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How neurons synthesize proteins from limited number of genes

August 1, 2002

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and UK-based Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have identified a mechanism by which neurons can synthesize a diverse range of proteins from a relatively limited number of genes.

For the Pcdh family of proteins, the diversity is achieved by “alternative promoters and cis-alternative splicing with a low level of trans-splicing,” enabling individual neurons to express distinct combinations of Pcdh genes, and, in turn, proteins.

Virtual people help bridge digital divide

August 1, 2002

Web-based avatars are being developed in the U.K. as a simplified interface to computer systems that inform citizens about services.

Game Theory for Real People

August 1, 2002

Game theorists need to consider emotions and their consequences, not just rational behavior, according to game theorist Martin Shubik, speaking at the International Conference on Game Theory.

Nobel prize winner John Nash spoke on “Further work on computational study of models in cooperation in games. Study of standard three-person games in terms of agencies.”

Quantum net for atom angling

July 31, 2002

Researchers at University of Texas at Austin are able to extract an exact number of atoms from a Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC) — clouds of atoms that behave as though they were a single super-atom — using a quantum dot. Manipulating BECs is important in developing quantum computers.

Anemone of the Smart People

July 31, 2002

SIGGRAPH’s Emerging Technologies Exhibition features advances in seamless human-machine integration, robots, machines that enhance the five senses, and explorations of virtual reality.

Call for moratorium on commercial nanomaterials

July 30, 2002

ETC Group (“dedicated to the conservation and sustainable advancement of cultural and ecological diversity and human rights”) calls for “an immediate moratorium on commercial production of new nanomaterials [and for launching] a transparent global process for evaluating the socio-economic, health and environmental implications of the technology.” ETC Group cites an EPA meeting where it was claimed that “nanoparticles are showing up in the livers of research animals, can seep into… read more

WHITE PAPER GETS EXPERTS WONDERING ABOUT NANO REALITY AND HYPE

July 30, 2002

A white paper says nanotechnology will affect a wide range of industries and there are promising investments to be made, but warns about the hype.

Windows, lose, draw

July 30, 2002

University of Alberta researchers have developed a poker-playing computer program that successfully guesses whether an opponent is bluffing, wavering or playing his hands straight.

It records a player’s habits or biases as the game progresses and uses algorithms to mix that information with baseline probabilities, creating the effect of both reason and intuition. The program now defeats 90% of opponents.

Hearing is Believing

July 29, 2002

The Hyper-Sonic Sound System (HSS) can convert any audio signal to an ultrasonic frequency that can be precisely directed toward a listener up to 100 yards away.

Uses include promotion from stores and vending machines (as in Minority Report), home theater systems, entertainment, and military weapons and psychological operations.

Artificial intelligence tackles breast cancer

July 26, 2002

Researchers have used neural network program and fuzzy logic to achieve nearly 90 per cent accuracy in predicting the extent of spread of breast cancer and whether patients would survive for five years. This significantly outperformed conventional statistical analysis techniques.

The Serious Search for an Anti-Aging Pill

July 25, 2002

A pill that mimics the life-prolonging effects of caloric restriction by inhibiting glucose metabolism could enable people to stay healthy longer, postponing age-related disorders — without requiring people to go hungry.

Ant Supercolony Dominates Europe

July 25, 2002

A species of Argentine ant has developed the largest supercolony ever recorded, stretching 6,000 kilometers from northern Italy to Spain, with billions of related ants occupying millions of nests.

Scientists think high nest densities would have favored cooperative behaviour over aggression. Evolution would then have reinforced this superiority because nests without internal strife would have had time and resources to fight off their enemies.

Asteroids on collision course with Earth?

July 24, 2002
NASA hypothetical simulation

A two-kilometers-wide asteroid — large enough to cause continent-wide devastation on Earth — could strike the planet on February 1, 2019, based on astronomers’ preliminary orbit calculations, BBC News reports. The uncertainty of the forecast is large, however — several tens of millions of kilometers, according to Dr. Donald Yeomans of NASA JPL.

Invisible comets made of an exotic material called “mirror matter” could also be on a collision… read more

Interview With a Humanoid

July 23, 2002

Five clone calves in Wisconsin have been born with 0.1 percent human DNA. They are expected to produce a human protein, C-1 Esterase Inhibitor, in their milk to treat humans suffering from angioedema.

Infigen, a biotech company in DeForest, Wisconsin, is cloning cows with human DNA to produce products such as human collagen, human fibrinogen (used to treat wounds), and human factor VIII, used for blood clotting.

The… read more

Shape Memory Alloy May Be Ready for Market

July 23, 2002

Interest is picking up in nitinol shape-memory devices for use in toys (dolls with nitinol facial muscles and mobile action figures), medical devices (stents in blood vessels and arteries to keep them from clogging), and other uses. The benefits: shrink components to reduce weight, cut materials costs and improve design flexibility.

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