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Drugs could head off a flu pandemic — but only if we respond fast enough

August 4, 2005

If a strain of avian influenza emerges that can spread easily from person to person, could rapid deployment of antiviral drugs stop a local outbreak from becoming a global disaster?

Yes, conclude the most detailed modelling studies yet of an emerging pandemic — if the world can muster its scientific and logistical efforts quickly enough.

Beating Hurdles, Scientists Clone a Dog for a First

August 3, 2005

South Korean researchers have cloned what scientists deem the most difficult animal, the dog.

We Are the Web

August 3, 2005

The Web, a planet-sized computer, is comparable in complexity to a human brain. Both the brain and the Web have hundreds of billions of neurons (or Web pages). Each biological neuron sprouts synaptic links to thousands of other neurons, while each Web page branches into dozens of hyperlinks.

That adds up to a trillion “synapses” between the static pages on the Web. The human brain has about 100 times… read more

Calling All Luddites

August 3, 2005

The fact that the U.S. has fallen to 16th in the world in broadband connectivity has aroused little interest.

But the world is moving to an Internet-based platform for commerce, education, innovation and entertainment. Wealth and productivity will go to those countries or companies that get more of their innovators, educators, students, workers and suppliers connected to this platform via computers, phones and P.D.A.’s.

A new generation of… read more

Bush Remarks Roil Debate Over Teaching of Evolution

August 3, 2005

A sharp debate between scientists and religious conservatives escalated Tuesday over comments by President Bush that the theory of intelligent design should be taught with evolution in the nation’s public schools.

Nano Bones

August 3, 2005

Materials scientist Robert Haddon of the University of California, Riverside and his team hope to someday grow bone back — using carbon nanotubes.

Nanotube-Laser Combo Selectively Targets Cancer Cells, Study Shows

August 3, 2005

When exposed to near-infrared light, carbon nanotubes quickly release excess energy as heat. Stanford University reseachers have exploited this property to attack cancerous cells.

Braving Medicine’s Frontier

August 3, 2005

Bush’s apparently simple decision to withhold federal money for stem-cell research inadvertently created an enormous regulatory maze that few scientists have managed to escape.

With a few exceptions, private funding sources–philanthropies and businesses–have not stepped into the gap left by Washington’s withdrawal. Nor have research groups been able to capitalize on federal funding for the study of existing stem cell lines, partly because they are fewer in number than… read more

The Deadly Art of Viral Cinema

August 3, 2005

Harvard biophysicist Xiaowei Zhuang uses lasers, a microscope, and pair of hi-res digicams to capture viral infection in action.

These movies are crucial to scientists searching for opportunities to block viruses in transit. Equally important, researchers may learn from Zhuang’s films how to mimic viruses, which could help them engineer drugs that penetrate cells and treat genetic disorders from within.

‘Smart’ nanoprobes light up disease

August 2, 2005

Rice University’s Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) researchers have developed a quantum dot that is programmed to light up only when activated by specific proteases.

Altered expression of particular proteases is a common hallmark of cancer, atherosclerosis, and many other diseases.

The probe’s design makes use of a technique called “quenching” that involves tethering a gold nanoparticle to the quantum dot to inhibit luminescence. The tether,… read more

AI-based ‘Previewseek’ search engine launched

August 2, 2005

Previewseek Limited has launched an AI-based search engine, Previewseek.com.

Its AI algorithms improve searching, the company claims. It “understands” the meanings of words, distinguishes between unbiased and commercial content, and generates visual “previews” of search result pages.

The Previewseek.com site is at www.previewseek.com

DNA Nanoparticles Deliver Genes Intravenously

August 2, 2005

Louis Pasteur University researchers have developed a new method of getting anticancer genes into cells: a novel detergent molecule that interacts with individual DNA molecules to form a nanoparticle 32 nanometers in diameter.

These nanoparticles, which are unusual in that they have no charge on their surface, are stable in blood, yet fall apart when exposed to a negatively-charged molecule found only inside cells. This molecule, phosphatidylserine, causes the… read more

Sub-angstrom microscope targets nanotechnology

August 2, 2005

FEI Co. has unveiled what it claims is the highest-resolution scanning-transmission electron microscope, enabling sub-angstrom (atomic scale) imaging and analysis.

A team of researchers plans to use it to make direct observations and analysis of individual atoms at 0.5-angstrom resolution — a key dimension for atomic level research since it is one-third the diameter of a carbon atom.

New method of growing nanotube circuits may allow for faster processors

August 1, 2005

A new semiconductor fabrication method creates nanoscale circuits by dipping semiconductor chips into liquid suspensions of carbon nanotubes, rather than growing the nanotubes directly on the circuit.

Previously, most nanotube circuits have been made by growing each nanotube on the surface of a chip, using chemical vapor deposition. Unfortunately, this method often results in a circuit comprised of both types of nanotubes, metallic and semiconducting.

Furthermore, the growth… read more

Bill Introduced to Ban Human Reproductive Cloning

August 1, 2005

New congressional legislation would make it a federal crime to clone or attempt to clone a human being.

Penalties include ten years in prison and a fine of $1 million or three times any profits made.

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