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NASA figuring out ways to decipher silent speech

March 18, 2004

Scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center are able to pick up the nerve signals that trigger tiny muscle movements and turn them into commands that drive a model rover or perform a simple Web search.

Although the work is very preliminary, it could someday be used in voice recognition systems and to help people communicate clearly in noisy environments. It could also help people who have lost their ability… read more

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.

Ultra-fast shocks scramble cells

March 17, 2004

Using very powerful electric shocks lasting namoseconds, researchers are developing a way to jolt cancer cells into committing suicide, or healthy cells into healing wounds.

Shocking Way to Transform Waste

March 16, 2004

For the first time, a microbial fuel cell has generated electricity while cleaning wastewater, a development that could make sewage treatment more affordable for both industrialized and developing nations. While a typical fuel cell runs on hydrogen, a microbial fuel cell relies on bacteria to metabolize food, releasing electrons that yield a steady electrical current. The fuel for this particular microbial fuel cell was skimmed from the settling pond of… read more

Bacteria that Defy Antibiotics

March 16, 2004

A group of common bacteria are rapidly become resistant to antibiotics: the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. Staph infections are extremely common and can be treated with several common antibiotics. However, doctors are not accustomed to using these antibiotics and the prevalence of the resistant staph is growing.

Science Closes in on Perfect Lens

March 16, 2004

New designer materials could eventually lead to “perfect lenses” for optical devices, able to focus on features smaller than the wavelength of light. Harnessing electrical and magnetic components at optical frequencies could lead to perfect lenses with vastly better resolution than conventional optical types.

Atto Boy!

March 16, 2004

Researchers in Vienna have measured the shortest time interval ever recorded: 100 attoseconds (billionths of a nanosecond).

Cornell University is using “attotechnology” to weigh and identify viruses by creating tiny scales from crystals of silicon.

Robo-talk Helps Pocket Translator

March 16, 2004

Papero (Partner-Type Personal Robot), the first all-hearing, all-seeing robot, is able to translate verbally between two languages in colloquial tongue.

Push-button Nursing

March 16, 2004

In Japan, the world’s most rapidly aging nation, the future of elderly care seems to be in the hand of robots. Decisions by the Japanese government to push for home care instead of nursing homes and block the admittance of foreign nurses and doctors into the country have created an increasing demand for robotic care devices.

Sanyo Electric Co. has already developed a human washing machine for the elderly.… read more

Britain Gives Go-Ahead for First GM Crop

March 16, 2004

Britain has approved its first genetically modified crop for commercial growing: a kind of maize engineered to be resistant to the weed killer glufosinate ammonium.

In the British government’s three-year “farm-scale evaluations,” the GM maize turned out to be better for farmland wildlife than conventional maize treated with the power weed killer atrazine.

Fat Cells Boost Blood Vessel Growth

March 16, 2004

A team of researchers has evidence that cells found in fatty tissues can boost blood vessel production. The team injected immature fat cells, called stromal cells, into the hind legs of mice with poor circulation and found that their blood flow was boosted fivefold. The discovery could pave the way for new treatments for many heart and circulation conditions.

Ovarian Transplant Produces First Human Embryo

March 16, 2004

The first human embryo to be created after an ovarian tissue transplant may signal hope for hundreds of thousands of women made infertile by cancer treatment.

Ovarian tissue from a 30-year old woman with breast cancer was removed and frozen before she underwent chemotherapy. Six years later, the tissue was transplanted back into the woman’s body, where it started functioning normally and producing eggs.

Cells Induced to ‘De-Differentiate’ Back into Stem Cells

March 16, 2004

For the first time, researchers have induced differentiating cells to revert to being stem cells. The achievement with the fruit fly Drosophila suggests that de-differentiation should be explored as yet another route to generating stem cells for therapeutic purposes.

The researchers reported their findings in the March 14, 2004, advanced online edition of the journal Nature.

Darpa’s Far-Out Dreams on Display

March 15, 2004

Darpa is planning for a blimp three times the size of Goodyear’s that would keep watch over an entire city. Another project involves materials that grow or heal themselves.

New artificial blood shows promise

March 15, 2004

A promising new blood substitute called MP4 contains hemoglobin molecules coated with polyethylene glycol to make them bulkier, so the resulting fluid is more viscous than normal blood.

Tests in hamsters that had lost a lot of blood showed they needed less MP4 than real blood to oxygenate their tissues.

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