Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Brown University

The first experimental evidence has shown that clusters of 40 boron atoms form a molecular...

Buckyballs (or Buckminsterfullerene), the soccer ball-like structures of 60 carbon atoms, have a new playmate. Previously only theorized, researchers from Brown University in the US and Shanxi and Tsinghua Universities in China have been the first to experimentally observe a boron "buckyball."  Read More

An illustration of the nanoscale interferometers on a biochip able to detect glucose in ar...

Two years ago, we first heard about how scientists at Rhode Island's Brown University were developing a biochip for detecting very low concentrations of glucose in saliva. Such a device could make life much easier for diabetics, as it would save them from having to perform fingerprick blood tests. At the time, it was limited to detecting glucose in water. Now, however, it's able to do so within a mixture of water, salts and select enzymes – also known as artificial saliva.  Read More

Researchers are exploring how they might create robots endowed with their own sense of mor...

A group of researchers from Tufts University, Brown University and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are collaborating with the US Navy in a multi-year effort to explore how they might create robots endowed with their own sense of morality. If they are successful, they will create an artificial intelligence able to autonomously assess a difficult situation and then make complex ethical decisions that can override the rigid instructions it was given.  Read More

Jacob D Lanphere, a Ph.D. student at UC Riverside, holds a sample of graphene oxide

I've been waiting for some time now to write a headline along the lines of "scientists discover thing that graphene is not amazing at" ... and here it is. Everybody’s favorite nanomaterial may have a plethora of near-magical properties, but as it turns out, it could also be bad for the environment – and bad for you, too.  Read More

Subtle variations in baby cries could indicate neurological or developmental disorders (Ph...

Although Homer Simpson’s brother’s Baby Translator may still only be a whimsical concept, Rhode Island scientists have developed something that could prove to be even more valuable. Researchers at Brown University teamed up with faculty at Women & Infants Hospital, to create a computer tool that may find use detecting neurological or developmental problems in infants, by analyzing their cries.  Read More

The lesser dog-nosed bat and the robotic bat wing

Recently, we've seen a robotic ostrich. Now, there’s a robot bat – or at least, part of one. Joseph Bahlman, a graduate student at Brown University, with the help of Professors Kenneth Breuer and Sharon Swartz, has developed a robotic bat wing that mimics the ligaments, skin and structural supports of the real thing. The purpose of the motorized plastic bat is to gain a better understanding of how bats are engineered and fly.  Read More

Buttoning a shirt is one of the 18 tasks assessed (Photo: Linda Resnik, U.S. Department of...

Researchers at Brown University have devised a series of "metrics" designed to monitor the progress of prosthetics patients. The metrics measure the performance of patients with prosthetic arms when carrying out 18 household tasks such as putting on a shirt, pouring soda and tying shoelaces.  Read More

The sketch-identifying program at work

Currently, using Google’s “Search by Image” function, it’s possible to search the internet for information on something if you already have an image of that thing. Also, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are developing a system that allows computers to match up users’ drawings of objects with photographs of those same items – the drawings have to be reasonably good, though. Now, however, a team from Rhode Island’s Brown University and the Technical University of Berlin have created software that analyzes users’ crude, cartoony sketches, and figures out what it is that they’re trying to draw.  Read More

Brown University's Qi Wang swirls a solution of selenium nanoparticles

Although it’s known to kill bacteria, selenium has never been tried as an antibacterial coating for implanted medical devices ... until now, that is. Engineers from Rhode Island’s Brown University have applied coatings of selenium nanoparticles to pieces of polycarbonate – the material used for things like catheters and endotracheal tubes – and then exposed those samples to Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. In some cases, populations of the bacteria were subsequently reduced by up to 90 percent.  Read More

A paralyzed woman has used the experimental BrainGate neural interface system to get herse...

Last April, for the first time since she became paralyzed 15 years ago, a 58 year-old woman was able to get herself a drink of coffee – she did so via a robotic arm, which was controlled by her thoughts. Although that rather astounding feat took place over a year ago, it was just made public today, in a report published in the journal Nature. The woman was a volunteer test subject, in a clinical trial of the experimental BrainGate neural interface system. Although still very much in development, the system could someday restore mobility to people who have suffered paralysis or limb loss.  Read More

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