December 31, 2012

Battle of the biennials: Contemporary-art shows compete for attention

With over 100 biennials around the world, international showcases for contemporary art are now so prolific, and come so rapidly, that they often seem more like major sporting events than exhibitions. In 2013 the 11th edition of the Sharjah Biennial opens in March, the 55th Venice Biennale starts in June, followed in September by the 13th Istanbul Biennial, the 12th Lyon Biennale and the fifth Moscow Biennale. And those are just the best-known of the biennials that will take place during the year.
For many cities biennials have become important sources of cultural pride, international recognition and tourism. Venues vie with each other for star curators and big-name artists.

December 30, 2012

Research by CU-Boulder physicists creates ‘recipe book’ for building new materials

By showing that tiny particles injected into a liquid crystal medium adhere to existing mathematical theorems, physicists at the University of Colorado Boulder have opened the door for the creation of a host of new materials with properties that do not exist in nature.

The findings show that researchers can create a "recipe book" to build new materials of sorts using topology, a major mathematical field that describes the properties that do not change when an object is stretched, bent or otherwise “continuously deformed.” Published online Dec. 23 in the journal Nature, the study also is the first to experimentally show that some of the most important topological theorems hold up in the real material world, said CU-Boulder physics department Assistant Professor Ivan Smalyukh, a study senior author.

December 29, 2012

Groundbreaking air-cleaner saves polluting industrials

CLEANTECH Industries across Europe are threatened as European Union emission rules for Volatile Organic Compounds are tightened. Now an aircleaning invention from the University of Copenhagen has proven its ability to remove these compounds. And in the process they have helped a business in the Danish city of Aarhus improve relations to angry neighbors.

December 28, 2012

Toshiba Launches Highly Sensitive 20MP BSI CMOS Image Sensor

- Industry's highest level resolution brings enhanced image quality to digital still cameras –

Toshiba Corporation (TOKYO: 6502) today announced that it will launch a new 20-megapixel (MP) CMOS image sensor, the TCM5115CL, as the latest addition to its sensor line-up for digital still cameras. TCM5115CL offers the industry's highest resolution in the 1/2.3 inch optical format, using backside illumination technology (BSI) to improve sensitivity and imaging performance.

Sampling of the new sensor will begin at the end of January 2013 and mass production will follow in August 2013.

December 27, 2012

A nanoscale window to the biological world

In situ molecular microscopy provides a gateway to imaging dynamic systems in structural biology

If the key to winning battles is indeed knowing both your enemy and yourself, then scientists are now well on their way toward becoming the Sun Tzus of medicine by taking a giant step toward a priceless advantage – the ability to see the soldiers in action on the battlefield.

On-Demand Synaptic Electronics: Circuits that learn and forget

Researchers in Japan and the US propose a nanoionic device with a range of neuromorphic and electrical multifunctions that may allow the fabrication of on-demand configurable circuits, analog memories and digital–neural fused networks in one device architecture.

Synaptic devices that mimic the learning and memory processes in living organisms are attracting avid interest as an alternative to standard computing elements that may help extend Moore’s law beyond current physical limits.

Birdsong study pecks at theory that music is uniquely human

A bird listening to birdsong may experience some of the same emotions as a human listening to music, suggests a new study on white-throated sparrows, published in Frontiers of Evolutionary Neuroscience.

“We found that the same neural reward system is activated in female birds in the breeding state that are listening to male birdsong, and in people listening to music that they like,” says Sarah Earp, who led the research as an undergraduate at Emory University.

December 26, 2012

Swiss aim to birth advanced humanoid in 9 months

Here's a robotics challenge for you: create an advanced humanoid robot in only nine months.

That's what engineers at the University of Zurich's Artificial Intelligence Lab are trying to do with Roboy, a kid-style bot that's designed to help people in everyday environments.

Researchers around the world are trying to create useful humanoids. One interesting aspect of Roboy is its tendon-driven locomotion system.

Like Japan's Kenshiro humanoid, Roboy relies on artificial muscles to move; in the future, it will be covered with a soft skin.

