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Many human genes evolved recently

March 7, 2006

Human genes involved in metabolism, skin pigmentation, brain function and reproduction have evolved in response to recent environmental changes, according to a new study of natural selection in the human genome.

Identifying the gene variants that are under selection may one day help medicine, because individuals with a newly evolved gene variant may be better adapted for modern human conditions and less susceptible to certain diseases. Understanding the differences… read more

Biowar for Dummies

March 7, 2006

How hard is it to build your own weapon of mass destruction? Roger Brent, a geneticist who runs a California biotech firm, is one of a growing number of researchers who believe that a bioterrorist wouldn’t need a team of virologists and state funding. He says advances in DNA-hacking technology have reached the point where an evil lab assistant with the right resources could do the job.

Every hands-on… read more

The Art of Building a Robot to Love

March 6, 2006

A robot must have human emotions, but do we understand human emotions well enough to formalize them in computers?

A viral influence on life’s origins?

March 6, 2006

Nature has just published a hypothesis regarding the formation of the nucleus based on molecular parasites, introduced to eukaryotes along with the adoption of bacteria to form the mitochondria.

‘Nano-skin’ could create super-bendy screens

March 6, 2006

A flexible “nano-skin” polymer infused with billions of carbon nanotubes could be used to build efficient electronic parts for highly flexible electronic displays and nanotube interconnects for electronics.

Robotic ‘pack mule’ displays stunning reflexes

March 6, 2006

BigDog, a nimble, four-legged robot, is so surefooted it can negotiate steep slopes, cross rocky ground, and recover its balance even after being given a hefty kick.

The machine, which moves like a cross between a goat and a pantomime horse, is being developed as a robotic pack mule for the US military.

Kurzweil to receive Special Libraries Association award

March 4, 2006

The Special Libraries Association (SLA) has named Ray Kurzweil as SLA Honorary Member, one of “18 outstanding information professionals who have been selected as recipients of its 2006 Awards and Honors.” They will be recognized at the Opening General Session of the SLA 2006 Annual Conference on June 11 in Baltimore.

The Special Libraries Association (SLA) is a nonprofit global organization for innovative information professionals and their… read more

Watching Cancer Cells Die

March 3, 2006

A nano sensor, developed by scientists at the Center for Molecular Imaging Research at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, detects apoptosis (cell suicide).

The sensor could directly signal whether a drug is working or not by looking at individual cells. The detector uses an iron-oxide nanoparticle, which may allow for seeing the sensors inside the human body using MRI because the iron-oxide particle is a very good imaging… read more

Stealth sharks to patrol the high seas

March 2, 2006

Engineers funded by the US military have created a neural implant designed to enable a shark’s brain signals to be manipulated remotely, controlling the animal’s movements, and perhaps even decoding what it is feeling.

The Pentagon hopes to exploit sharks’ natural ability to glide quietly through the water, sense delicate electrical gradients and follow chemical trails. By remotely guiding the sharks’ movements, they hope to transform the animals into… read more

Nanotube networks conjured on crystals

March 2, 2006

The key to instantly assembling intricate networks of nanotubes has been discovered by scientists armed with some of the most sophisticated microscopes in the world.

The phenomenon may some day help material scientists manufacture nano-circuits that channel electrons through tiny tunnels instead of along silicon wires, which have to be etched lithographically. Such circuits would be many times smaller than today’s, allowing greater computer power to be packed into… read more

Atom Wires

March 1, 2006

Physicists have built the world’s thinnest wires, one atom wide, by evaporating a puff of gold atoms onto a silicon substrate which has first been cleared of impurities by baking it at 1200 degrees Kelvin.

The crystalline surface was cut to form staircase corrugations. Left to themselves, the atoms then self-assemble into wires (aligned along the corrugations) of up to 150 atoms each.

Transistor-Cantilever Combo Detects Biomolecules With High Sensitivity

February 28, 2006

Northwestern University reseachers coupled a microcantilever with a metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor to yield a device that generates a direct electrical signal whenever the cantilever bends in response to biomolecule binding.

It is capable of detecting bending of as little as five nanometers, sufficient to reliably detect binding of DNA, antibodies, and prostate specific antigen (PSA) to the microcantilevers.

It can also be mass-produced using standard computer chip… read more

Faster Chips, Kill, Kill, Kill

February 28, 2006

PCs with 5-GHz CPUs should soon be on store shelves. We can expect transistor counts on CPUs to double from 1 billion to 2 billion in two years, and 4 billion in four years; and the amount of DRAM per chip should continue to double from a maximum of 1 Gigabit now to 4 Gigabits per chip in four years.

Entanglement heats up

February 28, 2006

“Entanglement” could occur at any temperature and not just in systems cooled to near zero according to new calculations by a team of physicists in the UK, Austria and Portugal.

They have found that the photons in ordinary laser light can be quantum mechanically entangled with the vibrations of a macroscopic mirror, no matter how hot the mirror is. The result is unexpected because hot objects are usually thought… read more

3D plasma shapes created in thin air

February 28, 2006

The night sky could soon be lit up with gigantic three-dimensional ads, thanks to a Japanese laser display that creates glowing images in thin air.

The display uses an ionization effect which occurs when a beam of laser light is focused to a point in air.

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