science + technology news

Bacteria froze the Earth, researchers say

August 7, 2005

A Caltech team argues that 2.3 billion years ago, cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, gained the ability to break down water, which in turn released a flood of oxygen into the atmosphere.

That oxygen reacted with the atmospheric methane, which insulated the Earth at the time, and broke it down. While the oxygen-methane reaction created the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, the protective nature of the barrier cracked.

Temperatures plunged… read more

A step toward the $1,000 personal genome using readily available lab equipment

August 5, 2005

The theoretical price of having one’s personal genome sequenced just fell from the prohibitive $20 million dollars to about $2.2 million, and the goal is to reduce the amount further–to about $1,000–to make individualized prevention and treatment realistic.

The sharp drop is due to a new DNA sequencing technology developed by Harvard Medical School researchers.

The new technique calls for replicating thousands of DNA fragments attached to one-micron… read more

Yahoo Debuts Audio Search

August 5, 2005

Yahoo Audio Search allows users to peruse a list of 50 million music, voice and other files for free.

Yahoo Audio Search also enables independent publishers to submit content to the index through Media Really Simple Syndication (Media RSS), providing users with open access to original and timely audio content, according to the company.

Brain Workouts May Tone Memory

August 5, 2005

Proponents of “cognitive fitness” exercises say such mental conditioning can help prevent or delay memory loss and the onset of other age-related cognitive disorders.

Drugs could head off a flu pandemic — but only if we respond fast enough

August 4, 2005

If a strain of avian influenza emerges that can spread easily from person to person, could rapid deployment of antiviral drugs stop a local outbreak from becoming a global disaster?

Yes, conclude the most detailed modelling studies yet of an emerging pandemic — if the world can muster its scientific and logistical efforts quickly enough.

Beating Hurdles, Scientists Clone a Dog for a First

August 3, 2005

South Korean researchers have cloned what scientists deem the most difficult animal, the dog.

We Are the Web

August 3, 2005

The Web, a planet-sized computer, is comparable in complexity to a human brain. Both the brain and the Web have hundreds of billions of neurons (or Web pages). Each biological neuron sprouts synaptic links to thousands of other neurons, while each Web page branches into dozens of hyperlinks.

That adds up to a trillion “synapses” between the static pages on the Web. The human brain has about 100 times… read more

Calling All Luddites

August 3, 2005

The fact that the U.S. has fallen to 16th in the world in broadband connectivity has aroused little interest.

But the world is moving to an Internet-based platform for commerce, education, innovation and entertainment. Wealth and productivity will go to those countries or companies that get more of their innovators, educators, students, workers and suppliers connected to this platform via computers, phones and P.D.A.’s.

A new generation of… read more

Bush Remarks Roil Debate Over Teaching of Evolution

August 3, 2005

A sharp debate between scientists and religious conservatives escalated Tuesday over comments by President Bush that the theory of intelligent design should be taught with evolution in the nation’s public schools.

Nano Bones

August 3, 2005

Materials scientist Robert Haddon of the University of California, Riverside and his team hope to someday grow bone back — using carbon nanotubes.

Nanotube-Laser Combo Selectively Targets Cancer Cells, Study Shows

August 3, 2005

When exposed to near-infrared light, carbon nanotubes quickly release excess energy as heat. Stanford University reseachers have exploited this property to attack cancerous cells.

Braving Medicine’s Frontier

August 3, 2005

Bush’s apparently simple decision to withhold federal money for stem-cell research inadvertently created an enormous regulatory maze that few scientists have managed to escape.

With a few exceptions, private funding sources–philanthropies and businesses–have not stepped into the gap left by Washington’s withdrawal. Nor have research groups been able to capitalize on federal funding for the study of existing stem cell lines, partly because they are fewer in number than… read more

The Deadly Art of Viral Cinema

August 3, 2005

Harvard biophysicist Xiaowei Zhuang uses lasers, a microscope, and pair of hi-res digicams to capture viral infection in action.

These movies are crucial to scientists searching for opportunities to block viruses in transit. Equally important, researchers may learn from Zhuang’s films how to mimic viruses, which could help them engineer drugs that penetrate cells and treat genetic disorders from within.

‘Smart’ nanoprobes light up disease

August 2, 2005

Rice University’s Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) researchers have developed a quantum dot that is programmed to light up only when activated by specific proteases.

Altered expression of particular proteases is a common hallmark of cancer, atherosclerosis, and many other diseases.

The probe’s design makes use of a technique called “quenching” that involves tethering a gold nanoparticle to the quantum dot to inhibit luminescence. The tether,… read more

AI-based ‘Previewseek’ search engine launched

August 2, 2005

Previewseek Limited has launched an AI-based search engine,

Its AI algorithms improve searching, the company claims. It “understands” the meanings of words, distinguishes between unbiased and commercial content, and generates visual “previews” of search result pages.

The site is at

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