science + technology news

Deadly New Russian Weapon Hides In Shipping Container

April 27, 2010

A Russian company is marketing a devastating new $10-20 million cruise missile system that can be hidden inside a shipping container, giving any merchant vessel the capability to wipe out an aircraft carrier.

Potential customers for the formidable Club-K system include Kremlin allies Iran and Venezuela, say defense experts. They worry that countries could pass on the satellite-guided missiles, which are very hard to detect, to terrorist groups.

Debate rages over free wireless spectrum

August 19, 2008

The debate over new unlicensed spectrum the FCC is considering opening up is heating up with Google’s launch of a new site called

Google and other technology companies such as Intel, Microsoft and Motorola have been lobbying the FCC to open up the “white space” spectrum (slivers of spectrum between TV channels) for unlicensed use after the digital TV transition early next year, to provide broadband wireless services.… read more

New nano-detector very promising for remote cosmic realms

January 18, 2007

The “hot electron bolometer” (HEB), a superconducting detector of terahertz radiation developed at Delft University of Technology’s Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, offers astronomers important new information about the birth of star systems and planets.

Why the brain slows down when we age

February 2, 2012


New findings by neuroscientists at the University of Bristol reveal why the brain may become less able to function as we grow older.

In mice studies, the research identified a novel cellular mechanism (sodium channels) underpinning changes to the activity of neurons, which may underlie cognitive decline during normal healthy aging.

The researchers recorded electrical signals in single cells of the hippocampus, a structure… read more

The Nanotech Schism

March 9, 2004

The field of nanotechnology is divided between those who think it will simply improve our lives and those who think it will completely transform them.

The former group thinks of nanotechnology as essentially a new branch of materials science. The latter group, inspired by nanotechnologist Eric Drexler, hews to a more ambitious vision in which molecular manufacturing, nanomedicine, and even nanoweapons will radically reshape the world.

Stephen Hawking: How to build a time machine

May 5, 2010

“I do believe in time travel,” says Stephen Hawking. “Time travel to the future, not the past” (which would violate causation).

After dismissing wormholes (don’t last long enough) and black holes (dangerous, too far away), he settles for travelling at near the speed of light by going into space.

“At 99 per cent of the speed of light, a single day on board is a whole year of… read more

Very Long-Term Backup

August 26, 2008

The Long Now Foundation has developed a modern Rosetta Stone — a backup of human languages that future generations might cherish — etched on a 3-inch nickel disc with an estimated lifespan of 2,000 to 10,000 years.

The disc contains an archive of 13,500 scanned pages in more than 1,500 human languages with human-readable scripts, text, and diagrams (using a microscope). The plan is to replicate the disc and… read more

Adult stem cells can at least make blood

January 26, 2007

Transplanted “multipotent” adult progenitor cells (MAPCs) from bone marrow were able to form all blood cell types in mouse experiments.

Nerve cell proteins show promise for reducing disability

March 17, 2004

New research has found a potential treatment to minimize disability after spinal cord and other nervous system injuries.

The technique involves augmenting the stress protein response, in which cells produce proteins called Hsc70 and Hsp70 that help protect them from death when they are exposed to heat, injury or any other stresses that threaten their normal function.

Magnetically Induced Hallucinations Explain Ball Lightning, Say Physicists

May 12, 2010

Rapidly changing fields associated with repeated lightning strikes are powerful enough to cause phosphenes (images of luminous lines and balls, or “ball lightning”), similar to the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), say University of Innsbruck physicists.

Another Voice Warns of an Innovation Slowdown

September 1, 2008

Judy Estrin, the former chief technology officer of Cisco Systems, is worried that short-term thinking, reluctance to take risks, and decline in federal and university financing for research are causing Silicon Valley — and the United States as a whole — to no longer foster the kind of innovation necessary to develop groundbreaking technologies and sustain economic growth.

DNA-based biological nanostructures for controlled drug delivery

September 4, 2013

A DNA cage (at left), with lipid-like molecules (in blue). The lipids come together in a ‘handshake’ within the cage (center image) to encapsulate small-molecule drugs (purple). The molecules are released (at right) in response to the presence of a specific nucleic acid.

Nanoscale “cages” made from strands of DNA can encapsulate small-molecule drugs and release them in response to a specific stimulus, McGill University researchers report in a new study.

The research marks a step toward the use of biological nanostructures to deliver drugs to diseased cells in patients.

The findings could also open up new possibilities for designing DNA-based nanomaterials.

“This research is important… read more

Hackers Slow Internet Root Servers With Attack

February 7, 2007

Using a botnet, online attackers disrupted service Tuesday on at least two of the 13 “root” servers that are used to direct traffic on the Internet.

The two hardest-hit servers are maintained by the U.S. Department of Defense and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Thou shalt not make scientific progress

March 26, 2004

Medical research is poised to make a quantum leap that will benefit sufferers from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, muscular dystrophy, diabetes and other diseases. But George W. Bush’s religious convictions stand in its way.

“Embryonic stem cells are magical,” says Michael West of Advanced Cell Technology. “We’ve never had anything like this before, they are a whole quantum leap beyond adult stem cells. They’re absolutely magical — and that magic that… read more

Helping the Brain to Help Itself

May 19, 2010

(Christophe Heinrich)

Support cells in the brain called astroglia can be turned into functioning neurons, a research team lead by the Helmholtz Center and Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich has found.

The finding suggests that scientists could someday recruit existing cells in the brain to repair the brain and spinal cord after a stroke, injury, or neurodegenerative disease.

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