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Solar cells more efficient than photosynthesis — for now

May 13, 2011

Legacy Biochemistry I: Light Saturation

Solar cells are currently more efficient at converting light to energy than plants, but that will change with synthetic biology and genetic engineering, Robert Blankenship of Washington University and colleagues argue in an article in the latest issue of Science.

In a detailed analysis, they compare the pros and cons of photosynthesis and solar cells. Plants are naturally less efficient because they must power a… read more

Stem Cell Mixing May Form a Human-Mouse Hybrid

November 27, 2002

Proposed stem cell experiments would involve creating a human-mouse hybrid to test different lines of human embryonic stem cells for their quality and potential usefulness in treating specific diseases.

Any animals born from the experiment would be chimeras — organisms that are mixtures of two kinds of cells, such as a mouse with a brain made entirely of human cells or a mouse that generated human sperm. However, Dr.… read more

See your photos in 3D on new website

July 13, 2009

ConforMIS is creating knee implants on demand that exactly match a patient’s anatomy, using rapid prototyping to convert a three-dimensional computer design into a physical prosthetic.

Map reveals US disaster hotspots

February 14, 2008

University of South Carolina, Columbia scientists have created a map that shows where people would be hit hardest were a natural disaster to strike.

Life’s Building Blocks ‘Abundant in Space’

October 19, 2005

The idea that comets and meteorites seeded an early Earth with the tools to make life gained momentum recently as scientists scanning a galaxy 12 million light-years away detected copious amounts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), molecules critical to all known forms of life.

PAHs carry information for DNA and RNA and are an important component of hemoglobin and chlorophyll.

Evidence suggests that PAHs are formed in the… read more

Looking inside nanomaterials in 3 dimensions

May 17, 2011

3D Map

3D mapping of the crystal structure inside a material down to nanometer resolution can be achieved by using a standard transmission electron microscope using a new technique, scientists from Risø DTU (Denmark) and colleagues have found.

The new technique has a resolution 100 times better than existing non-destructive 3D techniques and allows for more precise analysis of the structural parameters in nanomaterials.

Samples must… read more

Be Afraid

December 13, 2002

Prey, Michael Crichton’s latest techno-thriller, fictionalizes Bill Joy’s notorious Wired article, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us,” which warned, “Our most powerful 21st-century technologies — robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech — are threatening to make humans an endangered species.”

The technophobic novel (and coming film version) is based on the “gray goo” scenario (nanoparticles out of control).

“Crichton’s new novel further solidifies his position as our generation’s bush-league… read more

How to dismantle a nuclear bomb

July 23, 2009

The nuclear weapon is carefully lifted out of a large container and moved onto the floor. Two engineers use an electric screwdriver to open up a side compartment and remove the “physics package” containing the sensitive parts of the bomb….

Gene therapy ‘trains’ immune system to destroy brain cancer cells

February 20, 2008

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center researchers have developed a new gene therapy for the most common and deadly type of brain cancer, which attracts and trains immune system cells to destroy cancer cells.

The therapy also provides long-term immunity, produces no significant adverse effects and–in the process of destroying the tumor–promotes the return of normal brain function and behavioral skills.

It uses two therapeutic proteins delivered by viruses into the… read more

Finding Signals in the Noise

November 2, 2005

A torrent of startups has surfaced recently to help us filter, manage, and control the flood of information on the Web. Some rely on insightful algorithms that understand popularity to filter the news, while others rely on the preferences of readers.

For example, Digg is a San Francisco startup that ranks news items by letting people choose which stories they like.

World record in data transmission: 26 terabits per second on a single laser beam

May 24, 2011

Scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have succeeded in encoding data at a rate of 26 terabits per second on a single laser beam, transmitting over a distance of 50 km.

The team beat its own data rate record of 10 terabits per second (10,000 billion bits per second) set in 2010.

With their new optoelectric decoding method, the high data rate is then broken… read more

Giving robots the gift of sight

January 1, 2003

Hans Moravec has completed work on a three-dimensional robotic vision system that can navigate offices and homes. It consists of stereoscopic digital cameras and 3D grid software that determines the robot’s distance from objects by noticing the different placement of the object in the two camera images and applying a geometric equation.

A New Approach to Fusion

July 31, 2009

General Fusion says it can build a prototype fusion power plant within the next decade and do it for less than a billion dollars, using using relatively low-tech, mechanical brute force and advanced digital control technologies, instead of expensive superconducting magnets or powerful lasers.

The Encyclopedia of Life, No Bookshelf Required

February 27, 2008

Scientists are building a Web site called the Encyclopedia of Life, dedicated to documenting all species on Earth.

Spearheaded by Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson with $50 million initial funding, the first 30,000 pages will be introduced on Thursday this week. Within a decade, they predict, they will have the other 1.77 million.

Plastic diode could lead to flexible, low power computer circuits, memory

November 15, 2005

Ohio State University researchers have invented a new organic polymer tunnel diode, which could one day lead to plastic computer memory and plastic logic circuits on computer chips.

The diode design lends itself to easy, inexpensive manufacturing for smart cards and other memory devices.

Source: Ohio State University news release

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