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Mac Programs That Come With Thinking Caps On

December 6, 2005

New “thinking tools” — software for storing, retrieving and generally making the best use of information — are now available on Mac computers.

They include Devon, which uses a “semantic search” process that is more sophisticated than search engines and can bring up files or passages whose meaning is related to what you are looking for, even though they do not contain the exact search terms; and Tinderbox, which… read more

The expanding electronic universe

December 6, 2005

The Dec. 1 issue of Nature looks at what wikis, blogs, digital libraries, Google Base, and other Internet technologies may mean for the future of scientific communication beyond the confines of scientific journals.

These tools offer fresh opportunities both before publication, when people are debating ideas and hypotheses, and after, when they are finding and discussing published results. They also provide scientists with exciting new possibilities for communicating with… read more

New nano material is far tougher than diamonds

December 5, 2005

Israeli scientists have have discovered a material 40 times harder than diamonds.

Polyyne, a superhard molecular rod, is comprised of acetylene units.

Car paints changing with temperature

December 5, 2005

German researchers have used ion bombardment and gold metallisation to produce new particles whose bonding behavior can be chemically tailored. This could lead to new shimmering car finishes which can change with temperature or humidity, new cosmetics, and new applications in optical data processing.

Robots aim to explore and build on other worlds

December 5, 2005

NASA is offering two new $250,000 prizes to stimulate advances in the use of robots in planetary exploration and automated construction.

The Telerobotic Construction Challenge aims to promote the development of semi-autonomous robots that can build complicated structures with minimal remote guidance from human controllers.

The other competition will award funding to teams that build an uncrewed, auto-piloted plane that can follow a complex flight path using only… read more

IBM introduces self-healing data center software

December 5, 2005

IBM has released new data center software designed to automatically detect and fix performance problems, advancing its effort to build “self-healing” technology.

Yale scientists decipher ‘wiring pattern’ of cell signaling networks

December 2, 2005

A team of scientists at Yale University has completed the first comprehensive map of the proteins and kinase signaling network that controls how cells of higher organisms operate, according to a report this week in the journal Nature.

Protein kinases act as regulator switches and modify their target proteins by adding a phosphate group to them. This process, called “phosphorylation,” results in altered activity of the phosphorylated protein. It… read more

Cheap Chemical Sensors

December 2, 2005

Vivek Subramanian, electrical engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has made arrays of sensors cheap enough that they could be widely distributed for monitoring toxins in the environment.

Science Makes Sex Obsolete

December 1, 2005

In the Nov. 1, 2004, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team led by Ralph Brinster at the University of Pennsylvania managed to grow mouse “spermatagonial stem cells” in a dish. Also known as SSCs, they are the type of stem cells that eventually become sperm.

It gets even more interesting when you learn what Brinster did with sperm stem cells in 2001. In… read more

Viral cure could ‘immunise’ the internet

December 1, 2005

A cure for computer viruses that spreads in a viral fashion could immunize the Internet, even against pests that travel at lightning speed, a mathematical study reveals.

“Honeypot” computers would be linked to one another via a dedicated and secure network and distributed across the Internet. The honeypots would attract a virus, analyze it automatically, and then distribute a countermeasure.

First-ever face transplant surgery is completed

December 1, 2005

Surgeons in France claim to have performed the world’s first face transplant, although not of a whole face. A 38-year-old woman severely disfigured in May by a dog attack received a “partial” triangular graft, consisting of the chin, lips and nose from a dead woman donor.

Sensor Listens to Cells for Cancer

November 29, 2005

A tiny sensor that can hear the subtle electrical signals naturally emitted from cells could be used one day to listen for cancer.

The “microelectrode cell array” has the potential to detect tumors much earlier than current methods and help develop drugs that effectively kill cancerous cells.

The sensor is a specially designed semiconductor chip that contains an array of electrodes, each no wider than a human hair,… read more

Is There a Link Between Stress and Cancer?

November 29, 2005

A tenuous connection has emerged between stress, the immune system, and cancer, with a surprising new insight that is changing the direction of research: it now appears that cancer cells make proteins that actually tell the immune system to let them alone and even to help them grow.

One immediate consequence of this line of thinking is a new idea for treatment: scientists could seal off the cancer cells’… read more

Scientists, be on guard … ET might be a malicious hacker

November 29, 2005

Richard Carrigan, a particle physicist at the US Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, believes the SETI@home project is putting Earth’s security at risk by distributing the signals they receive to computers all over the world.

Nanopillars reverse optical behaviour

November 29, 2005

Scientists in the UK and Russia have succeeded in fabricating a material that has a negative permeability at visible wavelengths.

The development is important because it could lead to “left-handed” materials, which exhibit a negative refractive index and function as a perfect lens, focusing light to a smaller spot than is usually possible.

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