science + technology news

Scientists Bringing ‘Table Top’ Particle Accelerators a Step Closer

September 30, 2004

Three research teams announced new developments in producing relativistic electron beams using laser-produced plasmas to accelerate the beams.

The beams have a narrow energy spread and are focusable. These new developments could help to shrink the size and cost of future particle accelerators for fundamental physics experiments and applications in materials and biomedicine. Laser electron accelerators could eventually fit into a university basement.

All three research teams published… read more

Mobile with 360 Mbit/s

September 30, 2004

Siemens researchers have developed a new mobile data communication system that can transfer data at of up to 360 megabits per second — about 100 times faster than the most powerful DSL connection.

The system uses Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) technology to eliminate multipathing interference and multi-hop stations, a combination of base station, amplifier and router.

British Researchers Apply for Licence to Generate Human Brain Cells

September 29, 2004

The scientists who cloned Dolly the sheep at Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute have formally applied for a license to clone human embryos to find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (called MND or motor neurone disease in the UK).

The research team plans to take DNA from the skin or blood of a person with MND and implant it into a human egg from which the genetic material has been… read more

New Sequence Involved In DNA Replication Timing May Aid In Cancer Detection

September 29, 2004

Scientists have discovered a DNA sequence that is involved in controlling DNA replication timing.

Because alterations in DNA replication timing are associated with cancer, this discovery may lead to improved methods for cancer detection. In many cancer cells, the normal order of DNA replication is altered. Tests for DNA replication timing may eventually become a method for early detection of cancer.

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

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