Russia Reignites Its Rocket Industry with New Angara Booster

Space.com - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 11:25am
Russia's recent maiden launch of its new Angara rocket is a harbinger of bigger boosters to come. The successful test flight also marked the country's first new launch vehicle to be built from scratch since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Categories: Science

A Typeface That Mirrors Taiwan’s Insane Roof Shacks

Wired News - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 10:42am
On the street [in Taiwan] if something is falling apart they just use duct tape to put it together," says the designer.






Categories: Science

All the Stuff Soldiers Have Carried in Battle, From the 11th Century to Today

Wired News - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 10:42am
A photo series documenting the complete inventory kits of British soldiers over the course of about 1,000 years.






Categories: Science

The Weird, Totally Charming Hobbies That Unite People

Wired News - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 10:42am
In their series Hobby Buddies, Swiss photo duo Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini create playful portraits of people united over favorite pastimes.






Categories: Science

How to Easily Convert a YouTube Clip Into a GIF

Wired News - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 10:42am
Here's another easy way to convert any YouTube video into a GIF.






Categories: Science

Behind the Scenes of a Reality Show Where Magicians Fight for Fame

Wired News - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 10:42am
Want to see what went on behind the scenes of your new favorite magic competition show? Sure, technically Wizard Wars is probably the only reality show about magicians out there, but that doesn't mean it still can't be your fave, and it's still fun to see television, um, magic in action. Here's a look at how Syfy's latest show came together.






Categories: Science

This Android Shield Could Encrypt Apps So Invisibly You Forget It’s There

Wired News - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 10:42am
In the post-Snowden era, everyone wants to make encryption easier. Now, one group of researchers has created a tool intended to make it invisible. A team from Georgia Tech has designed software that acts as an overlay on Android smartphones’ communication apps—like Gmail or Whatsapp—and mimics the apps’ user interfaces. When users type, the text […]






Categories: Science

The Strange Blowpipe 19th Century Miners Used to Analyze Ore

Wired News - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 10:42am
Pretend for a minute that it’s 1875 and you’re a mining engineer whose job it is to figure out how much gold is in them thar hills. Get it wrong, and your company is going to waste a lot of time and money hunting for gold that’s not there—or worse yet, miss out on the mother […]






Categories: Science

A Huge, Clay-Filled Robot That Replaces the Potter’s Wheel

Wired News - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 10:42am
This artistic automaton takes Play-Doh extrusions to their logical conclusion, but does not try to eliminate the trademark quirks of handicrafts.






Categories: Science

The Next Big Thing You Missed: Thanks to Amazon, Tiny Sellers Can Now Reach Across the Globe

Wired News - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 10:42am
Go to Amazon.com and the link is right there at the top, nestled between “Gift Cards” and “Help.” Chances are, you haven’t noticed it in your frenzy to find the perfect potato peeler. But if you click it, a whole different world of Amazon opens up, one where stuff flows away from you rather than […]






Categories: Science

Targeted brain stimulation aids stroke recovery in mice

Kurzweil AI - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 9:37am

Optogenetic stimulation for stroke (Credit: Deisseroth Laboratory)

Stanford University School of Medicine have found that light-driven stimulation technology called optogenetics enhances stroke* recovery in mice — even when initiated five days after stroke occurred.

The mice showed significantly greater recovery in motor ability than mice that had experienced strokes but whose brains weren’t stimulated.

“In this study, we found that direct stimulation of a particular set of nerve cells in the brain — nerve cells in the motor cortex — was able to substantially enhance recovery,” said Steinberg, the Bernard and Ronni Lacroute-William Randolph Hearst Professor in Neurosurgery and Neurosciences.

These findings, published Aug. 18 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help identify important brain circuits involved in stroke recovery and usher in new clinical therapies for stroke, including the placement of electrical brain-stimulating devices similar to those used for treating Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain and epilepsy.

The optogenetics solution

Animal studies have indicated that electrical stimulation of the brain can improve recovery from stroke. However, “existing brain-stimulation techniques activate all cell types in the stimulation area, which not only makes it difficult to study but can cause unwanted side effects,” said the study’s lead author, Michelle Cheng, PhD, a research associate in Steinberg’s lab.

