Health

Robot surgeons may get upgraded

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 13, 2012   View Article

Surgical robots named Ravens are flocking to university labs around the U.S. where researchers will be encouraged to hack their software.

This reprogramming could accelerate innovation in surgical robotics, which is stifled due in part to a lock on the market held by the only company with a FDA-approved robot, according to Blake Hannaford, the director of the Biorobotics Laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle.

New Year’s Resolution: Get fit, make electricity

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: December 31, 2011   View Article

A new generation of workout machines that generate electricity as you work up a sweat are poised to invade fitness centers and help you keep your New Year’s resolution to trim down your waistline.

The electricity generated by the machines is fed back into the grid, helping the gym save on its utility bills.

New Year’s Resolution: Get fit, make electricity

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: December 30, 2011   View Article

A new generation of workout machines that generate electricity as you work up a sweat are poised to invade fitness centers and help you keep your New Year’s resolution to trim down your waistline.

The electricity generated by the machines is fed back into the grid, helping the gym save on its utility bills.

‘Neon signs’ made with bacteria

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: December 20, 2011   View Article

The bar of the future may have all-organic brews on tap and blinking neon signs in the window made with millions of bacterial cells that periodically glow in unison.

The same “living neon sign” technology could also be used to help brewers and other folks monitor environmental pollutants in water such as arsenic, according to research published online Sunday in the journal Nature.

3-D model of rat brain circuit created

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: December 8, 2011   View Article

After six years and several million dollars, scientists have created a 3-D model of a rat brain circuit.

The accomplishment is a first step toward creating a complete computer model of the brain that will allow a deeper understanding of how our noggins work — and what causes them to malfunction, according to the scientists behind the feat.

Plasmas sterilize water cheaply

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: November 18, 2011   View Article

Ionized plasmas like those in neon signs and plasma TVs can sterilize water and make it antimicrobial as well, according to researchers studying the potential to use inexpensive plasma-generating devices to create sterile water in developing countries, disasters areas, and battlefields.

Plasmas are the fourth state of matter after solid, liquid, and gas. They are formed when gases are energized, stripping atoms of their electrons to create a collection of free moving electrons and ions.

Breakthrough chip mimics human brain function

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: November 17, 2011   View Article

The day that computers outsmart their human overlords may yet lie in the distant future, but a new computer chip that mimics the basis of learning and memory in the brain is a critical step towards that moment.

“We are not talking about recreating a whole brain at this point. We have to start with one system,” Chi-Sang Poon, a research scientist in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, told me Wednesday.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach