science + technology news

Bridging the abyss

April 8, 2011

The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky)

Deep in the Chilean Atacama Desert, far from sources of light pollution and other people-related disturbances, there is a tranquil sky like few others on Earth. This is the site for the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, a scientific machine at the cutting-edge of technology.

In this panoramic photograph, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds — satellite galaxies of our own — glow brightly on the… read more

Genome Pioneer Will Start Center of His Own

August 15, 2002

J. Craig Venter plans to build what he believes will be the nation’s largest genome sequencing center to introduce new technology that vastly decreases the time and cost required to determine the DNA code of people, animals and microbes.

One goal, he said, is to get the cost down to $2,000 to $3,000 to analyze a person’s entire genome, compared with the hundreds of millions of dollars it took… read more

Radio waves erase pre-cancer cells in esophagus

May 29, 2009

Heat generated by high frequency radio waves conducted through a catheter erases most pre-cancerous cells associated with chronic acid reflux, providing an lower-cost (10:1) alternative to surgery.

Brain ‘seismology’ helps predict epileptic attacks (preview)

January 14, 2008

The dynamics of earthquakes and seizures are similar, say University of Kansas researchers, and the finding could lead to new ways of predicting the attacks.

There are several striking features in common. Low-level tremors that foreshadow full earthquakes, for example, are mirrored by tiny neural spikes in the brain’s electrical activity before a seizure.

Now, if My Software Only Had a Brain …

August 8, 2005

A variety of programs purport to help you save, store, organize and eventually retrieve bits of information that come into the computer.

Radio emerges from the electronic soup

September 2, 2002

A self-organising electronic circuit with evolutionary computer program to “breed” an oscillator circuit has stunned engineers by turning itself into a radio receiver. Researchers discovered that the evolving circuit had used the computer’s circuit board itself as an antenna, picking up a signal from a nearby computer and delivering it as an output.

Tomato pill ‘beats heart disease’

June 4, 2009

Ateronon, a natural supplement made from the lycopene in tomatoes, taken daily, can stave off heart disease and strokes, according to researchers at a biotechnology spinoff of Cambridge University.

Ateronon contains a refined, more readily absorbed version of lycopene that can reduce the oxidation of harmful fats in the blood to almost zero within eight weeks, the researchers suggest.

Research shows ‘Google Generation’ is a myth

January 18, 2008

A study carried out by the CIBER research team at University College London claims that, although young people demonstrate an apparent ease and familiarity with computers, they rely heavily on search engines, view rather than read and do not possess the critical and analytical skills to assess the information that they find on the web.

The “Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future” report also shows that research-behavior… read more

Startup Sees Promise in Virus

August 19, 2005

The concept of applying viruses and proteins to develop electronics is a methodology that’s gaining traction in research labs.

Missing Limb? Salamander May Have Answer

September 23, 2002

Salamanders are the superstars of regeneration. They can grow back not only limbs but also tails, parts of their hearts and the retinas and lenses in their eyes. Humans cannot do any of that. So scientists hope that the salamander’s tricks may one day be applied to people. Natural regeneration, which might be accomplished with drugs or genes, would be easier than transplanting, researchers say. And the tissue would be… read more

U.S. an Innovation Laggard?

June 11, 2009

According to the latest BusinessWeek, innovation in America is on shaky ground, so “where is the next Google going to happen?” asks Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation in a video interview.

“AI, robotics, and nanotechnology … will create hundred-billion-dollar industries and reshape our nation in its productivity,” he suggests.

Scientists hit back at Catholic church over ‘cybrids’

January 28, 2008

Scientists are responding angrily to claims by the Catholic church that a new bill currently before the UK Parliament “will allow scientists to create embryos that are half human, half animal.”

Studying the brain’s chemistry, neuron by neuron

September 1, 2005

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed tools for studying the chemistry of the brain, neuron by neuron. The analytical techniques can probe the spatial and temporal distribution of biologically important molecules, such as vitamin E, and explore the chemical messengers behind thought, memory and emotion.

By dismantling a slice of brain tissue into millions of single cell-size pieces, each of which can be interrogated by mass spectrometric… read more

Stable, self-renewing neural stem cells created

April 26, 2011

Stained Neuron

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco and colleagues have reported the creation of long-term, self-renewing, primitive neural precursor cells from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) that can be directed to become many types of neurons without increased risk of tumor formation.

To produce the neural stem cells, the researchers added small molecules… read more

Step-by-Step Prompts Put the Blind on Track

October 18, 2002

A voice-controlled interactive personal navigation system could someday guide blind people. It communicates wirelessly with databases of detailed geographic information that can quickly be updated to reflect changing conditions.

Developed by University of Florida students, the Drishti (vision in Sanskrit) system can be configured to work in cities, in airports and on other campuses. It uses a wearable computer running I.B.M.’s ViaVoice software, connected to a GPS receiver and… read more

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