Funding proposals that require scientists to declare what about their project will be “transformative” to their field can set back the field as a whole, according to a study from Oregon State University researchers. Sarah Gravem, a postdoctoral scholar in integrative biology and lead author of the study, said asking scientists to attempt to shift the paradigm in every proposal is not only unrealistic, but potentially harmful.
An international team led by MIT associate professor of materials science and engineering Geoffrey Beach has demonstrated a practical way to use “skyrmions” to create a radical new high-speed, high-density data-storage method that could one day replace disk drives -- and even replace high-speed RAM memory.
Biologists continue to hone their tools for deleting, replacing or otherwise editing DNA and a strategy called CRISPR has become one of the most popular ways to do genome engineering.
By sequencing a remarkably complete genome from a 50,000-year-old bone fragment of a female Neandertal found in Vindija Cave in Croatia, researchers report online today in Science a new trove of gene variants that living people outside of Africa obtained from Neandertals. Some of this DNA could influence cholesterol levels, the accumulation of belly fat, and the risk of schizophrenia and other diseases.
A team of University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW-Madison) engineers has created “the most functional flexible transistor in the world,” along with a fast, simple, inexpensive fabrication process that’s easily scalable to the commercial level. The development promises to allow manufacturers to add advanced, smart-wireless capabilities to wearable and mobile devices that curve, bend, stretch and move.
New awards from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) will provide 30 non-tenured researchers with fellowships, partnering them with premier research centers and enhancing their ability to work at the frontiers of science and engineering.
Researchers at the Columbia Engineering Creative Machines lab have developed a 3D-printable, synthetic soft muscle that can mimic natural biological systems, lifting 1000 times its own weight. The artificial muscle is three times stronger than natural muscle and can push, pull, bend, twist, and lift weight -- no external devices required.
University of Washington (UW) researchers have developed a low-cost, long-range data-communication system that could make it possible for medical sensors or billions of low-cost “internet of things” objects to connect via radio signals at long distances (up to 2.8 kilometers) and with 1000 times lower required power (9.25 microwatts in an experiment) compared to existing technologies.
The major advance in this study is “their methodology for designing simple DNA devices that work in parallel to solve nontrivial tasks,” notes Duke University computer scientist John H. Reif in an article in the same issue of Science. Such tasks could include synthesizing a drug in a molecular factory or delivering a drug only when a specific signal is present in bloodstreams, say the researchers. “So far, the development of DNA robots has been limited to simple functions,” the researchers note.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has invested nearly $80 million in four new Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) to create novel technology platforms to address national challenges in health and energy sustainability. Over the next five years, the centers will create new knowledge and high-tech innovations, as well as transform existing industries in ways that bolster the U.S. economy, support national security and build America's global competitiveness through the preparation of engineering graduates.