science + technology news

Nano-patterns guide stem cell development

April 9, 2006

Stem cells can be prompted to develop into bone, instead of muscle or cartilage tissue, if they are grown on a substrate etched with nanoscopic patterns – and no added chemicals, University of Glasgow researchers have found.

The discovery could lead to longer-lasting artificial implants that are nano-engineered to encourage suitable tissue to develop around them.

Precisely why these patterns affect stem cell growth is unclear, but the… read more

Nanopore Method Could Revolutionize Genome Sequencing

April 7, 2006

A team led by physicists at the University of California, San Diego has shown the feasibility of a fast, inexpensive technique to sequence DNA as it passes through tiny pores. The advance brings personalized, genome-based medicine closer to reality.

The paper, published in the April issue of the journal Nano Letters, describes a method to sequence a human genome in a matter of hours at a potentially low cost,… read more

Software Out There

April 7, 2006

Blocks of interchangeable software components are proliferating on the Web and developers are joining them together to create a potentially infinite array of useful new programs.

This new software represents a marked departure from the inflexible, at times unwieldy, programs of the past, which were designed to run on individual computers.

Study, in a First, Explains Evolution’s Molecular Advance

April 7, 2006

By reconstructing ancient genes from long-extinct animals, scientists have for the first time demonstrated the step-by-step progression of how evolution created a new piece of molecular machinery by reusing and modifying existing parts.

The researchers say the findings, published today in the journal Science, offer a counterargument to doubters of evolution who question how a progression of small changes could produce the intricate mechanisms found in living cells.

Virus-Assembled Batteries

April 7, 2006

MIT researchers have demonstrated that genetically engineered viruses can assemble active battery materials into a compact, regular structure, to make an ultra-thin, transparent battery electrode that stores nearly three times as much energy as those in today’s lithium-ion batteries.

It is the first step toward high-capacity, self-assembling batteries.

MIT group develops ‘mind-reading’ device

April 5, 2006

MIT Media Lab researchers have developed a device that “reads minds” and alerts wearers to the emotional state of the person they’re conversing with.

The research team hopes the Emotional Social Intelligence Prosthetic (ESP)device will help people with autism learn to better read the social cues of others.

Man vs. machine

April 5, 2006

Utah State University professor Hugh De Garis predicts a takeover by AI-based “artilects” and a coming conflict between humans and machines in his 2005 book “The Artilect War: Cosmists vs. Terrans: A Bitter Controversy Concerning Whether Humanity Should Build Godlike Massively Intelligent Machines.”

He is featured in a coming documentary by Chicago filmmaker Ken Gumbs called “Building Gods.” Preview here.

Speedy robot legs it to break record

April 5, 2006

Runbot, a two-legged robot that walks at record-breaking speed, has been developed by researchers from Germany and Scotland.

At 30 centimeters high, it can walk at a speedy 3.5 leg-lengths per second. The robot is controlled by a simple program that mimics the way neurons control reflexes in humans and other animals: it detects just two things — when a foot touches the ground and when a leg swings… read more

Disorder creates order

April 5, 2006

According to a computational study conducted by physicists at Washington University in St. Louis, one may create order by introducing disorder.

While working on their model — a network of interconnected pendulums, or “oscillators” – the researchers noticed that when driven by ordered forces the various pendulums behaved chaotically and swung out of sync like a group of intoxicated synchronized swimmers. This was unexpected –shouldn’t synchronized forces yield synchronized… read more

Low-Calorie Diet May Lead to Longer Life

April 5, 2006

A low-calorie diet, even in people who are not obese, can lead to changes in metabolism and body chemistry that have been linked to better health and longer life, researchers are reporting.

A six-month study published today in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that calorie restriction led to decreases in insulin levels and body temperature. Both are considered signs of longevity, partly because an earlier study… read more

Cheaper Fuel Cells

April 5, 2006

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers who developed a new, simple-to-produce material that boosts the performance of fuel cells many times — and could be a major step toward making them affordable.

The Fountain of Health

April 5, 2006

Calorie restriction delays the onset of a broad swath of age-related diseases, so some biologists hope that a drug that mimics the molecular effects of calorie restriction might also delay the onset of some or all of these diseases.

Part 2 of the article

A Rapture for the Rest of Us

April 5, 2006

Is the Singularity just a new religion? Or is religion just the pre-marketing department for the Singularity?

“Jihadists are strapping on suicide bombs today, in the hope of attaining the kind of environment that virtual reality will deliver in 20 years,” notes futurist Glenn Harlan Reynolds.

Cure for cancer worth $50 trillion

April 5, 2006

Finding a cure for cancer would be worth about $50 trillion, according to a study by University of Chicago Graduate School of Business economists.

The social value of improved health and longevity is the amount in dollars that additional life years or other health improvements are worth to people, the study report said. The value of improved longevity is based on what individuals gain from the enjoyment of consumption… read more

Theorists explain how single-molecule diode works

April 4, 2006

Theorists from the University of South Florida and the Russian Academy of Sciences have explained how a single-molecule diode developed by a University of Chicago research team works.

The researchers showed electron energy levels in a molecule are efficient channels for transferring electrons from one electrode to another. Because the molecule in the diode is asymmetrical, the electronic response is also asymmetrical when voltage is applied. The asymmetry contributes… read more

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