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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.”

Stem cells from cloned embryos keep genetic integrity

January 17, 2006

Stem cells derived from cloned embryos appear genetically identical to those created by fertilisation in mice, researchers at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research report.

The results of the new study — which examined gene expression patterns in the stem cells — suggest that there is no subset of genes that is universally activated or disabled in cloned stem cells as compared with their normal stem cell counterparts.… read more

Exercise linked to big drop in dementia risk

January 17, 2006

Regular exercise may reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly by as much as 40 percent, according to a new study by Group Health Cooperative in Seattle.

Sandia Labs developing nanobattery implant

January 17, 2006
Schematic of nanobattery that would be implanted in or near the eye

Sandia National Laboratories researchers are developing a nano-size battery that one day could be implanted in the eye to power an artificial retina. The artificial retina and accompanying nanobattery will be used to correct certain types of macular degeneration.

“We will use our expertise in multi-scale modeling to understand and predict how transporter structure leads to function, with an initial focus on specialized transporters found in the… read more

Bioterrorism: Preparing to Fight the Next War

January 16, 2006

A robust biodefense plan must be anticipatory, flexible, and rapidly responsive. It should exploit crosscutting technologies and cross-disciplinary scientific insights and use broadly applicable platforms and methods that offer substantial scalability.

Examples include the use of “lab-on-a-chip” technology, based on advances in microfluidics, for rapid, sensitive, point-of-care diagnostics; computational approaches for predicting drug-ligand interactions; genomic tools such as microarrays and genome-wide screening for protective antigens; and automated robotic systems… read more

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Robot

January 16, 2006

The 2005 Fourth British Computer Society’s Annual Prize for Progress towards Machine Intelligence has been won by IFOMIND, a mobile robot system that demonstrates intelligence as it meets a new object in its world.

IFOMIND reacts initially in an “instinctive” way to its first perception of an unknown object that it encounters; at first it is generally fearful. But the robot observes the object from a distance and takes… read more

15 Tech Concepts You’ll Need To Know In 2006

January 16, 2006

The body area network, perpendicular storage on hard drives, 10 GB NAND flash memory, and mobile satellite video are among the scientific and technological breakthroughs expected in 2006.

Across the Megaverse

January 15, 2006

In Leonard Susskind’s new book, “The Cosmic Landscape,” he says the latest version of string theory (now rechristened M-theory) yields a gargantuan number of models: about 10 to the 500th power — the “megaverse.”

Each potential model, he suggests, corresponds to an actual place –another universe as real as our own.

Susskind eagerly embraces the megaverse interpretation because it offers a way to blow right through the intelligent… read more

Learning Retinal Implant System

January 15, 2006

Intelligent Medical Implants AG, a Switzerland-based company, announced that its first-generation Learning Retinal Implant System, containing a 50-electrode device, was successfully implanted in two patients in December 2005.

IMI’s Learning Retinal Implant System replaces the signal-processing functions of a healthy retina and provides input to the retinal nerve cells.

The System comprises three main components:

1. an implant, “The Retinal Stimulator”, which is surgically placed into the… read more

Taiwan breeds green-glowing pigs

January 13, 2006

Scientists in Taiwan say they have bred three pigs that glow in the dark.

The pigs are transgenic, created by adding genetic material from jellyfish into a normal pig embryo. The scientists will use the transgenic pigs to study human disease.

Because the pig’s genetic material is green, it is easy to spot. So if, for instance, some of its stem cells are injected into another animal, scientists… read more

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