the digest

Alien Planets Show Themselves for First Time

March 23, 2005

Astronomers have seen light from extrasolar planets for the first time.

The planets, in the constellations constellation Pegasus and Lyra, were discovered by comparing measurements of infrared light made while the planet and star were both visible and while the planet was hidden behind the star.

Biological computer can run 1 billion programs

March 23, 2005

Technion Israel Institute of Technology scientists have developed a biological computer, composed entirely of DNA molecules and enzymes constructed on a gold-coated chip, that can run 1 billion programs.

This increase represents a dramatic advance in terms of the potential mathematical operations and complexity of problems that may be solved using a biological computer, according to a Technion statement.

“The chip allows for automatic, real-time readout of the… read more

Nano-Probes Allow an Inside Look at Cell Nuclei

March 23, 2005

Scientists have developed a way to sneak nano-sized probes inside cell nuclei where they can track life’s fundamental processes, such as DNA repair, genomic alterations, and cell cycle control.

This may allow researchers to track the effectiveness of disease-fighting drugs that target these processes.

The researchers, at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, transported the fluorescent quantum- dot probes inside cell nuclei by attaching a… read more

Bacteria act as glue in nanomachines

March 22, 2005

Electric currents are being used to move bacteria around silicon chips and trap them at specific locations. The technique could help to assemble nanomachines from miniature parts, and to create a new generation of biological sensors.

Mini Big Bang Created, Puzzling Results Too Explosive

March 22, 2005

Physicists claim that at a trillion degrees, nuclear material melts into an exotic form of matter called a quark-gluon plasma — thought to have been the state of the universe a microsecond after the Big Bang.

Recreating this primordial soup is the primary purpose of the Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory. After five years of data, it appears as if RHIC may have succeeded.

But… read more

Automated web-crawler harvests resume info

March 22, 2005

ZoomInfo, a new search engine focused on people, can automatically identify online information on individuals and weave it into detailed summaries.

The real reason for Atkins diet weight loss

March 22, 2005

The high-protein Atkins diet works not for the reasons its inventor claimed, but simply because people eat less, according to studies by Guenther Boden at Temple University School of Medicine.

“They dropped 1000 calories because they didn’t want to eat more,” Boden says. “They loved the diet. They loved to eat bacon and eggs, and sausages and that sort of thing.”

(Subscription required)

Computers gain power, but it’s not what you think

March 21, 2005

Performing complex tasks at lightning speed is the machine’s greatest strength; thinking and intelligence are still in our heads.

After decades of trying to create machines that can think, researchers now just want to take advantage of computers’ speed and make them less stupid.

Intellext’s Watson, which uses pattern recognition to find relevant documents, is one example of software that takes advantage of more powerful computers. Another is… read more

MRI visualizes gene expression in real time

March 21, 2005

Carnegie Mellon University scientists have “programmed” cells to make their own MRI contrast agents, enabling unprecedented high-resolution, deep-tissue imaging of gene expression.

The results, appearing in the April issue of Nature Medicine, hold promise for conducting preclinical studies in the emerging field of molecular therapeutics and for monitoring the delivery of therapeutic genes in patients.

To trigger living cells into producing their own contrast agent, the researchers gave… read more

Prefrontal cortex brain waves predict body movement

March 21, 2005

California Institute of Technology scientists have confirmed that the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (vPF) area of the brain is involved in the planning stages of movement.

They were able to predict where a target the patient was looking at was located, and also where the patient was going to move his hand. The work currently appears in the online version of Nature Neuroscience.

The work has implications for the… read more

Nanotechnology’s progress and challenges addressed during ACS meeting

March 18, 2005

More than 60 presentations, in symposia ranging from medicine to the environment to business, highlight nanotechnology’s progress and challenges during the 229th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Diego, March 13-17.

American Chemical Society news release

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

close and return to Home