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Max Planck Institute

Robotics

Scallop microbots designed to swim through your bodily fluids

In the 1960s science fiction film Fantastic Voyage, audiences thrilled to the idea of shrinking a submarine and the people inside it to microscopic dimensions and injecting it into a person’s bloodstream. At the time it was just fantasy and as fantastic an idea as its title suggested. Today, however, micro-miniature travelers in your body have come one step closer to reality. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute have been experimenting with real micro-sized robots that literally swim through your bodily fluids and could be used to deliver drugs or other medical relief in a highly-targeted way.Read More

Space

Discovery of new molecule suggests origins of life may reside in interstellar space

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) group of radio telescopes have discovered a carbon-based molecule with a branched structure – a common feature in molecules that are required for life to form. Contained within a giant gas cloud in the star-forming region of Sagittarius B2, the molecule of isopropyl cyanide is the first hint that other complex molecules may form in space before finding their way to the surface of planets. Read More

Robotics

"World's smallest propeller" may find use on nanobots

All over the world, scientists are creating microscopic "nanobots" for purposes such as delivering medication to precisely-targeted areas inside the body. In order for those tiny payload-carrying robots to get to their destination, however, they need some form of propulsion. Although some systems are already in development, a team of Israeli and German scientists may have come up with the most intriguing one yet, in the form of what they claim is the world's smallest propeller. Read More

Robotics

Phase-change material could let robots be soft or hard-bodied as needed

If you've ever watched an octopus, you may have noticed how they can deliver powerful grasping force when necessary, yet can also squeeze through tiny openings by essentially making themselves "liquid." Now imagine if there were robots that could do the same thing. They could conceivably squirm through debris to reach buried survivors at disaster sites, or even travel through patients' bodies to perform medical procedures. An international team of scientists is working on making such technology a reality, using a combination of polyurethane foam and wax. Read More

Mobile Technology

Finger-drawn lines could replace PINs on mobile devices

Many of us now use our mobile devices for things like online banking, in crowded public places ... the sort of places where it would be easy for sometime to sneak a peek as we enter our passcodes. Researchers from New Jersey's Rutgers University, however, are working on a possible alternative to those typed codes. They've discovered that passwords consisting of hand gestures used to draw free-form lines on a smartphone or tablet screen are much more difficult for "shoulder surfers" to copy after seeing. Read More

Health & Wellbeing

New test predicts suicide risk in patients on antidepressants

The results of a years-long study with patients on antidepressants may help doctors predict one of the most severe side effects those medications can produce: treatment-emergent suicidal ideation (TESI). The condition is estimated to affect between four and 14 percent of patients, who typically present symptoms of TESI in the first weeks of treatment or following dosage adjustments. So far doctors haven’t had indicators to predict which patients are more likely to develop TESI, but a new test based on research carried out by the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany, could change that.Read More

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