science + technology news

Stem cell experts seek rabbit-human embryo

January 13, 2006

British scientists are seeking permission to create hybrid embryos in the lab by fusing human cells with rabbit eggs. If granted consent, the team will use the embryos to produce stem cells that carry genetic defects, in the hope that studying them will help understand the complex mechanisms behind incurable human diseases.

To make a hybrid embryo, a human skin cell would be taken from a person with motor… read more

Toward the Chips of Tomorrow

January 12, 2006

Sony, Toshiba, and IBM announced they will jointly develop the next generation of semiconductor technology, in the first public commitment to 32-nanometer technology.

In addition to fundamental chip design advances, the three partners are focusing on innovations applicable to a next generation of consumer-electronics products, including high-definition TV sets and portable video players.

Math Will Rock Your World

January 12, 2006

The mathematical modeling of humanity promises to be one of the great undertakings of the 21st century. It will grow in scope to include much of the physical world as mathematicians get their hands on new flows of data, from atmospheric sensors to the feeds from millions of security cameras. It’s a parallel world that’s taking shape, a laboratory for innovation and discovery composed of numbers, vectors, and algorithms.… read more

Live cells jetted with electric fields

January 12, 2006

A team of biophysicists in the UK has used a form of ink-jet printing to create “jets” of living cells for the first time.

Suwan Jayasinghe of University College London and colleagues at Kings College London say their technique, which does not destroy the cells, could be used to grow biological tissue or even human organs. The technique involves jetting biological cells from a needle at fields of up… read more

Vanishing Gas Confirms Black Hole Event Horizons

January 12, 2006
 Animation of a neutron star X-ray burst. (NASA)

A type of X-ray explosion found on neutron stars does not occur near black holes, scientists announced at the 207th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

The lack of explosions is strong evidence for the existence of a black hole event horizon, a theoretical boundary into which matter vanishes and cannot escape.

“By looking at objects that pull in gas, we can infer whether that gas… read more

Dwarf galaxy found merging into the Milky Way

January 12, 2006

A huge but very faint structure, containing hundreds of thousands of stars spread over an area nearly 5,000 times the size of a full moon, has been discovered and mapped by astronomers of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-II).

At an estimated distance of 30,000 light years from Earth, the structure lies well within the confines of the Milky Way Galaxy. However, it does not follow any of Milky… read more

Researchers Discover New Way to Stimulate Brain to Release Antioxidants

January 12, 2006

Burnham Institute Resesarchers and a team from Japan have discovered a novel way to treat stroke and neurodegenerative disorders by inducing nerve cells in the brain and the spine to release natural antioxidants, such as bilirubin, that protect nerve cells from stress and free radicals that lead to neurodegenerative diseases.

In stroke and various neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease, glutamate, an amino acid found… read more

New Doubts Are Cast on Einstein’s Cosmological Constant

January 12, 2006

Astronomer Bradley E. Schaefer said that a new analysis of cosmic history based on gamma ray burst data casts doubts on Einstein’s cosmological constant, the leading explanation for the mysterious force that appears to be pushing apart the universe.

E-Weapons: Directed Energy Warfare In The 21st Century

January 12, 2006

A new breed of weaponry, “directed-energy weapons,” may well signal a revolution in military hardware — perhaps more so than the atomic bomb.

Directed-energy weapons take the form of lasers, high-powered microwaves, and particle beams, according to J. Douglas Beason, author of the recently published book: The E-Bomb: How America’s New Directed Energy Weapons Will Change the Way Wars Will Be Fought in the Future,


January 10, 2006

The new robot designs for space exploration are part of a broader shift toward a vision of robots that are partners, not simply remote-controlled probes.

At the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT, robots are developing the skills they’ll need to be useful to people. The Mertz robot recognizes faces and distinguishes one person from another. Obrero, a mechanical arm, has a touch so sensitive it can… read more

Digging for data that can change our world

January 10, 2006

Scientific research is being added to at an alarming rate, so it’s not surprising that academics seeking data to support a new hypothesis are getting swamped with information overload.

The U.K. government’s response has been to set up the National Centre for Text Mining, the world’s first center devoted to developing AI-based tools that can systematically analyze multiple research papers, abstracts and other documents, and then swiftly… read more

Desktop fusion is back on the table

January 10, 2006

Can the popping of tiny bubbles trigger nuclear fusion, a potential source of almost unlimited energy? This controversial idea is back on the table, because its main proponent has new results that, he claims, will silence critics.

The idea: blast a liquid with waves of ultrasound and tiny bubbles of gas are created, which release a burst of heat and light when they implode. The core of the bubble… read more

The Translator’s Blues

January 10, 2006

The machine translation industry is now pulling in something like $8 billion a year globally, and growing fast. For clients in national intelligence, MT research now represents a potential magical fix for the shortfall of Arabic translators.

Nanotechnology, Nanomedicine and Nanosurgery

January 10, 2006

Nanomedicine pioneer Robert A. Freitas Jr. has written a landmark paper on nanosurgery in a peer-reviewed medical journal (“Nanotechnology, Nanomedicine and Nanosurgery,” Intl. J. Surgery 3, December 2005:1-4).

Freitas describes current state-of-the-art surgery using a micropipette to completely cut dendrites from single neurons without damaging cell viability, localized nanosurgical ablation of focal adhesions adjoining live mammalian epithelial cells, microtubule dissection inside yeast cells, and even nanosurgery of… read more

Cells That Read Minds

January 9, 2006

The monkey brain contains a special class of cells, called mirror neurons, that, surprisingly, fire when the animal sees or hears an action and when the animal carries out the same action on its own.

The discovery is shaking up numerous scientific disciplines, shifting the understanding of culture, empathy, philosophy, language, imitation, autism and psychotherapy.

Everyday experiences are also being viewed in a new light. Mirror neurons reveal… read more

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