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Plasma Beam Eyed in Space Travel

October 19, 2004

A University of Washington team is pioneering the concept of the Mag-beam, (magnetized-beam plasma propulsion), which could significantly shorten the time it takes to travel to other planets.

A space-based outpost station would generate a high-energy plasma beam aimed at a spaceship equipped with a sail, resulting in it being thrust out into space. Plasma beam stations at each end of the interplanetary flight path would speed up and… read more

Sealing Corneal Incisions with a Drop of Chemistry

October 19, 2004

Boston University researchers have produced an elastic, transparent hydrogel with properties allowing it to seal corneal incision.

The researchers used dendritic macromolecules — polymer complexes capable of extensive molecule-to-molecule linking which can be designed to meet very precise specifications — to formulate the hydrogel.

The hydrogel could have advantages over traditional sutures since the physical barrier that the hydrogel forms on the eye could help prevent infection. In… read more

Power on a Chip

October 19, 2004

MIT researchers have built a turbine engine with blades that span an area smaller than a dime and spin at more than a million revolutions per minute.

The engine is designed to produce enough electricity to power handheld electronics. In the future, a micro gas turbine engine could run for ten or more hours on a container of diesel fuel slightly larger than a D battery; when the fuel… read more

How False Memories are Formed

October 19, 2004

Northwestern University researchers used MRI technology to pinpoint how people form a memory for something that didn’t actually happen.

The new findings directly showed that different brain areas are more critical for accurate memories for visual objects than for false remembering (forming a memory for an imagined object that is later falsely remembered as a perceived object). The neuroanatomical evidence furthermore sheds light on the mental mechanisms responsible for… read more

A Nanowire with a Surprise

October 19, 2004

Brookhaven National Laboratory researchers have discovered that a short organic chain molecule with nanometer dimensions conducts electrons in a surprising way: it regulates the electrons’ speed erratically, without a predictable dependence on the length of the wire.

In research on oligophenyleneethynylene (OPE) nanowires, researchers found that as they increased the length of the OPE wire from one to four PE units, the electrons moved across the wire faster, slower,… read more

Brain-Cell Transplants Correct Muscle Spasms After Aneurysm Surgery

October 19, 2004

UC San Diego researchers found that transplantation of human brain cells corrected involuntary muscle spasms in rats with ischemic spinal cord injury.

Ischemic spinal cord injury is caused by reduced blood flow to the spinal cord. Patients with ischemic spinal cord injury develop a prominent muscle spasticity, or jerkiness of the legs and lower body, due to the irreversible loss of specialized spinal cord cells that control local motor… read more

First Sliver-Sized Sensor to Monitor Glucose Levels

October 19, 2004

Case School of Engineering researchers have developed “sliver-sensor” — a fully functional, minimally invasive, microscopic new monitor that can be placed just under the skin and seen with the naked eye for very accurate, continuous examination of glucose level for diabetics and other bodily fluid levels.

Colors in the tiny sensor, which is smaller than the tip of a pencil, gradually change from orange (low glucose levels) to green… read more

Antibiotic-Boosting Drug Kills Superbugs

October 19, 2004

Researchers at Pharmaceutica claim to have discovered a compound that renders the MRSA superbug vulnerable to the antibiotic it normally resists.

MRSA — methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — is defined by its ability to resist the antibiotic methicillin. MRSA strains now cause up to 60% of all “staph” infections in some hospitals. Some MRSA strains are also becoming resistant to other antibiotics — including vancomycin, the antibiotic doctors resort to… read more

Long-term phone use doubles occurrence of rare tumour

October 18, 2004

Using a mobile phone for ten or more years doubles the risk of getting an acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor that grows on the nerve connecting the ear to the brain, a Swedish study has found.

Intel Nixes Plans for 4-Gigahertz Pentium

October 18, 2004

Intel has canceled plans to release a 4-gigahertz computer microprocessor, saying it would rely approaches besides faster clock speed to improve the performance of chips.

Intel engineers are studying adding additional processing engines to a single chip and improving the efficiency in how the chips interact with the rest of the system.

Nanotechnology solutions for the post-CMOS era of semiconductor manufacturing

October 18, 2004

Using nanotechnologies to replace and/or extend the life of advanced CMOS manufacturing technologies is the goal of a new program from IMEC, Europe’s leading microelectronics research and development center.

IMEC program participants will investigate the use of semiconducting wires, carbon nanotubes and spintronics and, at the same time, develop the metrology and theoretical approach required as a backbone for implementation of the new methodologies.

UN ‘must ignore cloning ban call’

October 18, 2004

The United Nations should ignore a call by George Bush to ban all forms of human cloning, say UK scientists.

Bush told the UN last month member countries should support a proposal to ban both reproductive and therapeutic cloning.

Water Filters Rely on Nanotech

October 15, 2004

A slow, methodical transformation of the $400-billion-a-year water-management industry is currently in progress, and nanotechnology appears to be leading the way.

The promise of nanofiltration devices that “clean” polluted water, sifting out bacteria, viruses, heavy metals and organic material, is driving companies like Argonide and KX Industries, which developed technology used in Brita filters, to make nanotechnology-based filters for consumers. Two products incorporating nanotechnology are going to hit the… read more

Paralysed Man Sends E-mail By Thought

October 14, 2004

A pill-sized brain chip has allowed a quadriplegic man to check e-mail and play computer games using his thoughts. The device can tap into a hundred neurons at a time, and is the most sophisticated such implant tested in humans so far.

In June 2004, surgeons implanted a device containing 100 electrodes into the motor cortex of a 24-year-old quadriplegic. The device, called the BrainGate, was developed by the… read more

People Are Human-Bacteria Hybrid

October 14, 2004

Imperial College London scientists have described the human body as a “superorganism,” a complex conglomeration of human, fungal, bacterial and viral cells.

Understanding the superorganism is crucial to the development of personalized medicine and health care in the future because individuals can have very different responses to drugs, depending on their microbial fauna.

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