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Ultimate Parasites Threaten Man

January 13, 2004

Viruses and bacteria are the ultimate parasites — and our only true predators. With the advent of international jet travel, these parasites can escape from their remote lairs to every corner of the world in just a few hours. The greatest threat humanity is facing is that one day a virus will emerge that can spread as efficiently as tuberculosis and that is as deadly as Ebola.

‘Super-TB’ Created by Scientists

January 13, 2004

A virulent form of tuberculosis was created in a laboratory by experts trying to alter its genetic structure. They disabled the collection of genes thought to give TB some of its virulence and expected to find a weakened form of TB as a result. Instead, the organism grew in virulence.

The Military — DARPA’s New Supersoldiers

January 13, 2004

DARPA-funded researchers have recently begun to crack the brain’s neural codes. This research provides glimpses into a future when people will be able to manipulate complicated machinery or remote-controlled weapons just by thinking. They are also testing the viability of storing human memories on implantable microchips, an advance that would eliminate the need for training by allowing soldiers to upload someone else’s technical know-how or combat experience.

There’s Electricity in the Air

January 13, 2004

The world’s first hydrogen-powered aircraft, the Electric Airplane (Eplane) will be powered by an advanced electric motor. In its final form, it will fly solely on the power of a fuel cell and have a 500-mile range, with emergency assist from reserve batteries.

Epic Trip for ‘Alternative’ Car

January 13, 2004

A car that runs on just hydrogen and solar power has completed a journey through Australia—the first crossing of a continent for a car of this type.

The Key to Genius

January 13, 2004

Autistic savants are born with miswired neurons—and extraordinary gifts. Geneticists are starting to pinpoint the DNA anomalies found in savants. More than a dozen genes may contribute to autism. Several other forms of mental impairment also produce islands of startling ability—known as splinter skills—as if fragments of savant code are scattered throughout the genetic database.

Stem Cells Used to Create Fertile Sperm in Mice

January 13, 2004

Scientists have coaxed stem cells from mice to change into immature sperm that can fertilize eggs to develop into embryos, an achievement that could pave the way for new ways of treating male infertility. The embryonic germ cells may also help scientists understand how erasure occurs and how stem cells are programmed to specialize and create different tissue and body parts.

Squid May Inspire New Nanolights

January 13, 2004

A Hawaiian squid has a built-in flashlight made up of a previously unknown type of protein that could help researchers design novel nanoreflectors.

Glowing bacteria provide the light source, which is surrounded by stacks of reflective plates. The team notes that the reflectins are “a marked example of natural nanofabrication of photonic structures” and should inspire bottom-up synthesis of new spectroscopic and optic devices.

Robotic Segways play soccer with humans

January 13, 2004

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have created a robot football team designed to play the game with humans riding ordinary Segways.

The exercise could help engineers develop robots capable of working effectively with humans in the future in tasks such as construction work, search and rescue operations, and space exploration.

Gates Previews ‘Amazing Decade’

January 9, 2004

Bill Gates kicked off the annual International Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday night by touting a mix of “seamless computing experiences” inside and outside the home, driven by Microsoft technology:

  • The Windows Media Center Extender, which allows consumers to retrieve and control digital music, video and photos stored on Microsoft Media Center PCs from their TVs.
  • The portable Media Center, which is small enough to fit
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    Therapy works like drugs on brain

    January 9, 2004

    Training patients to tune out the signals that cause major depression alters the chemicals in the brain as much as drugs do, a new study has found.

    It found that as patients in therapy learn to turn off the thinking that leads them to dwell on negative thoughts and attitudes, the chemical activity in certain parts of the brain decreases as well.

    Brain scans may one day become… read more

    Alzheimer’s disease cause identified?

    January 9, 2004

    Researchers may have pinpointed the cause of Alzheimer’s disease: a rogue protein called amyloid beta that forms plaques in the brain.

    Drugs that reduce this protein in humans may have the same protective effect.

    In experiements with a strain of Alzheimer’s disease-prone mouse, as the animals age, amyloid beta levels rise and their memory declines. But when a key enzyme, called BACE1, is eliminated through genetic engineering, the… read more

    First brainstem implants aim to tackle deafness

    January 9, 2004

    Two deaf women have become the first people to undergo the risky procedure of having implants in their brainstems. The devices are designed to restore hearing by directly stimulating nerves.

    The procedure is needed by people with a damaged cochlea or auditory nerve, where cochlear implants cannot help. The researchers hope that the implant, in which eight electrodes of different lengths are inserted into the brainstem, will be able… read more

    Verizon trumps Wi-Fi with 500 k/bits

    January 9, 2004

    Verizon is rolling out its “BroadbandAccess” (300 to 500 kbit/s, with with bursts of 2 Mbits/s) cell phone service nationwide this year.

    Verizon promises its “iobi” service will offer features such as programmable call forwarding or voice mail showing up as email and much closer integration between landline, IP and cellular networks.

    MRIs in Stanford experiments indicate active suppression of unneeded memories

    January 9, 2004

    fMRI studies “confirm the existence of an active forgetting process and establish a neurobiological model for guiding inquiry into motivated (voluntary) forgetting,” say Stanford University scientists.

    They showed that the human brain blocks an unwanted memory, that there is such a mechanism, and it has a biological basis. The findings could encourage the development of new ways for people to overcome traumatizing memories.

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