science + technology news

Patching the Body With Fabric From Protein

June 21, 2005

Researchers are working to create replacement human tissue from a naturally occurring protein, elastin.

In animal studies financed by the Army, Dr. Kenton Gregory, director of the Oregon Medical Laser Center, has succeeded in patching what would usually be fatal wounds to the gastrointestinal tract and other organs with living tissue that is accepted by the body and that eventually becomes part of the organ itself.

“We are… read more

Making molecules work

June 20, 2005

University of Sheffield researchers are developing synthetic molecular motors that simulate biological molecular motors, which operate by using molecular shape changes.

The researchers are using a polymer with weak acidic or basic groups along the backbone. For a polyacid, for example, in acidic conditions the molecule is uncharged and hydrophobic; it takes up a collapsed, compact shape. But when the acid is neutralised, the molecule ionizes and becomes much… read more

Further steps towards artificial eggs and sperm

June 20, 2005

Human embryonic stem cells have been coaxed in the lab to develop into the early forms of cells which eventually become eggs or sperm, UK researchers reveal.

It might one day be to allow people who cannot produce eggs or sperm to have children, by taking cells from their body, deriving embryonic stem cells via therapeutic cloning and then deriving eggs or sperm.

Being able to derive eggs… read more

New model ‘permits time travel’

June 20, 2005

A new model that uses the laws of quantum mechanics gets rid of the famous “grandfather” paradox surrounding time travel.

According to Einstein, space-time can curve back on itself, theoretically allowing travelers to double back and meet younger versions of themselves.

And now a team of physicists from the US and Austria says this situation can only be the case if there are physical constraints acting to protect… read more


June 20, 2005

The line that has long separated human beings from the machines that assist them is blurring as complex technologies become a visible part of people who depend upon them.

Major universities like Carnegie Mellon and the University of California at Berkeley, as well as companies and the United States military, are exploring ways in which people can be enhanced by strapping themselves into wearable robotics, or exoskeletons.

Software Advance Helps Computers Act Logically

June 16, 2005

A new software language, ISO 18629, promises to enable computers to reason much more precisely and thus better reflect subtleties intended by commands of human operators.

ISO 18629 uses AI and language analysis to represent computer commands in the context of a manufacturing plan. Researchers have incorporated approximately 300 concepts, such as “duration” and “sequence,” into its software structure. Computers using software with this expanded, though still primitive AI… read more

Scientists grow brain cells in a dish

June 16, 2005

Scientists have discovered a way to create new mice brain cells in a dish, using stem cells.

If the discovery also applied to humans, it could be possible to generate enough of a patient’s own stem cells to restore damaged brain function. Since the recipient of a transplant would also be the donor, the procedure could also be carried out without the need for immune system suppressing drugs.

AI developed for Mars explorers

June 16, 2005

A computer system designed to look for life on Mars picks out interesting features and highlights them in real-time in a visor on one eye or a tablet display.

It consists of a 667MHz wearable computer, a tablet display with stylus or visor, a colour video camera and tripod.

It would provide “augmented reality”, allowing astronauts on future Mars missions to narrow down their search for targets relevant… read more

New Skin Lets Robots Get Sensitive

June 16, 2005

A new type of skin with more than 1,000 infrared sensors embedded all over its surface allows a robot to “feel” changes in its surroundings and move accordingly.

Thin films of silicon nanoparticles roll into flexible nanotubes

June 15, 2005

By depositing nanoparticles onto a charged surface, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have crafted nanotubes from silicon that are flexible and nearly as soft as rubber.

“Resembling miniature scrolls, the nanotubes could prove useful as catalysts, guided laser cavities and nanorobots,” said Sahraoui Chaieb, a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at Illinois.

To create their flexible nanotubes, Chaieb and his colleagues – physics professor… read more

Nanoparticles carry cancer-killing drugs into tumor cells

June 15, 2005

University of Michigan scientists have created the nanotechnology equivalent of a Trojan horse to smuggle a powerful chemotherapeutic drug inside tumor cells – increasing the drug’s cancer-killing activity and reducing its toxic side effects.

The drug delivery vehicle is a manmade polymer molecule called a dendrimer. Less than five nanometers in diameter, these are small enough to slip through tiny openings in cell membranes. Dendrimers have a tree-like structure… read more

Second Blue Gene system rises up the ranks

June 15, 2005

IBM’s new Blue Gene Watson performed 91.3 trillion calculations per second, or 91.3 teraflops. That means it’s second only to IBM’s original Blue Gene/L system, the fastest supercomputer in the world.

Blue Gene Watson has been used for protein simulations that tie into biology and drug development research.

Nano-stamping makes its mark

June 14, 2005

Researchers at Massachussetts Institute of Technology and Virginia Commonwealth University reckon their supramolecular nanostamping printing technique could enable the mass production of nanodevices. The method uses DNA hybridization to replicate a pattern and has a resolution of less than 40 nm.

Robots putting their heads together

June 14, 2005

The key to getting robots to perform complex tasks may not be in making them smarter. Instead, it may be in getting a lot of dumb robots to act together.

That’s the idea behind a project being led by the University of Pennsylvania, funded by a $5 million grant from the Department of Defense. The purpose of the Scalable Swarms of Autonomous Robots and Sensors project is to create… read more

The Ethics of Creating Consciousness

June 14, 2005

Next month, IBM is set to activate the most ambitious simulation of a human brain yet conceived. It’s a model they say is accurate down to the molecule.

No one claims the “Blue Brain” project will be self-aware. But this project, and others like it, uses electrical patterns in a silicon brain to simulate the electrical patterns in the human brain — patterns which are intimately linked to thought.… read more

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