science + technology news

Nano-transport controlled by heat-sensitive polymer

August 28, 2006

Max Plank Institute nanotechnologists have devised a new way to move nano-sized objects, by mixing heat-sensitive polymer molecules into a coating of molecular motors made from the protein kinesin.

Warfare at the speed of light

October 21, 2003

The Pentagon inside of a decade could be armed with a beam weapon that is near-instantaneous, gravity-free and truly surgical.

It could focus to such hair-splitting accuracy that it could avoid civilians while detonating munitions miles away or even cruise missiles at ranges of up to dozens of miles in good weather.

In clear air above the clouds, a high-powered laser could reach 500 miles to destroy rising… read more

Conductive ‘Energy Textiles’ enable new wearable electronics with better energy storage

January 21, 2010

A new process for making stretchable, porous, and conductive “Energy Textiles” using “ink” made from single-walled carbon nanotubes has been developed by Stanford University scientists, according to the American Chemical Society’s Nano Letters.

These highly conductive textiles can provide new design opportunities for wearable electronics, including energy storage applications using supercapacitors.

Have we underestimated total oil reserves?

June 12, 2008

The record $139 per barrel price of oil this week may partly be because the amount of available oil in known reserves has been significantly underestimated, due to a statistical error (failure to combine bell curves for multiple reservoirs), says Richard Pike, a former oil-industry adviser and chief executive of the UK Royal Society of Chemistry

According to published estimates, there are 1200 billion barrels still to be extracted,… read more

‘Frankenstein protein’ defies biology textbooks

September 8, 2006

Researchers have discovered a bizarre “Frankenstein protein” on the surface of leukemia cells, with peptides stitched together in reverse order to that coded for by their DNA template.

It may have implications for the development of peptide vaccines against cancer and infectious diseases.

Gene-Expression Atlas Will Provide New Direction for Brain and Spinal-Cord Studies

October 31, 2003

Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have created a new atlas that would enable scientists to determine when and where specific genes are switched on in the central nervous system (CNS).

Researchers can use such clues to explore the molecular machinery that coordinates neural development and chart the functional circuitry of the brain and spinal cord. All data from the Gene Expression Nervous System Atlas (GENSAT) BAC Transgenic Project will… read more

A mind at rest strengthens memories, researchers find

January 28, 2010

Our memories are strengthened during periods of rest while we are awake, not just during sleep, researchers at New York University have found.

Viral DNA imaged inside shell

June 18, 2008
Tightly wound viral DNA in a bacteriophage (UCSD)

UC San Diego researchers and colleagues used electron microscopy and 3D computer reconstruction to find and image the structure of an asymmetrical virus at 8 Angstroms (.8 nanometer) resolution.

Previously, only symmetrical spherical viruses had been imaged with this resolution. The image will help to unravel how the virus locks onto its host and infects the cells by injecting its DNA.

University of Californiaread more

First zero-gravity surgery set to be performed

September 26, 2006

French doctors plan to attempt the world’s first human operation in zero-gravity on Wednesday, using a plane designed to simulate gravity-free conditions.

The operation is part of a project to develop surgical robots in space, guided via satellite by Earth-based doctors.

Tangible Interfaces for Computers

November 10, 2003

SenseTable, by James Patten of MIT’s Tangible Media Group project, aims at conceiving better human-machine interfaces by using the concept of physical objects that the user can manipulate to represent abstract computer data and commands.

The device looks and works a lot like what was envisioned in Minority Report. It uses pressure to track blocks on a sensitive surface and feeds back to the user by superimposing graphical data.

Quantum photosynthesis

February 8, 2010

Physical chemist Gregory Scholes of the University of Toronto and his colleagues have observed that energy introduced to light-harvesting systems of two species of photosynthetic algae acted in a distinctly quantum manner, even at ambient temperatures.

In these algae, bilin pigments, like other light-harvesting antenna molecules, absorb solar photons, which excite their electrons. The resulting excitation energy then moves to complexes of proteins called reaction centers, where it is… read more

Galaxy map hints at fractal universe

June 25, 2008

New data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey shows that the galaxies exhibit an explicitly fractal pattern up to a scale of about 100 million light years, say physicists at Enrico Fermi Centre in Rome, Luciano Pietronero of the University of Rome, and St Petersburg State University.

Virus boosts nanoparticle memory

October 6, 2006

A new type of digital memory device has been created by incorporating inorganic platinum nanoparticles into the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV).

The TMV is a 300 nm tube consisting of a protein capsid (outer shell) and RNA core. According to the researchers, the TMV’s thin, wire-like structure makes it suitable for attaching nanoparticles. In this case, it allowed them to add an average of sixteen positive platinum ions per… read more

Making a case for Efficient Supercomputing

November 20, 2003

The supercomputing industry focuses on growth of performance in terms of speed and horsepower, but performance/space ratio has not kept up because of “Moore’s law for power consumption”– that is, the power consumption of compute nodes doubles every 18 months, says Los Alamos National Laboratory computer scientist Wu-Chun Feng.

“The current trajectory is slated to reach one kilowatt per square centimeter by 2010, which is allegedly as much power… read more

Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Wellbeing

February 13, 2010

Researchers in the blossoming field of neurogastroenterology are finding that our “second brain” — the enteric nervous system — does much more than handle digestion; it partly determines our mental state and plays key roles in certain diseases throughout the body.

Some surprising facts:

  • The enteric nervous system contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system.
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