science + technology news

Heart operation performed with robotic arm

April 30, 2010

The world’s first heart operation to use a remote-controlled robotic arm has been carried out at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, U.K.

The technique, designed to cure irregular heart beats, involved using a Remote Catheter Manipulation System (RCMS) to steer catheters into blood vessels at the top of the groin and into the heart.

The procedure, which can take over six hours, is currently carried out by surgeons who… read more

Boosting ‘good’ fat to burn off the bad

August 21, 2008

A simple solution to the growing obesity problem might be to find a way to generate extra “brown fat” (burns a tremendous amount of energy) and let the body burn away the energy stored in its excess “white fat.”

Coated nanoparticles slip through mucus

January 23, 2007

Nanoparticles coated with polyethylene glycol can quickly slip through human mucus. The results raise hopes for more efficient delivery of a variety of drugs.

Multilevel Molecular Memory

March 12, 2004

USC/NASA-Ames have produced a nanowire-based memory cell with three different controllable bit states, for a total of 8 distinct levels, allowing for cramming more data into a fixed lateral region on a data storage device.

Robots With Knives: A Study of Soft-Tissue Injury in Robotics

May 7, 2010

To find out what would happen if a robot handling a sharp tool accidentally struck a person and design and test a collision-detection system to prevent or minimize injury, Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics researchers performed a series of stabbing, puncturing, and cutting experiments.

No Big Bang? Endless Universe Made Possible by New Model

January 31, 2007

A new cyclic cosmological model demonstrates the universe can endlessly expand and contract, providing a rival to Big Bang theories and solving a thorny modern physics problem, according to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill physicists.

New Studies Question Value of Opening Arteries

March 22, 2004

Most bypass surgery and angiogplasty are worthless, or even worse, because they are based on the wrong model of heart disease: fixing narrowings of specific blood vessels.

Heart patients may have hundreds of vulnerable plaques, so preventing heart attacks means going after all their arteries, not one narrowed section, by attacking the disease itself. That is what happens when patients take drugs to aggressively lower their cholesterol levels, get… read more

Building organs using ‘biological Legos’

May 14, 2010

Researchers at the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology built this tubular tissue by encasing cells in polymer "bricks" and attaching them to a tube-shaped template. (Javier Gomez Fernandez)

Researchers at the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) have come up with a new way to assemble artificial tissues by encapsulating living cells in cubes and arranging them into 3-D structures.

The new “micromasonry” technique employs a gel-like material that acts like concrete, binding the cell “bricks” together as it hardens.

To obtain single cells for tissue engineering, researchers have to first break tissue apart,… read more

Book Excerpt: The Numerati by Stephen Baker

September 2, 2008

The Numerati introduces us to the mathematical wizards who are digging through our data to decode us as patients, shoppers, voters, potential terrorists — even lovers.

IBM mathematicians are building predictive mathematical models of 50,000 of IBM’s tech consultants, creating inventories of all of their skills to calculate, mathematically, how best to deploy them.

Robotic exoskeleton replaces muscle work

February 9, 2007

A robotic exoskeleton controlled by the wearer’s own nervous system could help users regain limb function, which is encouraging news for people with partial nervous system impairment, say University of Michigan researchers.

Rat genome unveiled

April 2, 2004

The Rat Genome Sequencing Consortium has sequenced the complete rat genome, about 25,000 genes.

Around 90% of these have matches in the mouse and man, so almost all known disease-related human genes have counterparts in the rat. By tweaking these, researchers should be able to make better rat models of disease.

Knowledge of their genome should also provide new targets for drug intervention.

Rat Genome Sequencing Consortium.… read more

CIA, FBI push ‘Facebook for spies’

September 8, 2008

A-Space, a social-networking site for analysts within the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, launches officially for the nation’s entire intelligence community on September 22.

The goal of A-Space is to protect the United States by assessing all the information available to the spy agencies. Missing crucial data can have enormous implications, such as an FBI agent who sent an e-mail before September 11, 2001, warning of people learning to fly… read more

Scientists Dubious of Quantum Claims

February 19, 2007

Independent quantum computing researchers said they are dubious of some of the claims made by D-Wave Systems Inc. because the company has not yet submitted its findings for peer review.

The company did not make the machine available for inspection and instead showed video from a remote location.

Talking to your car becoming natural

April 14, 2004

IBM is developing a system that allows a driver hold a two-way antural-language conversation with a car.

Current car speech recognition systems require the user to learn and use a set of commands.

By logging onto the Internet, it could access everything from traffic updates to e-mails.

From Californians’ DNA, a Giant Genome Project

May 31, 2010

More than 130,000 members of Kaiser Permanente in Northern California have volunteered to have their DNA scanned by robotic, high-speed gene-reading machines, as part of the largest human genome study of its kind ever attempted.

The goal: help scientists uncover the genetic roots of chronic disease and, perhaps, to find out why some people live longer than others, including via telomere length measurements.

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