science + technology news

Could astronauts sleep their way to the stars?

August 4, 2004

The European Space Agency (ESA) is planning research into the possibility of inducing a hibernation-like state in humans.

It would help astronauts cope with the psychological demands of decades-long journeys and less space and food would be needed on such missions, so spacecraft would be lighter and easier to launch.

One route of inquiry centers on DADLE, a substance with opium-like properties. An injection of DADLE is known… read more

Dietary neurotoxin linked to Alzheimer’s

August 4, 2004

Neurotoxins called BMAA from blue-green algae present in certain foods or water can accumulate in proteins and might cause brain diseases like Alzheimer’s after many years, suggests a new study.

BMAA is sometimes incorporated into proteins in place of normal amino acids.It would slowly be released as proteins are broken down. So for years after eating contaminated food, people’s brains would be exposed to low levels of the neurotoxin.

US Army orders weapons supercomputer

August 4, 2004

The US army has commissioned a new supercomputer to model the behavior of materials used in the development of new weapons.

Named Stryker, it will be capable of a peak performance of 10 teraflops. It will be the most powerful computer in the world to use the Linux operating system.

On July 27, the US Navy ordered an even faster supercomputer from IBM that will have a peak… read more

What Dreams Are Made Of

August 3, 2004

New technology is helping brain scientists unravel the mysteries of the night. Their work could show us all how to make the most of our time in bed.

The long-range goal of dream research is a comprehensive explanation of the connections between sleeping and waking, a multidimensional picture of consciousness and thought 24 hours a day.

The screen-age: Our brains in our laptops

August 3, 2004

The late media theorist Marshall McLuhan would say the Internet is an extension of our central nervous systems.

This was evident in interviews with college students about their online lives in Sherry Turkle’s book “Life on the Screen.”

One of the most striking observations in Turkle’s findings was a quote from one multitasking student who preferred the online world to the face-to-face world. “Real life,” he said, “is… read more

Spotting Cancer Sooner

August 3, 2004

Blood tests that detect cancer in its early stages would save countless lives. The first could arrive within a year, using pattern-recognition algorithms for protein profiling.

Study Shows Cancer Cells May Revert

August 2, 2004

A cloning experiment in mice indicates that for melanoma skin cancer, at least, cancerous cells may be able to revert to normal.

The investigators cloned mouse embryos from a melanoma skin cancer cell. Using embryonic stem cells, they created healthy adult mice who had some cells derived from the cloned cancer cells.

Earth-like planets may be more rare than thought

August 2, 2004

We could be alone in the Universe after all. Martin Beer of the University of Leicester, UK, and co-workers argue that our Solar System may be highly unusual, compared with the planetary systems of other stars.

They suggest that other planets (which are detected from the wobble that they induce in their own sun’s motion) were not formed by the same kind of process that produced our Solar System… read more

August 2009: How Google beat Amazon and Ebay to the Semantic Web

August 2, 2004

You can see why Google was a natural to put it all together. Google already searched the entire Web. Google already had a distributed framework with thousands of independent machines. Google already looked for the links between pages, the way they fit together, in order to build its index. Google’s search engine solved equations with millions of variables. Semantic Web content, in RDF, was just another search problem, another set… read more

Photonic chips go 3D

July 30, 2004

Research teams from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and from Kyoto University have succeeded in making practical photonic crystal chips.

The techniques could be used to make smaller, more efficient communications devices; create optical memory and quantum computing and communications devices; develop new types of lasers and biological and chemical sensors; and could ultimately lead to all-optical computer processors.

Electric fields assemble devices

July 30, 2004

Researchers from the National Microelectronics Research Centre (NMRC) in Ireland have used electric fields to direct arrays of gallium arsenide light-emitting diodes to assemble onto silicon chips.

The researchers’ self-assembly device contains an array of electrodes on a silicon surface that allows them to put electric fields of specific configurations on the surface of the chip. The fields can be configured to attract electric charges at a particular spot… read more

Nanoimprint lithography gets smaller

July 30, 2004

Princeton University researchers have shown that photocurable nanoimprint lithography (P-NIL) can produce lines of polymer resist just 7 nm wide with a pitch (or pattern repeat) of only 14 nm. The technique also produced reliable results over the whole area of a 4 inch wafer.

“This work really pushes the limit down to a few molecules in size,” said Stephen Chou of Princeton.

This is a 20-fold reduction… read more

Stepping on Big Brother’s Toes

July 30, 2004

Cars that report your every false move to local law authorities. Huge databases with detailed information on every citizen. Companies that only honor privacy guidelines when it’s profitable for them to do so.

These were some of the winners of Privacy International’s sixth annual U.K. Big Brother Awards.

Study Lends Support to Mad Cow Theory

July 30, 2004

Scientists have made an artificial prion that can, by itself, produce a deadly infectious disease in mice and may help explain the roots of mad cow disease.

The findings are strong evidence for the “protein-only hypothesis,” the controversial idea that a protein, acting alone without the help of DNA or RNA, can cause certain kinds of infectious diseases.

Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Type 2 diabetes and at least… read more

UK study calls for extra safety measures for nanotechnology

July 30, 2004

The UK’s Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering today released their long-awaited report on the potential risks and benefits of nanotechnology. The report proposes:

  • UK and European legislation should treat nanoparticles and nanotubes as new chemicals and avoid release of such nanomaterials into the environment until more is known about their impact.
  • Set lower exposure levels for people who work with manufactured nanoparticles.
  • read more

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