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Max Planck Institute

Scientists have replicated the flexible-but-tough internal structure of the sea sponge, to...

Chances are that if you were heading into battle, you wouldn’t wish that you were covered in sponges. It turns out that the sea sponge, however, has a unique structure that allows it to be flexible while remaining relatively impervious to predators. Scientists have now simulated this structure, in a lab-created material that may someday find use in body armor.  Read More

People in the foreground (marked in red) are removed from video footage of two musicians

In a development sure to send conspiracy theorists into a tizzy, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics (MPII) have developed video inpainting software that can effectively delete people or objects from high-definition footage. The software analyzes each video frame and calculates what pixels should replace a moving area that has been marked for removal. In a world first, the software can compensate for multiple people overlapped by the unwanted element, even if they are walking towards (or away from) the camera. See the incredible video demonstration after the break.  Read More

Backward-compatible Stereo 3D technology allows the same video to be watched in 2D and 3D ...

According to just about every consumer electronics manufacturer on the planet, 3D TV is on its way to becoming mainstream – perhaps ultimately even ending up as the norm. That’s not good news for people who experience headaches or motion sickness when watching 3D video, or who simply don’t want to put on a pair of glasses every time they watch TV. Help may be on the way, however ... researchers have now devised a system known as “Backward-compatible Stereo 3D.” It allows some people to put on glasses and watch 3D video in its intended three-dimensional format, while others can watch that same video at the same time, in distortion-free 2D.  Read More

A diagram illustrating the steps in the new microsphere production technique (Image: Dr. X...

One of the more promising developments in the field of medical technology involves the use of microspheres for targeted drug delivery. In a nutshell, this encompasses creating tiny hollow balls that are filled with a specific drug, which travel directly to a specific organ or area of diseased tissue. Once there, the spheres release their medication, keeping it concentrated where it’s needed while sparing other tissue from any harmful side effects. Recently, a team of scientists from Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces devised a new method of manufacturing such microspheres, which is said to offer several advantages over existing techniques.  Read More

Image of the induced neural stem cells created by reprogramming skin cells (Photo: MPI for...

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Münster, Germany, have broken new ground by reprogramming skin cells from mice into neurons without regressing the cells through a pluripotent stage. The skin cells were reprogrammed directly into multipotent neuronal stem cells - that is, into cells which could only turn into new neurons. This procedure avoids the significant risk that pluripotent stem cells, which can grow into any type of tissue, may accidentally form tumors rather than the desired replacement tissue.  Read More

Disks made from cocoons of the tasar silkworm may find use as patches for regrowing cardia...

Although people do regularly recover from heart attacks, the heart itself never entirely “gets better.” This is because cardiac muscle tissue doesn’t regenerate – any that dies in the event of a heart attack will only be replaced with inactive scar tissue, and the heart’s performance will be permanently compromised as a result. Scientists have responded by trying to develop heart patches made of materials that act as nanoscale scaffolds, upon which new cardiomyocytes (heart cells) can grow. Materials used for these scaffolds have included fibrin, nanofiber, gold nanowires and polymer. Now, new research is suggesting that silkworm silk may be a better choice than any of those.  Read More

Fraunhofer has developed a system that automatically cultivates and observes cell cultures...

Laboratory technicians, in many different fields of research, spend a lot of time preparing and analyzing cell cultures. The process involves putting cells in a petri dish, adding nutrients, checking on cell growth, and then transferring cells to a separate container once sufficient colonies have been established. In an effort to streamline the laboratory workload, however, German research group Fraunhofer has now created an automated system that performs all of those tasks with no human intervention.  Read More

The SAISBECO project is developing facial recognition software, for the study of wild apes...

When studying wild animals such as gorillas and chimpanzees, it's not uncommon to use photo or video traps - unmanned cameras that are triggered to capture images when creatures pass in front of them. Scientists can then retrieve the cameras and review the footage, to get an estimate of the numbers of a certain species within a given area, and to see what those animals have been up to. One of the problems with this approach, however, is that it's often hard to tell one animal from another - are you looking at several shots of several different apes, or is it the same individual every time? German scientists are developing wild primate-devoted facial recognition software, in order to answer such questions.  Read More

Artist's impression of the yellowish star HIP 13044 and, on the bottom right, its planet H...

Astronomers have been discovering planets outside of our solar system – or exoplanets – at a steady rate in recent years. The number has now topped 500 and with earth-bound detection improving all the time and the Kepler mission out hunting with the largest camera ever sent into space, the rate is not likely to slow down anytime soon. Among these discoveries are some extraordinary finds like the first "potentially habitable" exoplanet, but what's different about this latest discovery is not the Earth-like qualities of the planet, it's the fact that it originated from outside the Milky Way – which makes it an extragalactic exoplanet.  Read More

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