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This Is Your Brain on Schadenfreude

January 24, 2006

Functional magnetic resonance imaging has reached the level of sophistication required to identify states of mind, as shown in one recent experiment to measure levels of empathy, based on “pain-related areas” in the brain when a person is watching someone else in pain.

Top 50 Inventions

January 24, 2006

In the past half-century, scientific and technological advances have transformed our world. PM convened a panel of 25 experts to identify the breakthroughs of our time, from the TV remote control (1955) to IEEE 802.16, the metropolitan area network standard that functions like Wi-Fi (2002).

Screening the Latest Bestseller

January 23, 2006

The new Sony Reader e-book features a display that looks more like ordinary paper than a liquid crystal display, because the pixels reflect ambient light rather than transmit light from behind. There’s no flicker, because the pixels are completely static.

The E Ink technology also conserves batteries because current is used only when pixels need to change their color — between virtual page turns, the Reader consumes no current… read more

Doctors claim suspended animation success

January 23, 2006

Researchers are testing potentially life-saving techniques for keeping humans in a state of suspended animation for up to three hours while surgeons repair their wounds.

Molecular electronics bridge for carbon nanotubes

January 22, 2006

Columbia University scientists have developed a unique way to connect the ends of carbon nanotubes by forming robust molecular bridges between them. The Columbia team was able to combine the best qualities of carbon nanotubes and organic molecules in a single electronic switch.

This new method of wiring molecules into the gaps of single-walled carbon nanotubes employs oxidative cutting — a lithographic technique that makes each cut-end of the… read more

New theory explains electronic and thermal behavior of nanotubes

January 20, 2006

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have made an important theoretical breakthrough in the understanding of energy dissipation and thermal breakdown in metallic carbon nanotubes. Their discovery will help move nanotube wires from laboratory to marketplace.

Shorter nanotubes can carry more current before burning apart because they dissipate heat better than longer nanotubes. The electrical contacts at each end act as heat sinks, which in short nanotubes… read more

How to stretch carbon nanotubes

January 19, 2006

At room temperature, a nanotube typically conducts electrons like a metal. But Physicists at Boston College have observed that when stretched under high temperature, a nanotube acts less like a metal and more like a semiconductor as the level of electrical current flowing through the structure falls.

They have shown that carbon nanotubes can be stretched at high temperature to nearly four times their original length, a finding that… read more

Tiny RNA molecules fine-tune the brain’s synapses

January 19, 2006

MicroRNAs, tiny, recently discovered RNA molecules from non-coding regions of the genome that suppress gene expression, affect the development of synapses by regulating the size of dendritic spines.

The findings appear in the January 19th issue of Nature. “This paper provides the first evidence that microRNAs have a role at the synapse, allowing for a new level of regulation of gene expression,” says senior author Michael Greenberg, PhD, Director… read more

Get laser-like beams from salt

January 19, 2006

Mechanically shocking a crystal such as salt generates coherent light at terahertz frequencies, which could be used for biomedical imaging and other applications.

Nanostructured gel muscles in on the action

January 19, 2006

Researchers have created a nanostructured gel that can act as a synthetic muscle. The material reacts to chemical changes in its environment by expanding or contracting.

The gel consists of a polyacid matrix containing nanoscopic hydrophobic domains. The material is formed by self-assembly from a triblock copolymer.

Testing the synthetic muscle by using it to bend a soft cantilever revealed that it produced a power per unit mass… read more

Measuring wrinkles, sun damage with software

January 19, 2006

Clarity Pro from BrighTex Bio-Photonics can depict the depth and severity of wrinkles in a 3D chart, show the extent of bacteria-filled pores in a graph, or represent UV damage in purple dots scattered about your face in a white-light image. It can also calculate how long a person can be exposed to the sun, in minutes or hours a day, before incurring more UV damage.

When patents are… read more

Police, Army Robots to Debut in 5 Years

January 18, 2006

By the 2010s, Korea expects to see robots assisting police and the military, patrolling neighborhoods and going on recon missions on the battlefield.

The outdoor security robots will be able to make their night watch rounds and even chase criminals, directed by a remote control system via an Internet connection or moving autonomously via their own artificial intelligence systems.

The government also seeks to build combat robots. They… read more

DNA sequence database hits a billion entries

January 18, 2006

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute’s World Trace Archive database of DNA sequences hit one billion entries Tuesday.

The Trace Archive, a store of all the sequence data produced and published by the world scientific community, is 22 Terabytes in size and doubling every ten months. It is perhaps the largest single scientific database in Europe, if not the world, and larger than the estimated 20 TB of equivalent text… read more

Nanoparticles pinpoint brain activity

January 17, 2006

Scientists could be a step closer to unraveling the mysteries of human memory thanks to a nanoparticle-based imaging technique developed at Bordeaux University. The team is observing how biomolecules change position within a cultured rat synapse, the junction between nerve cells, by labeling the biomolecules with tiny gold particles.

the Bordeaux technique involves the use of two lasers. The first, a time-modulated laser (532 nm) is used to heat… read more

Custom-Made Microbes, at Your Service

January 17, 2006

Synthetic biologists, scientists who seek to create living machines and biological devices that can perform novel tasks, “want to do for biology what Intel does for electronics,” said George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard and a leader in the field.

“We want to design and manufacture complicated biological circuitry.”

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