Apr 14, 2014

This tiny generator can power wearable devices using your body heat

posted by Larra Morris

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Many wearables have decent enough battery life, but you know what'll make them even better? If we never have to recharge them at all. That's why researchers have been developing small power sources that can generate electricity using body heat, including a team from the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. This particular group has designed a new light and flexible generator made out of thermoelectric (TE) substances printed on glass fabric. It's far from being the first TE generator out there, but it's a huge departure from the usual bulky and rigid ones.
via Engadget

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Image: KAIST

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Apr 14, 2014

Lab-grown cartilage used to perform nose reconstruction surgery

posted by Larra Morris

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Researchers from Switzerland's University of Basel have performed the first successful nose reconstruction surgery using engineered cartilage grown in the laboratory. The cartilage was spawned form the patient's own cells in an approach that could circumvent the need for more invasive surgeries.
via Gizmag

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Image: University of Basel

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Apr 14, 2014

Anybody with a printer can make these origami-inspired robots

posted by Larra Morris

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Robots are really expensive and hard to build. Two MIT scientists want to change all that with inkjet printers and techniques borrowed from origami.

MIT robotics experts Ankur Mehta and Daniela Rus recently published a paper that describes a system for designing and building print-and-fold robots. That's 2D printing, too, not 3D printing. Their process "uses cheap and easily available software and hardware tools and raw materials, making [building robots] accessible to a casual hobbyist."
via Gizmodo

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Apr 11, 2014

UPS delivery trucks don't turn left in the U.S.

posted by Laura Domela

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This sounds like some sort of ridiculous April Fools' joke, but turns out it's actually true - UPS delivery trucks rarely turn left in the US. The strategy was devised by engineers to increase efficiency and save on fuel. After significant research, they found that that one of the main causes of idle time resulted from drivers making left turns, essentially going against the flow of traffic.

Since then, UPS estimate they've managed to save 10 million gallons of gas, reducing their carbon emissions by 100,000 metric tons – the equivalent of 5,300 cars off the road for an entire year. TV programme Mythbusters even tested out the theory for themselves, and it genuinely works. Watch the clip below.
via Huh

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Apr 11, 2014

This part of your brain makes you fall for casino tricks

posted by Laura Domela

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It’s not just the scintillating lights, absent clocks, and free-flowing booze that coerce you to continue the irrational act of gambling—against all odds—on chance-based games when you visit Vegas. New research suggests it’s also the bedeviling work of a prune-sized hunk of gray matter that’s folded deep inside your cerebral cortex.

The insula is a small part of the brain, but it packs an emotional punch. It helps us feel some of our most powerful feelings, including love, anxiety, and hunger. Patients who damage their insula can experience these emotions and cravings in unusual ways. And that makes them highly sought after for trials by scientists—researchers who want to understand how this slice of the neuron pie affects our daily lives. High-profile research published seven years ago, for example, showed that these patients had an easier time than others in kicking cigarette addictions.
via Pacific Standard

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Apr 11, 2014

Six women who paved the way for female engineers and architects

posted by Laura Domela

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The Brooklyn Bridge was an awesome feat of engineering that required not just scientific prowess, but political strength. For 14 years, the construction of the bridge was overseen and managed by a woman named Emily Warren Roebling, who took over the role as chief engineer after her husband fell ill.

Roebling is one of the women featured in the new book Women of Steel and Stone: 22 Inspirational Architects, Engineers, and Landscape Designers by Anna M. Lewis, which explores the history of women working in traditionally male-dominated fields.

Beginning with the changing cultural sentiments that allowed females to seek work in the construction industry during the Industrial Revolution, Lewis traces how women excelled in many of these new roles, playing an important part in projects across the country.
via Gizmodo

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Image courtesy Women of Steel and Stone

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Apr 11, 2014

World-first regeneration of a living organ

posted by Larra Morris

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It may not be to quite the same level achieved by Victor Frankenstein, but work by a team from the University of Edinburgh is likely to have significant real-world implications in the field of regenerative medicine. For the first time, the team has successfully regenerated a living organ in mice, not by using a jolt of electricity, but by manipulating DNA.

The organ in question was the thymus, which is located next to the heart and is an integral part of the immune system. In humans, it achieves most of its growth in early life, continuing to then grow slowly until puberty when it slowly begins to shrink for the remainder of a person's life.
via Gizmag

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Image: Shutterstock

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Apr 10, 2014

Brain damage can make people immune to the gambler’s fallacy

posted by Larra Morris

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Although we've known about the gambler’s fallacy for quite some time, scientists are now finding evidence that this fallacy involves the part of our brain known as the insula. In addition to gambling, the inusla is thought to play a role in self-awareness, emotions, and addictions.

Scientists conducted a series of gambling studies (published in PNAS) with patients who suffer from injuries to different parts of the brain, including to the insula. This allowed them to assess the role of different regions in the gambler’s fallacy. 
via Ars Technica

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Image: greengardenvienna 

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Apr 10, 2014

Scientists discover the secret behind zombie plants

posted by Larra Morris

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If the fungal spore outbreak in The Last of Us scared the hell out of you, you'll be doubly terrified to know that there are actual parasites in nature that can turn animals and plants into zombies. In fact, a group of scientists from the John Innes Centre in the UK just figured out how certain parasitic bacteria called phytoplasma turn their plant host into the living dead. You see, when these nefarious bacteria take over, they transform a plant's flowers into leafy shoots, turning petals green and preventing the flowers from producing offspring. Apparently, that's because the parasite has a protein called SAP54, which interacts with the plant so that flowers self-destruct from the inside.
via Engadget

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Image: PLOS Biology

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Apr 10, 2014

Train for surgery using immersive 3D holograms of corpses

posted by Larra Morris

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Computer-generated models are starting to let researchers and students peer into the body without needing a real human stretched out before them. Virtual dissection tables have been built at places like Stanford and the University of Calgary. Now, University of Michigancomputer scientists and biologists have taken the technology another step forward, using projectors, joysticks and 3-D equipment to build a floating holographic human that users can dissect, manipulate, and put back together as they wish.
via Gizmodo

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Image: University of Michigan

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