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Shape-shifting rovers

October 18, 2006

An innovative rover robot designed to explore planets and moons is undergoing final assembly this week in a lab at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The robot may also be useful in hazardous environments on Earth.

The new rover changes its shape and topples along, veering a bit from side to side as it moves ahead. Depending on the terrain, its overall shape can change from tetrahedral to… read more

Piloting a wheelchair with the power of the mind

October 18, 2006

Paralyzed patients dream of the day when they can once again move their limbs.

That dream is making its way to becoming a reality, thanks to a neural implant created by John Donoghue and colleagues at Brown University and Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems.

Tamiflu could boost drug-resistant flu in wild birds

October 18, 2006

In a flu pandemic, millions of people are expected to take the antiviral drug Tamiflu, but new research shows that ultimately much of the drug will pass through the people taking it and end up in waterways. Chances are it will then linger long enough to promote Tamiflu-resistant flu viruses in wild birds.

A Virtual World but Real Money

October 18, 2006

The Second Life online service is fast becoming a three-dimensional test bed for corporate marketers.

The Internet is the fastest-growing advertising medium, as traditional forms of marketing like television commercials and print advertising slow. For businesses, these early forays into virtual worlds could be the next frontier in the blurring of advertising and entertainment.

Value of Cholesterol Targets Is Disputed

October 18, 2006

A paper published in the Oct. 3 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine says there is not enough solid scientific evidence to support the target numbers (less than 100, less than 70 for high-risk patients) for LDL cholesterol set forth by the National Cholesterol Education Program.

On the road to intelligence

October 18, 2006

A nine-member consortium including Volvo and DaimlerChrysler has received 22.9 million euros from the European Commission to develop an “intelligent car.”

The Dynamically Self-Configuring Automotive Systems (DySCAS) project aims to design a car that can self-diagnose and ultimately self-heal its own faults, download and update its own computer devices, and interface with a drivers’ mobile phone, personal organizer and satellite navigation systems.

‘DNA computer’ is unbeatable at tic-tac-toe

October 18, 2006

A computer that uses strands of DNA to perform calculations could help researchers refine techniques for analysis of DNA samples.

MAYA-II, developed by researchers at Columbia University and the University of New Mexico, uses a DNA logic gate that consists of a strand of DNA that binds to another specific input sequence. This binding causes a region of the strand to work as an enzyme, modifying yet another short… read more

Listening to the sound of skin cancer

October 18, 2006

Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia can now detect the spread of skin cancer cells through the blood by literally listening to their sound.

The minimally invasive technique causes melanoma cells to emit ultrasonic noise, and could let oncologists spot early signs of metastases — as few as 10 cancer cells in a blood sample — before they even settle in other organs.

The team’s method, called photoacoustic… read more

Human species ‘may split in two’

October 18, 2006

Humanity may split into two sub-species in 100,000 years’ time, as predicted by H.G. Wells, says evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics.

He expects a genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative and a far cry from the “underclass” humans, who would have evolved into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures.

But in the nearer future, humans will evolve in… read more

Two vaccines show promise against prion disease

October 18, 2006

University of Rochester Medical Center researchers have developed two new vaccine therapies that produced protective immune responses against prions in mice, and believe they could be further developed to work in humans or livestock.

Experimental malaria vaccine shows huge promise

October 18, 2006

The first-ever commercial vaccine against malaria has been found to protect 41% of volunteers who were exposed to malarial mosquitoes in the lab.

Is There Room for the Soul?

October 16, 2006

Consciousness has become the focus of an expanding intellectual industry involving the combined, but not always harmonious, efforts of neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, artificial intelligence specialists, physicists, and philosophers.

A special issue.

Space elevators to heave themselves skyward

October 16, 2006

Early prototypes for space elevators will compete in two NASA competitions at the Wirefly X Prize Cup in Las Cruces, New Mexico on October 20 and 21.

The hope is that one day a space elevator, comprised of a robot that will climb a strong tether about 100,000 kilometers (60,000 miles) long, will be able to send humans or other cargo cheaply into space.

A nanoplasmonic molecular ruler for measuring nuclease activity and DNA footprinting

October 16, 2006

Researchers have a new tool for studying interactions between proteins and nucleic acids: a nanoscale optical ruler than can detect small changes in the size of a given piece of DNA.

This work is reported in the inaugural issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

The device uses gold nanoparticles, which emit light at well-defined wavelengths of light, influenced by the exact physical and chemical environment, such as DNA… read more

Computer History Museum Minsky Event Cancelled

October 16, 2006

The Computer History Museum announced that due to a sudden family health matter, “An Evening with Marvin Minsky in Conversation with Nils J. Nilsson” has been cancelled.

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