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Sentient world: war games on the grandest scale

July 23, 2007

The U.S. Department of Defense is developing a parallel to Planet Earth, with billions of individual nodes to reflect every man, woman, and child.

Called the Sentient World Simulation (SWS), it will be a “synthetic mirror of the real world with automated continuous calibration with respect to current real-world information,” according to a concept paper for the project.

SWS provides an environment for testing Psychological Operations (PSYOP),” the… read more

Separated at Birth?

August 15, 2006

The universe looks eerily like a mouse’s neurons.

Sequenced microbial genomes could help increase our resistance to disease

June 11, 2010

Phylogenetic analysis of 16S Ribosomal DNA sequences with Human Microbiome Project microbes highlighted in blue shows the distribution of these human symbiants around the microbial tree of life. Phylum are separated by color as follows: yellow, Actinobacteria; dark green, Bacteroidetes; light green, Cyanobacteria; red, Firmicutes; cyan, Fusobacteria; dark red, Planctomycetes; gray, Proteobacteria; magenta, Spirochaetes; light pink, TM7; tan, Tenericutes. (Human Microbiome Project)

The first 178 reference microbial genomes have now been analyzed and catalogued by the he Human Microbiome Project (HMP) by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

A microbiome is the full complement of microorganisms populating a “supraorganism,” such as a human. These symbiotic microbes outnumber an adult’s own somatic and germ cells by up to a 10:1 ratio; the interactions between our human and… read more

Sequencing a Genome a Week

July 15, 2009

The Human Genome Project took 13 years to fully sequence a single human’s genetic information. At Washington University’s Genome Center, they can now do one in a week. But when you’re generating that much data, just keeping track of it can become a major challenge….

Sequencing a human genome in one day for $1,000

January 11, 2012


Life Technologies Corporation announced Tuesday that it is taking orders for its new benchtop Ion Proton Sequencer, designed to sequence the entire human genome in a day for $1,000.

Up to now, it has taken weeks or months to sequence a human genome at a cost of $5,000 to $10,000 using optical-based sequencing technologies. The slow pace and the high instrument cost of $500,000 to… read more

Sequencing a Single Molecule of DNA

July 14, 2008

Helicos BioSciences has developed the HeliScope, the first commercial instrument that can directly read the sequence of a single DNA strand, making it the world’s fastest DNA sequencer, the company claims.

The high-­throughput machine, a complex configuration of tubes, lasers, and chemi­cals, contains two plates, each with 25 ­microfluidic channels etched into it. Each channel is capable of holding and sequencing a separate DNA sample.

The HeliScope, introduced… read more

Sequencing Price Drops Even Lower

November 6, 2009

Complete Genomics has sequenced three human genomes for an average cost of $4,400.

Lowering the cost of sequencing would allow scientists to study large numbers of human genomes, which is now thought necessary to understand the genetic basis of complex disease.

Sequencing reveals origins of X chromosome

March 17, 2005

The complete sequence of the human X chromosome was published in Nature this week. It shows that large segments of it match parts of normal chromosomes in birds, confirming the X chromosome’s “non-sex” origins.

Wequence comparisons with rats, mice and dogs show that the X chromosome seems to have changed little since the evolution of placental mammals, supporting the idea that once genes are transferred to X, they stay… read more

Sequencing single molecules of DNA

April 4, 2008

Helicos BioSciences has developed the first single-molecule DNA sequencer out on the market.

Its machine reads individual letters from single molecules of DNA without requiring it to be “amplified” (copied into multiple, identical strands).

The amplification step can introduce errors into the sequence and does not work well for some DNA fragments, making it difficult to sequence a genome’s full complement of DNA. By avoiding these complications, single-molecule… read more

Sequencing the Connectome

Genetic barcoding to trace the brain's wiring down to the neuron level
October 25, 2012

DNA barcode

A team of neuroscientists led by Professor Anthony Zador, Ph.D., of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have proposed a revolutionary new way to create a connectivity map (“connectome”) of the whole brain of the mouse at the resolution of single neurons: high-throughput DNA sequencing.

The only current method for obtaining the connectome with high precision relies on laboriously examining individual cell-to-cell contacts (synapses) in electron microscopes, which is slow, expensive… read more

Sequoia is the new world’s fastest supercomputer at 16 petaflops

June 19, 2012


Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)’s IBM Blue Gene/Q Sequoia supercomputer is the new world’s fastest high-performance computing system, at 16.32 sustained petaflops (quadrillion floating point operations per second), according to the Top500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

For the first time since November 2009, a U.S. supercomputer tops the ranking.

A 96-rack system, Sequoia will enable simulations that explore phenomena at a level of detail… read more

Serial Hybrids Are Here!

November 20, 2006

General Motors has announced plans to sell a serial hybrid car, with a prototype available early next year.

A serial hybrid means that the car has two engines, but only one engine is connected directly to the drive train, hence it is a “serial” hybrid.

It is less complex than conventional hybrid cars, because only the electric motor, with its huge range of usable RPM, is connected to… read more

Serious Blow to Dark Matter Theories?

April 19, 2012


The most accurate study so far of the motions of stars in the Milky Way has found no evidence for dark matter in a large volume around the Sun.

According to widely accepted theories, the solar neighborhood was expected to be filled with dark matter, a mysterious invisible substance that can only be detected indirectly by the gravitational force it exerts. But a new study by a team of… read more

Serious Potential in Google’s Browser

September 4, 2008

Google’s minimalist Chrome browser is built for a future that blurs the lines of Web and desktop.

oogle argues that current Web browsers were designed before so many of the developments that characterize today’s Web: video everywhere, scams and spyware, viruses that lurk even on legitimate sites, Web-based games and ambitious Web-based programs like Google’s own Docs word processor.

As Google’s blog puts it, “We realized that the… read more

Serious worldwide threat to public health noted in WHO’s first global report on antibiotic resistance

But a possible future treatment for deadly MRSA hospital-infections is being studied
May 1, 2014

The MRSA superbug (in yellow) is resistant to antibiotics and  can lead to death, but a new polymer-antibiotic combo (credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Antimicrobial resistance (including antibiotic resistance — when bacteria change so antibiotics no longer work) is a serious threat and has gone global, warns the World Health Organization (WHO) in a  report, “Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance.”

“Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades… read more

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