science + technology news

Could lasers zap away dangerous asteroids?

March 20, 2007

Lasers may be able to detect asteroids from 10 times farther away than current radar observatories, and deflect them away from Earth, too.

Could lab-grown meat soon be the solution to the world’s food crisis?

January 25, 2012

lab meat

Scientists are producing small quantities of “cultured meat” in research laboratories. Mark Post of Maastricht University, one of the pioneers in the field, claims he will be able to produce a cultured burger by the end of the year.

Instead of getting meat from animals raised in pastures, he wants to grow steaks in lab conditions, directly from muscle stem cells. If successful, the technology will… read more

Could killer horse virus spread among humans?

July 25, 2008

Australia is suffering the biggest outbreak of the highly virulent Hendra virus since the disease was identified in 1994.

Now a change in its symptoms is raising fears that new strains may have emerged — and even that a strain capable of spreading from human-to-human could appear.

Could ibuprofen be an anti-aging medicine?

December 19, 2014

Ibuprofen extends the lifespan of C. elegans worms: survival curves treated with ibuprofen at 0.1 mM (red) compared to experiment-matched untreated (credit: Chong He et al./PLOS Genetics)

Ibuprofen, a common over-the-counter drug used to relieve pain and fever, could hold the keys to a longer healthier life, according to a study by researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.  Publishing in PLoS Genetics (open access) December 18, scientists showed that regular doses of ibuprofen extended the lifespan of yeast, worms and fruit flies.

Brian Kennedy, PhD, CEO of the Buck Institute, said treatments, given… read more

Could I Get That Song in Elvis, Please?

November 24, 2003

Vocaloid software, due out in January from Yamaha, allows users to create synthesized songs in a life-like concert-quality voice.

To create the virtual performer’s “vocal font,” technicians record a singer performing as many as 60 pages of scripted phoneme articulations along with assorted pitches and techniques like glissandos and legatos.

The software may allow for “vocal reanimation” of celebrity singers, like Elvis.

Vocaloid could be used as… read more

Could humans ever regenerate limbs?

February 10, 2016

finger regrowth ft

Just lopped off your ring finger slicing carrots (some time in the future)? No problem. Just speed-read this article while you’re waiting for the dronebulance. …

“Epimorphic regeneration” — growing digits, maybe even limbs, with full 3D structure and functionality — may one day be possible. So say scientists at Tulane University, the University of Washington, and the University of Pittsburgh, writing in a review article just published in… read more

Could hemp nanosheets topple graphene for better supercapacitor electrodes?

No, you can't smoke the supercapacitor
August 14, 2014

Hemp field in Côtes-d'Armor, Brittany, France (credit: Barbetorte, Creative Commons)

As hemp* makes a comeback in the U.S. after a decades-long ban on its cultivation, scientists are reporting that fibers from the plant can pack as much energy and power as graphene, long-touted as the model material for supercapacitors.

David Mitlin, Ph.D., explains that supercapacitors are energy storage devices that have huge potential to transform the way future electronics are powered.

Unlike today’s rechargeable… read more

Could geoengineering stop heat waves?

July 16, 2012

568px-Pinatubo91eruption_clark_air_base

When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, the injection of sulfur particles into the atmosphere cooled the planet.

Taking inspiration from nature, some scientists have begun studying whether a man-made injection of such sulfate aerosols might stave off the worst of global warming. But could the technology also be used more locally to beat the heat?

That’s the question explored by three UCLA… read more

Could ‘genetically edited’ fruits avoid the GMO backlash?

August 15, 2014

Genetically edited apples that don't brown when sliced could be possible (credit: iStock)

Recent advances in precise editing of genomes now raise the possibility that fruit and other crops might be genetically improved without the need to introduce foreign genes, as in  genetically modified organisms (GMOs), say researchers writing in the Cell Press publication Trends in Biotechnology on August 13.

The notion is that “genetically edited” fruits might be met with greater acceptance than GMOs. This could mean “super bananas” that produce more vitamin… read more

Could future computer viruses infect humans?

November 15, 2004

Kevin Warwick, professor of cybernetics at Reading University, warned the day will come when computer viruses can infect humans as well as PCs.

“We’re looking at software viruses and biological viruses becoming one and the same,” he said. “The security problems [will] be much, much greater… they will have to become critical in future.”

If humans were networked, the implications of being hacked would be far more serious… read more

Could fossils be discovered on the Moon?

August 4, 2014

(Credit: Janet Ramsden)

University of Kent physicists have tested what would happen if a piece of rock containing microscopic fossils from Earth was launched into space and hit the surface of the moon.

Professor Mark Burchell and researchers from Kent ’s Centre for Astrophysics simulated the condition that fossilized diatoms — microscopic algae with detailed shells — might have faced if… read more

Could erasing memories block chronic pain?

February 16, 2012

Chronic pain

McGill University researchers have found the key to understanding how memories of pain are stored in the brain and how these memories could be erased, making it possible to ease chronic pain.

It has long been known that the central nervous system “remembers” painful experiences, that they leave a memory trace of pain. And when there is new sensory input, the pain memory trace in the brain… read more

Could emotion detectors make driving safer?

March 17, 2014

epfl_emotion_recognition_driving

Researchers in EPFL’s Signal Processing 5 Laboratory (LTS5), working with PSA Peugeot Citroën, have developed an emotion detector based on the analysis of facial expressions in a car, using an infrared camera placed behind the steering wheel.

The researchers say they can read facial expressions and identify which of the seven universal emotions a person is feeling: fear, anger, joy, sadness, disgust, surprise, or… read more

Could deep-learning systems radically transform drug discovery?

AI drug-discovery engine to be presented at Machine Intelligence Summit in Berlin on June 29-30
June 17, 2016

(credit: Insilico Medicine)

Scientists at Insilico Medicine have developed a new drug-discovery engine that they say is capable of predicting therapeutic use, toxicity, and adverse effects of thousands of molecules, and they plan to reveal it at the Re-Work Machine Intelligence Summit in Berlin, June 29–30.

Drug discovery takes decades, with high failure rates. Among the reasons: irreproducible experiments with poor choice of animal models and inability to… read more

Could dark matter cause some mass extinctions and geologic upheavals?

February 19, 2015

NGC 4565, an edge-on spiral galaxy. The stars, dust and gas are concentrated into a thin disc, much like the one in our Milky Way galaxy. (Credit: Jschulman555)

In Earth’s path around and through our Galaxy’s disc, dark matter may perturb the orbits of comets and lead to additional heating in the Earth’s core, both of which could be connected with mass extinction events, according to a research finding by New York University Biology Professor Michael Rampino.

Writing in an open-access paper published today, Feb. 19, in Monthly Notices ofread more

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