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Stem-Cell Method May Cheat Death

December 23, 2004

A reproductive research team could have an answer to the ethical and scientific conundrums presented by the pursuit of stem-cell treatments: remove one cell from a very early embryo that has developed to about eight cells (called a morula), and derive stem cells from that single cell.

The embryo would still have the potential to develop into a human if implanted into a womb.

Scientists Take Step Toward Single-Molecule Switches

June 22, 2001
Single molecule in ON and OFF states

Computers of the future may have components that function based on the action of single molecules, according to a paper by researchers at Penn State and Rice University published in the June 22 edition of Science.

Conformational changes — which happen when molecules alter their arrangement by rotation of their atoms around a single bond, effectively changing shape by moving or turning — determine how and when… read more

In New Procedure, Artificial Arm Listens to Brain

February 12, 2009

A new new kind of thought-controlled artificial arm that moves more easily than other devices has been developed by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

The technique, called targeted muscle reinnervation, involves taking the nerves that remain after an arm is amputated and connecting them to another muscle in the body, often in the chest. Electrodes are placed over the chest muscles, acting as antennas. When the person wants to move… read more

Through the Looking Glass

September 7, 2007

The post-9/11 era has caught up with William Gibson’s vision. As uncannily as Gibson has sometimes foreseen the future, there are other times when the events of the real world outstrip anything he could conjure up.

Programmable DNA scissors for genome editing

Could lead to new tools for creating advanced biofuels and therapeutic drugs
June 30, 2012

DNA_scissors_Doudna-art-crop

A new and possibly more effective way to edit genomes has discovered by an international team of scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The discovery holds potentially big implications for advanced biofuels and therapeutic drugs, because genetically modified microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, are expected to play a key role in the green chemistry production of these and other valuable chemical products.

The team identified… read more

The BlackBerry Brain Trust

January 5, 2005

The futuristic new Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics is a think tank where some of the smartest people in the world are contemplating the foundations of quantum physics.

Participants include Lee Smolin, who propounds a “fecund universe” theory holding that every black hole leads to another universe; Raymond Laflamme, the information theorist who changed Stephen Hawking’s mind on the direction of time in a contracting universe; and Fotini Markopoulou… read more

Problem-solving ants inspire next generation of algorithms

December 13, 2010

Ants were able to find the shortest route from one end of the maze to the other in under an hour, then were able to adapt and find the second shortest route when obstacles were put in their path.

Researchers from the University of Sydney have shown that the ant is not only capable of solving difficult mathematical problems, but is even able to do what few computer algorithms can: adapt the optimal solution to fit a changing problem.

These findings, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, deepen our understanding of how even simple animals can overcome complex and dynamic problems in nature, and will help… read more

The Next Small Thing

July 15, 2001

Scientists are re-creating our world in the realm of the intensely tiny. The potential payoff: denser hard drives, smaller chips, better medicine.
Top research organizations within large companies and renowned universities are inventing the future: electronics as cheap and plentiful as bar codes on packaging; lightweight vests enmeshed with sensors could measure a person’s vital signs; analysis of a patient’s DNA could be done so quickly and precisely that designer… read more

Sophisticated nano-structures assembled with magnets

February 19, 2009

Magnetic and non-magnetic materials have been coaxed to self-assemble in a “ferrofluid” into intricate permanent nanostructures by researchers at Duke University and the University of Massachusetts, raising the possibility of using these structures as basic building blocks for applications such as advanced optics, cloaking devices, data storage, and bioengineering.

How to see around a corner without a mirror

June 19, 2014

(Credit: Felix Heide, Lei Xiao, Wolfgang Heidrich, Matthias B. Hullin)

A novel camera system that can detect objects hidden by obstructions — without using a mirror — has been developed by scientists at the University of Bonn and the University of British Columbia.

It uses diffusely reflected, time-coded light to reconstruct the shape of objects outside of the field of view.

Scattered light as a source of information

In the researchers’ prototype system, a laser… read more

Scientists unlock secrets of protein folding

September 18, 2007

A team led by biophysicist Jeremy Smith of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory has taken a significant step toward unraveling the mystery of how proteins fold into unique, three-dimensional shapes.

The team determined that small hydrophobic areas of the peptide, up to the size of a water molecule, induce different behavior in water than larger hydrophobic areas, and that this difference is crucial for the… read more

Why the Sun seems to be ‘dimming’

January 17, 2005

Scientists have reached the disturbing conclusion that the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface has been gradually falling due to air pollution. By, 2100, there could be a temperature rise of 10 degrees Celsius, rendering many parts of the world uninhabitable.

Word Lens Translates Words Inside of Images. Yes Really.

December 17, 2010

Word Lens

The $4.99 Word Lens iPhone app from QuestVisual uses optical character recognition to identify words in an image and translate them, and then draw them back on the screen.

It currently offers only English to Spanish and Spanish to English translation. Other languages are planned.

You can try it out for yourself here.

Still Waiting on Neural Nets

August 13, 2001

Neural network technology needs to connect with current research about how the human brain works, said researchers gathered at a session of the International Joint Conference on Neural Networks in Washington, DC in July.
Jim Olds, director of George Mason University’s Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study in Fairfax, VA, remarked that the information about brain function that computer scientists have been relying on is about 30 years old.

Neuroinformatics… read more

The audacity of nano-hope

February 26, 2009

There has been a flurry of interest in nanobots over the past week, casting quite a wide net that ranges from Nadrian Seeman’s experimental lab work to Ray Kurzweil’s hopeful dreams for the far future, says Foresight Institute president J. Storrs Hall.

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