science + technology news

Drug may give cells a fresh start

January 30, 2004

Scripps Research Institute chemists have found a synthetic molecule named “reversine” that seems to reprogram adult cells to make them more like youthful ones. It could provide an easy source of cells to regenerate tissues damaged by disease or injury, as an alternative to ethically controversial stem cells.

Mood Ring Measured in Megahertz

January 29, 2004

Using tiny sensors, transmitters and some software, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have turned personal computers into advanced polygraph machines that they say are capable of monitoring people’s emotions and abilities.

Mentor/PAL uses commercial face-recognition software and off-the-shelf sensors to measure muscle activity, heartbeat, blood oxygen, and breathing depth and rapidity. It provides real-time feedback to improve human performance, particularly in military or other high-risk situations.

New Conductor Guides Data Along the Fiber Optic Route

January 29, 2004

A new, extremely tiny (50 nm. or more) cable called a nanowire might be used for practical low-loss interfaces between optical fiber and the devices that process optical and electronic signals, making more compact, faster processors possible.

UTA researchers develop sensors to think smart

January 29, 2004

Researchers at University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Engineering envision a day when clothing will become a second skin. “Smart Skin” (“distributed flexible microsensor array”) bridges nanotechnology and micro-mechanical systems.

The goal is sensors that can sense touch and air flow in addition to heat. “Smart Skin” suits could warn people when they have entered an area of toxic gases. A T-shirt on a diabetic could monitor insulin… read more

Virtual dummy to try on clothes

January 29, 2004

Toshiba has teamed up with a Japanese software company to develop a 3D system that will create a virtual “you” who can try on clothes and move as you do.

Video cameras snap the shopper, then clothes and accessories are selected and displayed immediately.

Gulf between rich, poor will grow if nanotech opponents prevail

January 28, 2004

The chasm between have and have-not countries will grow even wider if nanotechnology research is blocked by the unbalanced positions of high-profile opponents like Prince Charles, warns a new analysis from a leading global medical ethics think tank.

In an article to be published by the Institute of Physics’ journal “Nanotechnology,” and released Jan. 28 online at, the authors say the potential health, environmental and economic… read more

E-Mail Worm Snarls Computers Around Globe

January 28, 2004

A new malicious computer program (Mydoom or Norvag) is spreading rapidly throughout the Internet today, swamping e-mail in-boxes and crashing corporate computer servers in what some computer security analysts are predicting will become the largest ever outbreak of viral e-mail. It may eventually involve millions of machines, according to experts.

Breakthrough! Ten major medical advances you’re likely to see in the coming year

January 26, 2004

Medical breakthroughs expected in 2004:

  • New, faster CT machines that can take clear pictures of a beating heart without a catheter, sedation or hospitalization, combined with MRI to show blood vessels, blood flow, scar tissue and the workings of the heart muscle and valves plus plaque buildup.
  • International efforts to regulate food marketing, pricing and production to prevent obesity.
  • 24-hour blood-pressure recording to diagnose
  • read more

    Mutating software could predict hacker attacks

    January 26, 2004

    Software engineers at Icosystem have developed a program that can predict what is coming next by “evolving” future hacker and virus attacks based on information from known ones.

    The program would update intrusion-detection software to recognize attack patterns before hackers have even developed them.

    I Dream of Techno-Genie

    January 23, 2004

    As watchers of ancient sitcoms know, a genie can bring you immense power but is also hard to control, and the granting of your wishes is not necessarily a good thing. As such, a genie can serve as a metaphor for technology, with a subtly negative connotation. And that explains the title of an interesting but quite arguable new book Living with the Genie: Essays on Technology and the Quest… read more

    The Healthy Promise of Biochips

    January 23, 2004

    Tracking the human genome was just the beginning. Now, biochips can be used to study many genetic aspects of a disease — and possibly a cure.

    In a typical experiment, a drug researcher places a sample of diseased tissue that has been tagged with a fluorescent dye onto a gene-laden chip. A scanner then reads the chip, and if the DNA in the sample matches any of the genes… read more

    Federal nanotech confusion spreads to California

    January 21, 2004

    In “Nanoscience and Nanotechnology: Opportunities and Challenges in California,” released today at a meeting of the state’s Joint Committee on “Preparing California for the 21st Century,” the concept of molecular machines appears only in the form of “plagues of self-replicating nanobots,” as in Michael Crichton’s thriller Prey, said Christine Peterson, president of Foresight Institute.

    “The original goal for nanotechnology — systems of molecular machines, building cleanly with atom-by-atom precision,… read more

    No Foolproof Way Is Seen to Contain Altered Genes

    January 21, 2004

    It will be difficult to completely prevent genetically engineered plants and animals from having unintended environmental and public health effects, says a report by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.

    One solution may be biological methods of containment (“bioconfinement”). These include measures like inducing sterility by giving fish an extra set of chromosomes or exposing insects to radiation. Bacteria might be given “suicide genes” that… read more

    Lie-detector glasses offer peek at future of security

    January 21, 2004

    A lie detector small enough to fit in the eyeglasses of law enforcement officers can tell whether a passenger is a terrorist by analyzing his answer to questions in real time.

    The technology, developed by Nemesysco for military, insurance claim and law enforcement use, is being repackaged and retargeted for personal and corporate applications by V Entertainment.

    A signal-processing engine, said to use more than 8,000 algorithms each… read more

    Do plants act like computers?

    January 21, 2004

    Plants appear to “think”: green plants may regulate their uptake and loss of gases by distributed computation.

    By studying the distributions of these patches of open and closed stomata in leaves of the cocklebur plant, Utah State University researchers found specific patterns reminiscent of distributed computing. Patches of open or closed stomata sometimes move around a leaf at constant speed, for example.

    The statistics of the size of… read more

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