science + technology news

Is Life the Key to New Tech?

October 8, 2003

DNA computing has the potential to perform trillions of calculations at once and the size and the ease of interfacing with living material may make them ideal for use in medicine. But bio-molecular computers must await a breakthrough in designer enzymes.

Smart Cards Track Commuters

October 8, 2003

Civil rights campaigners have expressed concerns about new smart travelcards that track a London commuter’s movements and store them in a database.

Tumor-Busting Viruses

October 8, 2003

“Smart” virotherapy — better ways of genetically engineering viruses that selectively infect and kill cells — may play an important role in the future of combating cancer.

Remember the Six Billion

October 8, 2003

Skeptic Michael Shermer evaluates five life-extension ideas.

Radio Tag Debut Set for This Week

October 8, 2003

The new Electronic Product Code (EPC) bar code, using RFID (radio frequency identification) tags, will allow retailers and suppliers to track product codes as well as serial numbers for each individual item. But critics say RFID tags would lead to massive privacy violations by retailers, governments and crooks.

Human gene on/off switches to be mapped

October 7, 2003

The Human Epigenome Project, the world’s first project to map key chemical changes that switch human genes on and off, has begun. It could provide a crucial link between human genetics and health.

Promise and Peril of the 21st Century

October 7, 2003

“Technology has always been a double-edged sword, empowering both our creative and our destructive natures,” says Ray Kurzweil. “It has brought us longer and healthier lives, freedom from physical and mental drudgery, and many new creative possibilities. Yet it has also introduced new and salient dangers….”

Study: Fat or thin–one gene does it?

October 7, 2003

A gene in different versions may determine whether people are predisposed to being obese or thin, say researchers at Icelandic biotechnology company deCODE genetics Inc.

The finding is the result of analysis of DNA from more than 1,000 Icelandic women.

deCODE news release

The Napster of Nano

October 7, 2003

Nanotech file sharing could bridge the “nano divide” by helping developing countries launch their own nanotech industries.

Shooting for Space

October 7, 2003

Cisco and its partners, including NASA, have launched a router into low Earth orbit as a test of extending the Internet into space.

Space-based routers could be used to tie the military’s myriad networks together and the government’s research networks together so that personnel on land, in the air or at sea can communicate directly.

Cisco also sees private-sector enterprise and consumer applications.

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

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