science + technology news

Shocking Way to Transform Waste

March 16, 2004

For the first time, a microbial fuel cell has generated electricity while cleaning wastewater, a development that could make sewage treatment more affordable for both industrialized and developing nations. While a typical fuel cell runs on hydrogen, a microbial fuel cell relies on bacteria to metabolize food, releasing electrons that yield a steady electrical current. The fuel for this particular microbial fuel cell was skimmed from the settling pond of… read more

Bacteria that Defy Antibiotics

March 16, 2004

A group of common bacteria are rapidly become resistant to antibiotics: the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. Staph infections are extremely common and can be treated with several common antibiotics. However, doctors are not accustomed to using these antibiotics and the prevalence of the resistant staph is growing.

Science Closes in on Perfect Lens

March 16, 2004

New designer materials could eventually lead to “perfect lenses” for optical devices, able to focus on features smaller than the wavelength of light. Harnessing electrical and magnetic components at optical frequencies could lead to perfect lenses with vastly better resolution than conventional optical types.

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.

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