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Drugs to Grow Your Brain

June 2, 2008
Hippocampus section: Mature neurons are green, newborn neurons are orange, and neural stem cells are red (BrainCells Inc.)

Researchers at BrainCells Inc. have developed drugs that encourage the growth of new neurons (neurogenesis) in the brain.

The drugs could also treat depression without the side effects and failure rate of existing antidepressant medication.

Scientists have found that new neurons are born in the adult brain and that increases or decreases of neurons may be involved in many brain diseases, including depression, schizophrenia and stroke.

It’s a Flawed World After All

August 18, 2003

The recent MSBlaster worm and power blackout incidents have laid bare the brittleness of increasingly complex, interconnected systems, leading some to question their near-total dependence on them.

Cell phones as dangerous as drunk driving

July 3, 2006

A study by University of Utah psychologists found that drivers talking on cell phones, either handheld or hands-free, are more likely to crash because they are distracted by conversation.

Holodeck 1.0? Star Trek-style 3-D displays make their debut

June 5, 2008
(Sergey Drozdov/

The EU-funded Coherent research project has developed a 3-D display called the HoloVizio.

The HoloVizio is a 3-D screen that will allow designers to visualize true 3-D models of objects, such as models for the medical sector and a collaborative design review system for the automotive industry. Users can manipulate the models by waving their hands in front of the screen.

The aim of the project… read more

Improved neurostimulators reduce pain

October 31, 2011

Ion-selective microelectrodes for low-power electrochemical stimulation and blocking of neuromuscular systems (credit: Yong-Ak Song)

Researchers at MIT and Harvard Medical School have improved the devices that stimulate damaged nerves (from epilepsy and other conditions), reducing potential side effects from neurostimulators (the electrical current can spread to nearby nerves, causing painful side effects). The improvements may also also help restore function to people with nerve damage.

The researchers reduced the concentration of positively charged calcium ions from the fluid surrounding a nerve… read more

The Sensor Revolution

August 25, 2003

Sensor networks promise a mammoth extension of the Internet. Within five years, these sensor computers could be shrunk to the size of a grain of sand and deployed over much of the globe, resulting in thousands of new networks.

Look for them to be scattered across farms and battlefields to monitor minute chemical and temperature changes and slapped onto trucks and shipping boxes to trace inventory automatically. Such networks… read more

China Details Homemade Supercomputer Plans

January 20, 2010

China’s next supercomputer, the petascale Dawning 6000, will be constructed exclusively with home-grown microprocessors, running by the end of 2010.

What Kind of Genius Are You?

July 12, 2006

A new theory suggests that creativity comes in two distinct types — quick and dramatic, or careful and quiet.

“Conceptual innovators” make bold, dramatic leaps in their disciplines. They do their breakthrough work when they are young.

“Experimental innovators” proceed by a lifetime of trial and error and thus do their important work much later in their careers.

Researchers show how the brain can protect against cancer

June 10, 2008

Rutgers University scientists have shown that neurons that produce the beta-endorphin peptide (BEP) “feel good” hormone — released during exercise, a good conversation, and many other aspects of life that give humans pleasure — play a roles in regulating the stress response and immune functions to control tumor growth and progression.

To test their hypothesis about the role of BEP in controling tumor growth and progression, the Rutgers scientists… read more

Nanoscale iron could help cleanse the environment

September 4, 2003

An ultrafine nanoparticle made from iron is turning out to be a remarkably effective tool for cleaning up contaminated soil and groundwater–a trillion-dollar problem that encompasses more than 1000 still-untreated Superfund sites in the United States, some 150,000 underground storage tank releases, and a staggering number of landfills, abandoned mines, and industrial sites.

When metallic iron oxidizes in the presence of contaminants such as trichloroethene, carbon tetrachloride, dioxins, or… read more

Innovation: Apple patents hint at tablet’s technology

January 26, 2010

A rash of patents filed by Apple suggests how the new Apple tablet may take the next step beyond the iPhone’s once-revolutionary touch interface.

Scientists Hope to Unravel Neanderthal DNA

July 21, 2006

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology plan to collaborate with an American company in an effort to reconstruct the genome of Neanderthals, the archaic human species that occupied Europe from 300,000 years ago to 30,000 years ago until being displaced by modern humans.

Recovery of the Neanderthal genome, in whole or in part, would be invaluable for reconstructing many events in human prehistory and evolution.

Making Old Muscle Young

June 17, 2008

Researchers at University of California, Berkeley have manipulated stem cells in older muscle tissue to produce new muscle fibers at levels comparable to young stem cells.

Old muscle tissue produces elevated levels of the molecule TGF-beta, which is known to inhibit muscle growth. The researchers used RNA interference, which can silence specific genes, to inhibit the TGF-beta pathway in old mice.

Muscle wasting–loss of muscle mass–occurs both during… read more

Molecular library opens era of personal medicine

September 22, 2003

The U.S. National Institutes of Health is launching a national molecular library to accelerate the development of new drugs and nano-scale agents for an emerging “era of personalized medicine.”

The library will act as a repository “for some of the hundreds of thousands of molecules the pharmaceutical industry screens for their use in identifying target agents that could be used to track or treat diseases.”

The blurry lines of animated ‘news’

February 3, 2010

Taiwan-based Next Media has garnered millions of Web hits for its controversial animated news, using animators and actors in motion-capture suits to dramatize the day’s news events to supplement actual news footage.

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