science + technology news

Building a Virtual Microbe, Gene by Gene by Gene

August 16, 2005

An international team of biologists is trying to reconstruct a living thing inside a computer, down to every last molecule, based on Escherichia coli.

A full-blown model of E. coli would be able to swim, eat food, fight off invading viruses, make copies of its DNA, and do many other tasks all at the same time.

Scientists could potentiallly adapt such an E. coli model to more complex… read more

Task force to Study Societal Implications of Nanotech

August 16, 2005

The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) has announced the charter members of a new Task Force to develop comprehensive policy recommendations for safe and responsible use of molecular manufacturing.

“Progress toward developing the technical requirements for desktop molecular manufacturing is moving faster than it was when we founded CRN two years ago,” said Mike Treder, Executive Director of CRN.

“The recent announcement of a Technology Roadmap for Productive… read more

Thin skin will help robots ‘feel’

August 16, 2005

University of Tokyo researchers have developed a flexible artificial “skin” capable of sensing pressure and temperature that could give robots a humanlike sense of touch.

Future artificial skins could incorporate sensors also for light, humidity, strain or sound.

Y-shaped nanotubes are ready-made transistors

August 16, 2005

Y-shaped carbon nanotubes grown with iron-titanium particles are easily made and act as remarkably efficient electronic transistors that are 100 times smaller than the transistors used in today’s microprocessors.

So they could be used to create microchips several orders of magnitude more powerful than the ones used in computers today, with no increase in chip size. The Y-shaped nanotubes measure just tens of nanometers in size. Eventually, they could… read more

Nanotubes May Heal Broken Bones

August 15, 2005

Carbon nanotubes can function as scaffolds for bone regrowth, according to researchers led by Robert Haddon at the University of California at Riverside.

They have found a way to create a stronger and safer frame than the artificial bone scaffolds currently in use.

HIV breakthrough raises hopes for a cure

August 15, 2005

A cheap drug has shown promise in stamping out hidden pockets of HIV in three people who have long been infected with the virus.

Four patients who had been on long-term HAART treatment were given a drug called enfurvitide twice daily for 4 to 6 weeks to intensify the effect of the HAART drugs. They were then given valproic acid, a drug which is usually used to treat epilepsy,… read more

IQ test for AI devices gets experts thinking

August 15, 2005

Traditional measures of human intelligence would often be inappropriate for systems that have senses, environments, and cognitive capacities very different from our own.

So Shane Legg and Marcus Hutter at the Swiss Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Manno-Lugano, have drafted an idea for an alternative test which will allow the intelligence of vision systems, robots, natural-language processing programs or trading agents to be compared and contrasted despite their broad… read more

Researchers Take ‘Fantastic Voyage’ Through the Human Body

August 12, 2005

A team of Rochester Institute of Technology students has created never-before-seen virtual images of the pancreas, detailed pictures of the human skull and DNA-level images of protein molecules.

The imaging process created by the team will eventually be used by RIT researchers and teachers to provide better insight into how to image and understand disease states at the microscopic level, shed new light on bone development and help better… read more

U.S. IT infrastructure highly vulnerable to attack

August 12, 2005

Our nation’s information technology infrastructure, which includes air traffic control systems, power grids, financial systems, and military and intelligence cyber networks, is highly vulnerable to terrorist and criminal attacks, according to an article in the August issue of IEEE-USA Today’s Engineer.

Author Barton Reppert, who interviewed two members of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), notes that 100,000 known viruses and worms exist, and that some major end-users… read more

Pig cell implants in Huntington’s trial

August 12, 2005

Pig brain cells could be implanted into human brains by the start of next year if trials of a pioneering treatment for Huntington’s disease are approved in the US.

The injection of live animal cells into human brains is likely to raise ethical concerns and fears of pig viruses being transmitted to humans.

Nasal spray clears Alzheimer’s brain plaques

August 12, 2005

A new nasal vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease has cleared plaques from the brains of affected mice and will be tested in humans in 2006.

The drug activates cells in the brain known as microglia, whose job it is to ingest unwanted material. In this case, the microglia are ingesting beta amyloid.

The drug is a combination of glatiramer acetate (Copaxone), an approved MS drug that acts as a… read more

Global scientific research project launched to improve understanding of the human brain

August 12, 2005

Seven member countries of the OECD’s Global Science Forum have launched the have set up the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility to promote international collaboration among scientists and create new ways of sharing and analyzing data in the new neuroinformatics research field.

The project will promote international collaboration in the management of neuroscience data and associated knowledge databases, create new internationally agreed analytical and modeling tools, develop mathematical/computational models of… read more

Researchers discover new tumor defense system

August 10, 2005

Researchers have discovered that tumors release fatty acids that inhibit cytotoxic T lymphocytes’ ability to kill tumor cells by by blocking a number of the lymphocytes’ signaling events.

So strategies that reduce the amount of fatty acids surrounding the tumors may give a boost to anti-cancer therapeutics.

These results from the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies raise the possibilities of new therapeutic targets for cancer, such as… read more

Longer quantum memory demonstrated

August 10, 2005

National Institute of Standards and Technology scientists have succeeded in storing information in in single beryllium ions for 10 seconds –more than 100,000 times longer than in previous experiments on the same ions.

They achieved this by using a different pair of the ions’ internal energy levels to represent 1 and 0 than was used in the group’s previous quantum computing experiments.

This new set of quantum states… read more

Medics braced for fresh superbug

August 10, 2005

Nature reports that medical experts are concerned that if antibiotic overuse in hospitals is not curbed, drug-resistant strains of the Acinetobacter baumannii bacterium could become a serious killer in intensive-care wards worldwide.

“We have calculated that 40% of our patients who become infected with A. baumannii die because of it,” says Yehuda Carmeli, an infectious-disease physician at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Israel.

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