July 1, 2003
The two leading robovac manufacturers — iRobot and Electrolux –- report that owners treat their robovacs (robot vacuum cleaners) somewhat like pets. Scientists believe that robot pets trigger a hard-wired nurturing response in humans.
British scientists are developing a microchip that gives people with prosthetic arms greater control over these limbs. The chip works by turning thought processes in the brain into direct advanced physical movements.
Japanese researchers have created hollow “nanocages” of proteins that can hold a few molecules of a drug (or a gene, for use in gene therapy) and bring them straight to the liver.
The scientists, who report on their work in the journal Nature Biotechnology, used a protein from the hepatitis B virus. When this protein is created in large amounts, it forms cagelike structures of about 110 molecules each,… read more
Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have produced a genetically altered mouse that exhibits behavioral abnormalities strikingly similar to those observed in humans with schizophrenia and have identified a genetic variant associated with schizophrenia in humans.
According to the researchers, the findings could mean they have identified a molecular signaling pathway — the calcineurin pathway in the forebrain — involved in the origin of schizophrenia. If so, the search for… read more
Imagine sprinkling tiny sensors on road and fields for surveillance, putting them in buildings and bridges to monitor structural health, and installing them in industrial facilities to manage energy, inventory and manufacturing processes. That’s the idea behind the emerging technology of wireless sensor networks.
During 2001, there were 150 million CPU class chips sold. But during the same period of time, 7.5 billion embedded microcontrollers were sold.
Hybrid devices that are part machine, part living cells offer new hope to patients with kidney problems for whom purely artificial treatments like dialysis aren’t good enough.
A “bioartificial kidney,” being developed by Nephros Therapeutics, is based on a plastic cartridge containing one billion human kidney cells thriving inside 4,000 translucent, hollow, plastic fibers. It is based on a decade of research by University of Michigan internist David Humes.… read more
NEC has revealed a prototype of a laptop computer that runs on a methanol fuel cell instead of a rechargeable battery and said it will start selling it next year.
NEC initially plans to introduce a computer with a fuel-cell system able to run for five consecutive hours on a single cartridge of methanol fuel. It also plans a PC within two years that can run continuously for 40… read more
Small tech is helping medicinal molecules such as proteins, peptides, genes and vaccines reach the right destination with greater precision, speed and control.
Researchers are developing devices that can deliver drugs to specific structures within the cell. Others are developing devices to be implanted under a patient’s skin or in the abdomen that would provide tiny, precise doses of hormones, pain medication or other pharmaceuticals on a customizable schedule.… read more
Oregon Health & Science University researchers have discovered that when people converse with text-to-speech (TTS) computer systems, they substantially change their speech to sound like the computer — what’s known as speech convergence.
Scientists have developed a hydrogen-making catalyst that uses cheaper materials and yields fewer contaminants than do current processes, while extracting the element from common renewable plant sources.
In the June 27 issue of the journal Science, researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison report developing the catalyst from nickel, tin and aluminum and using it in a process called aqueous-phase reforming (APR), which converts plant byproducts to hydrogen.… read more
A new laser-based method may enable pathologists to do instant biopsies of living tissue, speeding the process. Although the technique cannot yet see deep within tissue, it can provide images at a resolution of a single cell.
The Cornell researchers create detailed biopsy images by scanning live tissue with a pulsed laser that focuses intense light on a tiny spot. Computer software then creates an image based on the… read more
Sentient computing systems are likely to be everywhere within five years –listening and watching, and ready to anticipate their users’ every need.
German researchers report a simple
electrical technique to divide
semiconducting and metallic nanotubes by using an electric field
to draw the more conductive metallic tubes to an electrode.
According to chemist Richard
Smalley of Rice University, the technique is long overdue and will find immediate use.
The technique is described in a paper published online by Science this week (www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/
Scientists from Columbia University, IBM and the University of New Orleans today announced a new, three-dimensional designer material assembled from two different types of nanoparticles.
In the June 26 issue of the journal Nature, the team describes the precision chemistry methods developed to tune the particles’ sizes in increments of less than one nanometer and to tailor the experimental conditions so the particles would assemble themselves into repeating 3-D… read more
A wonder pill that could slash the rate of deaths from heart attack or stroke by over 80 per cent is being proposed by UK researchers.
The pill would combine a statin, folic acid, aspirin and three blood pressure lowering drugs to try to lower the four key risk factors for heart disease: cholesterol, high blood pressure, high homocysteine blood levels and blood platelet function. It should be given… read more