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Microsoft Moves into Robotics

September 5, 2006

Microsoft believes the demand for consumer, research, and military robots will grow significantly–and it wants to own the market, with Microsoft Robotics Studio (MSRS) and the Institute for Personal Robots in Education (IPRE).

MSRS is a visual programming environment, similar to the LabView-based software provided with LEGO’s Mindstorms NXT kit. It allows users to drag and drop box-like symbols for simple, low-level behaviors and services (such as accessing a… read more

Multiple copies of a mystery gene may make us human

September 5, 2006

A newly discovered mystery gene may have helped build the modern human brain.

Scientists don’t know what the gene does. But they do know that humans have more copies of it than chimpanzees, monkeys, rats and mice. And they know that the DUF1220 gene gene makes a protein that is found in the human brain.

Humans carry 212 copies of DUF1220, whereas chimps have 37 copies, and monkeys… read more

‘Molecular computers’ act as tiny ID tags

September 5, 2006

Molecules capable of basic logic operations have been developed that could serve as tiny ID tags for identifying individual cells or nano-devices. The technique, called molecular computational identification (MCID), could produce tens of millions of unique tags.

The molecules use the presence of a chemical, or a mix of chemicals, as inputs, and give off light as output.

Supercentenarian Research Foundation Plans Tissue Sampling of Supercentenarians

September 5, 2006

The Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group has created a tax-exempt Supercentenarian Research Foundation to fund tissue sampling of all living Supercentenarians (persons 110 years or older) worldwide.

The aim of the Foundation is “to develop a rigorous, statistically significant database of the most important SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) of ‘gerontic’ (longevity) genes,” said Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group Co-founder L. Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D.… read more

Gene-therapy results touted in 2 advanced-cancer cases

September 1, 2006

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute reported they have successfully treated two patients with advanced cancer using gene therapy.

This is the first time genetically engineered immune-system cells — specifically, T lymphocytes — have produced that effect.

“I think it is an important landmark to see some cancer patients respond to a gene therapy — finally,” said Patrick Hwu, a physician and gene-therapy researcher at University of Texas… read more

‘Augmented reality’ glasses tackle tunnel vision

September 1, 2006

Superimposing computer-generated images over real scenes can dramatically help people with visual impairment, say Harvard Medical School researchers.

Their device puts a cartoon on top of a person’s regular view. It sketches out what the wider field of view looks like and superimposes that on the person’s usual view.

Lifeboat Foundation assembles 200 experts to deal with future existential risks

September 1, 2006

The roster of Lifeboat Foundation Scientific Advisory Board members today totaled 200 with the addition of multidisciplinary scientist/author Howard Bloom, who is bringing together space scientists to explore beaming solar power from space and setting up a colony off-planet in case humanity is extinguished due to warfare.

The Board’s members, grouped in 23 sub-boards, include inventor/futurist Ray Kurzweil; Alex Wolszczan, discoverer of the first planets… read more

Compounds that stimulate stem cell growth in the brain identified

September 1, 2006

Harvard University scientists have identified key compounds that stimulate stem cell growth in the brain, which may one day lead to restored function for people affected by Parkinson’s disease, strokes, multiple sclerosis, and a wide range of neurological disorders.

The research study focused on two compounds–LTB4 and LXA4. Both play a role in inflammation and are regulators of proliferation of several cell types. When stem cells isolated from the… read more

Physics Wars

August 31, 2006

In his new book, The Trouble With Physics, theoretician Lee Smolin argues that string theory is not only weird, it might be wrong.

Live Long? Die Young? Answer Isn’t Just in Genes

August 31, 2006

Life span is determined by such a complex mix of events that there is no accurate predicting for individuals.

The factors include genetic predispositions, disease, nutrition, a woman’s health during pregnancy, subtle injuries and accidents and simply chance events, like a randomly occurring mutation in a gene of a cell that ultimately leads to cancer.

Google’s Cool Free Book Downloads

August 31, 2006

Google’s project to scan the world’s books new features free PDF downloads of classic public-domain books, via the Google Book Search site.

Preclinical Tests Show Acid-Sensitive Nanoparticles Treat Ovarian Cancers with Little Toxicity

August 30, 2006

Acid-sensitive polymer nanoparticles are effective at suppressing tumor growth when tested in an animal model of human ovarian cancer.

In addition, animals treated with this nanoparticle formulation do not appear to experience adverse side effects that often limit the ability of patients to tolerate chemotherapy.

Physicists invent ‘QuIET’ — single molecule transistors

August 30, 2006

University of Arizona physicists proposed to turn single molecules into working transistors as small as a single nanometer.

The Quantum Interference Effect Transistor (QuIET) design uses a benzene ring-like molecule with two molecular electrical leads attached to create two alternate paths through which current can flow and a third lead to turn the device on and off, the “valve.”

Google Revealed: The IT Strategy That Makes It Work

August 30, 2006

In Building 43 at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters is a video screen that depicts the world as seen in Google Earth. Across a revolving globe, streams of colorful pixels, like sparks from a Roman candle, mark the geographic origin of queries coming in to Google’s search engine. It’s a real-time representation of Google as the nexus of human curiosity….

Robots Wrote This

August 30, 2006

Perhaps the week’s biggest and scariest robot news — certainly for journalists — was the robot reporters story.

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