science + technology news

Brain power focused on future-tech quest

January 10, 2007

America’s big names in engineering, as well as millions of Internet users around the world, are being asked to weigh in with their picks for the greatest technological challenges of the next century — a nine-month process that could give birth to new research initiatives.

The National Academy of Engineering project, called the “Grand Challenges for Engineering” program, is aimed at gathering up all those ideas and distilling them… read more

A Fast, Sensitive Virus Detector

January 10, 2007

A sensor that measures the concentration of viruses in minutes could make possible a handheld device that cheaply and quickly spots pathogens.

Picking the Best Embryo from the Bunch

January 10, 2007

New embryo-screening technologies could weed out embryos with major genetic abnormalities and improve IVF success rates.

New study supports a stem cell origin of cancer

January 10, 2007

University of Southern California researchers have found that cancer is rooted in stem cells.

They found that cancer arises in cells that have already undergone epigenetic (heritable factors not associated with DNA) alterations, which points to epigenetic events preceding genetic events in cancer development.

This implies it would be very important to screen stem cells for the epigenetic abnormalities they uncovered to prevent people from receiving potentially cancer-prone… read more

Analogy of cochlea as resonator could lead to artificial copies

January 10, 2007

In attempting to construct an artificial cochlea — and faced with limited knowledge of how the living chamber works — scientists might need to look no further than a simple electronic device: a surface acoustic wave (SAW) resonator.

Recently, scientist Andrew Bell suggested that the cochlea exhibits similar structure and electromechanical properties to this circuitry, commonly used in cell phones.

Top tech movies: Creepy-crawly climbing bots and more

January 10, 2007

A new film shows researchers at Case Western University using robots equipped with a cross between wheels and legs (“whegs”) to test a new material that mimics the gravity-defying feet of geckos and insects.

Another clip shows a flying robot with whegs as well as retractable wings. The robot, resembling a large winged insect, combines the ability to fly with the capacity to crawl to reach a specific location… read more

Desktop fabricator may kick-start home revolution

January 10, 2007

Fab@Home, a cheap self-assembly device capable of fabricating 3D objects, has been developed by Carnegie Mellon University researchers.

They hope the machine could kick start a revolution in home fabrication, or “rapid prototyping,” just as early computer kits sparked an explosion in home computing.

How to go to M.I.T. for free

January 9, 2007

By the end of this year, the contents of all 1,800 courses taught at MIT will be available online to anyone in the world. Learners won’t have to register for the classes, and everyone is accepted.

The OpenCourseWare movement, begun at MIT in 2002, has now spread to some 120 other universities worldwide.

Computers Join Actors in Hybrids On Screen

January 9, 2007

James Cameron’s 2009 Avatar film will test new 3D hyrid technologies, combining live actors and digital technology to make a large cast of virtual creatures who convey emotion as authentically as humans.

Their bodies will be filmed using the latest evolution of motion-capture technology while the facial expressions will be tracked by tiny cameras on headsets that will record their performances to insert them into a virtual world.… read more

Nanoscopic ‘coaxial cable’ transmits light

January 9, 2007

Boston College researchers have developed nanoscopic coaxial cables using nanotubes that transmit light and could lead to innovations in solar cells, artificial retinas and quantum computing.

Homing nanoparticles pack multiple assault on tumors

January 8, 2007

Burnham Institute for Medical Research researchers have developed nanoparticles that home in on tumors and bind to their blood vessels, and then attract more nanoparticles to the tumor target.

They demonstrated that the homing nanoparticle could be used to deliver a “payload” of an imaging compound, and in the process act as a clotting agent, obstructing as much as 20 percent of the tumor blood vessels to inhibit growth.… read more

Attack of the Zombie Computers Is Growing Threat

January 8, 2007

Botnets are secretly installing themselves on thousands or even millions of personal computers, banding these computers together into an unwitting army of zombies, and using the collective power of the dragooned network for spam and committing Internet crimes.

Researchers Use Wikipedia To Make Computers Smarter

January 8, 2007

Using Wikipedia, Technion researchers have developed a way to give computers knowledge of the world to help them “think smarter,” making common sense and broad-based connections between topics just as the human mind does.

The new method will help computers filter e-mail spam, perform Web searches and even conduct intelligence gathering at more sophisticated levels than current programs.

‘Ethical’ stem cells that arrive with baby

January 8, 2007

The discovery of versatile stem cells in the amniotic fluid surrounding babies in the womb could make it possible for all mothers to save the cells as “spares” for baby, according to Wake Forest University School of Medicine researchers.

If the child suffers tissue or organ damage later in life, the cells could be retrieved and grown into the perfect graft, with no problems of tissue rejection by the… read more

Energy 2020: A Vision Of The Future — A Report Retrieved From The Year 2020 Via A Wormhole

January 8, 2007

By the year 2020, enhanced by nanotech, new energy sources — nuclear fusion, solar, fuel cells, hydrogen, space solar power satellites, and “bioenergy” using artificial bacteria to economically produce hydrocarbons — overtake gas and eventually substitute most fossil fuel production on the planet, in this scenario by Jose Luis Cordeiro on the future of energy.

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