by Larry Hardesty

By designing chips that can be built using existing fabrication processes, MIT researchers show that computing with light isn’t so far fetched.

Computer chips that transmit data with light instead of electricity consume much less power than conventional chips, but so far, they’ve remained laboratory curiosities. Professors Vladimir Stojanović and Rajeev Ram and their colleagues in MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics and Microsystems Technology Laboratory hope to change that, by designing optical chips that can be built using ordinary chip-manufacturing processes.

by David Orenstein

Electronic devices can't work well unless all of the transistors, or switches, within them allow electrical current to flow easily when they are turned on. A team of engineers has determined why some transistors made of organic crystals don't perform well, yielding ideas about how to make them work better.

Providing insight into a frustrating inconsistency in the performance of electronics made with organic materials, Stanford researchers have shown that the way boundaries between individual crystals in a film are aligned can make a 70-fold difference in how easily current, or electrical charges, can move through transistors.

Mizzou scientists develop software that detects humans and objects in videos, creating new possibilities for safety and surveillance

When searching for basketball videos online, a long list of websites appears, which may contain a picture or a word describing a basketball. But what if the computer could search inside videos for a basketball? Researchers at the University of Missouri are developing software that would enable computers to search inside videos, detect humans and specific objects, and perform other video analysis tasks. 

Collaboration forged to bring traditional case-based teaching into the Internet age

A patient shows up at a hospital after having periodontal work done that morning. The problem, she says, is that her gums haven’t stopped bleeding, although it has been several hours since the procedure.

With that setup, physicians and medical students in training follow a real-world case, complete with test results, audio of heartbeat, and photos of the condition. Using an online interactive interface, they can order tests, examine results, and answer questions on where to delve next. The patient’s case is part of a new collaboration between physicians at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the venerable New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) to bring traditional case-based teaching into the Internet age.

Medical clinics the world over could benefit from new software* created at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where a team of scientists has found a way to improve the efficiency of a pneumonia vaccine testing method developed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Pneumonia is the world's leading cause of death in children under five years of age and poses a serious risk to elderly adults. The leading cause of pneumonia worldwide is the pneumococcus bacterium, which also causes meningitis, sepsis and other complications. Pneumococcus has more than 90 strains that vary by geographic region and change over time. Consequently, ongoing testing is necessary to monitor existing vaccines and advance new ones.

Alan GuzikGraphics processing units provide computational horsepower 

For a billion years after the Big Bang, the universe experienced its “dark ages,” a time when space was a vast sea of atomic hydrogen. That period ended with the birth of stars, galaxies, and black holes, ultimately leading to the brilliant skies above us at night. 

“The basic building blocks of our universe formed during the dark ages,” said Lincoln Greenhill, a senior research fellow and lecturer on astronomy at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). “But our understanding of this incredibly important time is in fact based on very little hard data.”Greenhill, together with U.S., Australian, and Indian colleagues, is planning to map the dark ages in search of clues about this time. They’re building a revolutionary radio telescope — 8,000 antennas spread across 1.5 kilometers of desert — deep in the Australian outback. The antennas will generate so much data, however, that without a new kind of computing, running at faster speeds while requiring lower power, the project would be impossible.

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This news service is provided by Good Samaritan Institute, located in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

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