For the new study, the Stanford investigators deployed optogenetics, a technology pioneered by co-author Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and of bioengineering. Optogenetics involves expressing a light-sensitive protein in specifically targeted brain cells. Upon exposure to light of the right wavelength, this light-sensitive protein is activated and causes the cell to fire.

Steinberg’s team selectively expressed this protein in the brain’s primary motor cortex, which is involved in regulating motor functions. Nerve cells within this cortical layer send outputs to many other brain regions, including its counterpart in the brain’s opposite hemisphere.

Using an optical fiber implanted in that region, the researchers were able to stimulate the primary motor cortex near where the stroke had occurred, and then monitor biochemical changes and blood flow there as well as in other brain areas with which this region was in communication. “We wanted to find out whether activating these nerve cells alone can contribute to recovery,” Steinberg said.

By several behavioral, blood flow and biochemical measures, the answer two weeks later was a strong yes. On one test of motor coordination, balance and muscular strength, the mice had to walk the length of a horizontal beam rotating on its axis, like a rotisserie spit. Stroke-impaired mice whose primary motor cortex was optogenetically stimulated did significantly better in how far they could walk along the beam without falling off and in the speed of their transit, compared with their unstimulated counterparts.

The same treatment, applied to mice that had not suffered a stroke but whose brains had been similarly genetically altered and then stimulated just as stroke-affected mice’s brains were, had no effect on either the distance they travelled along the rotating beam before falling off or how fast they walked. This suggests it was stimulation-induced repair of stroke damage, not the stimulation itself, yielding the improved motor ability.

Stroke-affected mice whose brains were optogenetically stimulated also regained substantially more of their lost weight than unstimulated, stroke-affected mice. Furthermore, stimulated post-stroke mice showed enhanced blood flow in their brain compared with unstimulated post-stroke mice.

In addition, substances called growth factors, produced naturally in the brain, were more abundant in key regions on both sides of the brain in optogenetically stimulated, stroke-affected mice than in their unstimulated counterparts. Likewise, certain brain regions of these optogenetically stimulated, post-stroke mice showed increased levels of proteins associated with heightened ability of nerve cells to alter their structural features in response to experience — for example, practice and learning. (Optogenetic stimulation of the brains of non-stroke mice produced no such effects.)

Steinberg said his lab is following up to determine whether the improvement is sustained in the long term. “We’re also looking to see if optogenetically stimulating other brain regions after a stroke might be equally or more effective,” he said. “The goal is to identify the precise circuits that would be most amenable to interventions in the human brain, post-stroke, so that we can take this approach into clinical trials.”

The study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Russell and Elizabeth Siegelman, and Bernard and Ronni Lacroute.

* Stroke, with 15 million new victims per year worldwide, is the planet’s second-largest cause of death, according to Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD, professor and chair of neurosurgery and the study’s senior author. In the United States, stroke is the largest single cause of neurologic disability, accounting for about 800,000 new cases each year — more than one per minute — and exacting an annual tab of about $75 billion in medical costs and lost productivity.

The only approved drug for stroke in the United States is an injectable medication called tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA. If infused within a few hours of the stroke, tPA can limit the extent of stroke damage. But no more than 5 percent of patients actually benefit from it, largely because by the time they arrive at a medical center the damage is already done. No pharmacological therapy has been shown to enhance recovery from stroke from that point on.

About seven of every eight strokes are ischemic: They occur when a blood clot cuts off oxygen flow to one or another part of the brain, destroying tissue and leaving weakness, paralysis and sensory, cognitive and speech deficits in its wake. While some degree of recovery is possible — this varies greatly among patients depending on many factors, notably age — it’s seldom complete, and typically grinds to a halt by three months after the stroke has occurred.

