science + technology news

Craig Venter: Programming algae to pump out oil

July 27, 2009

Genome pioneer Craig Venter has teamed up with Exxon Mobil to turn living algae into hydrocarbons, for processing into gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel.

Craig Venter imagines a world with printable life forms

October 18, 2012


Craig Venter imagines a future where you can download software, print a vaccine, inject it, and presto! Contagion averted.

“It’s a 3-D printer for DNA, a 3-D printer for life,” Venter said at the inaugural Wired Health Conference in New York City, Wired Science reports.

The geneticist and his team of scientists are already testing out a version of his digital biological converter, or “teleporter.”… read more

Crafting color coatings from nanometer-thick layers of gold and germanium

New technique works on rough or flexible materials from wearable fabrics to stretchable electronics
December 24, 2014

In 2012, Capasso's research team demonstrated interference effects in layers of gold and germanium deposited on silicon, pictured here. Their latest work takes it much further, demonstrating that the same effects can be achieved on rough surfaces. (Credit: Mikhail Kats, Romain Blanchard, and Patrice Genevet.)

Harvard scientists who developed a technique in 2012 that coats a gray metallic object with a semiconductor layer just a few nanometers thick to achieve a variety of vibrant hues have now applied the technique to almost any rough or flexible material, from wearable fabrics to stretchable electronics.

The coating exploits optical interference effects in the thin films. Researcher Mikhail Kats compares it to the iridescent rainbows that are visible… read more

Cracking the quantum safe

October 15, 2012


The Nobel Prize in Physics went to achievements in quantum information, Adam Frank, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, writes in The New York Times.

It may not catch as many headlines as the hunt for elusive particles, but the field of quantum information may soon answer questions even more fundamental — and upsetting —… read more

Cracking The Brain’s Numerical Code: Researchers Can Tell What Number A Person Has Seen

September 25, 2009

By carefully observing and analyzing the pattern of activity in the brain, researchers have found that they can tell what number a person has just seen, or how many dots a person has been presented with.

These findings confirm the notion that numbers are encoded in the brain via detailed and specific activity patterns.

Cracking open the scientific process

January 17, 2012


Peer review can take months, journal subscriptions can be prohibitively costly, and a handful of gatekeepers limit the flow of information. It is an ideal system for sharing knowledge, said the quantum physicist Michael Nielsen, Ph.D.,  only “if you’re stuck with 17th century technology.”

Dr. Nielsen, who left a successful science career to write Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science, and other advocates for “open… read more

Cracking cellulose: a step into the biofuels future

September 2, 2011

University of York scientists have found a method to convert cellulose efficiently into bioethanol.

The researchers identified the molecular mechanism behind an enzyme found in fungi that can degrade the cellulose chains of plant cell walls to release shorter sugars for biofuels, using the copper-dependent TaGH61 enzyme to overcome the chemical inertness of cellulose.

Current global generation of cellulose is equivalent in… read more

Crab chemical could give cars a self-healing ‘shell’

March 13, 2009

A self-healing material able to repair its own surface scratches has been created by combining polyurethane with a modified molecule made up of chitosan (found in the shells of crustaceans like crabs and lobsters), University of Southern Mississippi researchers have found.

CPR: Mouth-to-Mouth Not Much Help

March 19, 2007

For adults who suddenly collapse, CPR is more effective if rescuers focus on chest compression over mouth-to-mouth ventilation.

By interrupting lifesaving chest compressions, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation may do more harm than good.

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.

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