science + technology news

Helping blind students ‘see’ nanoscale objects

March 28, 2007
3-D plaster model of "NanoBucky" showing the individual carbon nanofibers

To give blind students a feel — literally — for nanoscience and technology, University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists are building three-dimensional models of nano-surfaces that are large enough to be explored with the hands.

They used a rapid prototyping printer, which lays down plaster layer-by-layer to “print” 3-D models.

Leading theory of neural coding questioned

March 28, 2007

The validity of a leading theory — that electrical signals generate spiked patterns that encode different types of cognitive information — has just been called into question by Weizmann Institute of Science researchers.

Their research findings, reported in the journal Neuron, suggest that the brain may not encode information using precise patterns of neural activity.

New Mexico voters weigh building world’s first spaceport

March 27, 2007

New Mexico hopes to break ground soon on the world’s first commercial spaceport, which state elders envision as a 21st-century departure point for thousands of paying space tourists.

The New Face of Emoticons

March 27, 2007

Computer scientists at the University of Pittsburgh have developed a way to make e-mails, instant messaging, and texts just a bit more personalized. Their software will allow people to use images of their own faces instead of the more traditional emoticons to communicate their mood.

By automatically warping their facial features, people can use a photo to depict any one of a range of different animated emotional expressions, such… read more

Sugar-fuelled battery soon to juice up portable electronics

March 27, 2007

Fuel cell technology that is currently in development boasts the ability of extracting energy from virtually any sugar source to power portable electronics.

The cell operates at room temperature and uses enzymes to oxidize sugars, hence generating electricity.

Now scientists create a sheep that’s 15 percent human

March 27, 2007

Scientists have created the world’s first human-sheep chimera, with the body of a sheep and half-human organs.

The sheep have 15 per cent human cells and 85 per cent animal cells, and their evolution brings the prospect of animal organs being transplanted into humans one step closer.

But the development is likely to revive criticisms about scientists playing God, with the possibility of silent viruses, which are harmless… read more

Edmonton Aging Symposium available on Internet

March 26, 2007

The upcoming Edmonton Aging Symposium — The Damage of Aging: Present Possibilities and Future Therapies, March 30-31, sponsored by The Methuselah Foundation, City of Edmonton, and the University of Alberta, will be available over the Internet for the nominal cost of $5.00 Canadian Dollars.

Aubrey de Grey, Michael West, Gregory Stock, and other leading longevity experts will speak.

Targeting tumors the natural way

March 26, 2007

By mimicking Nature’s way of distinguishing one type of cell from another, University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists now report they can more effectively seek out and kill cancer cells while sparing healthy ones.

In a series of cell-based experiments, the researchers’ system recognized and killed only those cells displaying high levels of receptors known as integrins. These molecules, which tend to bedeck the surfaces of cancer cells and… read more

Nanotechnology propulsion technology for space exploration

March 26, 2007

A new electric propulsion concept proposes to utilize electrostatically charged and accelerated nanoparticles as propellant.

Millions of micron-sized nanoparticle thrusters would fit on one square centimeter, allowing the fabrication of highly scaleable thruster arrays.

Engineering Bacteria to Harvest Light

March 26, 2007

Commonly used lab bacteria called E. coli can be converted into light-harvesting organisms in a single genetic step, according to new research from MIT.

These findings could ultimately be used to genetically engineer bacteria that can more efficiently produce biofuels, drugs, and other chemicals.

Artificial Intelligence, With Help From the Humans

March 26, 2007

Until computers are more powerful than human brains, people will be able to sell their idle brains to the companies and people who need the special processing power that they alone possess through marketplaces like’s Mechanical Turk — an online service involving human workers and ChaCha — a human-assisted search company.

Jeff Bezos describes the phenomenon as “artificial artificial intelligence.”

Isotope-enhanced food may extend life

March 26, 2007

Oxford University scientists have found that nematode worms fed nutrients reinforced with natural isotopes had life spans extended by 10 percent.

With humans expected to routinely live until 100, this could add a further 10 years to human life.

Food enhanced with isotopes is thought to produce bodily constituents and DNA more resistant to detrimental processes, like free radical attack. The isotopes replace atoms in susceptible… read more

Organic is healthier

March 26, 2007

University of California, Davis researchers have proven that organically grown kiwifruit contain more health-promoting factors than those grown under conventional conditions.

It had significantly increased levels of polyphenols, the healthy compounds found in red wine and colored berries. It also had a higher overall antioxidant activity, as well as higher levels of vitamin C and important minerals compared with their conventionally grown counterparts.

Magnetic system could be key to surgery without scars

March 26, 2007

Physicians at UT Southwestern Medical Center and engineers at UT Arlington have collaborated to invent a surgical system that allows for magnetically maneuvering laparoscopic surgical tools inserted into the abdominal cavity through the bellybutton or throat.

Citizendium aims to be better Wikipedia

March 26, 2007

Citizendium, just launched, is intended to avoid the errors, juvenile vandalism, and lack of accountability of Wikipedia.

Citizendium’s volunteer contributors will be expected to provide their real names. Experts in given fields will be asked to check articles for accuracy.

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