Abstract of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper

Clinical and research efforts have focused on promoting functional recovery after stroke. Brain stimulation strategies are particularly promising because they allow direct manipulation of the target area’s excitability. However, elucidating the cell type and mechanisms mediating recovery has been difficult because existing stimulation techniques nonspecifically target all cell types near the stimulated site. To circumvent these barriers, we used optogenetics to selectively activate neurons that express channelrhodopsin 2 and demonstrated that selective neuronal stimulations in the ipsilesional primary motor cortex (iM1) can promote functional recovery. Stroke mice that received repeated neuronal stimulations exhibited significant improvement in cerebral blood flow and the neurovascular coupling response, as well as increased expression of activity-dependent neurotrophins in the contralesional cortex, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor, nerve growth factor, and neurotrophin 3. Western analysis also indicated that stimulated mice exhibited a significant increase in the expression of a plasticity marker growth-associated protein 43. Moreover, iM1 neuronal stimulations promoted functional recovery, as stimulated stroke mice showed faster weight gain and performed significantly better in sensory-motor behavior tests. Interestingly, stimulations in normal nonstroke mice did not alter motor behavior or neurotrophin expression, suggesting that the prorecovery effect of selective neuronal stimulations is dependent on the poststroke environment. These results demonstrate that stimulation of neurons in the stroke hemisphere is sufficient to promote recovery.

 

 

Abstract of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper

Clinical and research efforts have focused on promoting functional recovery after stroke. Brain stimulation strategies are particularly promising because they allow direct manipulation of the target area’s excitability. However, elucidating the cell type and mechanisms mediating recovery has been difficult because existing stimulation techniques nonspecifically target all cell types near the stimulated site. To circumvent these barriers, we used optogenetics to selectively activate neurons that express channelrhodopsin 2 and demonstrated that selective neuronal stimulations in the ipsilesional primary motor cortex (iM1) can promote functional recovery. Stroke mice that received repeated neuronal stimulations exhibited significant improvement in cerebral blood flow and the neurovascular coupling response, as well as increased expression of activity-dependent neurotrophins in the contralesional cortex, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor, nerve growth factor, and neurotrophin 3. Western analysis also indicated that stimulated mice exhibited a significant increase in the expression of a plasticity marker growth-associated protein 43. Moreover, iM1 neuronal stimulations promoted functional recovery, as stimulated stroke mice showed faster weight gain and performed significantly better in sensory-motor behavior tests. Interestingly, stimulations in normal nonstroke mice did not alter motor behavior or neurotrophin expression, suggesting that the prorecovery effect of selective neuronal stimulations is dependent on the poststroke environment. These results demonstrate that stimulation of neurons in the stroke hemisphere is sufficient to promote recovery.

Categories: Science

Adam Carolla Settles With Podcasting Patent Troll

Slashdot - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 9:00am
Personal Audio has been trying to assert patents they claim cover podcasting for some time now; in March Adam Carolla was sued and decided to fight back. Via the EFF comes news that he has settled with Personal Audio, and the outcome is likely beneficial to those still fighting the trolls. From the article: Although the settlement is confidential, we can guess the terms. This is because Personal Audio sent out a press release last month saying it was willing to walk away from its suit with Carolla. So we can assume that Carolla did not pay Personal Audio a penny. We can also assume that, in exchange, Carolla has given up the opportunity to challenge the patent and the chance to get his attorney’s fees. ... EFF’s own challenge to Personal Audio’s patent is on a separate track and will continue ... with a ruling likely by April 2015. ... We hope that Personal Audio’s public statements on this issue mean that it has truly abandoned threatening and suing podcasters. Though a press release might not be legally binding, the company will have a hard time justifying any further litigation (or threats of litigation) against podcasters. Any future targets can point to this statement. Carolla deserves recognition for getting this result.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Artificial cells mimic natural protein synthesis

Kurzweil AI - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 7:20am

Fluorescent image of DNA (white squares) patterned in circular compartments connected by capillary tubes to the cell-free extract flowing in the channel at bottom. Compartments are 100 microns in diameter. (Credit: Weizmann Institute)

Weizmann Institute scientists have created an artificial network-like cell system that is capable of reproducing the dynamic behavior of protein synthesis.

This achievement could help gain a deeper understanding of basic biological processes and pave the way toward controlling the synthesis of naturally occurring and synthetic proteins for many uses.

