science + technology news

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

NEC Extends Quantum Cryptography Range and Speed

September 22, 2004

NEC Corporation researchers have developed a quantum cryptography system that can generate quantum keys at a speed of 100Kbps and transmit them up to 40 kilometers along commercial fiber optic lines.

This combination of speed and distance is a world record. NEC expects to offer the system commercially in the second half of 2005.

Spinach Could Power Better Solar Cells

September 22, 2004

MIT Researchers integrated a protein complex derived from spinach chloroplasts with organic semiconductors to make a solar cell that could be combined with solid state electronics.

Previous efforts to integrate the energy harnessing capability of chlorophyll with conventional electronics have failed because it normally requires a watery environment in which to work. Here researchers artificially stabilized the protein complex at the heart of their system using synthetic peptides to… read more

UIC Unveils World’s Most Powerful MRI for Decoding the Human Brain

September 21, 2004

The University of Illinois at Chicago has unveiled the world’s most powerful magnetic resonance imaging machine.

The current industry standard for MRI systems is 1.5 tesla, which limits researchers to imaging water molecules. As a result, only anatomical changes can be detected and monitored.

By contrast, UIC’s 9.4-tesla magnet will enable researchers to detect signals from sodium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen — the metabolic building blocks of… read more

Only in Quantum Physics: Spinning While Standing Still

September 20, 2004

Penn State researchers found experimental evidence for a “supersolid” form of helium-4 that displayed the frictionless-flow properties of a superfluid.

Penn State Press Release

They’re Robots? Those Beasts!

September 20, 2004

Lobsters, snakes, cockroaches, fish and other animals are inspiring the designers of biomimetic robots.

Designs based on animal motion could allow robots to move in environments currently inaccessible to today’s generation of wheeled or tank-treaded robots.

Record Atom-Scale Resolution

September 20, 2004

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers used aberration correction technology to improve the resolution of a scanning transmission electron microscope to 0.6 angstroms (.06 nm, approximately the diameter of an atom), a new record.

ONRL news release

Nose-Steered Mouse Could Save Aching Arms

September 20, 2004

Dmitry Gorodnichy’s “nouse” software allows computer users to move on-screen using their noses.

The software uses webcams to track the tip of the user’s nose. Nose movements move the onscreen cursor. Blinking the right or left eye twice replaces a right or left mouse click.

Alice Chatbot Wins for Third Time

September 20, 2004

Richard Wallace’s Alice chatbot program beat three other finalists to take the 2004 bronze metal for the Loebner Prize competition.

The bronze metal goes to the program best able to maintain a life-like conversation. No program has won gold or silver metals, which will go to programs able to convince half the judges that the program is a human, either via video (gold) or text (silver).… read more

Order of Magnitude Increase for Carbon Nanotube Length

September 20, 2004

Los Alamos National Laboratory and Duke University chemists have grown a world-record-length four-centimeter-long, single-wall carbon nanotube.

It was made using catalytic chemical vapor deposition from ethanol vapor, and is significantly larger than previous maximum lengths of just a few millimeters.

Los Alamos National Labs news release

Nanotube Visible Light Antenna

September 20, 2004

Scientists at Boston College have used an array of carbon nanotubes to create a rudimentary visible-light antenna.

The researchers used nanotubes that were hundreds of nm long.

Applications could include demodulation of fiber-optic television signals or efficient solar energy conversion.

Rules for Self-Configuring Robots

September 20, 2004

Robots that change shape and even split into smaller parts to explore unfamiliar terrain could soon be feasible, thanks to new algorithms designed to enable such metamorphic tricks.

Researchers have published definitive control methods for self-reconfigurable robots. Robots using these rules will not fall apart as they change shape or get irreversibly stuck while moving. The rules instruct robots how to roam over terrain, build tall structures to overcome… read more

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