December 25, 2012

Energy from willows comes of age in upstate NY

Energy from willows is moving out of the experimental stage and into commercial production in New York.

Farms are growing willow shrubs and selling them to a utility, a nursery sells them commercially and plans are being made for refineries.

"The industry has a lot of potential," said Robert McDonagh, owner of Celtic Energy Farm in Cape Vincent on Lake Ontario, which was formed by a group of investors a few years ago to grow shrub willow in northern New York as a renewable energy source.

What will your next body be like?

Many engineers, including me, think that some time around 2050, we will be able to make very high quality links between the brains and machines. To such an extent that it will thereafter be possible (albeit expensive for some years) to arrange that most of your mind – your thinking, memories, even sensations and emotions, could reside mainly in the machine world. Some (perhaps some memories that are rarely remembered for example) may not be suited to such external accessibility, but the majority should be.

German Automakers are pushing for Clean Diesel Sales in the U.S.

Mercedes-Benz Dealership in New Orleans carries Diesel Engine Vehicles

Mercedes-Benz is one of six German automakers that have joined a campaign that outlines the advantages of diesel powertrains in passenger cars over gasoline engines in terms of cleanliness, consumption and performance.  The campaign, which was jointly developed by the German Association of the Automotive Industry, is named "Clean Diesel, Clearly Better".  The common goal of the campaign is to create a platform for clean diesels in the in the United States and to show the advantages of diesel technologies.

Study Finds That Portions of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Are Warming Twice as Fast as Previously Thought

Findings could have important implications for global sea-level rise

A new study funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) finds that the western part of the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought.

The findings were published online this week in the journal Nature Geoscience. NSF manages the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) and coordinates all U.S. research and associated logistics on the southernmost continent and in the surrounding Southern Ocean.

December 24, 2012

How shrubs are reducing the positive contribution of peatlands to climate

For the first time, a group of scientists from WSL and EPFL described why on the long run peatlands may not be able to continue fulfilling their role as the most effective carbon stocking ecosystems. They studied the mechanisms behind a phenomenon known as shrub encroachment of peatlands: Complex plant-microbe interactions are at the root of this worldwide vegetation change. The findings have been published online today in Nature Climate Change.

December 23, 2012

New Data Challenge Old Views About Evolution of Early Life

A research team led by biogeochemists at the University of California, Riverside has tested a popular hypothesis in paleo-ocean chemistry, and proved it false.

The fossil record indicates that eukaryotes — single-celled and multicellular organisms with more complex cellular structures compared to prokaryotes, such as bacteria — show limited morphological and functional diversity before 800-600 million years ago. Many researchers attribute the delayed diversification and proliferation of eukaryotes, which culminated in the appearance of complex animals about 600 million years ago, to very low levels of the trace metal zinc in seawater.

BGI Reports Genomic Breakthroughs for Bat Biology, Providing New Insights into the Evolution of Flight and Immunity

BGI today announces the online publication in Science of the latest findings through genomic analysis of two distantly related bat species, the Black flying fox (Pteropus alecto) and David’s Myotis (Myotis davidii). The work here provides new insight into the genetic mechanisms underlying the evolution of flight and immunity of bats, and also opens the way for addressing major gaps into understanding of bat biology and provides new directions for future research.

Bats are often characterized as creepy, disease-carrying, and even blood-sucking animals as often depicted in horror movies. The centuries of myths and misinformation make them one of the least studied and most misunderstood animals. However, in recent years, more and more scientists have been irresistibly attracted to their specific traits, such as the capacity for sustained flight, and the feature that bats could coexist with some of the world’s most deadly viruses, such as Nipah, Hendra, Ebola and SARS.

Low pH Levels Can Eliminate Harmful Blooms of Golden Algae, One Cause of Massive Fish Kills

 Baylor University researchers are one step closer to understanding the algae that causes a substantial number of fish deaths in more than 18 states.

Golden algae, Texas Tide or Prymnesium parvum, as it is known by its scientific name, produces toxins that can severely impact aquatic organisms. Over the past decade, golden algae blooms have been responsible for the death of tens of millions of fish in Texas reservoirs.

