science + technology news

Brain creates ‘new’ nerve cells

February 15, 2007

Researchers have discovered a type of brain stem cell that continuously regenerates in humans.

“Resting cells” migrate to create new nerve cells in the part of the brain that deals with smell.

Experts said the findings could be important for future research into brain cell repair in patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Kaiser starts major study of members’ health

February 15, 2007

Kaiser Permanente launched a survey of its Northern California membership Wednesday in the first phase of an ambitious multiyear study into the genetics and lifestyle factors that give rise to common diseases.

Researchers said the project could last 50 years and draw information from 500,000 adult health plan members who agree to participate — making this potentially the biggest study of its kind in the United States and one… read more

Breaking fish advice during pregnancy might benefit babies

February 15, 2007

Women who follow government guidelines and eat no more than three portions of fish a week during pregnancy increase the risk of their children developing poor verbal and social skills, a new study by the National Institutes of Health suggests, because omega-3 fatty acids in fish appear to promote brain growth during fetal development.

In 2004 the US Environmental Protection Agency and FDA jointly advised pregnant and nursing women… read more

To Add Speed, Chipmakers Tune Structure

February 15, 2007

Chip companies are finding ways around the physical problems that have held them back from making chips go faster.

On Feb. 14, IBM said it plans to combine microprocessor and memory chips onto a single piece of silicon to substantially improve processor performance.

Earlier this week, Intel announced that it had built a chip with 80 cores that is capable of completing 1 trillion computations every second.… read more

Moving pictures

February 15, 2007

A project combining 3D imagery with hand-tracking and speech recognition technology could change the way the next generation of computers presents information, as well as how we interact with it.

The system uses gesture recognition technology that tracks natural hand movements and uses the information to manipulate images. Speech recognition enables the user to turn, flip or resize 3D objects with simple verbal commands, and call up contextual information… read more

Telescoping nanotubes promise ultrafast computer memory

February 15, 2007

University of California, Riverside have developed a conceptual design for a macroscopically addressable data storage device based on carbon nanotubes, which can be used as nonvolatile random access memory and for terabit solid-state storage.

The design involves inserting one hollow nanotube, closed at both ends, into a slightly larger one, open at both ends, creating a telescoping motion using an electrostatic charge. That contact between the nanotube and the… read more

Data Center Energy Consumption Has Doubled Since 2000

February 15, 2007

The energy consumed by data center servers and related infrastructure equipment in the U.S. and worldwide doubled between 2000 and 2005, according to a new study.

A jump in the volume of servers in data centers is accountable for 90 percent of the growth in power consumption. The total 2005 electric bill to operate those servers and related infrastructure equipment was $2.7 billion in the U.S. and $7.2 billion… read more

Medtronic discloses component for “brain radio”

February 15, 2007

Engineers from Medtronic disclosed a novel amplifier that is a key component in an implantable “brain radio” the company is developing to monitor and control nervous disorders.

The devices measures the average activity of thousands of brain cells.

IBM Reveals Breakthrough eDRAM Memory Technology

February 15, 2007

IBM has revealed a first-of-its-kind, on-chip memory technology that features the fastest access times ever recorded in eDRAM (Embedded Dynamic Random Access Memory).

IBM’s new microchip technology will more than triple the amount of memory stored on chips and double the performance of computer processors. It will be available in 2008.

A Portable Refinery Powered by Garbage

February 14, 2007

Researchers at Purdue University have led development of a portable “tactical” biorefinery for the U.S. Army that turns a variety of waste streams into a mixture of ethanol and methane gas, which are burned in a modified diesel engine to produce electricity.

Haptic glove to touch on virtual fabrics

February 14, 2007

“Virtual fabric” that feels just like the real thing is being developed by European researchers in their HAPTEX project.

Detailed models of the way fabrics behave are combined with new touch-stimulating hardware to realistically simulate a texture’s physical properties.

Detailed measurements of a fabric’s stress, strain and deformation properties are fed into a computer, recreating it virtually. Two new physical interfaces then allow users to interact with these… read more

Biology Goes Open Source

February 13, 2007

Some of the world’s biggest drug companies are finding that their genetic research is worth more to them if they give it away.

Novartis has helped uncover which of the 20,000 genes identified by the Human Genome Project are likely to be associated with diabetes. It is making it available for free on the Web.

Pfizer has promised to make available for free a swath of genetic information… read more

Building the Cortex in Silicon

February 13, 2007

Kwabena Boahen, a neuroengineer at Stanford University, is planning the most ambitious neuromorphic project to date: creating a silicon model of the cortex.

The first-generation design will be composed of a circuit board with 16 chips, each containing a 256-by-256 array of silicon neurons. Groups of neurons can be set to have different electrical properties, mimicking different types of cells in the cortex. Engineers can also program specific connections… read more

Scientists Clone Mice From Hair Follicle Stem Cell

February 13, 2007

Researchers have cloned mice using stem cells from the rodents’ hair follicle region.

The skin stem cells come from adult mice, are relatively easy to obtain and inject, and may represent a good future source of stem cells for animal cloning.

Afternoon naps may boost heart health

February 13, 2007

A study of nearly 24,000 people found that those who regularly took midday naps were nearly 40 percent less likely to die from heart disease than non-nappers.

Researchers suggest that siestas might protect the heart by lowering levels of stress hormones.

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