science + technology news

Crystal printing promises flexible electronics

December 13, 2006

A method for growing organic semiconducting crystals onto a surface could lead to better flexible electronic devices and video displays.

The new “block printing” technique can grow individual crystals on top of a surface previously patterned with metal electrodes. This provides a cheaper and simpler way to create circuitry on a surface.

Nano-devices hold promise for early-stage cancer detection

December 13, 2006

Miniature labs that can be swallowed like a pill, injected through a catheter, or woven into fabric could screen for, detect, and potentially treat cancer and other diseases when they are still at a single-cell size in early development stages. They will also detect harmful pathogens in food and water.

New slide speeds disease diagnosis

December 13, 2006

A glass microscope slide covered with bits and pieces of genetic information from nearly 30,000 different viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites can quickly tell disease hunters whether a patient has malaria, influenza or myriad other diseases, researchers say.

The device, known as a GreeneChip, is already being used by the World Health Organization and the Defense Department. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to receive its first… read more

DNA-like ice ‘seen’ inside carbon nanotubes

December 13, 2006

Nanoscale ice formations resembling the double helices of DNA will form when water molecules are frozen inside carbon nanotubes, detailed computer simulations suggest.

Report says most states still aren’t prepared for major emergencies

December 13, 2006

Five years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the country still isn’t fully prepared to respond to a major public health emergency such as bioterrorism or pandemic flu, a health policy group said in a report by The Trust for America’s Health.

For example, half of the states would run out of hospital beds within two weeks of a moderate outbreak — defined as eight to 12 weeks –… read more

Microsoft unveils public robotics software

December 13, 2006

Microsoft on Wednesday plans to take the wraps off Microsoft Robotics Studio, with hopes of paving the way for a broader robotics industry and taking a central role in its development.

The software is free for hobbyists or researchers, but companies aiming to profit from its use must license a commercial version for $399.

The software platform includes a 3D tool to simulate robotics applications; a services-oriented runtime… read more

Mileage from megawatts: Study finds enough electric capacity to ‘fill up’ plug-in vehicles across much of the nation

December 12, 2006

If all the cars and light trucks in the nation switched from oil to electrons, idle capacity in the existing electric power system could generate most of the electricity consumed by plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

A new study for the Department of Energy finds that “off-peak” electricity production and transmission capacity could fuel 84 percent of the country’s 220 million vehicles if they were plug-in hybrid electrics.

Why a hydrogen economy doesn’t make sense

December 12, 2006

In a recent study, fuel cell expert Ulf Bossel explains that a hydrogen economy is a wasteful economy. In contrast, in an efficient “electron economy” most energy would be distributed with highest efficiency by electricity and the shortest route in an existing infrastructure.

The large amount of energy required to isolate hydrogen from natural compounds (water, natural gas, biomass), package the light gas by compression or liquefaction, transfer the… read more

Portable, Magnetic DNA Detector

December 11, 2006

Stanford researchers have integrated an array of tiny magnetic sensors into a silicon chip containing circuitry that reads the sensor data. The magnetic biochip could offer an alternative to existing bioanalysis tools, which are costly and bulky.

It could also be useful at airports for detecting toxins such as anthrax and at crime scenes for DNA analysis.

Personalized Weather Forecasts

December 11, 2006

IBM has launched a new weather service called Deep Thunder that can predict the rain, the wind, and temperature conditions down to a one-kilometer resolution. In time, IBM researchers say they should even be able to nail the resolution down to individual streets.

Deep Thunder increases the resolution by using IBM’s pSeries Cluster 1600 computers — a mini-supercomputer — to include additional information about the local area that can… read more

Bio-ink printer makes stem cells differentiate

December 11, 2006

An inkjet device that prints tiny “bio-ink” patterns has been used to simultaneously grow both muscle and bone tissue from the stem cells of adult mice.

Surgeons could one day use the technology to repair various damaged tissues at the same time.

Study Detects Recent Instance of Human Evolution

December 11, 2006

A surprisingly recent instance of human evolution has been detected among the peoples of East Africa. It is the ability to digest lactose, the principal sugar of milk, in adulthood, conferred by genetic changes that occurred as recently as 3,000 years ago, a team of geneticists has found.

Nanotechnology Report Creates Urgency for Preparation

December 11, 2006

A congressionally mandated review of US nanotechnology policy includes a study of “the feasibility of manufacturing systems capable of building, with molecular precision, complex systems that consist of multiple components.”

The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) expects that the report will accelerate research toward the development of molecularly-precise manufacturing. “However, without adequate understanding and preparation, exponential atom-by-atom construction of advanced products could have catastrophic results. Conclusions published in this… read more

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

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