science + technology news


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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Nanohelix structure provides new building block for nanoscale piezoelectric devices

September 9, 2005

A zinc oxide nanostructure that resembles the helical configuration of DNA could provide engineers with a new building block for creating nanometer-scale sensors, transducers, resonators and other devices that rely on electromechanical coupling.

Based on a superlattice composed of alternating single-crystal “stripes” just a few nanometers wide, the “nanohelices” get their shape from twisting forces created by a small mismatch between the stripes and are produced using a vapor-solid… read more

Nanochip emulates human brain

September 9, 2005

Mobile phones could one day have the memory capacity of a desktop computer thanks to a microchip that mimics the functioning of the brain.

Researchers are developing a new 3-D chip design using spintronics and a complex interconnected network of nanowires, with computing functions and decisions performed at the nodes where they meet — an approach similar to neurons and axons in the brain.

It combines the storage… read more

Clever artificial hand developed

September 9, 2005

Scientists have developed an ultra-light limb that they claim can mimic the movement in a real hand better than any currently available.

The Southampton Remedi-Hand can be connected to muscles in the arm via a small processing unit and is controlled by small contractions of the muscles which move the wrist. It uses six sets of motors and gears so each of the five fingers can move independently.… read more

Backpack generates a powerful punch

September 9, 2005

A backpack that generates electricity as its wearer walks generates up to 7 watts, more than enough to power cellphones or other devices, while reducing backpack load forces on walkers.

Brain May Still Be Evolving, Studies Hint

September 9, 2005

Two genes, microcephalin and ASPM, involved in determining the size of the human brain have undergone substantial evolution in the last 60,000 years, researchers say, leading to the surprising suggestion that the brain is still undergoing rapid evolution.

New Google ‘Evangelist’ to Spread Applications

September 9, 2005

Google has hired Internet pioneer Dr. Vinton G. Cerf as “chief Internet evangelist.”

“The Internet has a billion users, and we have 5.6 billion to go,” Dr. Cerf said. “Each will come to the Internet in different ways, like wirelessly, and Google needs to be receptive and adaptive to those different circumstances.”

Molecules used as information processors

September 8, 2005

Chemists at Queen’s University Belfast are exploring the capabilities of molecules that act like conventional computers but in spaces only a few nanometers across.

Molecular information processors placed in nano-spaces can gather, process and supply valuable data on how chemistry and biology function at this tiny scale. Molecules can also be used as information processors in medical and other applications.

Source: Engineering and Physical Sciences Researchread more

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