science + technology news

Searching in the Third Dimension

April 16, 2004

Princeton University professor Thomas Funkhouser and colleagues have put a 3-D search engine on the Web that lets anyone sketch an object using a computer mouse, add a textual description, then search for similar models in design databases.

Here’s how it works: stored CAD designs and entries sketched by users are converted into voxels, which represent the volume of the object at any given point. Then voxel patterns are… read more

Big Bang glow hints at funnel-shaped Universe

April 16, 2004

Could the Universe be shaped like a medieval horn? It may sound like a surrealist’s dream, but according to Frank Steiner at the University of Ulm in Germany, recent observations hint that the cosmos is stretched out into a long funnel, with a narrow tube at one end flaring out into a bell.

It would also mean that space is finite. If you could fly towards the flared end… read more

Universities, research centers retrench after hacks

April 16, 2004

Academic supercomputing labs were targeted by unknown attackers over the last month, compromising servers at the San Diego Supercomputing Center, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Stanford University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and elsewhere.

While the attackers had access to many of the computers that act as nodes on distributed high-performance computing networks, the intruders were more interested in access to computing power than sabotage, laboratory staff maintain.

Author: Mission to moon and beyond will inspire humanity

April 16, 2004

Human exploration of the moon, Mars and beyond will move humanity past terror and war, much like earlier voyages found a new world for Europeans mired in conflict 500 years ago, science fiction author Ray Bradbury told a presidential commission Thursday.

Superantibodies target diseases by entering cells

April 15, 2004

Superantibodies that can bind to targets within cells, rather than on their surface, could lead to a new range of treatments for diseases, InNexus Biotechnology of Vancouver claims.

Superantibodies could be used to target bacteria and viruses (including HIV) inside cells, for instance, or abnormal proteins that turn cells cancerous. In theory, they could do everything that the small molecules of most conventional drugs do, and more.

The… read more

‘Switched on’ muscle stem cells morph to resemble nerve cells

April 15, 2004

Researchers have turned muscle progenitor cells — stem cells that are “committed” to becoming muscle tissue — into cells that look and act like neurons.

Using an artificial gene they created, the researchers “switched on” a panel of genes that are normally silent in the muscle cells, causing them to morph into cells that show biochemical, physiological, and structural properties of neurons.

The researchers say the advance provides… read more

Photo recognition software gives location

April 15, 2004

New photo recognition software on a remote server works out precisely where you are from a digital-camera image and sends back directions that will get you to your destination.

When their system receives an image, it begins by identifying vertical and horizontal lines. Next, it warps the image so that the horizontals are all parallel with each other, and the same for verticals. This transforms the picture into one… read more

Fat stem cells heal broken skulls

April 15, 2004

For the first time, stem cells purified from fat have been used to heal an injury in a living animal.

The Stanford University researchers showed in mouse experiments that adipose-derived adult stromal (ADAS) cells purified from a rodent’s belly fat could be coaxed to heal a skull fracture too large to mend by itself.

No Chip in Arm, No Shot From Gun

April 15, 2004

A new “smart gun” computer chip promises to keep police guns from firing if they fall into the wrong hands, using a tiny chip implanted in a police officer’s hand that would match up with a scanning device inside a handgun.

If the officer and gun match, a digital signal unlocks the trigger so it can be fired. But if a child or criminal would get hold of the… read more

Following a Bright Light to a Calmer Tomorrow

April 15, 2004

People who have had “near-death experiences” (such as out-of-body travel) are far better at handling stress than researchers had expected.

Psychological tests showed that the participants’ physiological differences were associated with what the researchers called active coping, a tendency to “take the bull by the horns” in stressful situations.

Dr. C. Bruce Greyson, a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia, theorizes that the experience may be a protective… read more

Friend or Foe? A Digital Dog Tag Beams the Answer

April 15, 2004

Using a combination of radio frequency transponders, laser sensors and microwave-like transmitters, the Defense Department hopes to give every allied soldier, tank and plane a unique identifier to distinguish friend from foe.

Nutritional supplement may improve vision

April 14, 2004

The vision of patients with age-related macular degeneration improved to the point where they were able to read the next smallest line on their doctors’ eye charts after taking a nutritional supplement called lutein for a year, according to a study led by a Chicago area doctor.

Nanoparticles seek out solvents in groundwater

April 14, 2004

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon and Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory have designed nanoparticles for removing the solvent trichloroethylene from contaminated soil.

Targeted drug-delivery methods using thermodynamic or chemical affinity to get specific drugs to target organs and/or tissues were the inspiration for their work.

The researchers used nanoparticles with an iron core and a shell made up of several types of polymer. A hydrophilic coating made the… read more

Simulation maps nano patterns

April 14, 2004

Researchers from the University of Michigan have used a computer simulation to develop a method of chemically building nanoscale patterns on a surface. The patterns, which include neatly-positioned groups of wavy and straight lines, dots, boxes within boxes, and mixes of dots and lines, would be relatively inexpensive to produce and could form the basis for nanoscale machines.

To make the patterns, the researchers simulated the application of monolayers,… read more

Commercial applications of (CNTs) soon to be realised

April 14, 2004

Georgia Tech Research Institute is developing a carbon nanotube-based electrochemical double-layer supercapacitor, a project sponsored by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

Such supercapacitors would provide more power, increased energy density (more charge per gram of weight), and longer life than traditional batteries and capacitors that store electrical energy.

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