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Plan matures for partner to genome quest

December 16, 2005

Geneticists are brewing plans for a collective effort, the Human Epigenome Project, that would map subtle changes in DNA that underlie diseases.

As many as half of the genetic alterations that cause cancer, for example, may be “epigenetic” changes rather than mutations — a small molecule simply latches on to DNA in a process called methylation. This does not change the genetic sequence, but it can still shut a… read more

Three Technology Companies Join to Finance Research

December 16, 2005

Google, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems will underwrite a $7.5 million laboratory on the Berkeley campus. The research focus of The Reliable, Adaptive and Distributed Systems Laboratory will be to apply advances in the use of statistical techniques in machine learning to Web services — from maps to e-mail to online calendars — which have become an increasingly important part of the commercial Internet.

Stems cells as drug delivery carriers to the brain

December 15, 2005

Engineered human brain progenitor cells, transplanted into the brains of rats and monkeys, can effectively integrate into the brain and deliver medicine where it is needed, bypassing the blood-brain barrier, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have found.

The Wisconsin team obtained and grew large numbers of progenitor cells from human fetal brain tissue. They then engineered the cells to produce a growth factor known as glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor… read more

Stamps create DNA nanoarrays

December 15, 2005

Ohio State University researchers have come up with a modified molecular combing technique for creating arrays of stretched DNA molecules that could have applications in nanoelectronics, biological or chemical sensors, and genetic analysis and medical diagnosis.

By patterning a large quantity of stretched DNA molecules into a well-defined array of nanowires, parallel and automated analysis may be realized to achieve higher throughput and reliability, they believe.

Power could cost more than servers, Google warns

December 15, 2005

“If performance per watt is to remain constant over the next few years, power costs could easily overtake hardware costs, possibly by a large margin,” Luiz Andre Barroso said in a September paper published in the Association for Computing Machinery’s Queue.

“The possibility of computer equipment power consumption spiraling out of control could have serious consequences for the overall affordability of computing, not to mention the overall health of… read more

Let’s see some ID, please

December 15, 2005

Over 20 million PCs worldwide are equipped with a security chip called the Trusted Platform Module, although it is as yet rarely activated. But once merchants and other online services begin to use it, the TPM will do something never before seen on the Internet: provide virtually fool-proof verification that you are who you say you are.

Some critics say that the chip will change the free-wheeling Web into… read more

Astronomers see sun-like star with possible planet formation

December 15, 2005

Astronomers have spotted a swirling debris cloud around a sun-like star that may be forming terrestrial planets similar to Earth in a process that could shed light on the birth of the solar system.

The star, located 137 light years away, appears to possess an asteroid belt, a zone where the leftovers of failed planets collide.

Scientists estimate the star is about 30 million years old — about… read more

Did humans colonise north Europe earlier than thought?

December 15, 2005

Humans may have colonized northern Europe 200,000 years earlier than previously thought. Stone tools found in eastern England suggest that humans were there at least 700,000 years ago.

Space ‘spiders’ could build solar satellites

December 15, 2005

A mission to determine whether spider-like robots could construct complex structures in space is set to launch in January 2006. The spider bots could build large structures by crawling over a “web” released from a larger spacecraft.

The engineers behind the project hope the robots will eventually be used to construct colossal solar panels for satellites that will transmit solar energy back to Earth. The satellites could reflect and… read more

Faster Plastic Circuits

December 14, 2005

Researchers have built working circuits on plastic that run at 100 megahertz — as much as a hundred times faster than previous ones on plastic.

The Sarnoff/Columbia advance could lead to displays measuring three meters or more diagonally that can also be rolled up and easily transported.

Fast transistors on plastic could also lead to portable phased-array antennas. Such antennas direct a transmission at a precise target, which… read more

Amazon to Sell Build-Your-Own Search Engine

December 14, 2005

For a fee of as little as $1 a day, Amazon will provide access to an index of 5 billion Web pages plus the Internet-based tools to create new twists to mine the information warehouse and present findings to an audience.

New Effort Aims to Unlock Secrets of Cancer Genes

December 14, 2005

The National Institutes of Health is beginning a $100 million pilot phase of a project called The Cancer Genome Atlas that aims to unlock all the genetic abnormalities that contribute to cancer, an effort that would exceed the Human Genome Project in complexity but could eventually lead to new diagnostic tests and treatments for the disease.

Self-assembling cubes could carry medicine, cell therapy

December 13, 2005

Johns Hopkins researchers have devised a self-assembling cube-shaped perforated container, no larger than a dust speck, that could serve as a delivery system for medications and cell therapy.

The relatively inexpensive microcontainers can be mass-produced through a process that mixes electronic chip-making techniques with basic chemistry. Because of their metallic nature, the cubic container’s location in the body could easily be tracked by magnetic resonance imaging.

The researchers… read more

DNA pyramids make their debut

December 13, 2005

A simple method to create robust DNA “pyramids” that self-assemble in seconds has been invented by physicists in the UK. Each side of the tetrahedral pyramid is made up of a double helix of DNA. The pyramids can then be joined together to make larger 3D nanostructures on which to build molecular electronic circuits and tiny containers for drug delivery.

Thought control brings pain into line

December 13, 2005

Researchers have managed to teach people suffering chronic pain to reduce their own discomfort simply by controlling their thoughts.

Patients were able to reduce pain by about 50 percent by viewing real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging of the activity in their rostral anterior cingulate cortex.

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