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Rewiring The Body

February 28, 2005

Exotic implants are bringing new hope to victims of epilepsy, paralysis, depression, and other diseases.

Airborne prions are infectious; precautionary measures advised

January 14, 2011

Histoblot analysis of brains from mice exposed to prion aerosols (PLoS Pathogens)

Airborne prions are also infectious and can induce mad cow disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disorder. This is the surprising conclusion of researchers at the University of Zurich, the University Hospital Zurich and the University of Tübingen. They recommend precautionary measures for scientific labs, slaughterhouses and animal feed plants.

The prion is the infectious agent that caused the epidemic of mad cow disease, also termed bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and claimed… read more

Nanotech’s dark side debated

November 5, 2001

In light of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and anthrax headlines, it’s not hard for some to imagine a nightmare scenario involving a new generation of terrorists able to obtain infinitely more powerful nanoweapons.
As nanotech makes the transition from the drawing board to reality, every development brings the fledgling industry closer to the day when many believe government regulations and secrecy will be needed to prevent abuses.… read more

Looking ahead with tech icon Bob Metcalfe

March 19, 2009

The goal in the next six or seven decades should be to produce “squanderably abundant, cheap and clean energy,” says Internet pioneer Bob Metcalfe.

There were innovations no one saw coming that made the Internet possible and better — the semiconductor, the PC, packet-switching, Ethernet, TPC/IP protocol. There will be surprises in the energy field, too, he belives.

Depleting oil supplies threaten ‘meltdown in society’

October 30, 2007

The Energy Watch Group (EWG) in Berlin, Germany reported this week that a study showed that world oil production peaked in 2006 — far earlier than expected.

EWG analysed oil production figures and predicted it would fall by 7 per cent a year, dropping to half of current levels by 2030. The report also predicts significant falls in gas, coal and uranium production. The group warns that supply shortages… read more

Researchers: Metcalfe’s Law overshoots the mark

March 15, 2005

Andrew Odlyzko and Benjamin Tilly of the University of Minnesota have written a paper arguing that Metcalfe’s Law, a rule of thumb that computes the value of communication networks, is overly optimistic.

“The fundamental fallacy underlying Metcalfe’s (Law) is in the assumption that all connections or all groups are equally valuable,” the researchers report.

The researchers propose a less dramatic rule of thumb: the value of… read more

Scientists raise spectre of gene-modified athletes

November 30, 2001

We may be watching genetically-modified (GM) athletes as soon as the Beijing Olympics in 2008, researchers say. Gene doping, in which athletes could genetically modify themselves with performance-enhancing DNA, will be almost impossible to detect, according to Peter Schjerling at the Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre in Denmark.
Schjerling believes cheats will avoid detection by injecting themselves with copies of genes naturally present in the body, such as those encoding growth… read more

How to save the world from an asteroid impact

March 26, 2009

Asteroids could be nudged away from a a collision course with Earth by a small nuclear explosion or by using lasers to vaporize a region, creating a plume of gas that should provide enough thrust to push the asteroid off course, according to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and University of Glasgow scientists.

A Planetary System That Looks Familiar

November 8, 2007

Astronomers reported Tuesday that there were at least five planets circling a star 41 light-years from here in the constellation Cancer, known as 55 Cancri, where only four had been known before.

This makes it the most extensive planetary system yet found outside our own. It is also the one that most resembles our solar system, with a giant planet orbiting far out from the star and four smaller… read more

New look for nanomotors

March 23, 2005

Physicists in the US have built the first nanoelectromechanical device that exploits the effects of surface tension.

The “relaxation oscillator” consists of two droplets of liquid metal on a substrate made of carbon nanotubes and can be controlled with a small applied electric field. Alex Zettl and colleagues at the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory say the device could find use in various… read more

Growth Hormone Also a Memory Booster

February 2, 2011

Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found that insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF-2), a naturally occurring hormone, can boost memory retention in animals.

The research may one day provide scientists with a new way to treat memory impairments, such as those caused by dementia, and may also contribute to developing memory-boosting drugs.

20 factors that will change PCs in 2002

January 8, 2002

PC World picked 20 trends and technologies that will have the greatest impact on personal computing for business and home use in the coming year or more.
They include 400GB hard drives, the 1-GHz palmtop, organic-light-emitting diodes to replace LCDs, multimedia instant messaging, high-speed wireless networks in office and home, markup languages for everything, hyper-threading (a more efficient way to use processing power), a third-generation bus that’s ten times… read more

Vibrating touch screen puts Braille at the fingertips

April 1, 2009

A new way of presenting Braille characters on a mobile device could lead to a Braille-ready touchscreen phone.

University of Tampere in Finland and colleagues used a Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, which has a piezoelectric material built into the touch screen that vibrates when an electric signal is applied to it. To generate characters, they installed software that represents a raised dot as a single pulse of intense vibration,… read more

Improving Fuel Cells for Cars

November 14, 2007
High-quality, extremely thin electrolyte films for solid-oxide fuel cells (Shriram Ramanathan)

A new method for making materials just a few atoms thick could pave the way to automotive fuel cells that use readily available fuels instead of hydrogen, which is difficult to produce and store.

The synthesis method, developed by Harvard professor of materials science Shriram Ramanathan, produces high-quality solid-oxide electrolytes that are about 25 nanometers thick–about a thousandth the thickness of the electrolytes used in conventional SOFCs.… read more

High-resolution Ultrasonic Transmission Tomography

April 6, 2005

University of Southern California researchers have demonstrated a novel “High-resolution Ultrasonic Transmission Tomography” (HUTT) system that offers 3D images of soft tissue that are superior to those produced by existing commercial X-ray, ultrasound or MRI units.

According to Vasilis Marmarelis, a USC professor of biomedical engineering, HUTT offers nearly order-of-magnitude improvement in resolution of structures in soft tissue (0.4 mm, compared to 2 mm for the best alternatives).… read more

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