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Duke University


— Biology

International collaboration of researchers releases "tree of life" for 2.3 million species

The largest "tree of life" ever created has been released, spanning 3.5 billion years and 2.3 million species. The work was not carried out from scratch, as such an effort would consume a vast amount of man-hours. Instead the researchers compiled data from almost 500 existing smaller trees displaying the divergence and evolution of life as we understand it.

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— Health & Wellbeing

New test developed to determine your biological age

An international study appears to have created a test that can determine the biological age of a patient's body. The research – undertaken by King's College London (KCL), the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, and Duke University in the US – could have a broad range of applications, including improving screening techniques for age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's, allowing doctors to begin treatment earlier in the process.

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— Electronics

Sensor detects sound direction and cuts background noise

Although the ability tends to wane as we get older, the human auditory system is pretty good at filtering out background noise and making a single voice able to be understood above the general hubbub of a crowded room. But electronic devices, such as smartphones, aren't quite as gifted, which is why getting Siri or Google Now to understand you in crowded environments can be an exercise in futility. But now researchers have developed a prototype sensor that’s not only able to figure out the direction of a particular sound, but can also extract it from background noise.

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— Medical

Connected brains share control of virtual limbs and predict the weather

If the thought of using a person's brainwaves to control a machine isn't quite enough to make the mind boggle, then mixing signals from multiple brains for the same purpose might just do the job. This far-fetched field of neuroscience is edging ever closer to real-world technology, with a number of recent research efforts achieving significant advances, with mind-controlled drone flight just one example. The latest step forward in this area sees the brains of separate animals hooked up and their combined motor and sensory information used for things like controlling a virtual arm, pattern recognition and even predicting the weather.

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— Games

Researchers cut the required bandwidth for graphics-intensive game streaming

The rise of cloud gaming services such as PlayStation Now may have ushered in a new era of convenience for blasting virtual aliens and monsters to smithereens, but on-demand play brings with it one huge unwanted drawback: the bandwidth required is astronomical. But researchers at Duke University and Microsoft Research think they have a solution that'll let gamers have their on-demand cake and eat it too. They have developed a tool called Kahawai (Hawaiian for stream), which splits the rendering calculations between your device and a remote server rather than offloading them all to the server.

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— Science

Check out the big brain on the genetically modified mouse

Scientists at Duke University have pinpointed a regulator of gene activity that could lend insight into why we're so different from chimpanzees despite having a near-identical genetic makeup (94 per cent of our DNA is the same). When injected into a mouse embryo, the human version of a particular DNA sequence important for brain development caused the embryo to grow a considerably larger brain than other embryos treated with the chimpanzee version. Read More
— Biology

First contracting human muscle ever grown in laboratory

Researchers working at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering claim to have produced a laboratory first by having grown human muscle tissue that contracts and reacts to stimuli. Electrical pulses, biochemical signals and pharmaceuticals have all been used to produce reactions in the tissue that show it behaves in the same way that natural human muscles does. As a result, laboratory grown tissue may soon provide researchers with the ability to study diseases and assess drugs without invasive procedures on human subjects. Read More
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