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Programmed Human Aging Supports Survival of Species

September 29, 2004

A University of Southern California researcher proposes that aging is programmed so that the majority of a population dies prematurely to provide nutrients for the sake of a few individuals who have acquired the genetic mutations that increase their chances of reproduction.

Valter Longo’s research, based on observations of programmed aging in baker’s yeast, could imply that humans die earlier than they have to due to programmed human aging.… read more

Nanotube Defects Detected Using Vibrations

September 29, 2004

Max Planck Institute researchers have measured the vibrational modes of carbon nanotubes with atomic resolution and demonstrated that the vibrations are substantially modified near defects.

Using a scanning tunneling microscopy technique, the vibrational modes of carbon nanotubes were mapped with sub-nanometer spatial resolution. This allows the study of the role of local defects in the flow of heat and electrical charge in carbon nanostructures.

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Device to Save Hospitals Billions

September 29, 2004

New Zealand engineers and medical experts are developing a computer program that senses the level of pain a patient is in and measures the exact amount of pain relief and sedative drugs they need.

Using a digital video camera, it determines what level of agitation a patient is experiencing.

They hope their development will eventually save hospitals throughout the world billions of dollars in wasted drugs and help… read more

Engineering God in a Petri Dish

September 29, 2004

Advisors to the International Association for Divine Taxonomy, which include biochemists, biophysicists, ecologists, geneticists and zoologists from the University of California at Berkeley, the Smithsonian and other institutions, are attempting to determine where on the phylogenetic map to put God.

If evolutionary theory is accurate, God’s genetic makeup should most resemble Earth’s first life forms. Or if creationists are right, God’s DNA is more like the life forms he… read more

I.B.M. Supercomputer Sets World Record for Speed

September 28, 2004

IBM’s BlueGene/L supercomputer has surpassed the Earth Simulator as the world’s fastest supercomputer by attaining a sustained performance of 36.01 teraflops, eclipsing the top mark of 35.86 teraflops reached in 2002 by the Earth Simulator.

BlueGene/L is only one-hundredth the physical size of the Earth Simulator and consumes one twenty-eighth the power per computation, the company said.

The BlueGene/L will have wide commercial applications, first in the petroleum… read more

Eavesdropping Call Center Computers Cut Talk Time

September 28, 2004

IBM researchers are developing an artificial intelligence system for call centers that uses speech recognition and search engine technology to search a call center’s databanks for the information a customer wants and present it to the operator before the caller has finished explaining what they want.

The system works by listening in to the conversation and identifying keywords spoken by the customer. It then flashes up the most relevant… read more

An Important Step Toward Molecular Electronics

September 28, 2004

Northwestern University engineers have precisely aligned multiple types of molecules on a silicon surface to achieve patterning on a scale 10,000 times smaller than that of microelectronics at room temperature.

The nanofabrication process, called multi-step feedback-controlled lithography, works at room temperature and on silicon, which suggests that it can be made compatible with conventional silicon microelectronics. Previously the researchers were working with single types of molecules: with the new… read more

Rice Finds ‘On-Off Switch’ for Buckyball Toxicity

September 27, 2004

A new study in the journal Nano Letters describes a simple way to make buckyballs ten million times less toxic.

Buckyballs, nanometer-wide carbon molecules, show promise in everything from fuel cells to pharmaceuticals, but early studies raised concerns about their toxicity. Rice University’s Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology compared the toxicity of pure and modified buckyballs and found the greater the degree of surface modification, the lower the… read more

Researchers Create Nanotubes That Change Colors, Form ‘Nanocarpet’ and Kill Bacteria

September 27, 2004

University of Pittsburgh researchers have synthesized a simple molecule that produces perfectly uniform, self-assembled nanotubes which organize themselves into a “nanocarpet” of upright clusters resembling a carpet (including a self-assembled backing) and can act as a bacterial biosensor or biocide.

These nanotubes can change color in the presence of chemical agents. In tests with E. coli the nanotubes changed color when the bacteria were present. The tubes also killed… read more

Brain’s ‘Storehouse’ for Memory Molecules Identified

September 27, 2004

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center and Brown University have pinpointed the molecular storehouse that supplies the neurotransmitter receptor proteins used for learning-related changes in the brain.

Their finding constitutes an important step toward understanding the machinery by which neurons alter their connections to establish preferred signaling pathways in the process of laying down new memories. Understanding such machinery could also offer clues to how it might degenerate in… read more

Microscope Etches Ultrathin Lines

September 24, 2004

University of Sheffield researchers have shown that it is possible to achieve electron beam resolution for organic materials using an ultraviolet laser shown through a near-field optical microscope.

The researchers etched 20-nanometer features into a single layer of molecules on a gold surface using 244-nanometer ultraviolet light. The method could be used to make highly miniaturized arrays of proteins and DNA for biological sensors and analyzers.

In principle.… read more

NSF Announces Six New Centers for Nanoscale Research

September 24, 2004

The NSF announced awards of $69 million over five years to fund six major centers in nanoscale science and engineering, to be located at the University of California-Berkeley, Stanford University in California, the University of Wisconsin, Ohio State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Northeastern University in Massachusetts.

These awards complement eight existing centers established since 2001. The awards are part of a series of NSF grants totaling $250… read more

Virus Forms Nano Template

September 24, 2004

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Brown University have showed how self-assembly mechanisms that bring together charged membranes and oppositely charged polymers like biological molecules can be understood in terms of simple rules, and have applied the rules to make virus-membrane complexes with pore sizes that can be used to organize molecules.

These complexes are made from alternating layers of membranes and viruses. They could be… read more

Key Cell-Death Step Found

September 24, 2004

Researchers at UC Davis and Johns Hopkins University decoded a fundamental cellular event related to apoptosis — programmed cell death — caused when necessary mitochondrial fusion goes awry.

UC Davis news release

Electrical Detection of Single Viruses

September 22, 2004

Harvard University scientists have found that nanowire field effect transistors can be used to electrically detect the presence of single viruses in real time, with near-perfect selectivity.

These detectors can also differentiate among viruses with great precision, suggesting that the technique could be scaled up to create miniature arrays easily capable of sensing thousands of different viruses.

Abstract: Electrical Detection of Single Viruses

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