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Tweaking Genes in the Basement

July 7, 2006

The Biotech Hobbyist collective, an amateur biotech community, explores homebrew biotech.

Projects include basic computation using a DNA “computer.” Tools for the project include a $100 high school-science education kit and some used lab equipment.

Catching Seizures Before They Occur

July 7, 2006

Researchers at MIT and Harvard are preparing to carry out trials of a new device for treating epilepsy.

It involves implanting a pacemaker-like device in the patient’s chest. Connected to the device is an electrode that wraps around the vagus nerve. It uses powerful electrical stimulations and can be activated by the patient when a seizure occurs to try to stop it.

‘Smart’ spacecraft makes its own decisions

July 7, 2006

AI will increasingly give spacecraft the ability to think for themselves.

The AI group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory wrote the software that manages the schedule of Earth Observing-1, a satellite that looks for natural disasters like volcanic eruptions, wildfires and floods. It reprograms itself to image these targets and provide rapid response imagery of breaking science events.

Similar programming can be used for future planetary missions, perhaps… read more

Make way for the terabyte laptop drive

July 7, 2006

Seagate Technology Inc. plans to increase disk capacity by 10 times with new technology it has just patented, meaning a computer hard drive could soon be storing as much as a terabyte of data.

The Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) technology created by Seagate includes nanotube-based lubrication to allow the read/write head of a disk to get closer to the surface and store more information.

Self-Powered Silicon Laser Chips

July 6, 2006

A new method of turning waste heat into electrical power could speed up communications inside computers — and mark another advance in the field of silicon photonics.

Keeping Synthetic Biology Away from Terrorists

July 6, 2006

Scientists want to adopt a set of declarations to improve the security of research that uses DNA synthesis.

The researchers pledged, for example, to develop better software to detect when orders for dangerous DNA sequences have been placed with DNA synthesis companies, and they recommended that scientists work only with companies who use such software.

New Technique Could Image Oceans on Faraway Planets

July 6, 2006

A thin plastic “starshade” shaped like a giant daisy flower placed inside a telescope could one day help astronomers observe faraway planets by blocking out unwanted light from their parent stars, a new study in Nature reports.

The Internet Knows What You’ll Do Next

July 4, 2006

Google Trends allows you to check the relative popularity of any search term, to look at how it has changed over the last couple years and to see the cities where the term is most popular.

When this and other new tools get good enough, you can see how the business of marketing may start to change. As soon as a company begins an advertising campaign, it will be… read more

Biologists Take a Turn at Raising Eyebrows

July 4, 2006

“Challenging Nature: The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the New Frontiers of Life,” by Lee M. Silver, a molecular biologist at Princeton, hacks away at the various mysticisms and superstitions that, in his view, are impeding many rational exploitations of biotechnology like genetically modified foods and research on embryonic stem cells.

The Computational Universe

July 4, 2006

The universe can be viewed as a giant quantum computer made up of connected quantum gates that flip quantum bits and thereby propagate information and uncertainty, says Seth Lloyd in a new book, Programming The Universe.

The “ultimate laptop” (one with 1 kilogram of mass and 1 liter of volume) would have a maximum of 1051 operations per second on 1032 bits, but would be roughly 100 times hotter… read more

‘Virgin birth’ stem cells bypass ethical objections

July 4, 2006

“Virgin-birth” embryos have given rise to human embryonic stem cells capable of differentiating into neurons.

The embryos were produced by parthenogenesis, a form of asexual reproduction in which eggs can develop into embryos without being fertilised by sperm. The technique could lead to a source of embryonic stem cells that could be used therapeutically without having to destroy a viable embryo.

Crucial immune cells derived from stem cells

July 4, 2006

For the first time, human embryonic stem cells have been coaxed into becoming T-cells, suggesting new ways to fight immune disorders.

Top computer hangs on to its title

July 3, 2006

IBM’s BlueGene/L computer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California, has once again been crowned world champion by the TOP500 list of the fastest supercomputers used for scientific applications, with a computing speed of 280.6 terraflops per second.

Horst Simon, associate laboratory director at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a member of the TOP500 team, said the next TOP500 champ would be a big jump to 500 or… read more

Cell phones as dangerous as drunk driving

July 3, 2006

A study by University of Utah psychologists found that drivers talking on cell phones, either handheld or hands-free, are more likely to crash because they are distracted by conversation.

Asteroid Spotting: Skywatchers to Glimpse Close Flyby

July 3, 2006

A large asteroid made an exceptionally close approach to our planet early on July 3, passing just beyond the Moon’s average distance from Earth.

An another object is destined to pass much closer to Earth and possibly could pose a threat to our planet. On April 13, 2029, the asteroid 99942 Apophis is expected to pass a mere 18,600 miles (30,000 km.) above Earth’s surface.

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