The system was designed by PhD students Eyal Karzbrun and Alexandra Tayar in the lab of Prof. Roy Bar-Ziv of the Weizmann Institute’s Materials and Interfaces Department, in collaboration with Prof. Vincent Noireaux of the University of Minnesota,

How it works

DNA template (DNA brush) is assembled by chemical photolithography, patterned in circular compartments carved in silicon, and connected through a diffusive capillary to a channel flowing a cell-free expression reaction (credit: Eyal Karzbrun et al./Science)

1. Multiple artificial cells (compartments), each a micron (millionth of a meter) in depth, are “etched’’ onto a biochip.

2. The compartments are connected via thin capillary tubes, creating a network that allows for diffusion of biological substances throughout the system.

3. Within each compartment, the researchers insert a cell genome — strands of DNA designed and controlled by the scientists.

4. To translate (convert) the genes into proteins, the scientists relinquish control to the bacterium E. coli: they fill the compartments with E. coli cell extract — a solution containing the entire bacterial protein-translating machinery, minus its DNA code.

By coding two regulatory genes into the sequence (step 3), the scientists create a protein synthesis rate that is periodic, spontaneously switching from periods of being “on” to “off.” The amount of time each period lasts is determined by the geometry of the compartments.

Such periodic behavior — a primitive version of cell cycle events — emerges in the system because the synthesized proteins can diffuse out of the compartment through the capillaries, mimicking natural protein turnover behavior in living cells. At the same time, fresh nutrients are continuously replenished, diffusing into the compartment and enabling the protein synthesis reaction to continue indefinitely.

“The artificial cell system, in which we can control the genetic content and protein dilution times, allows us to study the relation between gene network design and the emerging protein dynamics. This is quite difficult to do in a living system,” says Karzbrun.

More complicated gene networks

“The two-gene pattern we designed is a simple example of a cell network, but after proving the concept, we can now move forward to more complicated gene networks. One goal is to eventually design DNA content similar to a real genome that can be placed in the compartments.”

The scientists then asked whether the artificial cells actually communicate and interact with one another like real cells. Indeed, they found that the synthesized proteins that diffused through the array of interconnected compartments were able to regulate genes and produce new proteins in compartments farther along the network.

In fact, this system resembles the initial stages of morphogenesis — the biological process that governs the emergence of the body plan in embryonic development. “We observed that when we place a gene in a compartment at the edge of the array, it creates a diminishing protein concentration gradient; other compartments within the array can sense and respond to this gradient — similar to how morphogen concentration gradients diffuse through the cells and tissues of an embryo during early development.

We are now working to expand the system and to introduce gene networks that will mimic pattern formation, such as the striped patterns that appear during fly embryogenesis,” explains Tayar.

With the artificial cell system, according to Bar-Ziv, one can, in principle, encode anything: “Genes are like Lego in which you can mix and match various components to produce different outcomes; you can take a regulatory element from E. coli that naturally controls gene X, and produce a known protein; or you can take the same regulatory element but connect it to gene Y instead to get different functions that do not naturally occur in nature.”

This research may, in the future, help advance the synthesis of such things as fuel, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and the production of enzymes for industrial use.

Prof. Roy Bar-Ziv’s research is supported by the Yeda-Sela Center for Basic Research.

Abstract of Science paper

The assembly of artificial cells capable of executing synthetic DNA programs has been an important goal for basic research and biotechnology. We assembled two-dimensional DNA compartments fabricated in silicon as artificial cells capable of metabolism, programmable protein synthesis, and communication. Metabolism is maintained by continuous diffusion of nutrients and products through a thin capillary, connecting protein synthesis in the DNA compartment with the environment. We programmed protein expression cycles, autoregulated protein levels, and a signaling expression gradient, equivalent to a morphogen, in an array of interconnected compartments at the scale of an embryo. Gene expression in the DNA compartment reveals a rich, dynamic system that is controlled by geometry, offering a means for studying biological networks outside a living cell.

