science + technology news

Heroin addiction gene identified and blocked

June 1, 2005

Scientists have identified a critical gene (AGS3 in the nucleus accumbens in the brain) involved in heroin addiction relapse in rats and successfully blocked it, eliminating cravings for the drug.

A related treatment could become available to humans within the next couple of years.

Would you have allowed Bill Gates to be born?

June 1, 2005

There is a good chance we will soon have a genetic test for detecting the risk of autism in an embryo or fetus.

The development of such a screening tool raises the possibility that parents might one day have the option of preventing the birth of a child with even a mild form of the disorder.

As genetic testing moves into the world of mental health, we are… read more

Fertilizer from the stars

June 1, 2005

Gamma-ray bursts from nearby supernovas of giant stars or a collision between neutron stars could have showered our planet with nitrate, an essential nutrient for plants, helping plants colonize the land about 440 million years ago.

Low fat, low protein diet boosts longevity

June 1, 2005

Lowering the amount of protein and fat in flies’ diet helped increase lifespan by nearly 65%, while eating less sugar increased longevity only by about 9%, implying that the effect was not due solely to a reduction of total calories.

Self-wiring supercomputer is cool and compact

June 1, 2005

An experimental supercomputer made from hardware that can reconfigure itself to tackle different software problems is being built by Edinburgh University researchers.

It will use Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) chips instead of conventional fixed, general-purpose processing devices.

The researchers say it could usher in a new generation of compact supercomputers over the coming decade that will be up to 100 times more energy efficient than a conventional… read more

Revolutionary nanotechnology illuminates brain cells at work

May 31, 2005

Scientists at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Plant Biology and Stanford University are using molecular sensors to view changes in brain chemical levels.

The sensors alter their 3-dimensional form upon binding with the neurotransmitter glutamate, which is then visible via a process known as fluorescence resonance energy transfer, or FRET.

Toyota Aims To Sell Service Robots By 2010

May 31, 2005

Toyota Motor Corp. aims to start selling robots that can help look after elderly people or serve tea to guests by 2010.

Without Apology, Leaping Ahead in Cloning

May 31, 2005

Dr. Woo Suk Hwang of South Korea hopes to use animal stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries in rats, dogs and, possibly, monkeys.

If the animal trials go well, he hopes to apply for permission in South Korea and the United States to start conducting human trials in two to three years.

Robot combined with swallowable camera could give docs a better look inside the small intestine

May 31, 2005

A Carnegie Mellon University engineer is developing a set of legs that could be incorporated into the swallowable camera-in-a-pill that has become available in the past four years for diagnosing gastrointestinal disorders in the small intestine.

The legs will form a tripod that could stop the capsule’s movement through the intestine, giving doctors a chance to take a closer look, or crawl as if it were an inchworm to… read more

Proving the Pollock

May 30, 2005

The claim that 32 of Jackson Pollock’s paintings – mostly from his spectacularly inventive “drip” period – have been discovered is a major event. The trouble is that Pollock experts cannot yet agree whether they are genuine.

Perhaps a test equivalent to the Turing Test should apply to paintings. This could matter, in the unlikely event that some of the canvasses turn out to have been produced by animals.… read more

Why China is poised to streak ahead of the West

May 30, 2005

China’s doing things the rest of us don’t even know about, and unless we change quickly they will streak past us, futurist Frank Ogden, aka Dr. Tomorrow, says.

“They are speeding ahead in so many areas because they have the ability to get big things done very quickly. They’re very smart, they think differently from us, and they have no restrictions on anything.

We also have to learn… read more

Bioscientists: Gods or Monsters?

May 30, 2005

In his new book, The Geneticist Who Played Hoops With My DNA … and Other Masterminds From the Frontiers of Biotech, journalist and author David Ewing Duncan chats with some of the most prominent and powerful life scientists in the United States about the human motivations behind their God-like endeavors.

Physicists control the flip of electron spin

May 30, 2005

Physicists have found a way to change the direction of the spin of an electron with an applied voltage.

They were able to manipulate how long it would take for the electron to flip its spin and emit a photon – from one to 20 nanoseconds.

The ability to control the spin of the electron help determine the properties of the photon, which in turn could have implications… read more

Hello Kitty, Hello Clone

May 30, 2005

Genetic Savings and Clone will create a clone cat for $32,000 and plans to produce its first cloned dog later this year.

Printing press spells out bugs’ behaviour

May 30, 2005

The world’s first bacterial printing press will print live bacteria onto solid surfaces in precise patterns, a technique that may help explain how bacteria influence each other spatially.

Understanding these relationships will help find ways of thwarting their attacks and using them to clean up pollutants.

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