To view the study, published in the December issue of Harmful Algae, visit

Bryan W. Brooks, Ph.D., professor of environmental science and biomedical studies at Baylor and director of the environmental science graduate program and the environmental health science program, and his research team found that neutral pH levels prevented the algae's bloom development and the toxicity of the algae was greatly diminished.

Following Phragmites Home: Scientists Use Satellite Data to Map Invasive Species in Great Lakes Wetlands

Phragmites australis, an invasive species of plant called common reed, grows rapidly into dense stands of tall plants that pose an extreme threat to Great Lakes coastal wetlands. Early treatment is the key to controlling Phragmites.

But how can these invasive reeds be eradicated before they take over their environment if we don’t know where they are?

December 22, 2012

Suspend the crystals, and they grow better

The idea is so simple you wonder why no one thought of it before.Crystals growing near the bottom of a beaker are subject to convection,but it is much quieter near the top of the beaker.In that case, why not just let them grow hanging in the beaker?Well, the idea was there for the taking, and that is exactly what Elias Vlieg and his team from Radboud University Nijmegen have done.Their work will be published in this month's edition of Crystal Growth & Design.

MIT researchers discover a new kind of magnetism

Experiments demonstrate ‘quantum spin liquid,’ which could have applications in new computer memory storage.

Following up on earlier theoretical predictions, MIT researchers have now demonstrated experimentally the existence of a fundamentally new kind of magnetic behavior, adding to the two previously known states of magnetism.

Western-led research debunks the IQ myth

After conducting the largest online intelligence study on record, a Western University-led research team has concluded that the notion of measuring one's intelligence quotient or IQ by a singular, standardized test is highly misleading.

The findings from the landmark study, which included more than 100,000 participants, were published today in the journal Neuron. The article, "Fractionating human intelligence," was written by Adrian M. Owen and Adam Hampshire from Western's Brain and Mind Institute (London, Canada) and Roger Highfield, Director of External Affairs, Science Museum Group (London, U.K).

Woman With Quadriplegia Feeds Herself Chocolate Using Mind-Controlled Robot Arm in Pitt/UPMC Study

Reaching out to high five someone, grasping and moving objects of different shapes and sizes, feeding herself dark chocolate. For Jan Scheuermann and a team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC, accomplishing these seemingly ordinary tasks demonstrated for the first time that a person with longstanding quadriplegia can maneuver a mind-controlled, human-like robot arm in seven dimensions (7D) to consistently perform many of the natural and complex motions of everyday life.

Pocket test measures 50 things in a drop of blood

A new device about the size of a business card could allow health care providers to test for insulin and other blood proteins, cholesterol, and even signs of viral or bacterial infection all at the same time—with one drop of blood. Preliminary tests of the V-chip, created by scientists at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute and MD Anderson Cancer Center, were published last night by Nature Communications.

"The V-Chip could make it possible to bring tests to the bedside, remote areas, and other types of point-of-care needs," said Nanomedicine faculty member Lidong Qin, Ph.D., the project's principal investigator. "V-Chip is accurate, cheap, and portable. It requires only a drop of a sample, not a vial of blood, and can do 50 different tests in one go."

CU involved in two of top 10 breakthroughs in 2012 as judged by Physics World magazine

University of Colorado Boulder faculty and students are part of international science teams that made two of the top 10 breakthroughs in physics in 2012 as judged by Physics World magazine.

A team involving CU-Boulder was cited for making the first direct observations of a phenomenon known as “time reversal violation” by measuring the rate atomic particles known as B mesons changed quantum states. The measurements essentially confirm that elementary reactions do not run the same forwards as backwards, at least for B mesons.  The CU-Boulder team members included physics department faculty members William Ford, Uriel Nauenberg, Jim Smith and Steve Wagner, as well as postdoctoral researcher Alessandro Gaz.

