science + technology news

Atto Boy!

March 16, 2004

Researchers in Vienna have measured the shortest time interval ever recorded: 100 attoseconds (billionths of a nanosecond).

Cornell University is using “attotechnology” to weigh and identify viruses by creating tiny scales from crystals of silicon.

Robo-talk Helps Pocket Translator

March 16, 2004

Papero (Partner-Type Personal Robot), the first all-hearing, all-seeing robot, is able to translate verbally between two languages in colloquial tongue.

Push-button Nursing

March 16, 2004

In Japan, the world’s most rapidly aging nation, the future of elderly care seems to be in the hand of robots. Decisions by the Japanese government to push for home care instead of nursing homes and block the admittance of foreign nurses and doctors into the country have created an increasing demand for robotic care devices.

Sanyo Electric Co. has already developed a human washing machine for the elderly.… read more

Britain Gives Go-Ahead for First GM Crop

March 16, 2004

Britain has approved its first genetically modified crop for commercial growing: a kind of maize engineered to be resistant to the weed killer glufosinate ammonium.

In the British government’s three-year “farm-scale evaluations,” the GM maize turned out to be better for farmland wildlife than conventional maize treated with the power weed killer atrazine.

Fat Cells Boost Blood Vessel Growth

March 16, 2004

A team of researchers has evidence that cells found in fatty tissues can boost blood vessel production. The team injected immature fat cells, called stromal cells, into the hind legs of mice with poor circulation and found that their blood flow was boosted fivefold. The discovery could pave the way for new treatments for many heart and circulation conditions.

Ovarian Transplant Produces First Human Embryo

March 16, 2004

The first human embryo to be created after an ovarian tissue transplant may signal hope for hundreds of thousands of women made infertile by cancer treatment.

Ovarian tissue from a 30-year old woman with breast cancer was removed and frozen before she underwent chemotherapy. Six years later, the tissue was transplanted back into the woman’s body, where it started functioning normally and producing eggs.

Cells Induced to ‘De-Differentiate’ Back into Stem Cells

March 16, 2004

For the first time, researchers have induced differentiating cells to revert to being stem cells. The achievement with the fruit fly Drosophila suggests that de-differentiation should be explored as yet another route to generating stem cells for therapeutic purposes.

The researchers reported their findings in the March 14, 2004, advanced online edition of the journal Nature.

Darpa’s Far-Out Dreams on Display

March 15, 2004

Darpa is planning for a blimp three times the size of Goodyear’s that would keep watch over an entire city. Another project involves materials that grow or heal themselves.

New artificial blood shows promise

March 15, 2004

A promising new blood substitute called MP4 contains hemoglobin molecules coated with polyethylene glycol to make them bulkier, so the resulting fluid is more viscous than normal blood.

Tests in hamsters that had lost a lot of blood showed they needed less MP4 than real blood to oxygenate their tissues.

Turning Back the Bio Clock

March 15, 2004

Researchers are hard at work building biological time machines that reverse aging in some cells.

Some are trying to reset biological clocks by mimicking “magic factors” in human eggs — the only cells in a woman’s body not programmed to die. Others are identifying molecules that enable salamanders to re-grow limbs. Chemists in San Diego have created a chemical compound they call “reversine,” which resets muscle cells in mice… read more

Pen-size scanner records entire page in one sweep

March 15, 2004

The new DocuPen from Planon System Solutions is a full-page scanner slightly bigger than a pen. It scans at 200-by-200 dots-per-inch resolution into 2 MB of on-board memory.

Robot race suffers quick, ignoble end

March 15, 2004

A robot race across the Mojave Desert turned into a parade of frustration Saturday, as 15 driverless vehicles spun their wheels, flipped over and encountered rocks and ruts that befuddled sensors and baffled programming.

Scientists find ’10th planet’

March 15, 2004

Cal Tech astronomers may have discovered the solar system’s 10th planet, “Sedna,” more than 3 billion kilometers further away from the sun than Pluto.

The planet has a diameter of almost 2,000 km. The discovery will be presenting during a NASA briefing on Monday at 1:00 p.m. EST.

Robot trumpets Toyota’s know-how

March 15, 2004

A trumpet-playing robot has been developed by Japanese car maker Toyota to showcase its prowess in humanoid robotics.

Toyota hopes to form a robot band to play at the 2005 World Exposition, being held in Aichi in central Japan.

Method produces uniform, self-assembled nanocells

March 12, 2004

A new method for producing uniform, self-assembled liposomes (a type of artifcial cell) has been developed by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It may lead to an improved method for encapsulating drug therapies.

Current bulk methods for producing liposomes produce particles in a wide range of sizes, which must be sorted and filtered before being used for drug delivery, since dosage depends critically on… read more

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