science + technology news

Lasers operate inside single cells

October 6, 2003

With pulses of intense laser light a millionth of a billionth of a second long, US researchers are vaporizing tiny structures inside living cells without killing them. The “laser nanosurgery” technique could help probe how cells work and perform super-precise surgery.

In the future, laser scalpels could cut inside tissues without opening up the patient, says physicist Eric Mazur of Harvard University.

Protein locks out prion diseases

October 5, 2003

A chance discovery could lead to the development of a drug that blocks prion diseases such as variant CJD.

Lasers Create New Possibilities For Biological Imaging

October 5, 2003

A compact, tabletop x-ray microscope that could be used for biological imaging at super-high resolution has been designed by a team of researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

It uses a femtosecond laser to generate “soft” x-ray light efficiently at 4.4 nanometers in the “water-window” region, an important region for biological imaging.

The water window is an area in the spectrum where water is less absorbing… read more

Closest asteroid yet flies past Earth

October 3, 2003

An asteroid about the size of a small house passed just 88,000 kilometres from the Earth on Saturday 27 September — the closest approach of a natural object ever recorded.

Now Hear This, Quickly

October 2, 2003

New “digital time compression” software is allowing listeners to speed-listen four or more times faster to the rapidly growing amount of audio recording in the media, the phone, and the Web.

The extra brainpower needed to follow speedy speech also enhances comprehension, say experts. Software also allows for video to be time-compressed.

Some users compare it to broadband vs. dial-up Internet access. “Once you go faster, you just… read more

Human Genome on Chip Offered by Rivals

October 2, 2003

The genome on a chip has arrived. With pieces of all 30,000 or so known human genes, the new integrated gene chips, or microarrays, will allow scientists to scan all genes in a human tissue sample at once to determine which genes are active (turned on) in an organ compared with those active in a healthy organ. Pharmaceutical companies will use them to predict drug effects.

This previously required… read more

Magnetic logic devices move closer

October 1, 2003

In most computers bits of data are stored in one place and processed in another. Now German physicists have proposed a new magnetic approach to computing in which the same element can store and process data.

They say that their “programmable logic element” could, in principle, operate as any one of four different logic operations — AND, OR, NAND or NOR gates — and lead to increased computational efficiency… read more

New Roadmap for NIH

October 1, 2003

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Elias Zerhouni has unveiled a “roadmap” for the future of the biomedical research giant. The plan aims at moving discoveries to the clinic more quickly by giving bench scientists more tools, encouraging cross-disciplinary teams, and overhauling the infrastructure for clinical trials.

I.B.M. to Disclose Power-Saving Chip Design

October 1, 2003

IBM researchers have developed a new semiconductor design for wireless-communications devices that processes data at four times the speed that had been achieved in previous experiments while consuming one-fourth the power.

They also achieved integration of bipolar technology with traditional CMOS technology on a single wafer, allowing for advanced “mixed-signal” chips that support both computing applications as well as high-frequency communications applications.

IBM serves up virtual computing

October 1, 2003

IBM is offering a “utility computing” scheme that lets customers use the Internet to access servers that run a variety of operating systems and pay only for the amount they consume.

Businesses could cut their costs 30 percent by using the service rather than installing an in-house computing system, according to IBM.

Schrödinger’s cat comes closer

October 1, 2003

Scientists have described a scheme for achieving quantum superposition of states in an object with around a hundred trillion atoms. This is about a billion times larger than anything demonstrated previously.

In the proposed experiment, a photon effectively follows both paths at once, using mirrors.

Supercomputer climate model whips up a storm

October 1, 2003

Virtual hurricanes have appeared in computer models of the Earth’s climate for the first time.

The Earth Simulator in Yokohama, Japan, the world’s fastest supercomputer, can run models with cells as small as 10 kilometers, allowing for study of detailed features of the weather, such as tropical storms.

Global virtual supercomputer network created

October 1, 2003

The first global virtual supercomputer network, the LHC Computing Grid, has been launched at CERN, the world’s largest particle physics lab, in Geneva.

The Grid will tap into the processing power of computers worldwide–initially in 12 countries–to handle the 12 to 14 petabytes of data generated annually by the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator in testing the Big Bang theory, starting in 2007.

Analyzing… read more

Delivering drugs in inhalable microspheres

September 30, 2003

Medications such as therapeutic DNA, insulin and human growth hormone must enter the body through painful injections, but a Johns Hopkins researcher wamts to deliver them by packing the drugs inside microscopic plastic spheres that can be inhaled painlessly.

Inside the lungs, the particles will dissolve harmlessly, releasing the medicine at a predetermined pace.

Johns Hopkins University press release

5 Technologies That Will Change the World

September 30, 2003

Five technologies that could change the world are three-D printing to allow designers and engineers to get new products to market faster, biosimulation to speed development of more effective new drugs, autonomic computing (computers smart enough to configure themselves), Internet-like “distributed generation” power networks placed closer to where the power is actually being used, and smart tags to allow products to be tracked through the distribution network.

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