science + technology news

Cows Engineered to Lack Mad Cow Disease

January 2, 2007

Scientists have genetically engineered a dozen cows to be free from the proteins that cause mad cow disease, a breakthrough that may make the animals immune to the brain-wasting disease.

Courtrooms could host virtual crime scenes

March 14, 2005

Lawyers, judges and jurors could soon explore crime scenes in three dimensions in the courtroom, in the same way that video gamers explore virtual worlds.

Software called instant Scene Modeler (iSM) re-creates an interactive 3D model from a few hundred frames of a scene captured by two ordinary video cameras aligned at a set distance from each other. Users can zoom in on any object in the 3D model,… read more

Court Rejects the Right to Use Drugs Being Tested

August 8, 2007

A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that patients with terminal illnesses do not have a constitutional right to use medicines that have not yet won regulatory approval.

In a dissent, Judge Judith W. Rogers wrote that it was “startling” that the “right to try to save one’s life is left out in the cold,” not protected by the due process clause of the Constitution, “despite its textual anchor in… read more

Country, the City Version: Farms in the Sky Gain New Interest

July 22, 2008

The “vertical farm,” a 30-story skyscraper growing hydroponic vegetables, could feed 50,000 people in a city (at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars), proposes Dickson Despommier, a professor of public health at Columbia University.

Counting on Distant Worlds: Math as an Interstellar Language

May 9, 2003

We cannot count on the universality of mathematics for interstellar communication, says Physicist and philosopher Sundar Sarukkai of National Institute of Advanced Studies in India. He suggests that mathematics on other worlds may differ considerably from ours.

“If we begin with the assumption that the extraterrestrial folks have radio telescopes, then we are making an assumption about processes of their thought more than their language or even their technology.”

Counting Cells in Seconds

October 2, 2008
(Aydogan Ozcan)

A lensless imaging system developed by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles uses the imaging chip from a digital camera to record the “shadows,” or diffraction signatures, to find and recognize T cells and bacteria.

Countering the Council of Clones

February 8, 2002

Extropy Institute has issued a statement that it agrees with prominent bioethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan about the “disturbing composition” of the recently formed President’s Council on Bioethics. In an opinion piece on the MSNBC site, Caplan characterized the new body as a “Council of Clones” that will provide president Bush “the advice he wants to hear.”
“Marching in lock step with Kass, his cognitive clones… read more

Countering ‘normocentrism’: autistic individuals found superior in multiple areas

November 3, 2011

Perceptual regions of the brain activated more among autistics than non-autistics during a non-verbal intelligence test

Many autistics — not just “savants” — have qualities and abilities that may exceed those of people who do not have the condition, according to Dr. Laurent Mottron at the University of Montreal’s Centre for Excellence in Pervasive Development Disorders.

Mottron’s research team has established and replicated the sometimes superior abilities of autistics in multiple cognitive operations such as perception and reasoning, as have others.… read more

Could we travel to other parts of our galaxy — or other galaxies — via a giant wormhole?

January 23, 2015

The (hypothetical) wormhole proposed by Kuefettig, Salucci et al connecting the center with a very far position of our Galaxy when one passes through its throat. (credit: SISSA (Salucci))

There could be a space-time tunnel (wormhole) in our galaxy, as dramatized by the film Interstellar, that would allow us to travel to a distant location in the galaxy, and the tunnel could even be the size of our entire galaxy.

That’s what astrophysicist/dark-matter expert Paolo Salucci of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) and colleagues suggest in a paper published in Annals of Physics (open-access… read more

Could We Live Forever?

November 11, 2003

By mid-century, some countries may have life expectancies approaching 100 and life expectancies might approach 130 by 2050, predicts Dr. James Vaupel, director of the laboratory of survival and longevity at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research.

“There is no fixed life span…. From 1840 until today, the life expectancy in the countries that are doing the best has increased two and a half years per decade.… read more

Could we create quantum creatures in the lab?

September 16, 2009

Two laser beams could hold a tardigrade (water bear — an animal less than a millimeter in size that can survive in a vacuum) in a “ground state” in an “optical cavity,” where a photon could force it into a superposition of both its ground state and next vibrational energy state, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics suggest.

Could we build a 20-kilometer-high space tower?

September 12, 2012

(NASA MSFC, Artist Pat Rawling)

Science-fiction novelist Neal Stephenson imagines a 20-kilometer-high steel tower that reaches into the stratosphere.

From that height, planes could save fuel by docking at the tower rather than landing, and space missions could do the same by launching from it.

Stephenson is teaming up with a structural engineer, Keith Hjelmstad at Arizona State University (ASU), to work out how to actually build the tower, New Scientist reports.… read more

Could vitamins raise levels of bad cholesterol?

May 4, 2004

A new study suggests that antioxidant vitamins, such as E, C, and beta carotene, could raise the production by the liver of the so-called bad form of cholesterol, which transports cholesterol into artery walls.

The New York University School of Medicine study found that antioxidant vitamins increase the secretion of VLDL in liver cells and VLDL is converted in the bloodstream to low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad form of… read more

Could tutoring a computer be the way to develop machines that talk back?

April 18, 2001

HAL, a software program designed by Dutch-based firm Artificial Intelligence to learn language, currently passes for a 18 month old child and has a 50 or 60 word vocabulary.

By the end of 2003, AI expects to have a version of HAL capable of talking like a three-year-old and by 2005 hopes it will have the conversational skills of an adult.

HAL uses simple learning algorithms based on… read more

Could this new electrical brain-zap method help you learn muscle skills faster?

Meanwhile, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has significantly improved tinnitus symptoms
July 17, 2015

Three brain-stimulation methods (credit: adapted from Shapour Jaberzadeh et al./PLoS ONE)

Researchers headed by Shapour Jaberzadeh and his group at Monash University have discovered a new noninvasive technique that could rev up your brain to improve your physical performance — for athletes and musicians, for instance — and might also improve treatments for brain-related conditions such as stroke, depression, and chronic pain.

The two neuroelectrical treatment methods currently in use are transcranial direct current simulation (tDCS)… read more

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