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The Chance To Dance Again

by Michael Keller

We highlighted the TED talk of Hugh Herr a couple of weeks ago. But his work is too important and beautiful to leave to just one post.

The MIT associate professor of media arts and sciences is making prosthetic limbs and exoskeletons that restore function in those who have lost legs from injury or disease. This set of gifs focuses on his team’s BiOM powered ankle and foot prosthesis

"Bionics is not only about making people stronger and faster," he said during the talk. "Our expression, our humanity can be embedded into electromechanics."

To prove his point, Herr and fellow researchers studied dance movement to replace the lower leg that professional dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis lost after last year’s Boston marathon bombing. He concluded his talk by bringing Haslet-Davis on the stage to perform a bionic rumba. 

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Txch This Week: Baby Face Software And Floating Nuclear Reactors

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by Norman Rozenberg

This week on Txchnologist, we looked at the wide range of innovations that could prove to be disruptive to a number of fields. First, University of Washington researchers have developed a software that accurately predicts changes in faces from babies to senior citizens.

We looked at how sound waves could revolutionize medicine in the coming years. Doctors have treated tumors using focused ultrasound, a way of delivering energetic high-frequency sound waves that are sent into the body without surgery. The technology is cost-effective and could be extremely useful. Staying with medical devices, Txchnologist also looked to the past to appreciate the roots of one of the most advanced imaging tools available, the PET scanner.

The Department of Energy has made a map that highlights wind power growth in the United States. Wind turbine farms grew in number from just one in 1975 to 815 in 2012.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee civil engineers have developed a mixture of concrete that is water-resistant, flexible and promises to keep bridges and roads intact for up to 120 years.

Research in subatomic particles is at the forefront for a number of scientists. A facility in southern China called the Daya Bay Neutrino Experiment is studying the electrically neutral neutrino and attempting to understand one of the building blocks of the universe using six huge detectors.

Now we’re bringing you the news and trends we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.

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Laser And Magnets Make Mobile Malaria Detector

by Marsha Lewis, Inside Science TV

It starts with a mosquito bite and can end in severe sickness and even death. Malaria claims the lives of more than one million people worldwide each year.

Spotting the disease is the first step toward treating it, but the current way to detect malaria is costly, time consuming and not very accurate.

“The people [who] were examining samples for malaria were having such a hard time getting the right answer. They were only right about half the time,” said Brian Grimberg, a biologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Your Future Rain Jacket Might Be Made of Graphene

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by Michael Keller

Researchers in Switzerland say they have punched precisely shaped holes in films of graphene, a two-dimensional sheet of linked carbon atoms. Their development means graphene, a material that is lightweight and strong, can be made into the thinnest possible membrane with pores of exact size to exclude specific molecules.

Engineers at ETH Zurich created the membrane out of two graphene sheets pressed together. Their prototypes were 100,000 times thinner than a human hair.

"With a thickness of just two carbon atoms, this is the thinnest porous membrane that is technologically possible to make," said Jakob Buchheim, a nanoscience doctoral student in the university’s Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering. He is a lead author of the study published today in the journal Science.

Along with major applications like filtering water, separating gaseous mixtures and removing impurities from liquids, graphene membranes could be a game changer in rain gear and waterproofing. The researchers say the material could be manufactured to make a coating that excludes liquids while letting gases right on through. 

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