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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.

Futurists look beyond, and it’s not mere sci-fi

August 1, 2005

Imagine a future in which terrorists seize an embassy and police can send in a remote-controlled insect outfitted with a microscopic video camera that reveals where the gunmen are hiding and what kind of weapons they hold.

Or a time when adventure travelers fly to the moon to spend a week at a space colony.

Over 1,000 futurists arriving in Chicago for the annual conference of the World… read more

DNA Machine May Advance Genetic Sequencing for Patients

August 1, 2005

A new kind of machine for decoding DNA may help bring costs so low that it would be feasible to decode an individual’s DNA for medical reasons. The machine, developed by 454 Life Sciences of Branford, Conn., was used to resequence the genome of a small bacterium in four hours, compared to four to six months in 1995.

The machine uses luciferase, the chemical in fireflies, to generate a… read more

It knows where you are…

August 1, 2005

Explorer — an interactive tourist guidebook — detects exactly where you’re standing within the 850-acre parkland surrounding Ashton Court, using GPS signals, and presents related pictures, sound effects and narrative.

Within a year, you should encounter it in some of the best-known tourist centers, including the Louvre in Paris, Alcatraz in San Francisco, Edinburgh Castle and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Life’s ingredients found in early universe

July 31, 2005

The molecular building blocks of life had already formed by the time the universe was only a quarter of its present age, new observations by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope reveal. The research bolsters the case for extraterrestrial life and may shed light on the nature of galaxies in the early universe.

The signature of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) molecules were found in two galaxies. The molecules contain about 100… read more

Surfaces have built-in ‘fingerprints’

July 29, 2005

The surfaces of most paper documents, plastic cards and cardboard packages contain unique “fingerprints” that could be used to combat fraud, according to physicists.

The fingerprint is contained in microscopic imperfections on the surface and can be read by a portable laser scanner. The results could eventually eliminate the need for expensive security measures — such as holograms, chips and special inks — on passports, identity cards and pharmaceutical… read more

New Spintronic Speed Record

July 29, 2005

The fastest-yet magnetic version of a random access memory (MRAM) cell switches at a rate of 2 GHz, as good as or better than the fastest non-magnetic semiconductor memories and faster than static RAM (or SRAM) memories, currently the fastest memories.

The new version, developed by Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt researchers, uses a “ballistic bit addressing” scheme to overcome limitations of previous designs.

MRAM, which uses electron spin to store… read more

Crick’s last stand

July 29, 2005

Francis Crick and Christof Koch proposed to explain the neurological basis of human consciousness by studying the claustrum, a thin sheet of grey matter that lies concealed beneath part of the cortex.

Sensations could be bound together into one cohesive, conscious experience by the claustrum, they claim in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

CHESS, CHINA, AND EDUCATION

July 28, 2005

Feng-Hsiung Hsu, author of “Behind Deep Blue,” which told the story of how world chess champion Garry Kasparov was defeated by the IBM computer known as Deep Blue, says he had been planning at IBM to “create something a hundred to a thousand faster and capable of beating” Garry Kasparov, with 100 to 1 time odds, before IBM cancelled the project.

Hsu, now a senior manager and researcher at… read more

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