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2008 State of the Future report proposes 15 global challenges

July 14, 2008

The future continues to get better for most of the world, but a series of tipping points could drastically alter global prospects, according to the 2008 State of the Future, a report due to be published late this month, and obtained by Sunday.

Half the world is vulnerable to social instability and violence due to rising food and energy prices, failing states, falling water tables, climate change, decreasing… read more

Study Suggests Life Sprang from Clay

November 7, 2003

Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital researchers say materials in clay are key to some of the initial processes in forming life. A clay mixture called montmorillonite helps form little bags of fat and liquid and helps cells use RNA.

An injectable ‘smart sponge’ for controlled drug delivery

July 19, 2013


Researchers have developed a drug delivery technique for diabetes treatment in which a sponge-like material surrounds an insulin core.

The sponge expands and contracts in response to blood sugar levels to release insulin as needed. The technique could also be used for targeted drug delivery to cancer cells.

“We wanted to mimic the function of healthy beta-cells, which produce insulin and control its release in a… read more

Reading minds with computers and fMRI

March 11, 2010

Stills from films

Past events leave unique “memory traces” in the hippocampus of the brain that can be distinguished from one another in fMRI brain scans, a study at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London has found.

While inside an fMRI scanner, volunteers were asked to recall each of three films they had just seen. A computer algorithm then identified which film the volunteer was recalling purely by… read more

New Opportunities for DNA Design

October 5, 2006

“DNA staples” can be used to build DNA-shape structures, using an atomic force micrsocope, that include other molecules for increased strength or stiffness, or useful features such as actuation.

One way to speed up the process would to use an array of “needles” made out of DNA bricks.

Babies use grown-up memory tricks

July 20, 2008

Johns Hopkins University researchers have found that babies use the same technique as adults to overcome limits in their working memory (memory overload): grouping things into hierarchical categories.

The 14-month-old babies could only remember three things at a time, but those things could include both individual items or groups. The babies used natural groups (two cats or two cars), and would also learn to group items if the researchers… read more

IBM builds TV-size supercomputer

November 17, 2003

IBM Corp. has built a supercomputer the size of a television based on microchip technology to be used in gaming consoles due out next year.

A prototype of IBM’s future Blue Gene/L supercomputer, it can perform two trillion calculations per second.

IBM vice president of technology and strategy Irving Wladawsky-Berger said that the supercomputer used 1,000 microprocessors based on PowerPC microchip technology, which will be the foundation of… read more

Darpa Wants Self-Guiding, Storytelling Cameras

March 19, 2010

Combat Camera

DARPA is starting a new program called “The Mind’s Eye” to create an AI-based camera that can report back on war-zone activity with the same detail a trained human operative could offer.

Technique May Help Revive Head-Injury Victims

October 16, 2006

Doctors yesterday reported the first evidence that targeted electrical deep brain stimulation (DBS) may help head-trauma victims stuck in a state of semiconsciousness, after an experiment apparently restored some of one patient’s abilities to function and communicate.

The technique, which has been shown to be effective for treating some patients with Parkinson’s disease, severe pain, epilepsy, depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder, involves inserting tiny electrodes into the brain to stimulate… read more

Magnets Capture Cancer Cells

July 28, 2008
Nanoparticles (red) on cancer cell

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have developed magnetic nanoparticles (coated with a specialized targeting peptide molecule) designed to latch onto ovarian cancer cells in mice and drag them out of the abdominal fluid to prevent metastasis.

See Also New Nano Weapon against Cancer

Nanotech instruments allow for observing RNA ‘proofreading’

November 26, 2003

Stanford University researchers have discovered a “proofreading” step used to correct DNA transcription errors in expressing genes from DNA to RNA to proteins.

They made the discovery while observing the molecular process used by the RNA polymerase (RNAP) enzyme to copy individual bases from E. coli bacteria DNA onto strands of RNA.

Papers published in Nature and Cell “push the study of single proteins to new limits,” says… read more

Has Viral Gone Viral?

March 30, 2010

Chatroulette’s viral growth — a million unique visitors a day after just three months, without any advertising or promotion, aided by social media, suggests that the already speedy clock of Internet time is running faster than ever.

Controlling a Gut Bot’s Position

July 31, 2008
(Metin Sitti, Carnegie Mellon University)

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have developed a tiny capsule robot adhesive enough to anchor inside an intestine and yet gentle enough not to tear soft tissue.

They looked to beetles, which secrete oil-like liquids along their foot hairs to stick securely to surfaces, and coated the robot’s feet with a similarly viscous liquid for more adhesion, using a surface-tension component.

Future possible uses include biopsy and… read more

‘Nanofingers’ sensors developed

December 9, 2003

Future sensors may take the form of microscopic finger-like structures developed at Ohio State University. The “nanofingers” are carved onto the surface of inexpensive ceramic material and consist of a single crystal of titanium oxide.

The 50-nanometers-wide nanofingers provide a large surface area, making them good for capturing chemicals from the air, gathering light for electricity-generating solar cells, or for photocatalysis, in which light activates chemical reactions that clean… read more

Scientists watch live brain-cell circuits fire

Promising new tool for mapping brain-cell activity
August 14, 2013


A new class of genetically engineered proteins called ArcLight can be used to watch electrical activity in individual brain cells in live brains, Yale University scientists have demonstrated.

These proteins may be a promising new tool for mapping brain-cell activity and for studying how neurological disorders disrupt normal neuron signaling.  Understanding brain cell activity is a high priority of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

ArcLight… read more

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