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Turning genes on and off in cells by reprogramming an RNA sequence

New method for turning genes on and off could enable more complex synthetic biology circuits
September 3, 2013

molecule

MIT researchers have shown that they can turn genes on or off inside yeast and human cells by controlling when DNA is copied into messenger RNA — an advance that could allow scientists to better understand the function of those genes.

The technique could also make it easier to engineer cells that can monitor their environment, produce a drug or detect disease, says… read more

Fiber-optic/nanocrystal system enables live nanoscale sensing

Can sense changes to a single living cell in the human body in response to chemical signals
September 3, 2013

copyright-_-Dr-Mathieu-Juan-_-media-release-image---Macquarie-Uni

Researchers have identified the “world’s most sensitive nanoparticle” and can measure it from a distance, using light.

The discovery, by a team of researchers from Macquarie University, the University of Adelaide, and Peking University, opens the way for rapid localization and measurement of cells within a living environment at the nanoscale.

These super-bright, photostable nanocrystals enable a new approach to highly advanced sensing technologies using… read more

Fluorescent organic nanoparticles operating as cell tracers outperform existing methods for long-term tracking of living cells

September 3, 2013

AIE dot

An Asian research team has developed a method for continually tracking biological processes for long periods of time, using noninvasive fluorescent organic tracers, overcoming the limitations of inorganic quantum dots and other methods.

Bin Liu and Ben Zhong Tang of the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore and their co-workers developed inorganic quantum dots (nanocrystals) composed of a small number of organic… read more

Spanish doctor performs first surgery transmitted live via Google Glass

September 2, 2013

Spanish surgeon with Glass

Dr. Pedro Guillén, Head of Traumatology Service at Clínica CEMTRO in Madrid, is the first surgeon in the world to perform surgery transmitted live via Google Glass.

The surgery, performed on June 21, 2013, pre-dated surgery performed at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center on August 21, 2013, which was the first such surgery performed in the U.S., as previously reported on… read more

Improved thermoelectric materials may give a push to Moore’s law

Could also lead to improved 3D chips and “system on chip” integrated circuits, reduced energy consumption of cars, environmentally clean alternatives to current materials
September 2, 2013

Na0-8CoO2

Heat build up in computer chips is a key factor leading to progress in chips hitting the “power wall” — blocking  increases in chip speed and slowing down the doubling of chip-transistor density (Moore’s law).

One solution is thermoelectric materials, which convert heat into electricity that can be used for cooling (also used in solid-state refrigerators)*.

But progress in developing these materials has also hit a wall.… read more

Precise manipulation of single DNA molecules in air

"Molecular Threading" allows for faster, cheaper, more accurate DNA sequencing
August 30, 2013

AeonBiowares

Teams of researchers from Harvard University and Halcyon Molecular, Inc. have disclosed “Molecular Threading,” the first technology to allow single DNA molecules to be drawn from solution and precisely manipulated, allowing for faster, cheaper, more accurate DNA sequencing.

This novel technology pulls single high-molecular weight DNA molecules from solution into air and then places them onto any surface. Halcyon Molecular developed the processes and the intellectual property… read more

Lab-grown model 3D brains

"Cerebral organoids” can model complex human brain disorders and the earliest stages of brain development
August 30, 2013

organoid

Scientists in an Austrian laboratory have developed complex human brain tissue made from stem cells in a laboratory 3D culture system for the first time. The method allows induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells (which have the potential to differentiate into almost any cell in the body) to develop into “cerebral organoids” — or “mini brains.”

These mini brains, which are a few millimeters across, develop several… read more

We may all be Martians, says geochemist

It's likely that life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite; conditions suitable for the origin of life may still exist on Mars
August 30, 2013

mars_nasa_image

New evidence has emerged that supports the long-debated theory that life on Earth may have started on Mars.

Speaking at the at the annual Goldschmidt conference on Thursday, Professor Steven Benner from The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology told geochemists that an oxidized mineral form of the element molybdenum, which may have been crucial to the origin of life, could only have been available… read more

NASA to attempt high-speed laser transmission to the Moon

Hundreds of megabits/second laser transmission planned; could be used for telepresence communication from Earth in future asteroid missions
August 30, 2013

Artist's rendering of the LADEE satellite in orbit.<br />
Image Credit: NASA

NASA plans to find out if two-way laser communication beyond Earth is possible. If NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) mission succeeds, 3-D high-definition video transmissions in deep space could become possible in the future.

Radio frequency (RF) communication has been the communications platform in space used so far. But RF is reaching its limit just as demand for more data capacity continues to increase.… read more

Gene that controls the birth of neurons discovered

Discovery of long non-coding RNA’s role in neurogenesis may lead to cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease
August 29, 2013

RMST Is Necessary for Neuronal Differentiation: overexpression of RMST led to a 3-fold increase in neuron-specific beta tubulin (bottom) compared to control (top)

Scientists at A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) have discovered an unusual gene that controls the generation of neurons. This important finding is crucial in understanding serious diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers say.

The central nervous system is composed of numerous cell types that develop into a complex, higher-ordered structure. The birth of neurons (neurogenesis) is a process… read more

Microbiology’s grand challenge: help feed the world

August 29, 2013

microbes can help

A greater focus on the role of microbiology in agriculture combined with new technologies can help mitigate potential food shortages associated with world population increases, according to a new report, How Microbes can Help Feed the World (open access) from the American Academy of Microbiology.

“Microbes are essential partners in all aspects of plant physiology, but human efforts to improve plant productivity have… read more

The Pentagon as Silicon Valley’s incubator

August 29, 2013

iStock_hackerSmall

In the last year, former Department of Defense and intelligence agency operatives have headed to Silicon Valley to create technology start-ups specializing in tools aimed at thwarting online threats, The New York Times reports.

In 2012, more than $1 billion in venture financing poured into security start-ups.

Two of the start-ups are Synack and Morta Security, both founded by persons formerly connected… read more

Mars Curiosity: now most advanced autonomous vehicle on another planet

August 29, 2013

mosaic_images_curiosity_f

NASA‘s Mars rover Curiosity has used autonomous navigation for the first time, which lets the rover decide for itself how to drive safely on Mars.

This latest addition to Curiosity’s array of capabilities will help the rover cover the remaining ground en route to Mount Sharp, where geological layers hold information about environmental changes on ancient Mars. The capability uses software that engineers… read more

China to land a probe on the Moon this year

August 29, 2013

NASA Moon

China announced Wednesday that it plans to put a rover on the Moon by the end of the year, Forbes reports.

The Chang’e-3 Lunar probe will include a six-wheeled lunar rover, which will work on the surface for about three months.

If the mission is successful, China will then begin phase 3 of its Lunar exploration program, which will involve a rover to be… read more

NASA tests limits of 3D printing with powerful rocket engine check

August 28, 2013

nasa_3d_printed_hot_fire_test

The largest 3-D printed rocket engine component NASA ever has tested blazed to life Thursday, Aug. 22 during an engine firing that generated a record 20,000 pounds of thrust.

This test is a milestone for one of many important advances the agency is making to reduce the cost of space hardware. Innovations like additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, foster new and more cost-effective capabilities in the U.S.… read more

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