science + technology news

DNA pyramids make their debut

December 13, 2005

A simple method to create robust DNA “pyramids” that self-assemble in seconds has been invented by physicists in the UK. Each side of the tetrahedral pyramid is made up of a double helix of DNA. The pyramids can then be joined together to make larger 3D nanostructures on which to build molecular electronic circuits and tiny containers for drug delivery.

Thought control brings pain into line

December 13, 2005

Researchers have managed to teach people suffering chronic pain to reduce their own discomfort simply by controlling their thoughts.

Patients were able to reduce pain by about 50 percent by viewing real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging of the activity in their rostral anterior cingulate cortex.

Trace of Human Stem Cells Put in Unborn Mice Brains

December 13, 2005

Scientists have created mice with small amounts of human brain cells in an effort to make realistic models of neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease.

Those mice were each born with about 0.1 percent of human cells in each of their heads, raising ethical concerns about mixing human and animal cells in stem cell and cloning research.

Three researchers have applied for a patent that contemplates fusing a complete… read more

How the Neuron Sprouts Its Branches

December 11, 2005

Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have found that structures called “Golgi outposts” play a central role as distribution points for proteins that form the building blocks of growing dendrites.

“This finding is important because a fundamental problem that neurons must solve is how to sort appropriate cargo molecules in the right amounts down different dendritic branches,” said investigator Micheal Ehlers. “We’ve found that these dendritic Golgi outposts are located… read more

Exploring Caves with Hopping Microbots

December 11, 2005

NASA-funded researchers are developing “hopping microbots” capable of exploring hazardous terrain, including underground caves and one day, to search for life below the surface of Mars.

Buckyballs could disrupt functioning of DNA

December 10, 2005

Computer simulations show that buckyballs have the potential to damage DNA.

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and Vanderbilt University found that the buckyballs bind strongly to DNA, distorting the strands, which could interfere with the DNA’s function, disrupting replication and repair and increasing mutation rates.

But they cautioned that it remains to be determined if buckyballs even penetrate cell membranes, and if they do, whether… read more

Breakthrough chip delivers better digital pictures for less power

December 10, 2005

University of Rochester researchers have designed a prototype chip that can directly digitize each pixel location in a CMOS sensor and they plan a second technology that will compress the image with far fewer computations than the best current compression techniques while increasing dynamic range 100 times.

The new technologies may enable imaging chips to use just a fraction of the energy used today and capture high-resolutoin images while… read more

Consortium seeks to ramp nanoelectronics research

December 10, 2005

Seeking to accelerate nanoelectronics research in the United States, a consortium of companies has announced its first research grants under the Semiconductor Industry Association’s new Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI). The goal is to demonstrate novel computing devices with critical dimensions below 10-nm.

The grants will fund the creation of two new university-based nanoelectronics research centers — one in California and the other in New York. The grants will also… read more

Public comments open on EPA nanotech white paper

December 9, 2005

The U.S. EPA is open to public comments on its Draft Nanotechnology White Paper. An excerpt:

“We are currently nearing the end of basic research and development on the first generation of materials resulting from nanotechnologies that include coatings, polymers, more reactive catalysts, etc. (Figure 2). The second generation, which we are beginning to enter, involves targeted drug delivery systems, adaptive structures and actuators, and has already provided some… read more

Strong Magnetism Creates Two-Dimensional Superconductivity

December 9, 2005

It should be possible to achieve stable superconductivity at higher temperatures by restricting electrons to two dimensions in space, University of Arizona physicist Andrei Lebed has shown.

Electrons will become completely two-dimensional within laboratory-produced magnetic fields that are between 200,000 times and a million times stronger (10 to 50 Tesla) than the magnetic field at the surface of the Earth, Lebed said.

In research published in the Dec.… read more

Cyborg Suits Strut the Catwalk

December 9, 2005

Designs incorporating computer chips and sensors could monitor the wearer’s health or extend their social network, MIT Media Lab’s Alex Pentland said at a futuristic fashion show presented by the Materials Research Society, or MRS.

Connotate looks beyond traditional search

December 9, 2005

A new generation of “intelligent search” tools is emerging.

Connotate Technologies supplies “intelligent agents” programmed to retrieve specific information from the Web in real time.

The company claims its software can search more than 500 billion Web pages and seek out specific pieces of information and monitor specified Web pages as often as once per second, delivering alerts and summaries to customers via the Web, e-mail, mobile devices… read more

How to create a crystal made entirely of holes

December 9, 2005

Computer experiments have revealed that crystal-like structures can be formed entirely from the “holes” left behind as electrons move through a semiconducting material.

Such materials could mean superconductivity at higher temperatures, with uses in computers, antennas, and power lines.

NEC Develops Paper-Thin Mobile Battery

December 9, 2005

NEC has developed the ORB (Organic Radical Battery), a flexible battery only 300 microns thick made out of “organic radical polymer” and that recharges in under a minute.

NEC said it initially would be used in applications such as smartcards and “intelligent paper.”

Yahoo’s human touch to answers

December 9, 2005

Yahoo has launched Yahoo Answers, which allows users to get their questions answered online for free by volunteers.

Users can submit questions on any topic at and wait for others to post responses. To flag inaccuracies, individuals can rate the responses based on quality.

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