science + technology news

‘Info-mania’ dents IQ more than marijuana

April 25, 2005

Far from boosting productivity, the constant flow of emails, cellphone calls and instant messages received by modern workers can seriously reduce a person’s ability to focus on tasks, a study of office workers found.

Mess with the body clock at your peril

April 25, 2005

Workers with irregular sleep patterns have a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes and are more tired and inattentive, increasing the chance of accidents and mistakes.

Superlens opens door to nanoscale optical imaging, high-density optoelectronics

April 21, 2005

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a “superlens” that can break the so-called diffraction limit of optics through negative refraction, allowing for imaging of 60-nanometer objects.

University of California – Berkeley news release

Nanoswitch uses organic molecules

April 21, 2005

Weizmann Institute of Science have demonstrated a new kind of electrical switch, formed of organic molecules, that could be used in the future in nanoscale electronic components.

Weizmann Institute news release

The Infinite Library

April 21, 2005

Google is converting the full text of millions of library books into searchable Web pages. How will libraries function in 2020 or 2050, once Google or its successors have finished digitizing the world’s printed knowledge?

Stink bomb gas puts mice into suspended animation

April 21, 2005

Suspended animation has been deliberately induced in a species of mouse which does not naturally hibernate, using hydrogen sulphide.

If a similar response could be triggered in humans, there would be major healthcare benefits and the futuristic idea of putting astronauts into suspended animation on long-haul space flights could move a step closer to reality.

Nanomagnets bend the rules

April 21, 2005

Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Brookhaven National Laboratory have found that a class of nanostructured materials that are key components of computer memories and other important technologies undergo a previously unrecognized shift in the rate at which magnetization changes at low temperatures.

The results could point the way to marked improvements in the performance of microwave devices.

National Institute ofread more

Gene discovered that plays a key role in brain wiring

April 21, 2005

A team headed by Drs. Robin Hiesinger and Hugo J. Bellen at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston has found a gene, named sec15, that plays a key role in brain wiring.

Baylor College of Medicine news release

Whatever happened to machines that think?

April 21, 2005

“I believe we are heading towards a singularity and we will see it in less than 10 years,” says Doug Lenat of Cycorp, which is putting an artificial brain called Cyc online for the world to interact with.

Opening Cyc up to the masses is expected to accelerate the rate at which it learns, giving it access to the combined knowledge of millions of people around the globe as… read more

Nanotube chemical sensor gains speed

April 20, 2005

Naval Research Laboratory researchers have made single-walled carbon nanotube chemical sensors that measure the change in the nanotubes’ capacitance.

Arrays of the sensors could eventually be used to detect a range of chemical vapors including volatile organic compounds and semivolatile nerve agents.

Trapped cells make micromotors

April 20, 2005

Researchers from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in India have showed that it is possible to make live Chlamydomonas reinhardtii cells rotate while pinned in a laser trap.

The energy of a light beam can be used to manipulate and trap cells much like the way wind moves objects at a larger scale.

The ultimate goal is to design controllable motored nanomachines.

Researchers Identify ‘Death from Cancer’ Genes

April 20, 2005

A set of 11 genes — the “death from cancer signature” — associated with cell proliferation and renewal can identify people at higher risk for metastatic complications and more severe cancer illness, according to a study by a team from the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in San Diego.

American Association for Cancer Research news release

At One Trillion Degrees, Even Gold Turns Into the Sloshiest Liquid

April 20, 2005

Scientists at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island have produced a state of matter that flows better than water at about a trillion degrees instead of turning into a gas, as expected.

The scientists stopped short of announcing that they had created a subatomic soup known as quark-gluon plasma. Physicists are interested in quark-gluon plasma because it will help them understand the “strong force” that holds protons and… read more

New twist in wrangle over changing physical constant

April 20, 2005

A new study of distant galaxies is adding a fresh perspective to the debate over whether a fundamental physical constant has actually changed over time. The work suggests the number has not varied in the last 7 billion years, but more observations are still needed to settle the issue.

The controversy centers on the fine-structure constant, also called alpha, which governs how electrons and light interact. Alpha is an… read more

Computer generates verifiable mathematics proof

April 20, 2005

Mathematicians have employed logic-checking software to help develop a proof of the Four Color Theorem. The method could be used to develop a similar system for checking the logic used in computer programs, which could pre-empt some unforeseen bugs that cause programs to crash.

The Four Color Theorem states that any four colors are the minimum needed to fill in a flat map without any two regions of the… read more

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