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New algorithm helps engineers choose self-assembling proteins

June 1, 2011

Bio Design

A method of computationally selecting the best blocks of molecules and individual atoms for designing proteins has been developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.

The algorithm draws inspiration from the behavior of proteins in making biological structures, such as viruses.

The researchers’ algorithm works in three steps that successively eliminate proteins that will not produce the right shape. The elimination criteria are… read more

DNA fingerprinting ‘no longer foolproof’

September 9, 2004

The genetic profiles held by police for criminal investigations are not sophisticated enough to prevent false identifications, according to Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, the father of DNA fingerprinting.

The increasing number of records being held on the British police database — currently about 2.5 million — meant that having only 10 markers per person was no longer foolproof.

He suggested 15 or 16 markers to reduce the chances… read more

Using Musical Chords To Analyze And Illustrate Hydrogen Molecule’s Response To Laser Pulses

February 11, 2008

Physicist Uwe Thumm at Kansas State University and colleagues in Heidelberg, Germany have shown how a hydrogen molecule responds to laser pulses by translating its vibrations into a musical chord.

They hope to be able to do the same thing for more complex molecules like water or methane.

Human Skin Cells Reprogrammed Into Embryonic Stem Cells

February 12, 2008

UCLA scientists have reprogrammed human skin cells into induced pluripotent stem cells with the same unlimited properties as embryonic stem cells, using regulator genes instead of embryos or eggs.

Quantum goes massive

July 16, 2009

Reaching microkelvin temperatures, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) provides evidence that interferometric gravitational wave detectors (designed as sensitive probes of general relativity and astrophysical phenomena) can also become sensitive probes of macroscopic quantum mechanics, say MIT scientists.

June 2011′s hottest gadgets

June 9, 2011

Air Control

Sprinklers that read your lawn’s mind, 3-D phones, speakers that adjust the sound for your location and more…

Air Control

Daymak’s electric bike does away with external cables. Controls at the handlebars communicate with the bike’s electric throttle and regenerative brakes via radio signals.


Transform an iPhone or iPod Touch into a 3-D View-Master. Hasbro’s goggles work with a suite of… read more

Researchers Create Nanotubes That Change Colors, Form ‘Nanocarpet’ and Kill Bacteria

September 27, 2004

University of Pittsburgh researchers have synthesized a simple molecule that produces perfectly uniform, self-assembled nanotubes which organize themselves into a “nanocarpet” of upright clusters resembling a carpet (including a self-assembled backing) and can act as a bacterial biosensor or biocide.

These nanotubes can change color in the presence of chemical agents. In tests with E. coli the nanotubes changed color when the bacteria were present. The tubes also killed… read more

Smaller Version of the Solar System Is Discovered

February 15, 2008

Astronomers had found a miniature version of our own solar system 5,000 light-years across the galaxy — the first planetary system that really looks like our own, with outer giant planets and room for smaller inner planets.

The new discovery was made by a technique called microlensing: the gravity of the nearer star can bend and magnify the light from the more distant one, causing it to get much… read more

Creating 3D brain tissues in a lab dish

December 3, 2012

Fabrication of 3D multilayer tissue prototypes via a layer-by-layer photomasking (credit: U. Gurkan et al./Advanced Materials)

Borrowing from microfabrication techniques used in the semiconductor industry, MIT and Harvard Medical School (HMS) engineers have developed a simple, inexpensive way to create three-dimensional brain tissues in a lab dish, using brain cells taken from the primary cortex of rats.

The new technique yields tissue constructs that closely mimic the cellular composition of those in the living brain, allowing scientists to study how neurons… read more

Project Tuva or Bust: How Microsoft’s Spin on Feynman Could Change the Way We Learn

July 26, 2009

Microsoft Research’s new Project Tuva website puts some of physicist Richard Feynman’s most famous physics lectures online as videos and transcripts, and invites viewers to explore the subject via associated multimedia links.

A note-taking area on the left side of the screen allows you to type your own observations about the lectures, which are then saved locally on your PC.

Tiny ruler to measure macromolecular movement

June 17, 2011


Paul Alivisatos of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and colleagues have designed a first-of-its-kind ruler capable of measuring the configuration and movement of macromolecules, such as DNA.

The researchers constructed an “H”-shaped device out of five gold nanorods, the length and position of each of which could be controlled. They then looked for changes in spectra associated with plasmon coupling — the tendency… read more

Device Translates Spoken Japanese and English

October 8, 2004

A handheld device that enables a user to chat in another language — without having to learn any words or phrases — has been developed by NEC.

It consists of a speech recognition engine, translation software and a voice generator. Spoken English or Japanese is recognized and converted into text by the speech-recognition engine. The text is then converted from Japanese to English (or the other way) by translation… read more

Making memories: insight into how learning strengthens the ties between neurons

February 21, 2008
Glutamate receptor protein (green) in neuronal cell bodies (blue)

Scripps Research Institute researchers pinpointed the precise cellular connections that form as a memory is created, by tracing a fluorescently tagged protein making its way to particular synapses.

The tagged glutamate receptor protein was modified so that neurons would only manufacture it when they became active. As the genetically engineered mice learned to fear an electric shock, the protein migrated through individual neurons, from the cell body… read more

Nanoparticles cross blood-brain barrier to enable ‘brain tumor painting’

August 4, 2009

University of Washington researchers have illuminated brain tumors by injecting 33-nanometer fluorescent nanoparticles with an attached fluorescent molecule into the bloodstream, safely crossing the blood-brain barrier.

The nanoparticles improved the contrast in both MRI and optical imaging, which is used during surgery. Nano-imaging could also help with early cancer detection.

Current imaging techniques have a maximum resolution of 1 millimeter. Nanoparticles could improve the resolution by a factor… read more

Guiding Light Through Liquids and Gases on a Chip

October 20, 2004

UC Santa Cruz researchers have reported the first demonstration of integrated optical waveguides with liquid cores, a technology that enables light propagation through small volumes of liquids on a chip.

The new technology has a wide range of potential applications, including chemical and biological sensors with single-molecule sensitivity.

UC Santa Cruz news release

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