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Science

— Electronics

Electronic memory may bring bionic brain one step closer

Using a matrix of nano-sized memristors, researchers working at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and the University of California, Santa Barbara claim to have constructed the world’s first electronic memory cell that effectively mimics the analog process of the human brain. By storing memories as multiple threads of varying information, rather than a collection of ones and zeroes, scientists believe that this device may prove to be the first step towards creating a completely artificial, bionic brain.

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— Space

NASA-funded research seeks to produce breathable oxygen on Mars

Establishing and maintaining a permanent human presence on Mars promises to be one of the most technologically challenging ventures ever undertaken by our species. A key aspect of the endeavor is to create an environment in which human beings can survive and flourish – this requires a ready supply of oxygen. NASA is working with Indiana-based company Techshot Inc. in order to develop a solution with the potential to produce an abundant source of oxygen with minimal assistance from Earth.

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— Biology

Secrets of Bombardier beetle's superheated defensive spray revealed

The bombardier beetle has a unique defensive mechanism. It induces a chemical explosion inside its shell to create a boiling, toxic liquid which it sprays at its aggressor. Now researchers in the US have discovered how it does this, and they hope that further study of the conditions inside the beetle that allow it to produce the jet without harming itself may inform real world technologies.

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— Space

New spacesuit tech simulates gravity on a personal scale

One thing that space definitely lacks is "down." Zero gravity isn't just disorienting, it also affects astronauts' health. Draper Laboratory's NASA-funded Variable Vector Countermeasure Suit (V2Suit) uses a new spacesuit technology to create a sort of artificial gravity that provides astronauts with a sense of up and down while helping relieve some of the detrimental effects of weightlessness.

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— Space

NASA challenges public for ideas to make a Mars colony more sustainable

NASA has launched a public challenge with the aim of innovating technologies vital for the establishment of a colony on Mars. The agency is focused on a mission to the Red Planet, and has already taken the first vital steps. However, whilst simply reaching Mars with a cargo of healthy astronauts would be a monumental triumph, maintaining a permanent presence on so inhospitable a planet could prove to be a much greater technological challenge.

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— Medical

Organic ion transistor blocks pain signals from reaching the brain

A new type of medical device could one day put the minds of chronic pain sufferers at ease by distributing the body's own natural pain relief signals at just the right time. Developed at Linköping University in Sweden, the tiny "ion pump" is made from organic electronics and could be implanted in patients, serving to cut off pain signals in the spinal chord before they make their way to the brain.

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— Space

NASA introduces traffic control for crowded Mars

Space may be big, but in our neck of the woods it's getting crowded. There are thousands of active and inactive satellites in orbit around Earth, and while Mars may not exactly be Piccadilly Circus, it now has five active satellites circling it. To prevent any unfortunate collisions around the Red Planet, NASA is working on a new traffic management system.

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— Medical

New technique allows for production of drug-delivering silicone microspheres

Scientists are increasingly looking at using medication-filled microspheres for targeted drug delivery within the human body. Silicone would be a particularly good building material for such spheres, as it's biocompatible, waterproof, and chemically stable. Unfortunately, using traditional methods, it can't be made into small enough spheres. Now, however, a new process has allowed for the creation of silicone microspheres that are about one one-hundredth the size of any previously produced.

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