Categories: Science

Delaware Enacts Law Allowing Heirs To Access Digital Assets of Deceased

Slashdot - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 7:18am
An anonymous reader writes Ars reports: "Delaware has become the first state in the U.S .to enact a law that ensures families' rights to access the digital assets of loved ones during incapacitation or after death." In other states, the social media accounts and email of people who die also die with them since the companies hosting those accounts are not obligated to transfer access even to the heirs of the deceased. In Delaware, however, this is no longer the case. The article notes that even if the deceased was a resident of another state, if his/her will is governed by Delaware law, his/her heirs will be allowed to avail of the new law and gain access to all digital assets of the deceased.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Delaware Enacts Law Allowing Heirs To Access Digital Assets of Deceased

Slashdot - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 7:18am
An anonymous reader writes Ars reports: "Delaware has become the first state in the U.S .to enact a law that ensures families' rights to access the digital assets of loved ones during incapacitation or after death." In other states, the social media accounts and email of people who die also die with them since the companies hosting those accounts are not obligated to transfer access even to the heirs of the deceased. In Delaware, however, this is no longer the case. The article notes that even if the deceased was a resident of another state, if his/her will is governed by Delaware law, his/her heirs will be allowed to avail of the new law and gain access to all digital assets of the deceased.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Delaware Enacts Law Allowing Heirs To Access Digital Assets of Deceased

Slashdot - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 7:18am
An anonymous reader writes Ars reports: "Delaware has become the first state in the U.S .to enact a law that ensures families' rights to access the digital assets of loved ones during incapacitation or after death." In other states, the social media accounts and email of people who die also die with them since the companies hosting those accounts are not obligated to transfer access even to the heirs of the deceased. In Delaware, however, this is no longer the case. The article notes that even if the deceased was a resident of another state, if his/her will is governed by Delaware law, his/her heirs will be allowed to avail of the new law and gain access to all digital assets of the deceased.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Delaware Enacts Law Allowing Heirs To Access Digital Assets of Deceased

Slashdot - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 7:18am
An anonymous reader writes Ars reports: "Delaware has become the first state in the U.S .to enact a law that ensures families' rights to access the digital assets of loved ones during incapacitation or after death." In other states, the social media accounts and email of people who die also die with them since the companies hosting those accounts are not obligated to transfer access even to the heirs of the deceased. In Delaware, however, this is no longer the case. The article notes that even if the deceased was a resident of another state, if his/her will is governed by Delaware law, his/her heirs will be allowed to avail of the new law and gain access to all digital assets of the deceased.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Delaware Enacts Law Allowing Heirs To Access Digital Assets of Deceased

Slashdot - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 7:18am
An anonymous reader writes Ars reports: "Delaware has become the first state in the U.S .to enact a law that ensures families' rights to access the digital assets of loved ones during incapacitation or after death." In other states, the social media accounts and email of people who die also die with them since the companies hosting those accounts are not obligated to transfer access even to the heirs of the deceased. In Delaware, however, this is no longer the case. The article notes that even if the deceased was a resident of another state, if his/her will is governed by Delaware law, his/her heirs will be allowed to avail of the new law and gain access to all digital assets of the deceased.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Delaware Enacts Law Allowing Heirs To Access Digital Assets of Deceased

Slashdot - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 7:18am
An anonymous reader writes Ars reports: "Delaware has become the first state in the U.S .to enact a law that ensures families' rights to access the digital assets of loved ones during incapacitation or after death." In other states, the social media accounts and email of people who die also die with them since the companies hosting those accounts are not obligated to transfer access even to the heirs of the deceased. In Delaware, however, this is no longer the case. The article notes that even if the deceased was a resident of another state, if his/her will is governed by Delaware law, his/her heirs will be allowed to avail of the new law and gain access to all digital assets of the deceased.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Delaware Enacts Law Allowing Heirs To Access Digital Assets of Deceased

Slashdot - Tue, 19/08/2014 - 7:18am
An anonymous reader writes Ars reports: "Delaware has become the first state in the U.S .to enact a law that ensures families' rights to access the digital assets of loved ones during incapacitation or after death." In other states, the social media accounts and email of people who die also die with them since the companies hosting those accounts are not obligated to transfer access even to the heirs of the deceased. In Delaware, however, this is no longer the case. The article notes that even if the deceased was a resident of another state, if his/her will is governed by Delaware law, his/her heirs will be allowed to avail of the new law and gain access to all digital assets of the deceased.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science