Technology

Everyone seems to know what the revenue of movies are, the film "Jem" and the new biopic of Steve Jobs being pulled from theaters after disastrous receptions are well known, but less known is that the video game industry is bigger - and therefore the budgets for games are sometimes as big.

 With the world population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, engineers and scientists are looking for ways to meet the increasing demand for food without also increasing the strain on natural resources, such as water and energy, an initiative known as the food-water-energy nexus.

How does our brain develop the ability to perform complex cognitive functions, such as those needed for language and reasoning? This is a question that certainly we are all asking ourselves, to which the researchers are not yet able to give a complete answer. We know that in the human brain there are about one hundred billion neurons that communicate by means of electrical signals. We learned a lot about the mechanisms of production and transmission of electrical signals among neurons.

Gymnastic feats like balance beam routines clearly require a great deal of coordination. But even seemingly trivial actions such as crossing stepping-stones on a river or just walking in a straight line require these very same skills. The group of Dr. Megan Carey, principal investigator at Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, has developed a novel tool to investigate how the brain generates coordinated movement.

Think of how often sit with your phone, tablet, or computer, quietly shopping or reading the latest headlines. Browsing the internet certainly feels like a solitary activity, but as a new paper reveals, you may be surprised by just how many companies are observing.

Tim Libert, a doctoral student at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania analyzed the Alexa top one million websites, finding that 88 percent leak user data to third parties -- sites that would be unfamiliar to most users.

"There's some suggestion that it's anonymous data," says Libert, "but when you have big data sets that can be combined with other big data sets, you can be identified pretty easily."

A new cholesterol-lowering vaccine leads to reductions in 'bad' LDL cholesterol in mice and macaques, according to research published in Vaccine. The authors of the study say the vaccine has the potential to be a more powerful treatment than statins alone.

The body produces cholesterol to make vitamin D, some hormones and some of the molecules that help us digest food. Cholesterol is also found in foods. LDL cholesterol is a fat-like substance that circulates in the blood; if there is too much cholesterol, the arteries can become blocked, leading to heart disease and stroke.

One experimental result doesn't mean much in science. To truly know whether a result is valid, it needs to be reproduced in the same way over and over again. Yet research that may not be reproduced often finds its way into well-regarded journals, due to limited resources, human error or, rarely, outright fraud.

Unreplicable research is especially problematic for drug trials and other clinical research. A recent estimate put the costs associated with irreproducible preclinical research at $28 billion a year in the United States. Short of spending money to run the published experiment again, no mechanisms exist to quickly identify findings that are unlikely to be replicated.

A team of researchers has reported that analyzing circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) can track how a patient's cancer evolves and responds to treatment. 
This type of blood test -- known as a liquid biopsy -- is less invasive, less costly and less risky than conventional tissue biopsies, which essentially are minor surgeries. Obtaining liquid biopsies could occur more frequently, too, thus providing physicians with up-to-date information about how a patient's cancer might be changing. This, in turn, could help in the selection of the best possible treatments to combat the cancer.

A team of researchers have built the world's first sonic tractor beam that can lift and move objects using sound waves. Tractor beams can grab and lift objects, a concept that has been used by science-fiction writers and has since fascinated scientists and engineers.

Researchers have now built a working tractor beam that uses high-amplitude sound waves to generate an acoustic hologram which can pick up and move small objects. 

The genome editing technique known as CRISPR-Cas9 (1) has taken the biology world by storm. Initially it was primarily used to knock-out (literally, to make inoperative) specific genes, however, scientists have now figured out how to use the system to knock-in genes as well as edit the epigenome.

These features, along with the technique’s relative simplicity and ease of use, have led to CRISPR being adapted into a wide variety of fields such as bio-agriculture.