science + technology news

Boffins Get Their Circuits in a Twist

March 29, 2004

A Baltimore research team has developed a technique for building electrical circuitry that can bend and stretch like rubber. The new technology could be used to make artificial nerves, attach flexible electrodes to a beating heart, or make rubbery needles that would be safer and more reliable in the treatment of Parkinson disease, in which doctors insert probes into the sufferer’s brain.

Too High for Love: Lost Your Drive?

March 29, 2004

In “Why We Love,” authors Helen Fisher and psychiatrist James Thomson Jr. argue that certain antidepressants could be blocking chemical pathways in the brain that were paved by evolution to help us meet and keep mates.

Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft already carry warnings that they can suppress the libido and interfere with sexual functioning. But Fisher and Thomson argue that the problem may… read more

Health Concerns in Nanotechnology

March 29, 2004

Buckyballs can cause extensive brain and liver damage in fish, according to research presented yesterday at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

The nanoparticles, had not been coated, a process used to limit the toxicity of such materials in applications like drug delivery.

Methane poses Mars life puzzle

March 29, 2004

Methane has been found in the Martian atmosphere, which means it’s from either active volcanoes (none have yet been found on Mars) or present-day microbes.

Now NASA looks to change Mars into a garden of Earthly delights

March 29, 2004

Some scientists hope to terraform Mars, turning it into a blue world with streams, green fields and fresh breezes and ultimately providing mankind with a new home.

But first, they would need to thicken its atmosphere and heat up the planet so ice trapped in the Martian soil would melt and be used to sustain agriculture. One proposal: place a large mirror many miles in diameter in orbit above… read more

Why the feds fear nanobots

March 26, 2004

The $3.7 billion 21st-Century Nanotech Research and Development Act excludes funding for molecular manufacturing.

One theory holds that government and business fret that any talk of nanobots would conjure up the Magician’s Apprentice scenario (in which tiny, replicating machines get out of control and cover the Earth). That could raise the odds that environmental groups would attack nanotechnology just as they have attacked genetically modified plants and foods.

Molecular logic proposed

March 26, 2004

Researchers have devised a scheme for designing logic circuits by connecting a pair of benzene molecules to two gold electrodes.

The scheme could eventually be used to produce small, fast computers and store large amounts of data in very small spaces.

Thou shalt not make scientific progress

March 26, 2004

Medical research is poised to make a quantum leap that will benefit sufferers from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, muscular dystrophy, diabetes and other diseases. But George W. Bush’s religious convictions stand in its way.

“Embryonic stem cells are magical,” says Michael West of Advanced Cell Technology. “We’ve never had anything like this before, they are a whole quantum leap beyond adult stem cells. They’re absolutely magical — and that magic that… read more

Robot-controlled inks create 3D structures

March 25, 2004

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are creating complex, three-dimensional structures with micron-size features using a robotic deposition process called direct-write assembly.

The precisely patterned parts could be used as bio-scaffolds, micro-fluidic networks, sensor arrays or templates for photonic materials for such applications such as drug-delivery, micro-fluidics, photonics and tissue engineering.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign news release

Asian Investors Seek Profit in Neural `Karma’

March 25, 2004

The market for esoteric trading systems, such as those based on neural networks, is hot at the moment. For example, computer scientist John Moody runs a $6 million hedge fund using a program called RoboTrader, which trains a computer to select trading strategies by trial and error.

All the news that’s fit for searching

March 25, 2004

Microsoft researchers are creating technology to make searching for news more effective. “NewsJunkie” could help Microsoft develop a search function in Windows to compete with Google.

Using AI and information retrieval, NewsJunkie keeps track of what a reader has already seen. It reorganizes news stories to rank those with the most new information at the top and push those with repetitive information to the bottom, or filter them out… read more

The God Particle and the Grid

March 25, 2004

The physics lab that brought you the Web is reinventing the Internet. Get ready for the atom-smashing, supercomputing, 5-gigabits-per-second Grid Economy: a super-reliable, superpowerful network that supplies on-demand computing capacity anytime, anywhere.

Good vibrations for lab-on-a-chip

March 25, 2004

Sound can be used to guide the movement of cells. The technique could help create a lab-on-a-chip: a device the size of a postage stamp that is capable of running biology or chemistry experiments.

Many laboratory processes, such as sorting of cells into different types, could be miniaturized and automated on such chips. The technique could be particularly useful in sorting cells during disease diagnosis.

Nano-lightning’ could cool computer chips

March 25, 2004

Jumping electric charges could waft breezes of ionised air through microchips, replacing the bulky, noisy fans that cool down today’s computers.

The technolgy could be built directly into a computer chip’s heat sink to provide a faster, quieter, and lighter cooling system, producing a cooling rate similar to water: 40 watts per square centimeter.

Scientists Report Evidence of Saltwater Pools on Mars

March 25, 2004

Mars was once a much warmer, wetter place, with pools of saltwater that sometimes flowed across the surface, scientists reported Tuesday. It was the first concrete evidence that water might have flowed on the Martian surface, and it provided new hints that life may have existed there.

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