science + technology news

Researchers concoct self-propelled nano motor

January 25, 2006

Researchers at UCLA and the University of Bologna have come up with a nano-size vehicle with a motor powered by a rotaxane mechanically interlocked molecule. The vehicle can inch its way forward on sunlight and one day could be used to shuttle medicines or other small particles around.

Is This Life?

January 25, 2006

In the past decade, individual labs have met 10 of 12 proposed requirements for creating a “protocell,” but in quite different ways. With only two steps remaining, they might achieve a synthetic organism within this decade.

Stroke Brain Fix

January 25, 2006

Brain researchers may have found a way to make stroke-damaged nerve cells re-grow.

They used an immune-system protein antibody to stop Nogo-A from binding to receptors on nerve cells. Without the inhibitory affect of Nogo-A, the injured nerve cells were able to re-grow, restoring lost movement to the front paws of the rats.

Neurologist Wendy Kartje from the Hines Veterans Administration Hospital in Illinois and her team was… read more

Who is messing with your head?

January 24, 2006

New brain science research is developing techniques using surgery, medication, deep brain stimulation, genetic and other methods for cognitive enhancement, raising ethical issues.

Lasers beams build and hold nanoscale structures

January 24, 2006

A new “optical binding” technique using two laser beams to make nano-beads self-organize could be used in the future to create regular nanostructures.

This Is Your Brain on Schadenfreude

January 24, 2006

Functional magnetic resonance imaging has reached the level of sophistication required to identify states of mind, as shown in one recent experiment to measure levels of empathy, based on “pain-related areas” in the brain when a person is watching someone else in pain.

Top 50 Inventions

January 24, 2006

In the past half-century, scientific and technological advances have transformed our world. PM convened a panel of 25 experts to identify the breakthroughs of our time, from the TV remote control (1955) to IEEE 802.16, the metropolitan area network standard that functions like Wi-Fi (2002).

Screening the Latest Bestseller

January 23, 2006

The new Sony Reader e-book features a display that looks more like ordinary paper than a liquid crystal display, because the pixels reflect ambient light rather than transmit light from behind. There’s no flicker, because the pixels are completely static.

The E Ink technology also conserves batteries because current is used only when pixels need to change their color — between virtual page turns, the Reader consumes no current… read more

Doctors claim suspended animation success

January 23, 2006

Researchers are testing potentially life-saving techniques for keeping humans in a state of suspended animation for up to three hours while surgeons repair their wounds.

Molecular electronics bridge for carbon nanotubes

January 22, 2006

Columbia University scientists have developed a unique way to connect the ends of carbon nanotubes by forming robust molecular bridges between them. The Columbia team was able to combine the best qualities of carbon nanotubes and organic molecules in a single electronic switch.

This new method of wiring molecules into the gaps of single-walled carbon nanotubes employs oxidative cutting — a lithographic technique that makes each cut-end of the… read more

New theory explains electronic and thermal behavior of nanotubes

January 20, 2006

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have made an important theoretical breakthrough in the understanding of energy dissipation and thermal breakdown in metallic carbon nanotubes. Their discovery will help move nanotube wires from laboratory to marketplace.

Shorter nanotubes can carry more current before burning apart because they dissipate heat better than longer nanotubes. The electrical contacts at each end act as heat sinks, which in short nanotubes… read more

How to stretch carbon nanotubes

January 19, 2006

At room temperature, a nanotube typically conducts electrons like a metal. But Physicists at Boston College have observed that when stretched under high temperature, a nanotube acts less like a metal and more like a semiconductor as the level of electrical current flowing through the structure falls.

They have shown that carbon nanotubes can be stretched at high temperature to nearly four times their original length, a finding that… read more

Tiny RNA molecules fine-tune the brain’s synapses

January 19, 2006

MicroRNAs, tiny, recently discovered RNA molecules from non-coding regions of the genome that suppress gene expression, affect the development of synapses by regulating the size of dendritic spines.

The findings appear in the January 19th issue of Nature. “This paper provides the first evidence that microRNAs have a role at the synapse, allowing for a new level of regulation of gene expression,” says senior author Michael Greenberg, PhD, Director… read more

Get laser-like beams from salt

January 19, 2006

Mechanically shocking a crystal such as salt generates coherent light at terahertz frequencies, which could be used for biomedical imaging and other applications.

Nanostructured gel muscles in on the action

January 19, 2006

Researchers have created a nanostructured gel that can act as a synthetic muscle. The material reacts to chemical changes in its environment by expanding or contracting.

The gel consists of a polyacid matrix containing nanoscopic hydrophobic domains. The material is formed by self-assembly from a triblock copolymer.

Testing the synthetic muscle by using it to bend a soft cantilever revealed that it produced a power per unit mass… read more

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