science + technology news

Cosmic doomsday delayed

November 8, 2004

The Universe will last for at least the next 24 billion years, according to astrophysicists who have modeled the mysterious force of dark energy.

The team’s new calculation relies on recent observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, which has found several supernovae that are moving away from us faster than any others seen before, implying that the Universe is expanding faster than we thought.

Cosmic ‘DNA’: Double Helix Spotted in Space

March 19, 2006

Magnetic forces at the center of the galaxy have twisted a nebula into the shape of DNA, the first time it has been observed in the cosmos.

The DNA nebula is about 80 light-years long and about 300 light-years from the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

Magnetic field lines at the galactic center are about 1,000 times stronger than on Earth. They run… read more

Cosmetics Break the Skin Barrier

January 10, 2005

New cosmetic innovations include muscle- relaxant GABA to reduce wrinkles and little balls of protein material that are slowly dissolved by enzymes in the skin to act as antiwrinkle moisturizers.

The current research goal: finding ingredients that act as treatments themselves as they carry other substances through the skin.

Cortical synchronization of neuron firing in multiple brain regions

September 21, 2010

Cortical oscillations can effectively rally groups of neurons in widely dispersed regions of the brain to engage in coordinated activity, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have found.

“One of the key problems in neuroscience right now is how you go from billions of diverse and independent neurons, on the one hand, to a unified brain able to act and survive in a complex world, on the other,”… read more

Corporate Servers Spreading IE Virus [Updated]

June 28, 2004

ZDNet is reporting that corporate web servers are infecting visitors’ PCs.

The combination of two unpatched IE security holes and hacked corporate websites is apparently distributing malware via several high-credibility sites. ZDNet says users have “few options” other than alternative browsers or platforms.”

A reader points out Microsoft’s What You Should Know page. Here’s the short version for avoiding this Critical severity attack: you must install add-on software,… read more

Coronal mass ejection headed toward Earth

August 3, 2010


Early Sunday morning, the Sun’s surface erupted and blasted tons of plasma (ionized atoms) into interplanetary space directly toward us. When this coronal mass ejection arrives early in the day on August 4th, it could create a spectacular light show, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has reported.

When a coronal mass ejection reaches Earth, it interacts with our planet’s magnetic field, potentially creating a geomagnetic storm. Solar particles stream down… read more

Cornell researchers create DNA buckyballs for drug delivery

August 29, 2005

Cornell University researchers have made DNA buckyballs that could be used for drug delivery and as containers for chemical reactions.

The buckyballs are made from a specially prepared, branched DNA-polystyrene hybrid. The hybrid molecules spontaneously self-assemble into hollow balls about 400 nanometers in diameter.

Source: Cornell University news release

Corn Primed for Making Biofuel

April 16, 2008

Researchers have created three strains of genetically modified corn to manufacture enzymes that break down the plant’s cellulose into sugars that can be fermented into ethanol.

Incorporating such enzymes directly into the plants could reduce the cost of converting cellulose into biofuel.

Cord blood yields ‘ethical’ embryonic stem cells

August 17, 2005

Hopes for treating disease with stem cells from umbilical cord blood has received a major boost following the discovery of primitive cells with clinical potential matching that of far more controversial embryonic stem cells (ESCs).

The newly discovered human cells, named “cord-blood-derived embryonic-like stem cells” or CBEs, are not quite as primitive as embryonic stem cells, which can give rise to any tissue type of the body. But they… read more

Coral reveals ancient origins of human genes

December 16, 2003

A study of coral found that about 500 gene sequences out of 1300 had matches in gene databases.

Of these 500, 90% were present in humans, and about 10% were found in humans but not in the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster or the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. This finding suggests that many genes thought to be vertebrate-specific may in fact have much older origins, and have been lost during the… read more

Copper-gold nanoparticles convert CO2, may reduce greenhouse gas emissions

April 12, 2012

An electron microscopy image of hybrid gold/copper nanoparticles (credit: Zhichuan Xu)

MIT researchers have come up with a way to reduce the energy needed for copper to convert carbon dioxide: nanoparticles of copper mixed with gold.

They coated electrodes with the hybrid nanoparticles and found that much less energy was needed for these engineered nanoparticles to react with carbon dioxide (converting it to methane or methanol), compared to nanoparticles of pure copper.

Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli of MIT’s Hamad-Schifferli Group says the… read more

Copper film could lower touch-screen, LED, and solar-cell costs

September 26, 2011

Copper Nanowires

Duke University chemist Ben Wiley and his graduate student have developed a technique to organize copper atoms in water to form long, thin, non-clumped nanowires that are transformed into transparent conductive films and coated onto glass or plastic.

These new nanostructures could drive down the costs of displaying information on cell phones, e-readers and iPads, and also help engineers build foldable electronics and improved solar… read more

Copper Circuits Help Brain Function; Could Tweaking the Circuits Make Us Smarter?

September 26, 2006

The flow of copper in the brain has a previously unrecognized role in cell death, learning and memory, according to research at Washington University School of Medicine.

The researchers’ findings suggest that copper and its transporter, a protein called Atp7a, are vital to human thinking. They speculate that variations in the genes coding for Atp7a, as well as other proteins of copper homeostasis, could partially account for differences in… read more

Cooperative Cybercars: A Question Of Priorities

August 27, 2009

European researchers in the CyberCars2 project have developed new control systems that let driverless vehicles (“cybercars”) exchange data and coordinate their movements — a atep toward high-throughput, efficient automated transportation systems that could be deployed in traffic-free zones.

Cooperation and the evolution of intelligence

April 13, 2012


Trinity College researchers have constructed an artificial neural network model that demonstrates that human intelligence evolved from the need for social teamwork.

The high levels of intelligence seen in humans, other primates, certain cetaceans, and birds remain a major puzzle for evolutionary biologists, anthropologists and psychologists.

It has long been held that social interactions provide the selection pressures necessary for the evolution of advanced cognitive abilities (the “social… read more

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