science + technology news

Alloy Holds Out Promise of Speedier Memory Chip

December 11, 2006

Scientists at IBM and two partner companies have developed a material that could lead to a new kind of computer memory chip that is more than 500 times as fast as today’s flash chips and just 3 nanometers high by 20 nanometers wide, offering the promise that the technology can be shrunk to smaller dimensions than could be attained by flash manufacturers.

The compounds, known as GST, or germanium-antimony-tellurium… read more

Enzyme-Free Nucleic Acid Logic Circuits

December 8, 2006

California Institute of Technology researchers have reported the design and experimental implementation of DNA-based digital logic circuits.

They demonstrated AND, OR, and NOT gates, signal restoration, amplification, feedback, and cascading. The modular gates use single-stranded nucleic acids as inputs and outputs, and the mechanism relies exclusively on sequence recognition and strand displacement.

Biological nucleic acids such as microRNAs can serve as inputs, suggesting applications in biotechnology and bioengineering.… read more

Ultrastrong Carbon-Nanotube Muscles

December 8, 2006

By spinning carbon nanotubes into yarn a fraction of the width of a human hair, researchers have developed artificial muscles that exert 100 times the force per area of natural muscle.

Natural protein stops deadly human brain cancer in mice

December 8, 2006

Scientists from Johns Hopkins and the University of Milan have proven that they can inhibit lethal human brain cancers in mice using a protein that selectively induces positive changes in the activity of cells that behave like cancer stem cells.

The bone morphogenic proteins cause neural stem-cell-like clusters to lose their stem-cell properties, which in turn stops their ability to divide.

Physicists Find Tiny Particle With No Charge, Very Low Mass And Sub-nanosecond Lifetime

December 8, 2006

A tiny particle with no charge, a very low mass and a lifetime much shorter than a nanosecond, dubbed the “axion,” has been detected by Dr. Piyare Jain, University at Buffalo professor emeritus in the Department of Physics.

The axion has been seen as critical to the Standard Model of Physics and is believed to be a component of much of the dark matter in the universe.

NYU chemists create ‘nanorobotic’ arm to operate within DNA sequence

December 8, 2006

New York University chemistry professor Nadrian C. Seeman and his graduate student Baoquan Ding have developed a DNA binding site through which a nanomechanical device can be inserted and function within a DNA array, allowing for the motion of a nanorobotic arm.

The results, reported in the latest issue of the journal Science, pave the way for creating nanoscale “assembly lines” in which more complex maneuvers could be executed,… read more

Genomic atlas of the mouse brain revealed

December 7, 2006

A genomic atlas of the mouse brain, the Allen Brain Atlas, has been completed. It contains 85 million images and documents the activity of more than 21,000 genes across the entire mouse brain in such fine detail that it is possible pick out individual cells.

Already, the atlas has revealed that the mammalian brain contains “hidden” structures, defined by common patterns of gene activity and that at least 80… read more

Solar cell breakthrough claimed

December 7, 2006

A breakthrough in solar cell technology promises to make solar power a cost-competitive energy option and to reduce U.S. dependence on oil.

With funding from the Department of Energy, Boeing-Spectrolab has managed to create a solar cell with 40.7 percent sunlight-to-energy conversion efficiency, said DoE assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy Alexander Karsner.

Peering Into the Future: Genetic Testing

December 7, 2006

Genetic testing is transforming medicine — and the way families think about their health.

Today gene tests are available for more than 1,300 diseases, including cystic fibrosis and hemophilia. As genetic screening gets cheaper and faster, researchers are hunting down the biological underpinnings of more-complex disorders that involve multiple genes — illnesses that strike millions of Americans every year.

On the list: type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease… read more

Stem Cells Are Where It’s At

December 6, 2006

There are now more than 1,000 stem-cell therapies in early human trials around the world.

Last month saw the first patient treated with embryonic cells, which have triggered much debate in the United States. After years of being thought of as science fiction, stem-cell therapies are becoming a scientific fact.

Pocket Projectors

December 6, 2006

Microprojector technology could let handheld gadgets like mobile phones and iPods display big pictures. The The Microvision system, composed of semiconductor lasers and a tiny mirror, will be small enough to integrate into a phone or an iPod.

Samsung’s gun-toting robot

December 5, 2006

The Intelligent Surveillance and Security Guard Robot, being developed by Samsung, will guarantee “perfect guarding operation,” in contrast with human guards who are all too prone to succumb to fatigue or inclement weather.

It has two cameras–one for daytime watch and another, infrared one for the night–and a laser rangefinder.

Have Camera Phone? Yahoo and Reuters Want You to Work for Their News Service

December 5, 2006

Hoping to turn the millions of people with digital cameras and camera phones into photojournalists, Yahoo and Reuters are introducing a new effort to showcase photographs and video of news events submitted by the public.

NASA Unveils Strategy for Return to the Moon

December 5, 2006

NASA has decided to pursue a base on the Moon. The space agency rolled out today a strategy and rationale for robotic and human exploration of the Moon, determining that a lunar outpost is the best approach to achieve a sustained, human presence on the Moon by 2020.

The Moon base would eventually support 180-day lunar stays, a stretch of time seen as the best avenue to establish a… read more

Minsky talks about life, love in the age of artificial intelligence

December 5, 2006

MIT computer science professor Marvin Minsky has written a new book, “The Emotion Machine,” in which he argues that, contrary to popular conception, emotions aren’t distinct from rational thought; rather, they are simply another way of thinking, one that computers could perform.

“Being angry is a very useful way to solve problems, for instance, by intimidating an opponent or getting rid of people who bother you,” he said.

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