science + technology news

Bipedal robot learns to run

December 17, 2004

The latest version of Honda’s humanoid robot Asimo can perform several new tricks, including the ability to run where during each stride both its feet are in the air at the same time.

Sony’s Qrio robot was the first biped bot to demonstrate the ability to run, in December 2003. It is also capable of mimicking human dance maneuvers with remarkable skill.

Walking on two legs has some… read more

Caltech computer scientists embed computation in a DNA crystal

December 17, 2004

California Institute of Technology computer scientists have succeeded in building a DNA crystal that computes as it grows.

This is the first time that a computation has been embedded in the growth of any crystal, and the first time that computation has been used to create a complex microscopic pattern.

The scientists showed that DNA “tiles” can be programmed to self-assemble into a crystal, using DNA “sticky ends”… read more

Snapshot of an electron orbital

December 16, 2004

Researchers have announced a technique to record a three-dimensional image of the orbitals of electrons in molecules.

The imaging technique uses extremely short laser pulses to briefly ionize an electron away from a molecule of nitrogen. As they spring back, the electrons emit light that can interfere with the laser pulse in different ways depending on the electron’s position and where the laser pulse hit the molecule.

The… read more

Chemical Reactions One Molecule at a Time

December 15, 2004

University of California at Riverside researchers used the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) as a nanoscale actuator to individually guide molecules one at a time and step-by-step through a chemical reaction.

Their technique fine-tunes the reactivity of groups of molecules, offering a way to optimize atomic-scale construction of complex molecules on surfaces.

In 2000, researchers found that the STM could assemble individual biphenyl molecules from elementary… read more

Test tube method analyzes and reconstitutes DNA-repair mechanism

December 15, 2004

One of five known DNA-repair mechanisms in cells has been completely analyzed and reconstituted in a test tube by an international collaboration of researchers led by scientists from the Keck School of Medicine.

The team is the first to reconstitute this pathway, known as the nonhomologous end joining pathway, or NHEJ, and NHEJ is only the third repair pathway to be reconstituted in the laboratory.

The ability to… read more

Stressed Mice Quicker To Get Skin Cancer

December 15, 2004

Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center scientists have found that stress can speed up the onset of skin cancer in mice.

Their study shows that mice exposed to stressful conditions and cancer-causing UV light developed skin cancers in less than half the time it took for non-stressed mice to grow tumors.

The investigators say that if what they are seeing in mice has relevance in man, stress-reducing programs like… read more

A Patch for Broken Hearts

December 14, 2004

MIT researchers have grown a tissue patch that could repair damaged hearts, using electric signals that mimic a heartbeat to force single cardiac cells to develop into tissue similar to that of the native heart.

They attached rat cardiac cells to a three-dimensional collagen scaffold and then zapped the cells with electrical pulses modeled on a rat heartbeat for several days, inducing the cells to grow into beating patches… read more

Living cells get nanosurgery

December 14, 2004

Researchers have turned an atomic force microscope (AFM) into a surgical tool for cells that could add or remove molecules from precise locations inside a cell without harming it.

They used a beam of energetic ions to sharpen a standard silicon AFM tip into a needle just eight micrometers long and 200 nanometers wide.

The needle could allow for injecting molecules into specific regions of a cell or… read more

Wow! That’s fast TCP!

December 14, 2004

Data has been sent across a wide-area optical network at 101Gbit/sec., the fastest-ever sustained data transmission speed, equivalent to downloading three full DVD movies per second, or transmitting all of the content of the Library of
Congress in 15 minutes.

It was demonstrated by a High Energy Physics research team that included the California Institute of Technology, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratories (FNAL).… read more

A Species in a Second: Promise of DNA ‘Bar Codes’

December 14, 2004

If it works as promised, DNA bar coding will assist in the urgent task of cataloging unknown species before their ranks are decimated by extinction.

The technique depends on analyzing part of just one gene, the same gene in all cases, for every species.

If and when a DNA bar code database of all terrestrial plant and animal species is established, a field biologist could take a tiny… read more

Google Is Adding Major Libraries to Its Database

December 14, 2004

Google plans to announce an agreement today with some of the nation’s leading research libraries and Oxford University to begin converting their holdings into digital files that would be freely searchable over the Web.

Google plans to digitize nearly all the eight million books in Stanford University’s collection and the seven million at the University of Michigan.

The goal is to create a digital card catalog and searchable… read more

Selective coatings create biological sensors from carbon nanotubes

December 13, 2004

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed protein-encapsulated single-walled carbon nanotubes that alter their fluorescence in the presence of specific biomolecules.

The technique could generate many new types of implantable biological sensors. The researchers have already built a near-infrared nanoscale sensor that detects glucose.

Brain Imaging Reveals New Language Circuits

December 13, 2004

Researchers using diffusion tensor (DT) MRI have found a third area of the human brain, dubbed “Geschwind’s territory,” that is part of human language circuits along with Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas.

“There are clues that the parallel pathway network we found is important for the acquisition of language in childhood,” said Marco Catani, M.D., from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London. “Geschwind’s territory is the last area… read more

Nanotube suppliers accused of selling shoddy goods

December 13, 2004

Researchers who buy products such as carbon nanotubes are frequently being sold defective materials, according to a survey of nanotechnology companies.

The survey suggests that the surge in nanotechnology projects has outpaced the ability of companies to reliably supply the basic materials needed by researchers.

Gene therapy reduces skin cancer from sunburn

December 13, 2004

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have successfully tested the first gene therapy for skin cancer, using a mouse model for the disease xeroderma pigmentosum, or XP.

Humans with XP have a mutation that prevents the body from repairing DNA damaged by UV light. Mice with mutations in the gene Xpa suffer from XP and develop cancerous lesions on their skin within three weeks after UV light… read more

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