science + technology news

Diagnostic method based on gold nanoparticles could rival PCR

April 28, 2004

Northwestern University chemists have developed ultra-sensitive technology based on gold nanoparticles and DNA that is easier to use, considerably faster, more accurate, and less expensive than PCR, making it a leading candidate for use in point-of-care diagnostics.

The method, called bio-bar-code amplification (BCA), can test a small sample and quickly deliver an accurate result. BCA also can scan a sample for many different disease targets simultaneously.

The team… read more

High-speed nanotube transistors could lead to better cell phones, faster computers

April 28, 2004

Scientists have demonstrated for the first time that transistors made from single-walled carbon nanotubes can operate at extremely fast microwave frequencies, opening up the potential for better cell phones and much faster computers, perhaps as much as 1,000 times faster.

Peter Burke, Ph.D., a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Irvine and his colleagues built an electrical circuit with a carbon nanotube between… read more

Skin cell bandages treat burns

April 28, 2004

People with severe burns or diabetic wounds could benefit from “living” bandages made of their own skin cells, according to UK researchers.

Called “Myskin,” the treatment involves the growing of healthy skin cells on small discs. Once applied, the discs release the cells and help new layers of skin to grow.

Super Organics

April 28, 2004

Forget Frankenfruit — the new-and-improved flavor of gene science is Earth-friendly and all-natural. Welcome to the golden age of smart breeding.

Researchers are beginning to understand plants so precisely that they no longer need transgenics to achieve traits like drought resistance, durability, or increased nutritional value. Over the past decade, scientists have discovered that our crops are chock-full of dormant characteristics. Rather than inserting, say, a bacteria gene to… read more

Plant Dispatched to Decontaminate Soil

April 27, 2004

Scientists have recruited plants in their fight against pollution, teaming the yellow lupine with modified bacteria that can break down organic chemicals. The combination is very effective at removing the toxic compound toluene from soil.

Digital Paper Makes Device Debut

April 27, 2004

Sony, Philips, and digital paper pioneer E-Ink have announced LibriƩ, an electronic book reader the size of a paperback book that can hold 500 documents in memory and allow owners to download new content. The display has a resolution of 170 pixels per inch, comparable to the print quality of newspapers.

New Drug Delivery Technique Avoids Needles

April 27, 2004

Microscission, a new technique of administering medication developed by MIT researchers, uses a stream of gas to deliver drugs through the skin. It uses minuscule inert crystals of aluminum oxide to remove the rough outer layer of skin and create tiny holes called microconduits that medication can move through. It could provide a less painful alternative for many patients, including those suffering from Diabetes, who frequently prick their fingers to… read more

Cognitive Rascal in the Amorous Swamp: A Robot Battles Spam

April 27, 2004

SpamProbe, which automatically learns to recognize junk e-mail, is an example of AI programs based on a statistical method called Bayesian inference that learns from experience.

The Biggest Jolt to Power Since Franklin Flew His Kite

April 27, 2004

Companies say they are closing in on the goal of producing relatively inexpensive superconducting wire for power generators, transformers and transmission lines.

Google’s Goal: “Understand Everything”

April 27, 2004

“The ultimate search engine would basically understand everything in the world, and it would always give you the right thing,” says Google co-founder Larry Page. “Our mission is to organize the world’s information.”

Chip rewires itself on the fly

April 27, 2004

The first processor that can add new instructions while operating was announced by startup Stretch.

The chip combines an existing RISC (reduced instruction set computing) architecture with a large reconfigurable area of programmable logic. Developer-generated software automatically spots areas in a program that require intensive computation and creates new instructions for the processor to handle those tasks.

Typical tasks, such as performing encryption or digital video processing on… read more

IBM, Stanford join forces on spintronics

April 27, 2004

IBM’s Almaden Research Center and Stanford University have announced an agreement to work together on spintronics. The goal: usher in a second era of electronics based on manipulating an electron’s spin rather than transfer of charge.

It is proving difficult to achieve ever-higher levels of integration using traditional semiconductor scaling techniques, largely because of higher power consumption.

“Spin current,” which comes from angular momentum of rotating electrons, does… read more

E-translators: the more you say, the better

April 26, 2004

Universal translation is one of ten emerging technologies that will affect our lives and work “in revolutionary ways” within a decade, Technology Review says.

Researchers are concentrating on phrases rather than individual words, which can have various shades of meaning and result in awkward translations.

Phraselator’s translated phrases are pre-recorded by native speakers, so they are clearly understood. Carnegie Mellon is working on “Speechlator” for use in doctor-patient… read more

Faster circuits go for gold

April 26, 2004

Computer chip manufacturers are fast running out of room on conventional, flat circuit boards. So for the next generation of chips, the only way is up.

Researchers have developed a way to draw the circuit directly into a block of glass. They added gold oxide to the glass, focused short laser pulses on specific points inside the block to dislodge individual atoms of gold, and heated the block to… read more

US unprepared for dirty-bomb attacks

April 26, 2004

The United States is ill prepared to deal with the long term aftermath of a “dirty-bomb” terrorist attack, say analysts. They warn that existing clean-up laws and regulations covering radioactive materials were not designed with dirty bombs in mind, and give conflicting recommendations.

The researchers want new guidelines to be drafted urgently to deal specifically with the consequences of a dirty-bomb attack, so that clean-up targets can be balanced… read more

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