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Jodrell Bank to host world’s largest radio telescope

April 5, 2011

Artist's impression of some of the dishes in the proposed Square Kilometre Array (credit: SPDO/Swinburne Astronomy Productions)

The University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Observatory has been chosen as the headquarters for a $2 billion effort to build the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

The SKA will be capable of answering some of the most fundamental questions about the Universe, including dark energy, how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how galaxies… read more

Computing needs a Grand Challenge

June 15, 2004

Sir Tony Hoare, British computing pioneer and senior scientist at Microsoft Research, believes the computer industry needs a “grand challenge” to inspire it.

By 2020, Hoare predicts, the world will contain 100 times as many computers as it does now, each with 100 times as much power and memory, all interconnected. And to best understand this world, he says, we should not think of it as containing many discrete… read more

“Popping” bubbles to treat cancer

December 17, 2007

University of Oxford scientists are trying to harness the energy released when bubbles collapse as a way of killing off cancer cells.

They have built a device to beam waves of ultrasound into the body, generating bubbles at the site of a tumor.

When these bubbles “pop,” they release energy as heat, killing rogue cells.

The new technique will be used in clinical trials to treat patients… read more

DNA barcode provides virtually unlimited color patterns for tagging molecules and cells

New technology could launch biomedical imaging to next level
September 25, 2012

DNA Barcode Nanotube

Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have created a new kind of barcode (colored fluorescent biomarkers) that could come in an almost limitless array of styles — with the potential to enable scientists to gather vastly more vital information, at one given time, than ever before.

The new method harnesses the natural ability of DNA to self-assemble.

“We… read more

Subtitle-Reading Glasses Make Cinema-Going for the Hard of Hearing Less, um, Hard

April 19, 2007

Madrid’s Carlos III University has developed a gadget that projects subtitles in a movie theater.

A computer in the cinema emits the subtitles to within 50 meters; a receptor in the glasses captures the signal and projects it onto the microscreen, which fits over the right-hand lens.

DNA twisted into boxes

May 7, 2009
Electron microscope images of DNA boxes (Ebbe Sloth Andersen)

A multidisciplinary team of researchers has created tiny DNA boxes measuring just 30 nanometers on each side. The boxes, which can be unlocked with a gene “key,” could be used for drug delivery or as sensors.

The “DNA origami” boxes use oligonucleotides, short snippets of nucleic acid bearing genetic information, to fold longer strands of DNA into a complex structure. Each box is large enough to hold… read more

AR interface keeps information simplified

April 11, 2011

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have built an augmented reality (AR) interface that keeps information simplified until the user focuses on it.

The interface has an eye-tracking system that allows interaction to be driven entirely by gaze direction. It displays objects that demand attention in the user’s peripheral vision as simple icons that can be processed even by the limited visual acuity of human peripheral vision.

If a user… read more

Speed of light may have changed recently

July 1, 2004

The speed of light may have been lower as recently as two billion years ago on Earth, based on measurements of the fine structure constant, or alpha, which dictates the strength of the electromagnetic force.

Moss Is A Super Model For Feeding The Hungry

December 20, 2007

Scientists from the University of Leeds and colleagues have sequenced the genome for the moss Physcomitrella patens — the first non-flowering or “lower” plant to be sequenced.

The ability of mosses to survive severe dehydration and then regrow when watered could be used in crops grown in drought-stricken areas of the developing world. Now that they have sequenced the moss’s DNA, scientists will be able to identify which genes… read more

Fusion energy breakthrough at Sandia Labs

April 26, 2007
Circuits on an LTD device able to produce large electrical impulses rapidly and repeatedly

An electrical circuit that should carry enough power to produce the long-sought goal of controlled high-yield nuclear fusion and do it every 10 seconds has undergone extensive preliminary experiments and computer simulations at Sandia National Laboratories.

The development may make it possible to provide humanity unlimited electrical energy from cheap, abundant seawater in the future.

Studying Extreme Genomes

May 12, 2009

As genetic technologies have improved, so has the scope of investigations of human outliers–people with extreme phenotypes, thanks to rapid advances in DNA sequencing.

Scientists are now beginning to sequence individuals’ entire exome–the gene coding region of the genome–searching for mutations in genes never suspected to play a role in particular diseases.

Low-cost motion-sensing programs

April 15, 2011

Predator Camera

Microsoft has announced Kinect support for Netflix for the Xbox 360 on April 14 along with a software development kit for do-it-yourself motion-sensing programmers — but a new open-source program called Predator promises to be cheaper.

Kinect for Netflix allows voice or gesture control of the Netflix interface to select any content, including playback, fast forward, and rewind.

Microsoft says the Kinect… read more

Computer, heal thyself

July 14, 2004

Why should humans have to do all the work? It’s high time machines learned how to take care of themselves.

“For at least three decades now, programmers have joked of ‘heisenbugs’ — software errors that surface at seemingly random intervals and whose root causes consistently evade detection.

“The name is a takeoff on Werner Heisenberg, the German physicist whose famous uncertainty principle posited that no amount of observation… read more

Drugs to build up that mental muscle

December 27, 2007

Forget sports doping. The next frontier is brain doping.

Cognitive enhancers — to clarify the mind, improve concentration or control emotions — include attention deficit drug Adderall, narcolepsy pill Provigil, Ritalin, and beta blockers, such as the heart drug Inderal.

Researchers have been investigating the drug Aricept, which is normally used to slow the decline of Alzheimer’s patients.

Quantum Dot Recipe May Lead To Cheaper Solar Panels

May 3, 2007

Rice University scientists have developed tetrapod cadmium selenide-based quantum dot photovoltaics as an alternative to conventional, more expensive silicon-based solar cells.

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