Forget solid, liquid, and gas: there are in fact more than 500 phases of matter

Condensed matter physics – the branch of physics responsible for discovering and describing most of these phases – has traditionally classified phases by the way their fundamental building blocks – usually atoms – are arranged. The key is something called symmetry.

To understand symmetry, imagine flying through liquid water in an impossibly tiny ship: the atoms would swirl randomly around you and every direction – whether up, down, or sideways – would be the same. The technical term for this is "symmetry" – and liquids are highly symmetric. Crystal ice, another phase of water, is less symmetric. If you flew through ice in the same way, you would see the straight rows of crystalline structures passing as regularly as the girders of an unfinished skyscraper. Certain angles would give you different views. Certain paths would be blocked, others wide open. Ice has many symmetries – every "floor" and every "room" would look the same, for instance – but physicists would say that the high symmetry of liquid water is broken.

December 21, 2012

Boosting Galactan Sugars Could Boost Biofuel Production

Collaboration at JBEI Identifies the First Enzyme Linked to Galactan Synthesis

Galactan is a polymer of galactose, a six-carbon sugar that can be readily fermented by yeast into ethanol and is a target of interest for researchers in advanced biofuels produced from cellulosic biomass. Now an international collaboration led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has identified the first enzyme capable of substantially boosting the amount of galactan in plant cell walls.

Human cloning could start within 50 years

Human cloning could start within 50 years insists a leading scientist whose work led to the creation of Dolly the Sheep

Heartache of losing a child could be eased, says Nobel prize-winner

Cloning of Dolly the Sheep was followed by a succession of other mammals

Parents who lose children in tragic accidents may be able to clone replacements within the next 50 years, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist has claimed

Sir John Gurdon, the British scientist whose work cloning frogs in the 1950s and 60s led to the creation of Dolly the sheep by Edinburgh scientists in 1996, said human cloning could happen within half a century.

The biologist who won this year’s Nobel prize thinks that while any attempt to clone a human would raise complex ethical issues, people would soon overcome their concerns if the technique became medically useful.

Can Observations of a Hardy Weed Help Feed the World?

As the human population increases, so too do the demands and stresses on agriculture. In the January 2013 issue of International Journal of Plant Sciences, Penn State University Waller Professor of Plant Biology Dr. Sarah Assmann explores how the responses to environmental stresses by one small, genetically diverse plant species might illuminate possible approaches to addressing growing human demand for crop products amid decreasing resources.

In the article, Dr. Assmann describes how human population growth presents new challenges to twenty-first-century agriculture, especially since such abiotic stresses as climate change and poor-quality soils can disrupt the ability of many crops to flourish and provide sufficient calories, nutrients, and other resources. According to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the Earth's population will reach nine billion people by the year 2050. To meet the needs of this population, Dr. Assmann says, plant biologists must study how and why some plants are heartier and more capable than others of tolerating these stresses.

Pair of proteins gets brain cells into shape

Scientists at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Bonn have gained new insights into the early phase of the brain’s development. In cooperation with researchers of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, the University of Bonn and other German and international colleagues they identified two proteins that control the formation of cell protuberances. The typical ramifications through which nerve cells receive and forward signals ultimately originate from these outgrowths. The study conducted by Prof. Frank Bradke’s team provides indications on brain development and about the causes of diseases of the nervous system. The results have now been published in “Neuron”.

Aldrich Materials Science Discovers Liquid-Free Preparation of Metal Organic Frameworks

Researchers at Aldrich Materials Science, a strategic technology initiative of Sigma-Aldrich Corporation (NASDAQ:SIAL) have discovered an innovative way to design an important class of three-dimensional (3D) hybrid structures, Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs), under completely liquid-free conditions. High purity MOF products prepared by the liquid-free process may be ideally suited as rare earth containing materials for sensors and detectors, electronic or magnetic materials. 

The discovery also extends liquid-free preparation techniques to a large new class of 3D-structured
materials and is expected to lead to new products with unique properties and suitability for applications
heretofore unknown.

