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How to directly sequence small genomes without library preparation

Can greatly reduce DNA consumption and the time it takes to generate sequencing data from small genomes
December 12, 2012

genome

For the first time, researchers have sequenced DNA molecules without the need for the standard pre-sequencing workflow known as library preparation.

Using this approach, the researchers generated sequence data using considerably less DNA than is required using standard methods, even down to less than one nanogram of DNA; 500 times less DNA than is needed by standard practices.

Libraries are collections of DNA fragments derived from… read more

Scientists discover mechanism that could reduce obesity

December 12, 2012

Lightmatter_lab_mice

An international team of scientists led by Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center researcher Andrew Larner, M.D., Ph.D., has successfully reversed obesity in mice by manipulating the production of an enzyme known as tyrosine-protein kinase-2 (Tyk2).

In their experiments, the scientists discovered that Tyk2 helps regulate obesity in mice and humans through the differentiation of a type of fat tissue known as brown adipose tissue (BAT).… read more

Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds

December 12, 2012

share of power

The National Intelligence Council has issued Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, “intended to stimulate thinking about the rapid and vast geopolitical changes characterizing the world today and possible global trajectories during the next 15-20 years.”

The report sees four megatrends:

Individual empowerment will accelerate substantially during the next 15-20 years owing to poverty reduction and a huge growth of the global middle class, greater educational attainment,… read more

State-of-the-art virtual-reality system is key to medical discovery

For team of neurosurgeons and researchers, CAVE2 could revolutionize stroke prevention and treatment
December 13, 2012

Surgeons from the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences Systems Neurosurgery Department view a simulation of the human brain vasculature and cortical tissue in the CAVE2 Hybrid Reality Environment. This project is a collaboration between the University of Illinois at Chicago's (UIC) Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) and Bioengineering Department's Laboratory for Product and Process Design. EVL OmegaLib software is used to display the 3D model in the CAVE2 System. (Credit: Lance Long for Electronic Visualization Laboratory/University of Illinois at Chicago)

A team of neurosurgeons from the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) recently stepped into CAVE2 — a next-generation, large-scale, 320-degree, immersive, 3-D virtual environment — to solve a vexing problem that presented itself in the arteries of the brain of a real patient.

The method they used could someday benefit hundreds of thousands of Americans who fall… read more

Biologists engineer algae to make complex anti-cancer ‘designer’ drug

December 13, 2012

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a green alga used widely in biology laboratories, can produce many kinds of “designer proteins” (credit: Nathan Schoepp/University of California - San Diego)

Biologists at UC San Diego have succeeded in genetically engineering algae  to produce what has been a complex and expensive human therapeutic drug used to treat cancer.

Their achievement opens the door for making these and other “designer” proteins in larger quantities and much more cheaply than can now be made from mammalian cells.

“Because we can make the exact same drug in algae,… read more

A 360-degree view of the world

Paranoids alert
December 13, 2012

FlyViz

Have you ever dreamed of having eyes in the back of your head?

Yeah, we haven’t either, but FlyVIZ, designed by French engineers, lets you experience a real-time 360° vision of your surroundings. It combines a panoramic image acquisition system (positioned on top of the your head) with a head-mounted display (HMD) and a laptop for transforming the fly-eye images in real time into something humans can… read more

Should we live to 1,000?

December 13, 2012

Peter_Singer

Aubrey de Grey, Chief Science Officer of SENS Foundation and the world’s most prominent advocate of anti-aging research, argues that it makes no sense to spend the vast majority of our medical resources on trying to combat the diseases of aging without tackling aging itself, writes ethicist Peter Singer on Project Syndicate.

De Grey believes that even modest progress in this area over the coming decade could… read more

Do we live in a computer simulation? How to test the idea

December 13, 2012

Wilson fermion

The concept that we could possibly be living in a computer simulation has been suggested by science writers and others, and was formalized in a 2003 paper published in Philosophical Quarterly by Nick Bostrom, a philosophy professor at the University of Oxford.

With current limitations and trends in computing, it will be decades before researchers will be able to run even primitive simulations of the universe. But… read more

23andme now explores your ancestry

Reveals people's ancestral origins going back 500 years and more
December 14, 2012

Worldwide Distribution of Maternal Haplogroup H (credit: 23andme)

23 and me announced today Ancestry Composition, a new service that will reveal the geographic origins of your DNA, included in 23 and me’s new $99 one-time price (was $299).

Using 22 reference populations, the feature indicates what percent of a person’s ancestry comes from various regions around the world. The analysis includes DNA inherited from all ancestors on both sides of the family. The results… read more

Tweet while you speak

December 14, 2012

backdraft

Are you freaked out by distracting tweets while you’re giving a speech or lecturing? Introducing a new free iPad app called Backdraft.

The app, developed by Purdue University for its instructors, allows speakers to write tweets in advance and release them at appropriate moments during a talk by double tapping on the Tweet. The messages may contain links, photos or video clips to provide additional information… read more

The UN fought the Internet — and the Internet won

December 14, 2012

Main Conference room at Day 4, WCIT 2012, Dubai, UAE (credit: ITU)

For the last two weeks some of the planet’s most oppressive regimes have faced off against some of the most powerful Internet advocates in an effort to rewrite a multilateral communications treaty that, if successful, could have changed the nature of the Internet and altered the way it is governed, Forbes reports.

On Thursday night that effort failed, as a U.S.-led block of dissenting countries refused to… read more

bulletin board | Kurzweil joins Google to work on new projects involving machine learning and language processing

December 14, 2012

Google logo

Ray Kurzweil confirmed today that he will be joining Google to work on new projects involving machine learning and language processing.

“I’m excited to share that I’ll be joining Google as Director of Engineering this Monday, December 17,” said Kurzweil.

“I’ve been interested in technology, and machine learning in particular, for a long time: when I was 14, I designed software that wrote original music,… read more

Head-mounted cameras could help robots understand social interactions

What is everyone looking at?
December 17, 2012

gaze

Robots (and some people) have trouble understanding what’s going on in a social setting.

But it may become essential for robots designed to interact with humans, so researchers at Carnegie Mellon University‘s Robotics Institute have developed a method for detecting where people’s gazes intersect.

The researchers tested the method using groups of people with head-mounted video cameras. By noting where their gazes converged in… read more

Aerobic exercise boosts brain power in elderly

December 17, 2012

Prefrontal Cortex

Evidence for the importance of physical activity in keeping and potentially improving cognitive function throughout life was found in an open-access literature review in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review by Hayley Guiney and Liana Machado from the University of Otago, New Zealand.

  • Cognitive functions such as task switching, selective attention, and working memory appear to benefit from aerobic exercise. Studies in older adults reviewed

read more

Using light to remotely trigger biochemical reactions

Deep-sea microbes that thrive in high temperatures are key to light-activated catalysis
December 17, 2012

Chemical processes can be activated by light without the need for bulk heating of a material through a process developed by researchers at Rice University. The technique involves coating nanorods with thermophilic enzymes that are activated at high temperatures. Lighting the plasmonic gold nanorod causes highly localized heating and activates the enzyme. (Credit: Lori Pretzer/Rice University)

A method for turning light into heat to trigger specific biochemical reactions remotely on demand has been developed by Rice University researchers. It uses materials derived from thermophile microbes, which thrive at high temperatures but shut down at room temperature.… read more

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