light used for imaging. Now, however, scientists from New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have engineered a new fluorescent protein that sidesteps this limitation.  Read More

DNA rendering by ynse via Flickr

While scientists have long had the ability to edit individual genes, it is a slow, expensive and hard to use process. Now researchers at Harvard and MIT have developed technologies, which they liken to the genetic equivalent of the find-and-replace function of a word processing program, that allow them to make large-scale edits to a cell’s genome. The researchers say such technology could be used to design cells that build proteins not found in nature, or engineer bacteria that are resistant to any type of viral infection.  Read More

An azobenzene-functionalized carbon nanotube molecule, which can store solar energy indefi...

While solar panels are very useful at converting the sun’s rays into electricity for immediate use, the storage of that energy for later use is ... well, it’s still being figured out. The energy can be used to charge batteries, for instance, but that charge will wear off over time. Instead, scientists have been looking at thermo-chemical storage of solar energy. Last year, researchers from MIT discovered that the chemical fulvalene diruthenium was quite an effective storage medium. Unfortunately, the ruthenium element that it contains is rare and expensive. Now, however, one of those same scientists has created a new storage material that is cheaper, and is able to store much more energy.  Read More

Scientists have determined the structure of the highly-absorbent mineral used in cat litte...

Cat litter might not seem like a particularly exotic substance, but it contains a mineral known as sepiolite, which is actually rather remarkable. Mined from only a few sources worldwide, sepiolite is a type of clay that absorbs 2.5 times its weight in water - that's more absorbent than any other known mineral, or any manmade material. This is made possible by its crystalline structure, that maximizes the amount of internal surface area available for soaking up liquids ... such as cat pee. Recently, an international team of scientists have obtained X-ray diffraction microscope images of sepiolite for the first time. Using the information provided by those images, a cheaper, easier-to-source synthetic version of the mineral could be created, and used in everything from batteries to food.  Read More

Graduate student Miles Barr holds a flexible and foldable array of solar cells that have b...

We've been following MIT's progress on creating solar cell-coated paper since 2010, and we're excited to report the current findings of the project. What looks and feels like an ordinary sheet of paper with a fine layer of colored rectangles, is no ordinary piece of paper at all – once connected to a couple of wires, it instantly generates solar electricity. Additionally, the technology is almost as cheap and easy as printing a family snapshot from an inkjet printer. You can even fold it up, slip it in your pocket, then unfold it again for later use.  Read More

Screen shot of Sid Meier's strategy computer game, Civilization II

Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab have been able to create computers that learn language by doing something that many people consider a last resort when tackling an unfamiliar task - reading the manual (or RTBM). Beginning with virtually no prior knowledge, one machine-learning system was able to infer the meanings of words by reviewing instructions posted on Microsoft's website detailing how to install a piece of software on a Windows PC, while another was able to learn how to play Sid Meier's empire-building Civilization II strategy computer game by reading the gameplay manual.  Read More

Examples of the contrast in colors that can be achieved using Sotzing's new electrochromic...

Most will be familiar with photochromic lenses that darken when exposed to UV light, but now a researcher at the University of Connecticut has developed lenses that can quickly switch color based on the amount of voltage passed through them. While sunglasses manufacturers are expected to employ the technology to create color-changing sunglasses, it has also apparently captured the attention of the U.S. military who see it as a way to potentially assist soldiers to see clearly in rapidly changing environments.  Read More

Technicians working on the 'billion-pixel array,' which will be used aboard the Gaia space...

At approximately one billion pixels, it’s the largest digital camera ever built for a space mission. Over a five-year period, the “billion-pixel array” will be used aboard the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft, to map upwards of a billion stars. While it will be focusing mainly on our own Milky Way galaxy, Gaia will also be mapping other celestial bodies, including galaxies and quasars near the edge of the observable universe.  Read More

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