science + technology news

UCSD Study Shows ‘Junk’ DNA Has Evolutionary Importance

October 21, 2005

Non-coding regions play an important role in maintaining an organism’s genetic integrity, according to Peter Andolfatto, an assistant professor of biology at UCSD, in the October 20 issue of Nature.

“Sequencing of the complete genome in humans, fruit flies, nematodes and plants has revealed that the number of protein-coding genes is much more similar among these species than expected,” he says. “Curiously, the largest differences between major species groups… read more

The (really scary) soldier of the future

October 21, 2005

The goal of nanobiotechnology is to completely break down the borders between living and nonliving materials. This goal has the most profound implications for every aspect of human endeavor, but in warfare the consequences of integrating our most powerful technologies are almost beyond comprehension.

The fusion of nanotechnology and biotechnology will erase any distinction between chemical, biological, and conventional weapons, altering the face of war (and life) forever.… read more

Robots and TV to be big in 2006

October 21, 2005

Specialized robots, devices for DIY content creation and new TV displays are among the trends to watch in 2006.

Nano-electronics boosted atom by atom

October 21, 2005

Nanoscale microprocessors could get a big performance boost from a technique that enables semiconducting materials to be doped with useful impurities one ion at a time, with nanoscale accuracy.

The “single ion implantation” (SII) process involves using a small aperture to extract single ions from a beam, which are then implanted into the target material.

Eventually, the researchers believe, the process could provide a substantial speed injection to… read more

Tomorrow’s operating room to harness Net, RFID

October 20, 2005

To keep up with accelerating medical data, a “wall of knowledge” in the operating room will present the big picture, minute by minute, of the patient and surgical events from various data.

The digital display includes the patient’s name, weight, age, gender and the procedure he or she is undergoing. It includes a detailed list of medical staff on duty and where they are according to RFID tags they’re… read more

Balloon beams broadband internet from stratosphere

October 20, 2005

A blisteringly fast data downlink — 1.25 gigabits per second — provided by a stratospheric balloon floating 24,000 meters above the Earth, has been tested for the first time.

Korean Researchers to Help Others Clone Cells for Study

October 20, 2005

The Korean researchers who pioneered the cloning of human cells say they will set up a worldwide foundation, the World Stem Cell Foundation, to help create embryonic stem cells for medical research.

Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology: Focusing on the Cutting Edge

October 20, 2005

Over 90 panelists and speakers will gather to discuss nanotechnology research, commercial applications, environmental issues and policy concerns at the 13th Foresight Conference Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology: Focusing on the Cutting Edge, on October 22-27, 2005 at the San Francisco Airport Marriott.

Agenda, speakers, and topics

Waiting for the lights to go out

October 19, 2005

“The greatest getting-and-spending spree in the history of the world is about to end,” says Matthew Stein in his book, When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance and Planetary Survival.

“The 200-year boom that gave citizens of the industrial world levels of wealth, health and longevity beyond anything previously known to humanity is threatened on every side. Oil is running out; the climate is changing at a potentially catastrophic… read more

Life’s Building Blocks ‘Abundant in Space’

October 19, 2005

The idea that comets and meteorites seeded an early Earth with the tools to make life gained momentum recently as scientists scanning a galaxy 12 million light-years away detected copious amounts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), molecules critical to all known forms of life.

PAHs carry information for DNA and RNA and are an important component of hemoglobin and chlorophyll.

Evidence suggests that PAHs are formed in the… read more

Jeff Hawkins Q&A

October 19, 2005

Jeff Hawkins, the chief technology officer of Palm, has proposed an all-encompassing theory of the mammalian neocortex. “Hierarchical Temporal Memory” (HTM) claims to explain how our brains discover, infer, and predict patterns in the phenomenal world.

He has founded the company Numenta, which hopes to develop technology based on his theory.

Buckyballs may diagnose and treat brain tumors

October 19, 2005

Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech researchers are developing metal-filled buckyballs for use as a diagnostic and therapeutic agent that may boost the sensitivity of MRI techniques and improve the diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors.

They found that the nanoparticles highlighted the tumors more effectively than existing imaging agents. They provide improved brain tissue differentiation and a dark outline of the tumor margin, making surgical removal more precise.… read more

Making Sense of High-Density Nanowire Circuits

October 18, 2005

California Institute of Technology researchers have developed a method of “demultiplexing” the signals from ultrahigh-density nanowire circuits — electrically addressing large numbers of individual nanowires using many fewer electrical connectors.

The technique will help in analyzing the complex signals that such sensors generate when they are testing complex biological samples.

Dr. Heath, who is a principle investigator of one of the NCI’s Centers of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, and… read more

Cyborg cells sense humidity

October 18, 2005

Living bacteria have been incorporated into an electronic circuit to produce a sensitive humidity gauge.

The gold nanoparticles-plated “cellborg” is “essentially a first step towards a biological computer, and would have many applications,” says Ravi Saraf, a chemist from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Saraf speculates that similar devices could one day be made that take greater advantage of living organisms, perhaps even using bacteria’s energy systems to… read more

Bird flu outbreaks expected in more countries

October 18, 2005

The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu is likely to spread to more and more countries, a World Health Organization official warned on Monday.

The strain, which has killed over 60 people in southeast Asia, appears to have travelled extensively in the latter half of 2005. It has affected birds in China, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan and most recently reached Europe.

It is now believed that the virus has… read more

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