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Self-Healing Wire Insulation
Thermomechanical Methodology for Stabilizing Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) Response
Space Optical Communications Using Laser Beams
High Field Superconducting Magnets
Active Response Gravity Offload and Method
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New NASA Instrument Measures Greenhouse Gases

Mark Stephen (left) and Tony Yu are part of the team that developed the advanced laser system used on the CO2 Sounder Lidar. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Bill Hrybyk) NASA scientists and engineers have built an instrument powerful and accurate enough to gather around-the-clock global atmospheric carbon-dioxide (CO2) measurements from space. The CO2 Sounder Lidar operates by bouncing an infrared laser light off the Earth’s surface. Like all atmospheric gases, carbon dioxide absorbs light in narrow wavelength bands — in this case, the infrared. By tuning the laser to the infrared, scientists can detect and then analyze the level of carbon dioxide in that vertical path.

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Sensors Measure Power Use by Each Device in a Household

Researchers at MIT have developed a device and software that could figure out exactly how much power is being used by every appliance, lighting fixture, and device in a home. (Bryce Vickmark) New postage-stamp-sized sensors developed at MIT measure exactly how much power is being used by every device in a household. No wires need to be disconnected, and the placement of the sensors over the incoming power line does not require any particular precision. The sensors pick up so much information about spikes and patterns in the voltage and current, that the system can tell the difference between every different kind of light, motor, and other device, and show exactly which ones go on and off at what times.

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New at IMTS

Optomec (Albuquerque, NM) unveiled its LENS machine tool machines that integrate the company's metal 3D printing technology into standard CNC machine tool platforms. Three standard system configurations are offered, making hybrid and traditional metal additive manufacturing more affordable and accessible. The three systems are open-atmosphere, hybrid additive and subtractive, and an inert system with a hermetically sealed chamber.

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Therapeutic Target for Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, the most common of pancreatic cancers, is extraordinarily lethal, with a 5-year survival rate of just 6 percent. Chemotherapy treatments are poorly effective, in part due to a high degree of drug-resistance to currently used regimens. Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center, together with colleagues at Keio University, the University of Nebraska, and Ionis Pharmaceuticals, describe an innovative new model that not only allowed them to track drug resistance in vivo but also revealed a new therapeutic target, which early testing suggests could provide a strategy to arrest pancreatic cancer growth. In a collaboration that combined scientific and clinical expertise, principal investigators Tannishtha Reya, Ph.D., professor in the departments of pharmacology and medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and Andrew Lowy, MD, chief of surgical oncology in the department of surgery at UC San Diego Health and Moores Cancer Center, worked with colleagues to develop a new "reporter" mouse model that enables non-invasive, image-based tracking of stem cell signals in living animals. Using this strategy, the group showed that the stem cell gene Musashi (Msi) is a critical element in pancreatic cancer progression. In particular, the work revealed that Msi expression rises with cancer progression and that Msi expressing cells are key drivers of cancer growth, drug resistance, and lethality. Given the role of Msi in promoting aggressive disease, the investigators partnered with Robert MacLeod Ph.D., vice-president of oncology drug discovery at Ionis Pharmaceuticals, to develop next-generation antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) inhibitors against Msi. These inhibitors effectively targeted and blocked Msi expressing cells, resulting in halted tumor growth in animal models as well as in patient-derived cancer cells, which harbor more complex mutations and are uniformly drug-resistant. Antisense inhibitors are synthetic nucleic acid drugs that can be designed to selectively bind to messenger RNA from the targeted, disease-linked gene, and inactivate it. Reya said the findings could be broadly useful for studying cancer. "Because Msi reporter activity can be visualized by live imaging," said Reya, "these models can be used to track cancer stem cells within the tumor microenvironment, providing a real-time view of cancer growth and metastasis, and serving as a platform to test new drugs that may be better able to eradicate resistant cells."

