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Denser computer chips possible with plasmonic lenses

October 27, 2008
 (Liang Pan and Cheng Sun, UC Berkeley)

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a new way to make computer chips by combining metal lenses that focus light through the excitation of plasmons (surface electrons) on the lens to create line patterns 80 nanometers wide, and theoretically as small as 5 to 10 nanometers.

The technology could lead to microprocessors more than 10 times smaller and ultra-high density disks that can hold… read more

Five ‘designer babies’ created for stem cells

May 6, 2004

Five healthy babies have been born to provide stem cells for transplantation to siblings with serious non-heritable conditions.

This is the first time “savior siblings” have been created to treat children whose condition is not genetic, says the medical team, using a controversial technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to test embryos for a tissue type match to the ailing siblings to improve the chance of a match.

A Single-Photon Server with Just One Atom

March 19, 2007

A team of physicists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics has built a single-photon server based on a single trapped neutral atom.

The high quality of the single photons and their ready availability are important for future quantum information processing experiments with single photons.

How to eavesdrop on alien chat

October 31, 2008

An advanced alien civilization would likely use spread-spectrum transmission coding (used in cellphones), which is more efficient than a single carrier wave because chunks of information are essentially carried on multiple low-powered carrier waves.

Claudio Maccone, co-chair of the SETI Permanent Study Group based in Paris, France, argues that SETI should use an algorithm known as the Karhunen-Loève Transform (KLT), which could find a buried conversation using spread-spectrum coding… read more

Gmail Priority Inbox lets you get through your email faster

September 1, 2010

“Gmail Priority Inbox” video on YouTube is self-explanatory.

Quantum trick may multiply CD capacity

May 13, 2004

A new method for “entangling” photons could one day allow information to be more densely stored on CDs and other memory devices.

By entangling the photons, they share a single quantum state, which makes them behave like a single photon with a shorter wavelength and higher energy.

This overcomes the diffraction limit (light cannot be used to see or inscribe features that are smaller than half its wavelength),… read more

Robot sensing and smartphones help blind navigate

May 2, 2012


University in Paris engineers have developed a 3D navigation system for the blind using a pair of glasses equipped with cameras and sensors like those used in robot exploration.

It produces a 3D map of the wearer’s environment and their position within it that is constantly updated and displayed in a simplified form on a handheld electronic Braille device.

Two cameras on either side of the glasses generate a… read more

Sugar-fuelled battery soon to juice up portable electronics

March 27, 2007

Fuel cell technology that is currently in development boasts the ability of extracting energy from virtually any sugar source to power portable electronics.

The cell operates at room temperature and uses enzymes to oxidize sugars, hence generating electricity.

First complete cancer genome sequenced

November 6, 2008
Acute myeloid leukemia cells from the bone marrow of the female patient whose complete genome was sequenced (Timothy Ley)

For the first time, a complete cancer genome, and incidentally a complete female genome, has been decoded, scientists report online Nov. 5 in Nature. In a study made possible by faster, cheaper and more sensitive methods for sequencing DNA, the researchers pinpoint eight new genes that may cause a cell to turn cancerous.

CMU researchers develop method to help computer vision systems decipher outdoor scenes

September 10, 2010

A computer uses virtual blocks to build a three-dimensional approximation of the image at left that makes sense based on volume and mass. (Carnegie Mellon University)

Computer vision systems can struggle to make sense of a single image, but a new method devised by computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University enables computers to gain a deeper understanding of an image by reasoning about the physical constraints of the scene.

In much the same way that a child might use a set of toy building blocks to… read more

Search engines try to find their sound

May 28, 2004

Consumers armed with broadband connections at home are driving new demand for multimedia content and setting off a new wave of technology development among search engine companies eager to extend their empires from the static world of text to the dynamic realm of video and audio.

StreamSage has developed speech recognition technology to transcribe audio and video content and contextual analysis to understand the language and parse the themes… read more

Citizen science enters a new era

May 7, 2012


A new wave of volunteer science projects aims to allow amateur participants to actively gather data for the benefit of their communities.

What has changed is a growing sense that participants can actively take part in projects, rather than passively allowing their idle computer to do the grunt work.

Their feeling is that science is too important to be left to scientists alone,” says Francois Grey from the… read more

Thwarting Terror: Genes Can Tell the Story of Radiation Exposure

April 3, 2007

A new method for detecting exposure to ionizing radiation — using gene-chip technology to scan thousands of genes in the DNA of lymphocytes — could quickly reveal those most at risk in the event of a “dirty bombing” or nuclear incident, say researchers at the Duke University Medical Center.

Backpacks for Cells

November 12, 2008

Living cells wearing microscopic “backpacks”–nanostructured polymer patches loaded with chemical cargo–might one day be able to ferry drugs or imaging agents to diseased tissue, MIT researchers say.

Cancer cells found to trigger alternative biochemical pathway that speeds up their metabolism

September 17, 2010

Cancer cells can trigger an alternative biochemical pathway that speeds up their metabolism and diverts the byproducts to construct new cells, says Matthew Vander Heiden, assistant professor of biology and member of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT.

The finding, with researchers at Harvard University, could help scientists design drugs that block cancer-cell metabolism, essentially starving them of the materials they need to grow and spread.… read more

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