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Harvard scientists use simple materials to create semi-soft robots

Harvard scientists use simple materials to create semi-soft robots

June 13, 2017

At the beginning of the decade, George Whitesides helped rewrite the rules of what a machine could be with the development of biologically inspired “soft robots.” Now he’s poised to rewrite them again, with help from some plastic drinking straws.

Inspired by arthropod insects and spiders, Whitesides and Alex Nemiroski, a former postdoctoral fellow in Whitesides’ Harvard lab, have created a type of semi-soft robot capable of standing and walking. The team also created a robotic water strider capable of pushing itself along the Read more about Harvard scientists use simple materials to create semi-soft robots

Harvard climate study reveals ozone hole risk in Midwest

Harvard climate study reveals ozone hole risk in Midwest

June 8, 2017

Storms common to the Midwest in summer create the same ozone-damaging chemical reactions found in polar regions in winter, according to a new Harvard study. And with extreme weather on the rise, people living in the region could face an increased risk of UV radiation.

Powerful storms in the Great Plains inject water vapor that, with temperature change, can trigger the same chemistry eroding the Arctic ozone, according to a new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Read more about Harvard climate study reveals ozone hole risk in Midwest

Physicists create antiferromagnet that may help them better understand superconductors

Physicists create antiferromagnet that may help them better understand superconductors

June 1, 2017

From the moment when physicists discovered superconductors — materials that conduct electricity without resistance at extremely low temperatures — they wondered whether they might be able to develop materials that exhibit the same properties at warmer temperatures.

The key to doing so, a group of Harvard scientists say, may lie in another exotic material known as an antiferromagnet.

Led by physics professor Markus Greiner, a team of physicists has taken a crucial step toward understanding those materials by creating a quantum antiferromagnet from an ultracold gas Read more about Physicists create antiferromagnet that may help them better understand superconductors

Researchers work to create kidney filtration barrier on a chip

Researchers work to create kidney filtration barrier on a chip

May 10, 2017

The kidney, made up of about a million tiny units that work to filter blood, constantly rids the body of undesired waste products to form urine. During the process, it also holds back blood cells and valuable proteins and controls the body’s fluid content.

Key to each of these units is a structure known as the glomerulus, in which so-called podocyte cells wrap themselves tightly around a tuft of capillaries. Separated by a thin membrane composed of extracellular matrix, slits are left between them to build an actual filtration barrier. The podocytes are also the target of Read more about Researchers work to create kidney filtration barrier on a chip

Stem cell lines grown in lab dish may acquire mutations

Stem cell lines grown in lab dish may acquire mutations

April 26, 2017

Regenerative medicine using human pluripotent stem cells to grow transplantable tissue outside the body carries the promise to treat a range of intractable disorders, such as diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

However, a research team from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), Harvard Medical School (HMS), and the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has found that as stem cell lines grow in a lab dish, they often acquire mutations in Read more about Stem cell lines grown in lab dish may acquire mutations

New vistas opening for brain disorder research

New vistas opening for brain disorder research

April 26, 2017

In a culture flask, 45 lentil-sized globs of neurons swirl in a gentle eddy of liquid medium. These lumpy, 3-D networks of human nerve cells, called brain organoids, have generated more diverse and mature cell types than any other model system of brain tissue to date.

Scientists have increasingly turned to organoids, organ models cultured from induced pluripotent stem cells, to investigate human brain development and disease. However, most brain organoid models to date have been cultured on a scale of weeks to investigate early neural development under various conditions Read more about New vistas opening for brain disorder research

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