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AutoLens Analysis for Euclid Challenge

The European Space Agency's Euclid satellite, due for launch in 2020, will set astronomers a huge challenge: to analyze 100,000 strong gravitational lenses. The gravitational deflection of light from distant astronomical sources by massive galaxies (strong lenses) along the light path can create multiple images of the source that are not just visually stunning but also are valuable tools for probing our Universe. In preparation for Euclid's challenge, researchers from the University of Nottingham have developed AutoLens, the first fully automated analysis software for strong gravitational lenses. AutoLens demonstrated its capabilities with a stunning image of a strong gravitational lens system captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, said James Nightingale, who developed AutoLens together with his colleague, Dr. Simon Dye. "The software's reconstruction of the lensed source reveals in detail a distant pair of star-forming galaxies that are possibly in the early stages of merging. Within the lensed image of the source are small-scale distortions, which encode an imprint of how the lens galaxy's mass is distributed. AutoLens has a novel new approach to exploit this imprinted information and can accurately measure the distribution of dark matter in the lensing galaxy." Historically, the analysis of strongly lensed images has been a very time-consuming process, requiring a large amount of manual input to study just one system. To date, only around 200 strong lens systems have been analyzed. AutoLens can be run on “massively parallel” computing architecture that uses multiple processors and requires no user input, so will be able to manage the huge amount of data delivered by the Euclid mission.

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Imaging Software Shows Your Future Self

When people go to a hair stylist, they often browse magazines to find a photo of a style they want to try, but they won’t know if they really like it until they try it. Police are often challenged when looking for missing people when those individuals disguise their appearance with different hair colors and styles or facial hair. And children who have been missing for years can be very difficult to find because their looks have changed over the years. What if we had help figuring out all these appearance challenges? A new system called Dreambit, developed by a University of Washington computer vision researcher, lets a person imagine how they would look with a different hairstyle or color or even in a different time period, country, or anything that can be queried in an image search engine. After uploading an input photo, you type in a search term (such as curly hair, India, 1930s), and the software's algorithms mine Internet photo collections for similar images in that category and seamlessly map the person's face onto the results. Dreambit draws on previous research conducted at the UW and elsewhere in facial processing, recognition, three-dimensional reconstruction, and age progression, combining those algorithms in a unique way to create the blended images.

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Imaging Finds Book Hidden for 500 Years

Researchers from the University of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries and from universities in the Netherlands have used high-tech imaging to uncover the details of a rare Mexican codex dating from before the colonization of the Americas. The newly revealed codex, or book, has been hidden from view for almost 500 years, concealed beneath a layer of plaster and chalk on the back of a later manuscript known as the Codex Selden, which is housed at the Bodleian Libraries. Scientists have used hyperspectral imaging to reveal pictographic scenes from this remarkable document and have published their findings in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. Ancient Mexican codices are some of the most important artefacts of early Mexican culture and are particularly rare. Codex Selden, also known as Codex Añute, dates from around 1560 and is one of fewer than 20 known Mexican codices to have survived from pre-colonial and early colonial Mexico. Of those, it is one of only five surviving manuscripts from the Mixtec area, now the Oaxaca region of Mexico. These codices use a complex system of pictures, symbols, and bright colors to narrate centuries of conquering dynasties and genealogies as well as wars and the history of ancient cities. In essence, these codices provide the best insight into the history and culture of early Mexico. Since the 1950s, scholars have suspected that Codex Selden is a palimpsest: an older document that has been covered up and reused to make the manuscript that is currently visible. Codex Selden consists of a five-meter-long strip composed of deer hide that has been covered with gesso, a white plaster made from gypsum and chalk, and folded in a concertina format into a 20-page document. The manuscript underwent a series of invasive tests in the 1950s when one page on the back was scraped, uncovering a vague image that hinted at the possibility that an earlier Mexican codex lay hidden beneath. Until now, no other technique has been able to unveil the concealed narrative in a non-invasive way. The organic paints that were partly used to create the vibrant images on early Mexican codices do not absorb X-rays, which rules out the X-ray analysis that is commonly used to study later works of art. “After four or five years of trying different techniques, we've been able to reveal an abundance of images without damaging this extremely vulnerable item. We can confirm that Codex Selden is indeed a palimpsest,” said Ludo Snijders from Leiden University, who conducted the research with David Howell from the Bodleian Libraries and Tim Zaman from the University of Delft. This is the first time an early Mexican codex has been proven to be a palimpsest.

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