science + technology news

Warming world blamed for more strong hurricanes

September 16, 2005

A massive global increase in the number of strong hurricanes over the past 35 years is being blamed on global warming, by the most detailed study yet. The US scientists warn that Katrina-strength hurricanes could become the norm.

Nanoscale optics may lead to advances in on-chip data transmission

September 15, 2005

Rice University researchers have discovered a universal relationship between the behavior of light and electrons, according to study co-author Peter Nordlander, professor of physics and astronomy and of electrical and computer engineering.

“We believe the relationship can be exploited to create nanoscale antennae that convert light into broadband electrical signals capable of carrying approximately 1 million times more data than existing interconnects.”

Source: Rice University newsread more

Dartmouth researchers build world’s smallest mobile robot

September 15, 2005

Dartmouth researchers have created the world’s smallest untethered, controllable robot.

The device measures 60 micrometers by 250 micrometers and crawls like an inchworm, making tens of thousands of 10-nanometer steps every second.

Source: Dartmouth College news release

Researchers recover typed text using audio recording of keystrokes

September 15, 2005

UC Berkeley esearchers were able to take several 10-minute sound recordings of users typing at a keyboard, feed the audio into a computer, and use an algorithm to recover up to 96 percent of the characters entered.
The researchers used spectrum analysis, statistical learning theory, spelling and grammar checks, and learning trials to obtain recovery rates of 88 percent for words and 96 percent for characters.

The computer algorithm… read more

RNA nanoparticles target cancer cells

September 14, 2005

Purdue University scientists have constructed hybrid nanoparticles assembled from RNA that can deliver anticancer therapeutic agents directly to infected cells.

The triangular structures are between 25 and 40 nanometers wide and able to pass through cell membranes into the cell’s interior.

They were able to interrupt the growth of human breast cancer cells and leukemia model lymphocytes in laboratory experiments.

Source: Purdue University news release

Polymer Nanocapsules Deliver DNA to the Cell Nucleus

September 14, 2005

Using polymer nanocapsules, a French research team has shown that DNA deposited in polymer nanocapsules penetrates cells and accumulates in the nucleus of cells.

The finding could overcome the limitations of gene therapy, antisense therapy, and small interfering RNA therapy for modifying the genes involved in cancer. Getting the nucleic acids into the cell nucleus with good efficiency has proven difficult with these methods.

Source: Nationalread more

DIY satellites reinvent the space race

September 14, 2005

CubeSat is giving students and companies the opportunity to build and launch functional satellites into low Earth orbit at low cost.


September 13, 2005

There is growing interest–even in an American legal establishment usually resistant to change–in finding ways to incorporate artificial intelligence into the law.

Analyzing the Circuitry of Stem Cells

September 13, 2005

Scientists at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass., have developed a technique for uncovering the interactions of transcription factors. These are the agents that switch genes on or off in the cell. By figuring out these interactions on a genomewide scale, they have reconstructed the top level of the controls that govern a human embryonic stem cell.

The discovery is a starting point for addressing the next question, that… read more

‘Bionic eye’ has potential to cure blindness

September 13, 2005

Scottish scientists are developing an electronic implant that will be capable of curing two of the most common forms of blindness.

The early chip has a definition of just 74 pixels but is able to send electronic messages representing basic shapes to eye cells linked to the brain.

Judge Bork’s Inkblot

September 13, 2005

Could a human-like artificial intelligence constitute a “person” for purposes of protection under the 14th Amendment, or is such protection limited, by the 14th Amendment’s language, to those who are “born or naturalized in the United States?”

Ray Kurzweil wins 2005 Guardian Award from Lifeboat Foundation

September 12, 2005

The Lifeboat Foundation has named Ray Kurzweil the winner of its 2005 Guardian Award.

The foundation, which is “dedicated to providing solutions that will safeguard humanity from the growing threat of terrorism and technological cataclysm,” annually bestows the award upon “a revered scientist or public figure who has heralded the coming of a future fraught with danger and encouraged provision against its perils.”

In making the… read more

Bio Programming

September 12, 2005

The next step after reading genetic code is writing it. Biotech pioneers J. Craig Venter and Hamilton Smith recently launched Synthetic Genomics, a Rockville, MD-based “synthetic biology” startup aimed at creating custom-made micro-organisms.

They are synthesizing entirely new DNA strands with the aim of controlling a particular life function. They then insert those into cells and have them execute that function.

The focus is on big problems with… read more

Polymer breakthrough to boost smart drugs

September 12, 2005

Smart plastic films programmed to release a precise sequence of treatments are poised to revolutionize drug delivery, thanks to a breakthrough in polymer chemistry at MIT.

The films could be used to coat implants such as artificial hips and tissue scaffolds to deliver phased release over a period of hours or weeks.

The method calls for depositing very thin polymer films on objects of any shape. The scientists… read more

In the Forests of RNA Dark Matter

September 12, 2005

RNA is emerging as more important than previously thought. Its conformational versatility and catalytic abilities have been implicated at the very core of protein synthesis and possibly of RNA splicing.

And the dynamics of the RNA messages passed between nucleus and cytoplasm provide a complex and sophisticated layer of regulation to gene expression.

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