science + technology news

Research raises more than one debate

March 8, 2004

“Synthetic drug discovery,” a major shift in the way drugs have been discovered and made represents a future that some scientists fear — one where robots quickly draw from vast libraries of man-made molecules, then test them, mixing and matching with the same sort of equipment that transformed the Detroit automotive industry.

Think nano has ethical problems? Just wrap your brain around neuro

March 8, 2004

New tools to improve human performance will emerge from the convergence of nanotech, biotech, infotech and cognitive science.

When data from nanobiochips that can analyze DNA, RNA and proteins is combined with data from next-generation brain imaging systems , new tools for mental health will emerge.

Nanobiochips that can perform the basic bioanalysis functions (genomic, proteomic, biosimulation and microfluidics) at a low cost will transform biological analysis and… read more

Treatment Could Remove Toxins in Blood Before Damage Occurs

March 5, 2004

Researchers are developing a magnetic nanoparticle-based technology that removes biological, radiological and chemical toxins from blood. The goal: a portable system that is fast and thorough using magnetic nanoparticles coated with antibodies or chemicals that complement toxins. The technology could be used for treating soldiers exposed to anthrax.

Canyon or Mirage?

March 5, 2004

The difference in availability of information and communication technologies (between rich and poorer countries, known as the “digital divide,” has concerned policymakers, academics, and non-governmental organizations. But two economists at the World Bank have found that current trends suggest the divide is actually shrinking, not growing.

Mice Produce Sperm from Monkeys

March 5, 2004

Mice have been used to produce monkey sperm using tissue transplanted from testes of macaques. Scientists involved say their work might one day help to conserve animals that are facing extinction.

Designing Minds to the Millstone

March 5, 2004

What makes 800 of the country’s smartest, most wildly successful architects, designers, inventors, chief executives, psychologists, ichthyologists, cosmologists, economists, digital artists and other members of the creative, academic and financial elite happy?

Answer: Ruminating about “The Pursuit of Happiness” at the TED conference, the annual $4,000-a-pop three-and-a-half-day hedonistic be-in for the brain that brings together “thought leaders” from the worlds of technology, entertainment and design.

Next From PARC: Smarter, Easier Networks

March 4, 2004

PARC researchers have come up with an “enrollment station” device that lets new users securely sign on to a wireless LAN in less than five minutes, as well as a way for otherwise incompatible digital consumer devices to exchange data.

Bush Policy on Human Stem Cells Faces New Challenges

March 4, 2004

The White House’s policy on research with human embryonic stem cells has been put under new pressure by the dismissal of a leading biologist from the President’s Council on Bioethics last week and by the development, announced today, of new stem cell lines by a Harvard researcher.

Dr. Douglas Melton, a biologist at Harvard, reported today in The New England Journal of Medicine that he had developed 17 new… read more

Evidence of Water Found on Mars

March 3, 2004

NASA’s Opportunity rover has found convincing evidence that large quantities of water were once present in at least one location on Mars.

“The rocks here were once soaked in liquid water,” said Steve Squyres, principle investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission, referring to the bedrock outcrop near the rover’s landing site in Meridiani Planum. Evidence suggests that, at some point in Mars’s past, water was present in… read more

Experts Say New Desktop Fusion Claims Seem More Credible

March 3, 2004

Scientists are again claiming they have made a Sun in a jar, offering perhaps a revolutionary energy source based on sonoluminescence.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists used ultrasonic vibrations to shake a jar of liquid solvent. They squeezed tiny gas bubbles in the liquid so quickly and violently that temperatures reached millions of degrees and some of the hydrogen atoms in the solvent molecules fused, producing a flash of… read more

Spain unveils supercomputer plans

March 2, 2004

Spain has unveiled plans to build the world’s second most powerful computer, able to process 40 teraflops.

Quantum Dots Capture First Movies of Cells ‘Talking’

March 2, 2004

Researchers at Max Planck Institute in Germany have used quantum dots to capture the first-ever movies of cells transmitting the messages that control genes. The breakthrough is expected to help pharmaceutical companies speed and enhance the process of screening candidate cancer drugs.

The quantum dot conjugates work by seeking out and bonding with target materials and emitting light. Older imaging tools such as fluorescent dyes or polymer spheres fade… read more

Magic cube conjures virtual reality kid’s tales

March 2, 2004

A novel interactive way to relate children’s stories has been developed by researchers in Singapore. The Magic Story Cube uses augmented reality technology, in which computer graphics are superimposed on the real world, to overlay an animated version of a story on top of a child’s traditional “magic cube.”

To watch the story unfold, the user wears a virtual reality headset with a small camera attached to the front.… read more

NASA to Announce ‘Significant Findings’ of Water on Mars Tuesday

March 2, 2004

NASA will hold a press conference Tuesday at 2 P.M. ET to announce “significant findings” about water on Mars based on evidence from its Opportunity Mars rover.

If there is liquid water presently at the surface of Mars, as several lines of rover evidence have hinted, then most scientists agree there is the possibility that life could exist.

Artificial emotion

March 1, 2004

Sherry Turkle will host a Symposium at MIT on March 5 to discuss “Evocative Objects.”

We become attached to sophisticated machines not for their smarts but their emotional reach, she says. “They seduce us by asking for human nurturance, not intelligence.”

The market for robotics in health care is about to explode, Turkle says. The question is: Do we want machines moving into these emotive areas?… read more

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