science + technology news

Facing Biotech Foods Without the Fear Factor

January 13, 2005

Contrary to public perception, nearly every food we eat has been genetically modified, through centuries of crosses, both within and between species, and for most of the last century through mutations induced by bombarding seeds with chemicals or radiation.

In each of these techniques, dozens, hundreds, even thousands of genes of unknown function are transferred or modified to produce new food varieties.

But alarmist warnings about the possible… read more

‘Morse code’ signal switches genes

January 13, 2005

Cells use a morse code-like signal to switch genes on and off, researchers have found.

According to Professor Douglas Kell, who sits on the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and is a member of the research team, “This raises new challenges for drug designers. It appears that simply aiming to knock down signalling molecules with drugs, as many people are trying to do, may have weak or… read more

Making microscopes go faster

January 12, 2005

Scientists in the US and Israel have demonstrated an atomic force microscope that can take images of periodic processes with a time resolution of microseconds.

Higher temporal resolutions can be obtained by using the AFM in a “force-sensing” mode, which can detect movements from a single point on a sample. They improved on the technique by combining a series of individual force-sensing measurements to construct images.

The method… read more

Nanoneedle gets into cells

January 12, 2005

Japanese scientists have used nanoneedles attached to an atomic force microscope to penetrate the nucleus of living cells.

The needles could be used to deliver molecules such as nucleic acids, proteins or other chemicals to the nucleus, or maybe even to carry out cell surgery.

The nanoneedles the scientists tested were 200-300 nm in diameter and 6-8 microns long. They were etched from pyramidal silicon AFM tips using… read more

Nanoshells ideal as chemical nanosensors

January 12, 2005

Tailored nanoparticles known as nanoshells can enhance chemical sensing via Raman scattering by as much as 10 billion times, Rice University researchers have found.

The finding means that all-optical nanoscale sensors — essentially new molecular-level diagnostic instruments — could be designed that detect as little as a few molecules of a target substance, such as a drug molecule, disease protein, or deadly chemical agent.

Nanoshells are ball-shaped and… read more

A DNA Success Raises Bioterror Concern

January 12, 2005

Researchers have made an unexpectedly sudden advance in synthesizing long molecules of DNA, creating concern the technique might be used to create the smallpox virus.

“This has the potential for a revolutionary impact in the ease of synthesis of large DNA molecules,” said Dr. Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University.

“This will permit efficient and rapid synthesis of any select agent virus genome in very short… read more

Vestiges of Big Bang Waves Are Reported

January 12, 2005

Astronomers have seen, in the patterns of galaxies scattered across the night sky, the vestiges of sound waves that rumbled through the universe after the Big Bang.

Electrical field generator helps spinal injuries

January 11, 2005

Ten patients with complete motor and sensory spinal cord injury have showed improvement in sensation from an implanted oscillating field stimulator or OFS, which creates an electrical field in the area of injury.

Indiana University news release

Could a hole in space save man from extinction?

January 11, 2005

In the next decade, powerful satellites will help us to understand life, the fate of our universe and the “theory of everything,” says Michio Kaku.

  • In 2014, the Terrestrial Planet Finder satellite will begin to hunt for small, Earth-like planets in 500 star systems with a telescope designed to screen out the mother stars, whose light otherwise overwhelms the faint radiation from any nearby planets.
  • Consisting
  • read more

    Infrared-sensitive material may capture 30 percent of Sun’s radiant energy

    January 11, 2005

    Researchers have invented a spray-on infrared-sensitive material, using nanoparticles, that signficantly extends the ability to capture the Sun’s energy.

    According to professor Peter Peumans of Stanford University, “Our calculations show that, with further improvements in efficiency, combining infrared and visible photovoltaics could allow up to 30 per cent of the sun’s radiant energy to be harnessed, compared to six per cent in today’s best plastic solar cells.”

    The… read more

    Voicemail software recognises callers’ emotions

    January 11, 2005

    A voicemail system that labels messages according to the caller’s tone of voice could soon be helping people identify which messages are the most urgent.

    The software, called Emotive Alert, works by extracting the distribution of volume, pitch and speech rate – the ratio of words to pauses – in the first 10 seconds of each message, and then comparing them with eight stored “acoustical fingerprints” that roughly represent… read more

    Devastating Attack In The Net’s Near Future, Experts Say

    January 11, 2005

    Count on at least one devastating attack on the Internet in the next 10 years, an overwhelming majority of technology experts polled by a major research group says.

    The experts’ second-most agreed upon prediction was that as computing devices become embedded in everything from clothes and cars to phones and pharmaceutical packaging, governments and businesses will use them to snoop on citizens and consumers.

    Supercomputing goes global

    January 11, 2005

    The world’s most powerful supercomputer likely will evolve into a grid architecture of loosely coupled systems harnessed logically to a single task across a global network.

    A grid holds the most promise for delivering the biggest and baddest theoretical supercomputing architecture imaginable, a virtual multiple-instruction/multiple-data, or MIMD, global supercomputer.

    Grid architectures rely more on specialized software than on fast hardware, and they’re attracting lots of research. Users in… read more

    Life, Reinvented

    January 10, 2005

    MIT engineers have created the new field of synthetic biology.

    Israeli ‘nano-lightbulbs’ could help detect drug’s efficiency

    January 10, 2005

    An Israeli researcher has developed “nano-lighbulbs” — polymer patches placed on the walls of living cells that change color and fluoresce as a result of events occurring on the cell membrane.

    The research is intended to clarify how cells communicate with one another, and to investigate whether and how certain drugs and hormones are effective in penetrating cells and others are not.

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