Tech

A new interface developed by researchers in Bristol and Paris takes touch technology to the next level, by providing an artificial skin-like membrane for augmenting interactive devices such as phones, wearables or computers.

The Skin-On interface, developed by researchers at the University of Bristol in partnership with Telecomm ParisTech and Sorbonne University, mimics human skin in appearance but also in sensing resolution.

Imagine being able to build and use a robotic device without the need for expensive, specialist kit or skills. That is the vision that researchers from the University of Bristol have turned into reality, creating a lightweight, affordable and simple solution for everyday users.

While multiple robotic arm devices already exist, most are heavy, expensive and outside the reach of individuals who lack the expertise to use them.

Researchers at UC Santa Cruz have developed ultrasensitive nanoscale optical probes to monitor the bioelectric activity of neurons and other excitable cells. This novel readout technology could enable scientists to study how neural circuits function at an unprecedented scale by monitoring large numbers of individual neurons simultaneously. It could also lead to high-bandwidth brain-machine interfaces with dramatically enhanced precision and functionality.

Turning a chair into a table, or vice versa, might sound like somewhat of a magic trick. In this case, zero magic is involved, just plenty of complex geometry and machine learning.

Cells need powerhouses known as mitochondria to utilize the energy stored in our food. Most of the proteins required for this powerhouse function are encoded in the nucleus and transported into the mitochondria after they have been synthesized in the cytosol. Signal sequences are needed to allow the protein to enter the mitochondria. Once the protein has arrived there, the signal sequences are, however, removed. Up until now, researchers did not fully understand the importance of this removal of signal sequences.

Creatine, the organic acid that is popularly taken as a supplement by athletes and bodybuilders, serves as a molecular battery for immune cells by storing and distributing energy to power their fight against cancer, according to new UCLA research.

Fluctuations in atmospheric pressure can heavily influence how much natural gas leaks from wells below the ground surface at oil and gas sites, according to new University of British Columbia research. However, current monitoring strategies do not take this phenomenon into account, and therefore may be under- or over-estimating the true magnitude of gas emissions.

Mars once had salt lakes that are similar to those on Earth and has gone through wet and dry periods, according to an international team of scientists that includes a Texas A&M University College of Geosciences researcher.

Marion Nachon, a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Texas A&M, and colleagues have had their work published in the current issue of Nature Geoscience.

The intestinal microbiome is a delicate ecosystem made up of billions and billions of microorganisms, bacteria in particular, that support our immune system, protect us from viruses and pathogens, and help us absorb nutrients and produce energy. The industrialization process in Western countries had a huge impact on its content. This was confirmed by a study on the bacteria found in the intestine of Ötzi, the Iceman who, in 1991, emerged from the ice of the Ötztal Alps, where Italy borders with Austria.

Plants and bacteria lead the way: They can capture the energy of sunlight with light-harvesting antennas and transfer it to a reaction centre. Transporting energy efficiently and in a targeted fashion in a minimum of space - this is also of interest to mankind. If scientists were to master it perfectly, they could significantly improve photovoltaics and optoelectronics.

Two new spectroscopic methods

The art of croissant making has inspired researchers from Queen Mary University of London to find a solution to a sustainable energy problem.

Croissants are made by pressing and folding dough to create a layered pastry. The researchers applied this technique to a dielectric capacitor, which is a device that stores energy like a battery.

Nanowire is a rod-structure with a diameter typically narrower than several hundred nanometers. Due to its size and structure, it exhibits characteristic properties which are not found in larger bulk materials. The study of III-V semiconductor nanowires has attracted much interest in recent decades due to their potential application in nanoscale quantum, photonic, electronic, and energy conversion, and in biological devices, based on their one-dimensional nature and large surface to volume ratio.

A compound effective in killing chemotherapy-resistant glioblastoma-initiating cells (GICs) has been identified, raising hopes of producing drugs capable of eradicating refractory tumors with low toxicity.

Researchers have shown for the first time that fatty tissue accumulates in the airway walls, particularly in people who are overweight or obese.

Scientists already know that people who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer with wheezing and asthma, but the reasons for this have not been completely explained.

The new study, published in the European Respiratory Journal [1], suggests that this fatty tissue alters the structure of people's airways and this could be one reason behind the increased risk of asthma.

The once-rare 'fabella' bone has made a dramatic resurgence in human knees, but who's likely to have a fabella or two - and why?

Led by Dr Michael Berthaume at Imperial College London, a new meta-analysis has found that the mystery knee bone is more common in older people, more often found in men than women, and in people in Asia.

This is the first time fabella prevalence has been studied in such detail by region, age, and sex, and the first to examine how these factors implicate genetic and environmental factors in fabella development.

Bare bones