Dec 19, 2014

Near-transparent mice could improve understanding of organs and tissues

posted by Larra Morris

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Japanese researchers have found a way to turn tissue transparent in mice, allowing them to see cellular networks and gain a better understanding of biological systems. Researchers say this may ultimately lead to deeper comprehension of autoimmune and psychiatric diseases given it can assist in 3D modelling of organs including the brain.
via Gizmag

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Image: RIKEN

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Dec 19, 2014

DIY kit lets you make designs out of mushrooms

posted by Larra Morris

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Mushrooms are the new plastics, just ask anyone at Ecovative. To be fair, the company is a little biased—it’s in the mushroom business. Since 2007, the company has been developing a method to replace harmful plastics with a mushroom-based substance. This sustainable foam-like material, made from agricultural waste and mycelium (the root part of the mushroom) has been used to build bricks, grow lamp shades and replace polluting packaging. Now you can grow your own application.

The company just released the beta version of its Grow It Yourself kit ($14.99), which comes with everything you need to make your own mushroom material creation. This includes a bag of dehydrated mushroom material, flour, gloves, a molding tool and an incubator bag. When you get the kit in the mail, you simply add a bit of water and flour (for nutrients) to the dehydrated material, and it springs back to life. Give it a couple days, and the mycelium spreads throughout the agricultural byproduct, turning into a fluffy white material you can shape using molds and tools.
via Wired

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Image: ECOVATIVE

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Dec 18, 2014

DARPA-funded mind-controlled robotic arm now works a lot better

posted by Larra Morris

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At Expand NY in November, DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar talked about the erm, friendlier projects the agency is funding, including a mind-controlled robotic arm tested by Pittsburgh native Jan Scheuermann. Her test run has recently ended, but the University of Pittsburgh researchers in charge of project have published a paper detailing how much the limb has improved over the past two years. Before they took off Jan's implants, she could already move not just arm itself, but also its wrist and fingers -- she reportedly even beat her brother at a rock-paper-and-scissors game. "Overall, our results indicate that highly coordinated, natural movement can be restored to people whose arms and hands are paralyzed," said Pitt School of Medicine professor Andrew Schwartz, Ph.D.
via Engadget

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Dec 18, 2014

Scientists put worm brain in robot body

posted by Larra Morris

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The group of scientists who created the Open Worm Project have successfully mapped the connections of all 302 neurons in a roundworm's brain, simulated them as a piece of computer software, and uploaded that software to a LEGO robot. So now there's a LEGO robot that acts like a worm.
via Geekologie

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Dec 17, 2014

How to create mushroom designs on an oscilloscope signal detector using sound

posted by Larra Morris

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Electronic musician Jerobeam Fenderson has created a video tutorial demonstrating how to draw mushroom-like designs on an oscilloscope signal-detecting machine using only sound. The tutorial does require some prior knowledge of the machine, but the results are still impressive even for the uninitiated.
via Laughing Squid

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Dec 17, 2014

The Navy’s new robot looks and swims just like a shark

posted by Larra Morris

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The American military does a lot of work in the field of biomimicry, stealing designs from nature for use in new technology. After all, if you’re going to design a robot, where better to draw inspiration than from billions of years of evolution? The latest result of these efforts is the GhostSwimmer: The Navy’s underwater drone designed to look and swim like a real fish, and a liability to spook the bejeezus out of any beach goer who’s familiar with Jaws.

The new gizmo, at five feet long and nearly 100 pounds, is about the size of an albacore tuna but looks more like a shark, at least from a distance. It’s part of an experiment to explore the possibilities of using biomimetic, unmanned, underwater vehicles, and the Navy announced it wrapped up testing of the design last week.
via Wired

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Image: Edward Guttierrez/US Navy 

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Dec 17, 2014

4 seconds of body cam video can reveal a biometric fingerprint, study says

posted by Larra Morris

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Researchers say they can have computers examine body camera video footage and accurately identify a person wearing a body-mounted device in about four seconds, according to a recently released paper. The authors of the study had their software look at biometric characteristics like height, stride length, and walking speed to find the identity of the person shooting the footage. As they point out, this could have both positive and negative implications for civilians, law enforcement, and military personnel if they're using body-mounted cameras. (It's important to note that this research paper, Egocentric Video Biometrics, was posted to the arXiv repository. As such, it's not considered a final, peer-reviewed work.)
via Ars Technica

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Image: Marek Ziolkowski

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