science + technology news

Plastic solar cell efficiency breaks record

April 23, 2007

Wake Forest researchers have achieved record efficiency for organic or flexible, plastic solar cells by creating “nano-filaments” within light absorbing plastic, similar to the veins in tree leaves.

This allows for the use of thicker absorbing layers in the devices, which capture more of the sun’s light, reaching more than 6 percent efficiency.

Engineering The Heart Piece By Piece

April 23, 2007

Scientists are closer than ever to bioengineering entire areas of the heart, as well as heart valves and major blood vessels.

Nano-nose sniffs out sickness

April 23, 2007

A set of gold nanoparticles with various coatings can identify proteins by mimicking the way the human nose distinguishes scents. Researchers are using them to detect signs of illness in bodily fluids.

Perfect clones, to the last computer-generated wrinkle

April 23, 2007

Some of the most realistic virtual humans so far to appear on film and in computer games have been created by Electronic Arts and used to create virtual versions of the characters Neo, Agent Smith and Morpheus in the movie The Matrix Reloaded.

They shoot video of the real person from six directions while they perform the required action, and use this to build a virtual 3D model of… read more

Black Holes Exhale Enormous Gas Cloud

April 23, 2007

A giant cloud of superheated gas 6 million light years wide, and located about 300 million light years away, might be formed by several supermassive black holes.

Your Virtual Clone

April 20, 2007

MyCyberTwin lets users craft sophisticated online agents that can chat with your online friends when you’re not available.

Mind-altering media

April 20, 2007

Modern media such as TV and computer games are changing our minds, and the more we are exposed to them the greater the changes.

They are making us smarter and better at some tasks, but worse at others. And there is no getting away from the fact that on-screen violence fosters off-screen violence.

Brain imaging and other physiological measures also reveal changes in emotional responses to violent images… read more

The Brain May Use Only 20 Percent of Its Memory-Forming Neurons

April 20, 2007

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles and The Hospital for Sick Children have found that the pace at which a brain cell activates a key protein, CREB (a transcription factor that typically increases the production of other proteins in cells) may influence its role in memory formation — a finding that could lead to new Alzheimer therapies

Salt may affect more than blood pressure: study

April 20, 2007

Consuming less salt can not only lower blood pressure, but may reduce the risk of heart disease overall, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School researchers reported.

They found that people with borderline-high blood pressure who reduced their sodium intake by 25 to 35 percent lowered their risk of total cardiovascular disease by 25 percent. And this lower risk lasted for 10 to 15 years.

See also… read more

Robot wars

April 19, 2007

The US Department of Defense wants to replace a third of its armed vehicles and weaponry with robots by 2015.

Recording a Cell’s Dying Gasp

April 19, 2007

Scientists in the United Kingdom have developed a way to monitor the health of individual cells by recording ion flow down to the resolution of about 10 ions.

The technique could revolutionize the way we test drugs and carry out environmental sensing.

An array of semiconductor electrodes is spaced very close together to form a cross, upon which a cell is placed. The tip of an atomic force… read more

Modified ink printer churns out electronic circuits

April 19, 2007

A standard desktop printer loaded with a silver salt solution and vitamin C has been used to produce electronic circuits, including mobile phone antennas, circuits, RFID chips and inductive coils, on a range of surfaces.

The UK researchers say their experimental device could pave the way for safer and cheaper electronics manufacturing.

MRI-enabled brain surgery robot revealed

April 19, 2007

NeuroArm, the first surgical robot to be compatible with MRI (its makers claim) will enable neurosurgeons to perform their riskiest work while patients lie within an MRI machine, giving a clear 3D picture of even the smallest nerves.

Open Medicine launches Wednesday

April 19, 2007

Open Medicine, a new open-access general medical journal published in Canada, went live online with the new publication on Wednesday.

It won’t charge subscription fees and won’t run advertisements for medical devices or drugs.

The artificial bones created from an inkjet

April 19, 2007

Scientists are creating artificial bones using a modified version of an inkjet printer.

The technology creates perfect replicas of bones that have been damaged and these can then be inserted in the body to help it to heal.

The process will revolutionize bone graft surgery, which currently relies on either bits of bone taken from other parts of the body or ceramic-like substitutes.

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