Sep 15, 2014

Ikea billboard tips an apartment sideways to become a rock-climbing wall

posted by Larra Morris

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Ikea promoted the opening of its 30th store in France by building an apartment into a vertical rock-climbing wall. Marketing shop Ubi Bene helped devise the impressive outdoor installation in the city of Clermont-Ferrand.

The wall is 9 meters high by 10 meters wide and fitted with steps and grips, allowing the public to navigate among stylish beds, cabinets, tables, chairs, sofas and accessories. (Using harnesses and with safety personnel on hand, naturally.)
via Ad Week

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Sep 15, 2014

Electronic skin made from nanoparticles offers early breast cancer detection

posted by Larra Morris

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Researchers at the Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience at the University of Nebraska have developed a prototype electronic skin made from nanoparticles that they claim can offer an early detection method for breast cancer.

The researchers, who published their findings in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, developed a thin-film tactile device, also known as “electronic skin”, in which the contact pressure that corresponds to the shape of the object can be mapped by measuring the local deformation of the tactile-device film.
via IEEE Spectrum

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Sep 15, 2014

'Boris' the robot can load up dishwasher

posted by Larra Morris

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A robot unveiled today at the British Science Festival will be loading dishwashers next year, its developers claim.

"Boris" is one of the first robots in the world capable of intelligently manipulating unfamiliar objects with a humanlike grasp.

It was developed by scientists at the University of Birmingham.

The team also work with "Bob", an autonomous robot who recently completed work experience at security firm G4S.

"This is Boris' first public outing," announced Professor Jeremy Wyatt of the School of Computer Science. The robot took five years to develop at a cost of £350,000.

Boris "sees" objects with depth sensors on its face and wrists. In 10 seconds it calculates up to a thousand possible ways to grasp a novel object with its five robotic fingers and plans a path of arm movements to reach its target, avoiding obstructions.
via BBC News

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Sep 15, 2014

NASA publishes unprecedented X-ray image of supernova remnant

posted by Larra Morris

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You are looking at Puppis A, a supernova remnant that is 7,000 light years away and is 10 light years across (!) And yet it looks like microscopic view of a coral here on Earth. Amazingly beautiful.

Capture by NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton, "the image shows the remains of a supernova that would have been witnessed on Earth about 3,700 years ago. The remnant is called Puppis A, and is around 7,000 light years away and about 10 light years across. This image provides the most complete and detailed X-ray view of Puppis A ever obtained, made by combining a mosaic of different Chandra and XMM-Newton observations. Low-energy X-rays are shown in red, medium-energy X-rays are in green and high energy X-rays are colored blue."
via Gizmodo

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Image: NASA

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Sep 12, 2014

Woman in her twenties discovers that she was born without a cerebellum

posted by Larra Morris

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A woman living in China’s Shandong Province got a bit of a surprise recently when doctors at the Chinese PLA General Hospital told her that her brain was missing one of the most important centers for motor control: the cerebellum. She had initially checked herself into the hospital because of a bad case of dizziness and nausea, New Scientist reports.

The cerebellum is a small portion of the brain located at the back of the skull. But don’t be fooled by its size; it actually contains half of the brain’s neurons. And, unsurprisingly, having a missing cerebellum — cerebrospinal fluid was found in its place — caused quite a few problems for this woman over the course of her life. For one thing, her speech was slurred until age six, and she only began to walk at age seven. Moreover, she has had trouble maintaining her balance her entire life.
via The Verge

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Sep 12, 2014

Vest translates sound into vibration for the hearing impaired

posted by Larra Morris

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When we think about gadgets to aid the hearing impaired, cochlear implants usually come to mind -- but these devices are expensive and require invasive surgery. Neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman and graduate student Scott Novich have another idea: sensory substation clothing. The two are developing a hearing device that you wear on your torso. It's called the Vibrotactile Extra-Sensory Transducer (or simply "Vest" for short) and it translates sound into tactile feedback. Eaglman says that with training, the brain can actually learn to translate Vest's vibrations into useful data -- meaning that wearers could potentially "hear" through their skin.
via Engadget

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Image: Scott Novich and David Eagleman

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Sep 12, 2014

Xenon could provide protection for the brain after a blow to the head

posted by Larra Morris

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Previous studies at Imperial College London showed xenon, a chemically inert gas, has the ability to protect brain cells from mechanical injury in the lab. The researchers have now shown for the first time that the protective effects also carry through to live animals.

The team started by anesthetizing mice before applying a controlled mechanical force to the brain. They then treated some of the mice with different concentrations of xenon at different times after the injury. In tests to assess their neurological deficits, such as movement and balance problems, the mice treated with xenon performed much better in the days and month after the injury than those that weren't.
via Gizmag

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