science + technology news

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

August 6, 2004

Two kittens have been born using a new cloning method that may be safer and more efficient than traditional methods, according to Genetic Savings & Clone.

The company used a new method called chromatin transfer that tries to produce a cloned embryo that more closely resembles a normal embryo.

It involves dissolving the outside of the nucleus of the cell to be cloned and removing certain regulatory proteins… read more

Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder where you are

August 6, 2004

The stars we see are not necessarily where we think they are. Materials with a negative refractive index may be responsible for this locational uncertainty, researchers have found.

Material (such as space dust) that might have a negative index of refraction transmits light or other wave energy in a different direction than one with positive index of refraction. The relative velocity of the observer also changes the refractive index… read more

Skin used to transmit key data

August 6, 2004

Ident Technology has developed a system that transfers a tiny 30-nanoamperes electric current across the skin to control devices such as a car lock or computer securely by simply touching them.

Since it’s based on an electrostatic effect, it can also work at up to a meter away.

Mapping the Physical And Mental Universes

August 5, 2004

If the manual of life is encoded in our DNA, where do we look to find the blueprint of consciousness? This was a subject that fascinated Francis Crick, who, along with James Watson, discovered the double-helix structure of DNA 50 years ago.

Engrossed in the mysterious relationship between mind and body, Crick later felt impelled to turn his attention from matter to mind and from biology to philosophy –… read more

Mobiles to Run off Body’s Energy

August 5, 2004

Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) are working on a project to see how the body can generate electricity to run mobile devices.

One idea is to place piezoelectric material on the soles of a pair of shoes.

Start-up to use genes to build better chips

August 5, 2004

Start-up company Cambrios plans to create films or crystals that can be used in semiconductors and other components by combining various types of metals with a virus that attacks the E. coli bacteria.

Decoders target 18 new genomes

August 5, 2004

The National Human Genome Research Institute plans to sequence genomes for 18 species to shed light on both the human genome and the evolution of the entire tree of life.

Among the diverse organisms selected are the African savannah elephant, the domestic cat, the nine-banded armadillo and a cadre of moulds, snails and worms.

Biomimetic nanotechnology

August 4, 2004

Researchers are exploring several ways to imitate biology at the submicrometer level.

One approach tries to inorganically duplicate biological materials that have extraordinary properties, such as those of geckos, which can cling even to smooth surfaces when upside down because of capillary and van der Waals forces between the surface and densely packed 200-nm-wide keratin hairs on the soles of their feet.

A second major biomimetic approach uses… read more

R&D eyes novel, nonvolatile memories at nanoscale

August 4, 2004

R&D projects based on such techniques as carbon nanotubes, molecular electronics and atomic force microscope probe arrays appear to be converging on the ideal of a universal high-density, high-capacity, nonvolatile, low-power read/write memory technology.

Candidate technologies include Millipede (using arrays of cantilevered atomic-force microscope tips to read tiny indentations in a plastic membrane), spintronics-magnetic RAM (MRAM), nanotubes, and self-assembled porphyrin molecular films.

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.

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