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Brown University

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
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
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
Ordinarily, if you wanted to include blue, green and red laser light sources in the same device (such as a BluRay player), you would need to build in three separate lasers – each one incorporating different semiconductor materials. Now, however, engineers from Rhode Island’s Brown University have succeeded in creating different colors of lasers, all using the same nanocrystal-based semiconductor. Among other things, this opens the door to digital displays that could produce various colors of laser light simultaneously. Read More
It's a sad reality of our time that breast cancer affects more women around the world than any other form of cancer. Even more disturbing is the fact that up to ten years after surgery, the cancer returns in nearly 20 percent of those deemed to have had successful tumor-removal operations. Now, researchers at Brown University (BU) in Providence, Rhode Island, led by engineering professor Thomas Webster, have developed an implant which they believe can appreciably lower that relapse rate by simultaneously inhibiting cancer cell growth and attracting healthy breast cells. Read More
In order to measure their blood glucose levels, most diabetics must perform painful finger-prick tests on a daily basis. Hopefully, however, that may not always be the case. Scientists at Rhode Island’s Brown University are now developing a biochip, that could someday be used to assess the concentration of glucose molecules in a tiny sample of saliva. Read More
Once released into the environment from industrial sources, trace amounts of heavy metals can remain present in waterways for decades, or even centuries, in concentrations that are still high enough to pose a health risk. While processes do exist for removing larger amounts of heavy metals from water, these do not work on smaller quantities. Now, however, scientists from Rhode Island’s Brown University have combined two existing methods, to create a new one that removes even trace amounts of heavy metal from water. Read More
When someone has a heart attack, the cells in the affected area of the heart die off, and the damage can’t be repaired. In the not-so-distant future, however, that may not be the case. Engineers from Rhode Island’s Brown University, working with colleagues in India, have created a carbon nanofiber patch that has been shown to regenerate heart cells. It is hoped that such patches could eventually be placed on the heart, like a Band-Aid, to regrow dead areas. Read More
On Valentine's day, while we were all cooing over your loved ones or lamenting the obvious negligence of the postman, scientists at Denver's NASA station were cooing over something rather larger. On February 14th this year, NASA's Stardust probe made its second visit to the comet Tempel 1 at 8.40pm PST, shaving the comet at a distance of 111 miles (178 km) and traveling at a relative speed of 24,300 mph (10.9 km per second). This is the first time scientists have been able to get a second look at a comet, which allows them to compare data from the first visit in order to learn more about these icy inhabitants of our solar system. Read More
Many people take pills to help manage or cure serious illness, and some of these life-saving drugs can only be absorbed in very specific parts of the intestine. The problem with oral administration is that pills often don’t dissolve at exactly the right site in the gastrointestinal tract where medicine can be absorbed into the bloodstream. A new drug delivery system developed by scientists at Brown University uses a magnetic gelatin capsule and an external magnet that can precisely sense the force between it and the pill and vary that force, as needed, to hold the pill in place. The team has successfully used the technology with rats and in future it could provide a new way to deliver many drugs to humans, including those with cancer or diabetes. Read More
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