Discovery May Pave Way to Genetically Enhanced Biofuel Crops

Plants engineered to have increased levels of β-1,4-galactan may enhance biofuel production

Best known for its ability to transform simmering pots of sugared fruit into marmalades and jams, pectin is a major constituent of plant cell walls and the middle lamella, the sticky layer that glues neighboring plant cells together. Pectin imparts strength and elasticity to the plant and forms a protective barrier against the environment. Several different kinds of pectic compounds combine to form pectin. The relative proportion of each of these depends on the plant species, location within the plant, and environment.

U of T researchers uncover major source of evolutionary differences among species

University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine researchers have uncovered a genetic basis for fundamental differences between humans and other vertebrates that could also help explain why humans are susceptible to diseases not found in other species.

Scientists have wondered why vertebrate species, which look and behave very differently from one another, nevertheless share very similar repertoires of genes.

U.Va. Professor Aiding Quest to Find New Uses for Abundant Natural Gas

Little more than a decade ago, the United States imported much of its natural gas. Today, the nation is tapping into its own natural gas reserves and producing enough to support most of its current needs for heating and power generation, and is beginning to export natural gas to other countries.

The trend is expected to continue, as new methods are developed to extract natural gas from vast unrecovered reserves embedded in shale. Natural gas can be used to generate electricity, and it burns cleaner than coal.

December 20, 2012

Environmental performance affected by ethnic and religious diversity

Ethnically or religiously diverse countries underinvest in measures to improve their environmental performance, according to new research by an academic at the University of East Anglia.

Dr Elissaios Papyrakis also found that religious diversity has a more detrimental impact on environmental performance than ethnic differences. These social differences, if they cannot be overcome, may lower collective action and reduce public spending on environmental protection and performance.

The study, Environmental Performance in Socially Fragmented Countries, is published online in the journal Environmental and Resource Economics.

Scientists construct first map of how the brain organizes everything we see

Our eyes may be our window to the world, but how do we make sense of the thousands of images that flood our retinas each day? Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the brain is wired to put in order all the categories of objects and actions that we see. They have created the first interactive map of how the brain organizes these groupings.

The result — achieved through computational models of brain imaging data collected while the subjects watched hours of movie clips — is what researchers call “a continuous semantic space.”

Super-fine sound beam could one day be an invisible scalpel

A carbon-nanotube-coated lens that converts light to sound can focus high-pressure sound waves to finer points than ever before. The University of Michigan engineering researchers who developed the new therapeutic ultrasound approach say it could lead to an invisible knife for noninvasive surgery.

Today's ultrasound technology enables far more than glimpses into the womb. Doctors routinely use focused sound waves to blast apart kidney stones and prostate tumors, for example. The tools work primarily by focusing sound waves tightly enough to generate heat, says Jay Guo, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, mechanical engineering, and macromolecular science and engineering. Guo is a co-author of a paper on the new technique published in the current issue of Nature's journal Scientific Reports.

December 19, 2012

Small, Portable Sensors Allow Users to Monitor Exposure to Pollution on Their Smart Phones

Computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego have built a small fleet of portable pollution sensors that allow users to monitor air quality in real time on their smart phones. The sensors could be particularly useful to people suffering from chronic conditions, such as asthma, who need to avoid exposure to pollutants.

CitiSense is the only air-quality monitoring system capable of delivering real-time data to users’ cell phones and home computers—at any time. Data from the sensors can also be used to estimate air quality throughout the area where the devices are deployed, providing information to everyone—not just those carrying sensors. 

December 18, 2012

Researchers Use Liquid Metal to Create Wires That Stretch Eight Times Their Original Length

Researchers from North Carolina State University have created conductive wires that can be stretched up to eight times their original length while still functioning. The wires can be used for everything from headphones to phone chargers, and hold potential for use in electronic textiles.

To make the wires, researchers start with a thin tube made of an extremely elastic polymer and then fill the tube with a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium, which is an efficient conductor of electricity.

Chemists Synthesize a New Breed of Anti-Aromatic Compounds

By synthesizing a stable “antiaromatic” compound, as well as a never before seen intermediate version of that compound, chemists at The University of Texas at Austin have written an important new chapter in the story of modern chemistry.

