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Separated at Birth?

August 15, 2006

The universe looks eerily like a mouse’s neurons.

Digital DNA detector spots single molecules

August 15, 2006

A modified nanoscale transistor could dramatically speed up the detection of DNA sequences.

The detector consists of a quantum dot with a piece of DNA attached. It only allows current to flow when a matching sequence of DNA binds to the attached piece and could provide a simple, faster way to detect viruses or track gene expression.

Ice Age DNA may now be sequenced

August 15, 2006

We might now be able to sequence the genomes of mammoths and even Neanderthals, thanks to a new way to correct the errors in sequencing ancient DNA that are made because it degrades over time.

Making Robots for the Home or a Battlefield

August 14, 2006

iRobot Corporation, maker of Roomba, the robotic vacuum cleaner, has sold more than 500 PackBot robots for use in disposing improvised explosive devices.

And its Fido robot has just been tested in Iraq as a bomb-sniffing device.

Hutter Prize for Lossless Compression of Human Knowledge

August 14, 2006

Marcus Hutter has announced the 50,000 Euro Hutter Prize for Lossless Compression of Human Knowledge by compressing the 100MB file Wikipedia ‘enwik8′ file to less than the current record of 18MB.

The intent of this prize is to encourage development of intelligent compressors/programs.

“Being able to compress well is closely related to intelligence,” says the Prize for Compressing Human Knowledge” website.

“While intelligence is a… read more

Debate rages over animal-human chimeras

August 14, 2006

In its August 8 report, the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics advocates banning embryos containing human and animal genetic material and cloned embryos created by combining human cells with cow or rabbit oocytes.

Ian Wilmut of the University of Edinburgh, creator of Dolly the cloned sheep, wants to attempt this to study motor neuron disease.

PALM technique points to protein whereabouts

August 14, 2006

Researchers have developed an optical imaging technique that can pinpoint proteins in cells with nanometer resolution.

The photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM) method attaches fluorescent protein molecules to the proteins of interest and photoactivates and images just a few of the fluorescent molecules at a time.

Volcanoes may reveal secrets through ‘song’

August 10, 2006

Active volcanoes are being made to “sing” by researchers who convert seismic data into frequencies audible to human ears.

The sonification ttechnique could make it easier to detect patterns that warn of an eruption.

Pass the Virtual Scalpel, Nurse

August 10, 2006

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers are developing a surgery simulator similar to the flight simulators used to train pilots. The medical training system would allow surgeons to manipulate virtual human organs in real time, learning and acquiring crucial skills without using cadavers or risking human life.

They are pursuing a grand vision of developing the holy grail of simulation technology: a “virtual human.”

Breakthrough gives 3-D vision of life’s dawn

August 10, 2006
SRXTM scanning shows the interior or fossil embryos

A new technique allowing virtual dissections of half-billion-year-old fossil embryos is producing the first three-dimensional images of the dawn of life.

Synchroton-radiation X-ray tomographic microscopy, or SRXTM, leaves the tiny fossils untouched (compared to the conventional use of acid) but gives graphic details of their structure.

Gartner Names Hot Technologies With Greatest Potential Impact

August 10, 2006

Researcher Gartner Inc. has identified the technologies it believes will have the greatest impact on businesses over the next 10 years, naming such hot areas as social-network analysis, location-aware applications and event-driven architectures, semantic markup languages, and collective intelligence (developing intellectual content through individuals working together with no centralized authority).

Apocalypse soon

August 10, 2006

The Israel-Hezbollah conflict has convinced many premillennialists that God, working through Israel, is steering the world toward its final days and the return of the Messiah, Jason Boyett says in

Meanwhile, Shiite Muslims believe the time is now for the return of the Hidden Imam and a final battle, possibly on August 22 this year, Iranian President Ahmadinejad has hinted, Princeton professor emeritus Bernard Lewis points… read more

Single molecule makes electronic switch

August 8, 2006
Single molecules as electronic components © IBM

A single organic molecule trapped between two electrodes acts as a switch and has a memory of the type used in data storage, researchers have found.

A positive voltage pulse between the electrodes was enough to change the bipyridyl-dinitro oligophenylene-ethynylene dithiol (BPDN-BT) molecule so that it became a better conductor of current, while a negative voltage returned the molecule to its less conductive state.

Organic Molecules Found in Diverse Space Places

August 8, 2006

Eight organic molecules have been found in interstellar dust clouds in two regions of space, the Astrophysical Journal reports.

One of the molecules found in Sagittarius B2(N), called acetamide, contains a type of chemical bond important for linking together amino acids.

The newfound molecules bring the total number of biologically-relevant molecules found in interstellar space to 141. Scientists have previously found benzene, a ring-shaped carbon molecule important for… read more

Digital World Reveals Architecture of Evolution

August 8, 2006

The architecture that pervades biological networks gives them an evolutionary edge by allowing them to evolve to perform new functions more rapidly than an alternative network design, according to computer simulations conducted at the University of Chicago.

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