science + technology news

Roberts v. the Future

August 31, 2005

As legislators address a host of futuristic issues, from the genetic enhancement of children to the use of brain scanning to identify criminal suspects, laws will inevitably be challenged in court, raising novel and surprising questions about how to interpret our constitutional rights to privacy, equality and free expression.

Rather than focusing on John Roberts’s past, the senators questioning him might get a better sense of his future on… read more

Nano-material is harder than diamonds

August 31, 2005

A new harder-than-diamond material, aggregated carbon nanorods (ACNR), has been created in the lab by compressing and heating buckyballs.

It should be easy to mass produce and better than diamond for deep drilling and polishing abrasive materials.

Molecular motors push liquid uphill

August 29, 2005

Droplets of liquid have been moved uphill by molecular motors designed to manipulate Brownian motion.

The “nano-shuttles” are long hydrocarbon-based molecules each with a ring of organic molecules strung, but not chemically bonded, around them. They could create a range of different types of smart surfaces, such as adhesive surfaces that can be switched on and off, or surfaces that can be switched from one color to another.

Most scientific papers are probably wrong

August 29, 2005

Small sample sizes, poor study design, researcher bias, and selective reporting and other problems with experimental and statistical methods mean that there is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper are true.

Nanocoating could eliminate foggy windows and lenses

August 29, 2005

MIT scientists have developed a unique polymer coating made of silica nanoparticles that they say can create surfaces that never fog.

The coatings consist of alternating layers of silica nanoparticles and a polymer called polyallylamine hydrochloride. The super-hydrophilic nanoparticles in the coating strongly attract the water droplets and force them to form much smaller contact angles with the surface. As a result, the droplets flatten and merge into a… read more

Cornell researchers create DNA buckyballs for drug delivery

August 29, 2005

Cornell University researchers have made DNA buckyballs that could be used for drug delivery and as containers for chemical reactions.

The buckyballs are made from a specially prepared, branched DNA-polystyrene hybrid. The hybrid molecules spontaneously self-assemble into hollow balls about 400 nanometers in diameter.

Source: Cornell University news release

On the Internet, Nobody Knows You’re a Bot

August 29, 2005

WinHoldEm, the first commercially available autoplaying poker software, wins real money while you sleep.

Xtreme Defense

August 29, 2005

Lightning guns, heat rays, weapons that can make you hear the voice of God. This is what happens when the war on terror meets the entrepreneurial spirit.

Early Look at Research Project to Re-engineer the Internet

August 29, 2005

The National Science Foundation’s Global Environment for Networking Investigations project is intended to fundamentally re-engineer the Internet and overcome its shortcomings.

The network will focus on security, “pervasive computing” environments populated by mobile, wireless and sensor networks, control of critical infrastructure and the ability to handle new services that can be used by millions of people.

Carbon nanotube technology, closer than you think

August 26, 2005

Scientists are looking at using the highly conductive properties of carbon nanotubes to dissipate heat from computer chips, which would allow them to run faster without overheating.

“Anti-Aging Hormone” Found in Mice; May Help Humans

August 26, 2005

Researchers have dramatically increased the life spans of mice by up to 30 percent by genetically engineering them to overproduce a protein called klotho.

The gene regulates production of klotho protein, which the study team says works like an anti-aging hormone. Kotho is involved in the suppression of insulin-signaling pathways — a process that has been shown to increase the life spans of worms and flies.

A Doll That Can Recognize Voices, Identify Objects and Show Emotion

August 26, 2005

Using an advanced speech-recognition/voice response chip, an electronic memory, and facial motors, Amazing Amanda, scheduled for release next month by Playmates Toys, will “listen, speak and show emotion,” with responses customized to the individual child.

DNA Printer

August 25, 2005

MIT researchers have developed a technique that prints DNA from one substrate — for example glass, gold or silicon — onto another. Using a print template, they can produce mirror-image copies in just a simple few steps, offering the rapid transfer of a large amount of information and allow for low-cost DNA analysis.

The technique, called “supramolecular nano-stamping” (SuNS), could be used to produce many other kinds of nano-devices:… read more

Nano Diamonds Serve as Circuitry-Writing Pens

August 25, 2005

Diamond slivers only nanometers wide could serve as atomic-force microscope tips that help print advanced circuitry, for DNA sequencing devices, or for conductivity measurements of neurons to examine synapses and signal mechanisms.

A common problem atomic-force microscopes face is how their cantilever tips break down as they run over surfaces. Researchers at Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory have invented probes made of what they call ultra nanocrystalline diamond.… read more

Cybertroops Keep War Games Real

August 24, 2005

With ever-more-sophisticated simulation and modeling technology, the military today can mix and match real tanks, planes and ships with forces that exist only on computers — and those located in virtual training environments, such as pilots in flight simulators thousands of miles away.

Adding virtual and constructive simulations to live exercises allows the military to create training scenarios that approach the complexity of real warfare at roughly one-tenth of… read more

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