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University of Cambridge

Physics

Fifth-dimensional black hole could cause general relativity to break down

We like to think of the physical universe as being governed by immutable laws, but maybe they're not quite as concrete as we imagine. A team of physicists at the University of Cambridge have run computer simulations that show that a five-dimensional, ring-shaped black hole could violate Einstein's general theory of relativity by creating a naked singularity, which would result in the equations behind the theory breaking down.Read More

Biology

Scientists pinpoint protein that makes it harder to lose weight the fatter we get

The notion that the more weight people carry, the more difficulty they'll have slimming down isn't a surprising one, but an element of mystery still surrounds the exact mechanism that makes it increasingly difficult to shed that extra baggage. Scientists are now claiming to have zeroed in on a key factor, identifying a protein that stops fat cells from burning energy, a molecule they say could become a key target in treating obesity and other metabolic conditions. Read More

Energy

More hurdles jumped on path to a practical lithium-air battery

With theoretical energy densities as much as 10 times that of current lithium-ion batteries, lithium-air (or lithium-oxygen) batteries hold tremendous potential for storage of renewable energy and use in mobile devices and electric cars. Although a practical lithium-air battery is still some years from becoming a commercial reality, researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a working laboratory demonstrator that shows how many of the problems holding back the development of lithium-air batteries could be overcome.


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Robotics

The evolution machine: Mother robot makes each child better than the last

It was only last month that futurists Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking warned about the dangers of intelligent robots, and a new research project led by the University of Cambridge won't do much to put their minds at ease. Scientists have created a mother robot that can not only build its own children robots, but mimic the process of natural selection to improve their capabilities with each generation. Read More

Medical

Pill on a string pulls early signs of cancer

As with every form of the deadly disease, early detection of oesophageal cancer is critical to recovery. The current approach of detecting the cancer through biopsy can be a little hit and miss, so the University of Cambridge's Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald and her team have developed what they claim to be a more accurate tool for early-diagnosis. Billed as "a pill on a string," the Cytosponge is designed to scrape off cells from the length of the oesophagus as it is yanked out after swallowing, offering up a much larger sample for inspection of cancer cells.Read More

Medical

Scientists create functioning "mini-lungs" to study cystic fibrosis

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have grown functional "mini-lungs" using stems cells derived from the skin cells of patients with a debilitating lung disease. Not only can the development help them in coming up with effective treatments for specific lung diseases like cystic fibrosis, but the process has the potential to be scaled up to screen thousands of new compounds to identify potential new drugs. Read More

Medical

New study suggests aging has little impact on brain function

When we get older, communication between neurons slows down and certain regions of the brain see reduced function. At least, that's the current understanding. But a new study by researchers at the University of Cambridge and Medical Research Council's Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit shows that the difference between older brains and younger ones may not be so great. The researchers demonstrated that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which is commonly used to study brain activity, is susceptible to signal noise from changing vascular (blood vessel) activity.Read More

Robotics

"Robot scientist" Eve to save time and money in drug development

Modern pharmaceuticals are a wonder of our age, but they also take years to develop at incredible cost. To shorten development time and increase economy, scientists at the Universities of Cambridge and Manchester have built Eve, an artificially-intelligent "robot scientist" that is not only faster and cheaper than its human counterparts, but has already identified a compound that could be used to fight malaria.Read More

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