science + technology news

Ultra-realistic binaural surround sound is coming

January 25, 2005

Ultra-realistic binaural surround sound in ordinary headsets is being developed by researchers at the University of York and the University of Sydney.

The subtle distortions to sound caused by the head and ear shapes of the listener normally account for the perception of 3D location of sound.

The scientists use “spatial filters” to artifically create these distortions. They envisage booths where customers can have the shape of their… read more

Machine learns games ‘like a human’

January 25, 2005

A computer that learns to play a “scissors, paper, stone” game by observing and mimicking human players could lead to machines that automatically learn how to spot an intruder or perform vital maintenance work, say UK researchers.

In contrast to older AI programs that mimic human behaviour using hard-coded rules, CogVis, developed by scientists at the University of Leeds, learns through observation and mimicry. It teaches itself how to… read more

Human Brain Design Gets a New Timetable

January 25, 2005

The genes that specify the architecture of the human brain seem to have started evolving faster some 20 million years ago, when the great apes split off from Old World monkeys.

The genes then doubled their speed of evolution after the human lineage parted ways with that of chimpanzees five million years ago.

The finding shows many different genes are involved in constructing the special features of the… read more

It Can Be Done: Scientists Teach Old Dogs New Tricks

January 25, 2005

A diet rich in vitamin E, vitamin C and other antioxidants combined with a stimulating environment slowed the canine aging process in an experiment reported in the January issue of Neurobiology of Aging.

However, one author of the paper works for the company that sells the dog food used in the study, calling into question its validity.

DNA molecules used to assemble nanoparticles

January 24, 2005

University of Michigan researchers have developed a faster, more efficient way to produce a wide variety of nanoparticle drug delivery systems, using DNA molecules to bind the particles together.

Nanoparticle complexes can be specifically targeted to cancer cells and are small enough to enter a diseased cell, either killing it from within or sending out a signal to identify it. But making the particles is notoriously difficult and time-consuming.… read more

Tailor-made skin from ‘ink’ printer

January 24, 2005

Manchester University scientists have developed a printer able to produce human skin to help wounds and burns heal. With more research it could even replace broken bones.

The cells are put into a special printer ink liquid and artificially multiplied. Then, the printer prints the cells on to a plastic surface, which acts like a scaffold to support the cells. Experts say that the plastic could then be surgically… read more

Blazing Speed: The Fastest Stuff in the Universe

January 24, 2005

Astronomers are now measuring matter that moves at 99.9 percent of the speed of light.

The fast-moving material consists of blobs of hot gas embedded in streams of material ejected from hyperactive galaxies known as blazars; and ultra high-energy cosmic rays.

Exposure at Germ Lab Reignites a Public Health Debate

January 24, 2005

The recent tularemia episode at Boston University has outraged opponents of the proposed $178 million laboratory and reignited a national debate over whether the rapid expansion in work with dangerous pathogens is adequately regulated and scientifically justified.

New tests identify cancer “ringleaders”

January 21, 2005

Cancer treatments could improve by targeting cancer “stem cells,” which give birth to all other cells in tumors, say researchers.

Killing these stem cells is vital because they avoid destruction and trigger regrowth of cancer even when all other cancer cells have been obliterated through standard drug or radiation therapy.

Mouse brain cells rapidly recover after Alzheimer’s plaques are cleared

January 21, 2005

Washington University School of Medicine researchers found that brain cells in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease can recuperate after the disorder’s characteristic brain plaques are removed.

Researchers injected mice with an antibody for a key component of brain plaques, the amyloid beta (Abeta) peptide. In areas of the brain where antibodies cleared plaques, many of the swellings previously observed on nerve cell branches rapidly disappeared. The new results… read more

Nervous system may regulate aging

January 21, 2005

A class of anti-seizure medications slows the rate of aging in roundworms, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

When exposed to drugs used to treat epilepsy in humans, worms lived longer and retained youthful functions longer than normal. Because the drugs affect nerve signals, the researchers’ observations suggest that the nervous system influences aging processes.

Washington University School of Medicineread more

Small science to be big in 2005: analysts

January 21, 2005

“Nanotechnology” will be a much more familiar word to everyone in 2005, not just scientists, say analysts.

In 2005, people will start noticing its mundane uses, like making car paint shinier, windows that clean themselves, and smaller and better mobile batteries.

Booze boosts brainpower

January 21, 2005

Harvard School of Public Health epidemiologists have found that moderate alcohol consumption protects women from cognitive decline, with a study showing that older women who consume moderate amounts of alcohol score better on cognitive tests.

Although researchers know that moderate drinking benefits the heart, there haven’t been any significant studies of whether moderate alcohol intake has any effect on the brain. The epidemiologists say that previous findings about the… read more

Spleen may be source of versatile stem cells

January 20, 2005

Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have found further evidence that the spleen might be a source of adult stem cells.

Previously the researchers found evidence that splenic stem cells existed and could regenerate the insulin-producing islets of the pancreas. In a follow-up study, they now report that these potential adult stem cells produce a protein previously believed to be present only during the embryonic development of mammals. The finding both… read more

Nanoparticle antiviral technology inhibits RSV infection

January 20, 2005

University of South Florida College of Medicine researchers found that an antiviral treatment combining nanoparticle and gene silencing technologies thwarts attacks of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — a virus associated with severe bronchitis and asthma.

The researchers developed nose drops containing vectors capable of producing small fragments of RNA (siRNA). These fragments were encapsulated within chitosan nanoparticles — biodegradable particles that stick to mucous-producing cells lining the lungs. The… read more

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