science + technology news

Star Trek-like ‘Tricorder’ becomes science fact

February 28, 2007

Purdue University researchers have developed a portable sensing system to analyze chemical components, with “numerous promising uses for detecting everything from cancer in the liver to explosives residues on luggage and biomarkers in urine that provide an early warning for diseases.”

The device miniaturizes a mass spectrometer combined with a technique called desorption electrospray ionization.

“We like to compare it to the tricorder because it is truly a… read more

Star Trek’s Warp Drive: Not Impossible

May 7, 2009

The faster-than-light warp drive, one of Star Trek’s hallmark inventions, is not strictly impossible, according to some researchers.

“The idea is that you take a chunk of space-time and move it,” said Marc Millis, former head of NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project.

Star-shaped Cells In Brain Help With Learning

September 14, 2009

(Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology / Schorner, Klein & Paixao)

Astrocytes (star-shaped cells in the brain) play an essential role in communication between nerve cells by removing the transmitter molecule glutamate (to prevent it spilling over to another synapse), which enhances a synapse’s ability to strengthen connections, and thus improve learning and memory, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology scientists have found.

The new findings could also aid in the basic research of diseases such as epilepsy and amyotrophic lateral… read more

Start-Up Fervor Shifts to Energy in Silicon Valley

March 14, 2007

Silicon Valley’s dot-com era may be giving way to the watt-com era. Out of the ashes of the Internet bust, many technology veterans have regrouped and found a new mission in alternative energy: developing wind power, solar panels, ethanol plants and hydrogen-powered cars.

Start-up to use genes to build better chips

August 5, 2004

Start-up company Cambrios plans to create films or crystals that can be used in semiconductors and other components by combining various types of metals with a virus that attacks the E. coli bacteria.

Startling Scientists, Plant Fixes Its Flawed Gene

March 25, 2005

In a startling discovery, Purdue University geneticists have found plants that possess a corrected version of a defective gene inherited from both their parents.

The finding implies that some organisms may contain a cryptic backup copy of their genome that bypasses the usual mechanisms of heredity.

Equally surprising, the cryptic genome appears not to be made of DNA, but of RNA, set in motion when the plant is… read more

Startram — maglev train to low earth orbit

March 13, 2012


The present cost of inserting a kilogram (2.2 lb) of cargo by rocket into low earth orbit (LEO) is about US$10,000. A manned launch to LEO costs about $100,000 per kilogram of passenger.

Instead, imagine sitting back in a comfortable magnetic levitation (maglev) train and taking a train ride into orbit.

That’s the concept for Startram, a superconducting maglev launch system.

The system would see a spacecraft… read more

Startup called Webaroo touts ‘Web on a hard drive’

April 9, 2006

Webaroo has developed a set of proprietary search algorithms that whittle the estimated one million gigabytes on the Web down to more manageable chunks that will fit on a hard drive.

They include up to 256 megabytes for a growing menu of “Web packs” on specific topics — your favorite Web sites, city guides, news summaries, Wikipedia and the like — that make up the service’s initial offerings; and… read more

Startup can detect tiny traces of cancer markers in blood samples

May 13, 2008

Cambridge (MA) startup Quanterix is developing a protein-detection technology that can count single molecules in blood samples.

The technology uses “microwells” etched into an optical fiber and coated with protein-capturing antibodies. Each well is 2.5 micrometers wide and sits at the tip of an individual thread of the fiber. If the antibodies capture a protein from a blood sample, a chemical reaction will be triggered and fluoresce… read more

Startup debuts ‘nanoimprint’ litho tool for 20-nm designs

December 4, 2002

Molecular Imprints Inc. plans to unveil next week “the world’s first step and flash imprint lithography” tool for use in processing a range of emerging devices at the 100-nm (0.10-micron) node, down to a few nanometers and at about one-tenth the cost of traditional projection systems.

The tool is geared for the emerging nanotechnology field.

Startup ducks immigration law with ‘Googleplex of the sea’

December 29, 2011


Blueseed has released detailed mockups of its floating incubator, intended to increase the flow of “bold and creative” foreign entrepreneurs into Silicon Valley, with seed capital from PayPal founder Peter Thiel, Wired Enterprise reports.

To get around the government’s immigration choke-hold, the startup plans to sail foreign innovators 12 miles off the Northern California shore, into international waters, without worrying about worker visas or… read more

Startup makes ‘wireless router for the brain’

January 23, 2012


Small, light, wireless prototype devices developed by Kendall Research could make optogenetics research much more practical.

Optogenetics relies on genetically altering certain cells to make them responsive to light, and then selectively stimulating them with a laser to either turn the cells on or off.

Instead of an expensive, bulky laser light source, the researchers use LEDs and laser diodes incorporated into a small head-borne device that… read more

Startup promises a revolutionary grid battery

January 4, 2012

eos_energy storage

Battery developer Eos Energy Storage claims to have solved key problems holding back a battery technology that could revolutionize energy storage on the power grid.

If the company is right, its zinc-air batteries will be able to store energy for half the cost of natural gas, the method currently used to meet peak power demands.

Startup Says It Can Make Ethanol for $1 a Gallon, and Without Corn

January 28, 2008

Coskata, which is backed by General Motors and other investors, uses bacteria to convert almost any organic material, from corn husks to municipal trash, into ethanol, for less than $1 a gallon.

See also Cheap Ethanol from Tires and Trash

Startup Says Quantum Crypto Is Real

November 6, 2003

MagiQ Technologies Inc. announced it’s shipping the first security system based on quantum cryptography.

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