science + technology news

New way to switch therapeutic genes ‘on’ and ‘off’

December 23, 2005

A gene therapy research team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has developed a new method of signaling therapeutic genes to turn “off” or “on,” a mechanism that could enable scientists to fine-tune genetic- and stem cell-based therapies so that they are safer, more controllable and more effective.

Although other similar signaling systems have been developed, the Cedars-Sinai research is the first to give physicians the flexibility to arbitrarily turn the… read more

How new neurons integrate into the brain

December 23, 2005

Scientists from Johns Hopkins’ Institute for Cell Engineering have discovered the steps required to integrate new neurons into the brain’s existing operations.

For more than a century, scientists thought the adult brain could only lose nerve cells, not gain them, but in fact, new neurons do form during adulthood in all mammals, including humans, and become a working part of the adult brain in mice at the very least.… read more

Researchers develop new method for studying ‘mental time travel’

December 23, 2005

Neuroscientists at Princeton University have developed a new way of tracking people’s mental state as they think back to previous events — a process that has been described as “mental time travel.”

The findings, detailed in the Dec. 23 issue of Science, will aid efforts to learn more about how people mine the recesses of memory and could have a wide-ranging impact in the field of neuroscience, including studies… read more

DNA self-assembly used to mass-produce patterned nanostructures

December 23, 2005

Duke University scientists have used the self-assembling properties of DNA to mass-produce nanometer-scale structures in the shape of 4×4 grids, on which patterns of molecules can be specified.

They said the achievement represents a step toward mass-producing electronic or optical circuits at a scale 10 times smaller than the smallest circuits now being manufactured.

The smallest features on these square DNA lattices are approximately 5 to 10 nanometers,… read more

Creating first synthetic life form

December 21, 2005

Work on the world’s first human-made species is well under way at the Genome Science Centre at the University of British Columbia to play a key role in the production of the first synthetic life form — a microbe made from scratch.

The controversial project is being spearheaded by U.S. scientist Craig Venter.

One option for sparking life in a lab-made genome is to transplant the synthetic DNA… read more

Single molecule absorption spectroscopy developed

December 21, 2005

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a powerful new tool for probing molecular structure on surfaces, combining the chemical selectivity of optical absorption spectroscopy with the atomic-scale resolution of scanning tunneling microscopy.

“First, the sample molecule is placed on a transparent silicon substrate,” said Joseph Lyding, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and a researcher at the Beckman Institute. “Laser light will either be absorbed by… read more

Invention: The inkjet-printer pen

December 21, 2005

The pen of the future will use inkjet technology to deliver multiple colors from a battery-powered microelectromechanical print head near the tip that pumps out fine jets of ink from a replaceable cartridge, according to recent patent filings by Silverbrook Research.

Wikipedia alternative aims to be ‘PBS of the Web’

December 21, 2005

Digital Universe, a new online information service launching in early 2006, aims to build on the model of free online encyclopedia Wikipedia by inviting acknowledged experts in a range of subjects to review material contributed by the general public.

Ray Kurzweil to be interviewed on NPR Friday

December 20, 2005

Ray Kurzweil will be featured in a live interview on NPR Science Friday on Friday, December 23rd, at 3:00 to 4:00 pm ET. Science Friday host Ira Flatow will discuss with Kurzweil his latest book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology.

(Listen to archived show)

Science Friday is a weekly science talk show broadcast live over public radio stations nationwide as part… read more

Civilisation has left its mark on our genes

December 19, 2005

A detailed look at human DNA has shown that 1800 genes, or roughly 7 percent of the total in the human genome, have changed under the influence of natural selection within the past 50,000 years, probably in response to aspects of modern human culture such as the emergence of agriculture and the shift towards living in densely populated settlements.

NASA Seeks Innovative Ideas for Revolutionary Concepts

December 19, 2005

The NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts is seeking revolutionary ideas to advance the Vision for Space Exploration. Interested parties from outside the agency are invited to submit 2006 Phase 1 proposals by February 13, 2006.

The focus for solicitations is on revolutionary, advanced concepts for architectures and systems that meet NASA mission “grand visions.” The institute’s intention is to discover ideas that may result in beneficial changes to NASA’s… read more

Fantastic voyage into the heart

December 19, 2005

Researchers from Harvard Medical School have found that injecting self-assembling peptide nanofibers loaded with PDGF-BB pro-survival factors into rats, the animals could be protected from heart failures.

The Singularity Is Near ranks in top-selling science and tech books in 2005

December 17, 2005

After an extended run as #1 on the science, technology, and philosophy lists since its publication, Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology ends 2005 as the fourth best-selling science book in 2005, even though published late in the year (September 26).

The book was also selected by the Amazon editors as #6 on their “Best Books of 2005: Science” list.… read more

Stretchable silicon could be next wave in electronics

December 16, 2005

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a fully stretchable form of single-crystal silicon with micron-sized, wave-like geometries that can be used to build high-performance electronic devices on rubber substrates.

Functional, stretchable and bendable electronics could be used in applications such as sensors and drive electronics for integration into artificial muscles or biological tissues, structural monitors wrapped around aircraft wings, and conformable skins for integrated robotic sensors, said… read more

At Stake: The Net as We Know It

December 16, 2005

Leading Internet companies are gearing up for a clash with the phone and cable giants early next year as Congress begins to redraft the telecom laws for the broadband era, concerned that the network operators will soon be able to put a chokehold on the Web by blocking consumers from popular sites in favor of their own. Or they could degrade delivery of Web pages whose providers don’t pay extra.… read more

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