science + technology news

Microbes used to make bioelectronic circuits

March 18, 2005

University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists have used single bacterial cells to make tiny bioelectronic circuits.

The bacteria, are guided, one at a time, down a channel to a pair of electrodes and become electrical “junctions,” allowing researchers to capture, interrogate and release bacterial cells one by one. Built into a sensor, such a capability would enable real-time detection of dangerous biological agents.

University of Wisconsin-Madison news release

13 things that do not make sense

March 18, 2005

There are many scientific observations that simply defy explanation, such as the placebo effect, the horizon problem (the microwave background radiation filling the cosmos is at the same temperature everywhere), ultra-energetic cosmic rays, dark matter, and Viking’s methane.

Human embryonic stem cells grown animal-free

March 18, 2005

Three teams have managed to derive and grow human embryonic stem cells without using any animal cells that might contaminate them.

All existing embryonic stem cells lines could be tainted with animal diseases or substances that would trigger transplant rejection.

Plasmonic computer chips move closer

March 18, 2005

Mark Brongersma of Stanford University has found a new way to model the three-dimensional propagation of plasmons.

Plasmons travel at the speed of light and are created when light hits a metal at a particular angle, causing waves to propagate through electrons near the surface. They could be used to move data around computer chips and could operate at frequencies 100,000 times faster than today’s Pentium chips, without requiring… read more

HP Unveils Plans to Replace Silicon with Nanotechnology

March 18, 2005

HP has revealed its strategy for the future of computing, replacing silicon processors with nanotechnology, in a three-pronged approach: fundamental scientific research into the quantum effects that dominate the nanometer scale, a new architecture that can tolerate defects in molecular-sized circuit components, and cost-effective methods of fabrication.

The strategy centers on HP’s crossbar architecture, which HP says is six to ten years from widespread use. Also known as the… read more

Hitachi unveils ‘fastest robot’

March 17, 2005

Japanese electronics firm Hitachi has unveiled its first humanoid robot, called Emiew, to challenge Honda’s Asimo and Sony’s Qrio robots.

Hitachi said the Emiew was the world’s quickest-moving robot yet at 6km/h (3.7 miles per hour).

Study Reveals New Difference Between Sexes

March 17, 2005

How the functioning of X chromosomes differs in women and men may help to explain biological differences between the sexes, according to a new study by researchers from Duke and Pennsylvania State Universities.

The researchers, writing today in the journal Nature, said the results implied that women make higher doses of certain proteins than men, which could result in differences in both normal life and disease.

Women turn… read more

Sequencing reveals origins of X chromosome

March 17, 2005

The complete sequence of the human X chromosome was published in Nature this week. It shows that large segments of it match parts of normal chromosomes in birds, confirming the X chromosome’s “non-sex” origins.

Wequence comparisons with rats, mice and dogs show that the X chromosome seems to have changed little since the evolution of placental mammals, supporting the idea that once genes are transferred to X, they stay… read more

Quantum computing: No turning back

March 16, 2005

The first realizations of “cluster states” and cluster-state quantum computation are reported in Nature this week (10 March issue, pp169-176).

This is the first experimental demonstration of the “one-way quantum computer,” representing a significant move from theory to reality for an alternative approach to quantum computing first proposed in 2001.

The experiment demonstrates that modifications to the entangled photons in such a state allow the system to encode… read more

Photonic crystal slows down light

March 16, 2005

Researchers have succeeded in reducing the group velocity of light by a factor of more than 100 in a novel two-dimensional photonic crystal.

The development is important for building optical interconnects for future computers operating at speeds above 20 gigahertz, where presently used electrical interconnects have severe limitations.

CMU Robot finds life ‘all by itself’

March 16, 2005

A Carnegie Mellon University rover called Zoe is the first robot to remotely detect life, finding fluorescent signals from both visible lichens and microscopic bacteria in Chile’s barren Atacama Desert.

The NASA-sponsored test thus demonstrated that scientists can use robots to identify life in harsh regions.

The CMU instrument detects life by looking for natural fluorescence from cells that contain chlorophyll. It also can spray four special dyes… read more

Intermittent fasting may reduce cancer risk

March 16, 2005

Healthy mice given only 5 percent fewer calories than mice allowed to eat freely experienced a significant reduction in cell proliferation in several tissues, an indicator for cancer risk, UC Berkeley researchers found.

The key was that the mice eating 5 percent fewer calories were fed intermittently, or three days a week.

Cutting just a few calories overall but feeding intermittently may be a more feasible eating pattern… read more

Zombie PCs being sent to steal IDs

March 16, 2005

Bot nets, collections of compromised computers controlled by a single person or group, have become more pervasive and increasingly focused on identity theft and installing spyware.

The large networks of compromised computers are now a tool for groups of criminals bent on making money through identity fraud or adware installation. A person whose computer is infected with bot software runs the risk of having sensitive information such as account… read more

Need a Building? Just Add Water

March 16, 2005

Engineers in London have come up with a “building in a bag” — a sack of cement-impregnated fabric. To erect the structure, all you have to do is add water to the bag and inflate it with air. Twelve hours later, the Nissen-shaped shelter is dried out and ready for use.

Bioterror CSIs Target Germs

March 16, 2005

New bioterrorism forensic tools, including advanced mass spectrometry, chemical analysis of water, and DNA fingerprinting, could identify the region of the country where a bioagent was grown.

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