The research was done in collaboration with an international roster of colleagues from Yonsei University in Korea, the University of Hyderbad in India, and Osaka University in Japan. The results were published this week in Nature Chemistry.

Video: Paralyzed Woman Controls Robotic Arm With Her Thoughts

A 53-year-old woman paralyzed from the neck down by a genetic neurodegenerative condition has learned to manipulate a robotic arm with her thoughts, researchers report today in The Lancet. In the video above, she uses the arm to remove plastic cones stacked on a base and restack them one by one on another base. Surgeons had implanted two 4x4-millimeter grids of hair-thin electrodes in her brain to capture signals from regions involved in planning hand and arm movements. A computer translated those signals into commands to move the robotic arm, which has nearly the same movement capabilities as the real thing.

Big NSF grant funds research into training robots to work with humans

What if robots and humans, working together, were able to perform tasks in surgery and manufacturing that neither can do alone?

That’s the question driving new research by UC Berkeley robotics experts Ken Goldberg and Pieter Abbeel and colleagues from four other universities, who were awarded a $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Their work is part of the first $50 million in funding for the National Robotics Initiative, announced in 2011 with the goal of exploring how robots can enhance the work of humans rather than replacing them,

The IBM Next 5 in 5: Our 2012 For Inventions that Will Change the World Within Five Years

It’s amazing when you look back over the 60+ years of the computing revolution and see how far we have come in such a relatively short time. The first electronic programmable computers, built in the 1940s, were essentially really fast electronic calculators. Then came the mainframe, the PC, the Internet and social networking. Today, we’re entering the era of cognitive computing–machines that help us think.

Mayan Prophecy 2012: Solar Flare, Planetary Alignment Scenarios

In three days, the world will know if the Mayan Calendar prophecy is just a prediction gone wrong or there is an actual truth about an Armageddon tied to the end of their calendar cycle.

NASA is sure that there will be no end-of-the-world on Dec 21 and the Mayan Calendar calculation is wrong. The majority believe that the date only marks as a new cycle of time, and they believe Mayan does not actually qualify as an apocalypse.

There are two scenarios on the effect of an end of the world event on technology.

Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Make Forests Work Overtime

Harvard Forest's response to CO2 reveals past and future for the New England landscape
You might never know it, but the seemingly quiet Harvard Forest in Massachusetts is actually hard at work. Like other forests, it's busy doing some serious global housekeeping, which is being monitored by scientists at Harvard University.

"There's this enormous sucking sound, metaphorically speaking, that is happening across the New England landscape and the eastern U.S. It's the carbon being brought down out of the atmosphere, into our forests, which is reducing the amount that is up in the atmosphere," says David Foster, who is director of the Harvard Forest, which stretches for 3,000 acres near Petersham, Mass., about 60 miles west of Boston.

December 17, 2012

IBM Reveals Five Innovations That Will Change Our Lives within Five Years

Breakthroughs will mark the era of cognitive systems when computers will, in their own way, see, smell, touch, taste and hear

(December 17, 2012)  Today IBM unveiled the seventh annual  "IBM 5 in 5" (#ibm5in5) – a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years.
*  Touch: You will be able to touch through your phone
*  Sight: A pixel will be worth a thousands words
*  Hearing: Computers will hear what matters
*  Taste: Digital taste buds will help you to eat smarter
*  Smell: Computers will have a sense of smell

The IBM 5 in 5 is based on market and societal trends as well as emerging technologies from IBM’s R&D labs around the world that can make these transformations possible.

This year’s IBM 5 in 5 explores innovations that will be the underpinnings of the next era of computing, which IBM describes as the era of cognitive systems. This new generation of machines will learn, adapt, sense and begin to experience the world as it really is. This year’s predictions focus on one element of the new era, the ability of computers to mimic the human senses—in their own way, to see, smell, touch, taste and hear.

