Walking on a treadmill is no great feat, unless your legs are being moved by a robotic device connected to your brain.
A new brain-computer interface allows a person to walk using a pair of mechanical leg braces controlled by brain signals (above), as reported on arXiv. The device has only been tested on able-bodied people, and while it has limitations, it lays a foundation for helping people with paralysis walk again. Continue reading »
Atomic scale visualization of the single molecule junctions formed with two equivalent pathways (left) and one pathway (right), including the bonding to the tips of two gold electrodes and a schematic of the external electrical circuit.
In a paper published in Nature Nanontechnology on September 2, 2012, scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Columbia University’s departments of Chemistry and of Applied Physics explore the laws that govern electronic conductance in molecular scale circuits.
“Everyone who has worked with basic electronic circuits knows that there are some simple rules of the road, like Ohm’s Law,” explains collaborator Mark Hybertsen, a physicist at Brookhaven’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN). Hybertsen provided the theory to model the observed circuit behavior with the CFN’s computational tools. “For several years we have been asking fundamental questions to probe how those rules might be different if the electronic circuit is shrunk down to the scale of a single molecule.” Continue reading »
Example of a silicon quantum chip next to a 20 pence coin.
An international research collaboration led by scientists from the University of Bristol, UK, has developed a new approach to quantum computing that could lead to the mass-manufacture of new quantum technologies.
Inspired by the twitching whiskers of common rats and Etruscan shrews, EU-funded researchers have developed rodent-like robots and an innovative tactile sensor system that could be used to help find people in burning buildings, make vacuum cleaners more efficient and eventually improve keyhole surgery.
Sensor systems that replicate the sense of touch have been the focus of increasing research in recent years, largely for robotics applications. But the focus has normally been on developing sensors that in some way or another replicate the way humans touch and sense the world: with our skin and particularly our fingertips. Continue reading »
MSU researchers explore what would happen if computer viruses had to find mates in order to reproduce. Photo illustration by G.L. Kohuth
Computer viruses are constantly replicating throughout computer networks and wreaking havoc. But what if they had to find mates in order to reproduce?
In the current issue of Evolution, Michigan State University researchers created the digital equivalent of spring break to see how mate attraction played out through computer programs, said Chris Chandler, MSU postdoctoral researcher at MSU’s BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action.
“This is actually a big question that still generates a lot of debate,” said Chandler, who co-authored the study with Ian Dworkin, assistant professor of zoology, and Charles Ofria, associate professor of computer science and engineering. “People have some good ideas, but they can be hard to test really well in nature, so we decided to take a different approach.” Continue reading »
Three of the largest and deadliest earthquakes in recent history occurred where earthquake hazard maps didn’t predict massive quakes. A University of Missouri scientist and his colleagues recently studied the reasons for the maps’ failure to forecast these quakes. They also explored ways to improve the maps. Developing better hazard maps and alerting people to their limitations could potentially save lives and money in areas such as the New Madrid, Missouri fault zone.
“Forecasting earthquakes involves many uncertainties, so we should inform the public of these uncertainties,” said Mian Liu, of MU’s department of geological sciences. “The public is accustomed to the uncertainties of weather forecasting, but foreseeing where and when earthquakes may strike is far more difficult. Too much reliance on earthquake hazard maps can have serious consequences. Continue reading »