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Watching the brain ‘switch off’ self-awareness

April 20, 2006

Researchers conducted a series of experiments using fMRI to pinpoint the brain activity associated with introspection and that linked to sensory function.

They found that the brain assumes a robotic functionality when it has to concentrate all its efforts on a difficult, timed task — only becoming “human” again when it has the luxury of time.

Wireless device to improve cancer treatment

April 19, 2006

Engineers at Purdue University are creating a wireless device the size of a rice grain that could be implanted in tumors to tell doctors the precise dose of radiation received and locate the exact position of tumors during treatment.

The device, a passive wireless transponder, has no batteries and will be activated with electrical coils placed next to the body.

Source: Purdue University news release

Cybernetics: Merging machine and man

April 19, 2006

High-tech tools, implanted or attached to the human body, are bringing biology and technology together to repair, replace and augment human ability.

Brain knitting

April 18, 2006

A scaffold of nanoscale fibers that self-assembles from small, synthetic protein-like components provides a framework for the regrowth of damaged brain tissue, allowing vision to be restored in hamsters with brain lesions, a team in the USA and China reports.

The nano-scaffold, made of short peptides, is biodegradable and non-toxic, causes no immune response, is injectable — it self-assembles when the molecules come together in a salty solution –… read more

Schizophrenia as Misstep by Giant Gene

April 18, 2006

Researchers have made progress in understanding how a variant gene, neuregulin-1, linked to schizophrenia may exert its influence in the brain.

Nature paper shows that cell division is reversible

April 17, 2006

Gary J. Gorbsky, Ph.D., a scientist with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, has found a way to reverse the process of cell division.

The discovery could have important implications for the treatment of cancer, birth defects and numerous other diseases and disorders. Gorbsky’s findings appear in the April 13 issue of the journal Nature.

“No one has gotten the cell cycle to go backwards before now,” said Gorbsky,… read more

Now the bionic man is real …

April 17, 2006

The 1970s gave us the six-million-dollar man. Thirty years and quite a bit of inflation later we have the six-billion-dollar human: not a physical cyborg as such, instead an umbrella term for the latest developments in the growing field of technology for human enhancement.

The new breed of soldier: Robots with guns

April 17, 2006

Spurred by the risks from roadside bombs and terrorist ambushes, the military is aggressively seeking to replace troops with battlefield robots, including new versions armed with machine guns.

Print me a heart and a set of arteries

April 14, 2006

A new “bioprinting” technique uses droplets of “bioink” — clumps of cells a few hundred micrometers in diameter that behave just like a liquid.

This means that droplets placed next to one another will flow together and fuse, forming layers, rings or other shapes, depending on how they were deposited. To print 3D structures, the researchers alternate layers of supporting gel, dubbed “biopaper,” with the bioink droplets. To build… read more

Rice scientists attach motor to single-molecule car

April 14, 2006
Two motorized nanocars on a gold surface. The nanocar consists of a rigid chassis and four alkyne axles that spin freely and swivel independently of one another. The wheels are spherical molecules of carbon, hydrogen and boron called p-carborane.

In follow-on work to last year’s groundbreaking invention of the world’s first single-molecule car, chemists at Rice University have produced the first motorized version of their nanocar.

“We want to construct things from the bottom up, one molecule at a time, in much the same way that biological cells use enzymes to assemble proteins and other supermolecules,” said lead researcher James M. Tour, the Chao Professor of… read more

A Crystal Ball Submerged in a Test Tube

April 12, 2006

A new generation of genetic tests represents some of the first fruit of the long-anticipated genome revolution and could help pave the way to personalized medicine, in which treatments would be tailored for each therapy, potentially making them more effective and less costly.

Such tests are either now available or being developed for purposes like detecting cancer early, monitoring heart transplants and choosing which drugs might work best to… read more

Fast food awash with ‘worst’ kind of fat

April 12, 2006

French fries and chicken nuggets from two major global fast-food chains contain very high levels of artery-clogging trans fats, researchers warn.

Google Patents Voice Search

April 12, 2006

Google, Inc. on Tuesday was granted a patent for a voice interface for search engines.

The patent document suggests that Google will be leveraging its logs of stored text and audio queries to improve speech recognition and relevancy, as the company does currently with text keywords. It says, “The query logs may consist of audio data (i.e., a recorded query) and/or a textual transcription of the audio data…. The… read more

Building a hand-held lab-on-a-chip to simplify blood tests

April 12, 2006

A cell phone-sized blood-count machine requiring less blood than a mosquito bite will make blood tests easier for many patients, from neonatal units to astronauts in space.

Source: National Space Biomedical Research Institute news release

Are laser weapons ready for duty?

April 12, 2006

The next generation of weapons in the U.S. arsenal could be straight out of science fiction: laser beams and heat rays.

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