These sensing capabilities will help us become more aware, productive and help us think – but not think for us. Cognitive computing systems will help us see through complexity, keep up with the speed of information, make more informed decisions, improve our health and standard of living, enrich our lives and break down all kinds of barriers—including geographic distance, language, cost and inaccessibility.

read entire press release

Cats pick and mix to achieve consistent intake of protein, fat and carbohydrate similar to diet of wild ancestors

New research has found that cats will select and combine wet and dry foods to achieve a consistent intake of protein, fat and carbohydrate, i.e. macronutrient intake. Even when offered complex combinations of different foods, cats will regularly target an intake of protein, fat and carbohydrate that is similar to that of wild cats. The findings indicate that domestic cats have retained the capacity to regulate macronutrient intake to closely match the “natural” diet of their wild ancestors.

The research was conducted by scientists from the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition – the science centre underpinning Mars Petcare brands such as WHISKAS®, NUTRO® and ROYAL CANIN. It was undertaken in collaboration with scientists from the University of Sydney (Australia) and the Institute of Natural Sciences at Massey University (New Zealand).

Math formula gives new glimpse into the magical mind of Ramanujan

December 22 marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of Srinivasa Ramanujan, an Indian mathematician renowned for somehow intuiting extraordinary numerical patterns and connections without the use of proofs or modern mathematical tools. A devout Hindu, Ramanujan said that his findings were divine, revealed to him in dreams by the goddess Namagiri.

“I wanted to do something special, in the spirit of Ramanujan, to mark the anniversary,” says Emory mathematician Ken Ono. “It’s fascinating to me to explore his writings and imagine how his brain may have worked. It’s like being a mathematical anthropologist.”

December 16, 2012

Woman Guides Robot Arm With Thoughts

(December 16, 2012)  Reaching out to “high five” someone, grasping and moving objects of different shapes and sizes, feeding herself dark chocolate. For Jan Scheuermann and a team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC, accomplishing these seemingly ordinary tasks demonstrated for the first time that a person with longstanding quadriplegia can maneuver a mind-controlled, human-like robot arm in seven dimensions (7D) to consistently perform many of the natural and complex motions of everyday life.

In a study published in the online version of The Lancet, the researchers described the brain-computer interface (BCI) technology and training programs that allowed Ms. Scheuermann, 53, of Whitehall Borough in Pittsburgh, Pa. to intentionally move an arm, turn and bend a wrist, and close a hand for the first time in nine years.

Less than a year after she told the research team, “I’m going to feed myself chocolate before this is over,” Ms. Scheuermann savored its taste and announced as they applauded her feat, “One small nibble for a woman, one giant bite for BCI.”

read entire press news >>

Rallying: Dakar rapped over 20 million year fossil damage

Palaeontologists have warned that the Dakar Rally, which will thunder through Peru and Chile next month, poses a serious risk to whale and dolphin fossils dating back more than 20 million years.

Scientists issued their warning to highlight claims that the 2012 edition of the gruelling 8,400 kilometre endurance event had caused irreparable damage to ancient Miocene era sites in the Ica region of southern Peru.

December 15, 2012

Aerobic Exercise Trumps Resistance Training for Weight and Fat Loss

Aerobic training is the best mode of exercise for burning fat, according to Duke researchers who compared aerobic training, resistance training, and a combination of the two.

The study, which appears Dec. 15, 2012, in the Journal of Applied Physiology, is the largest randomized trial to analyze changes in body composition from the three modes of exercise in overweight or obese adults without diabetes.

December 14, 2012

NC State Study Offers Insight Into Converting Wood to Bio-Oil

New research from North Carolina State University provides molecular-level insights into how cellulose – the most common organic compound on Earth and the main structural component of plant cell walls – breaks down in wood to create “bio-oils” which can be refined into any number of useful products, including liquid transportation fuels to power a car or an airplane.

Using a supercomputer that can perform functions thousands of times faster than a standard desktop computer, NC State chemical and biomolecular engineer Dr. Phillip Westmoreland and doctoral student Vikram Seshadri calculate what’s occurring at the molecular level when wood is rapidly heated to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, a decomposition process known as pyrolysis.