Sunday, December 23, 2007

Our Technological Future Continues On Its Own Domain

After two and a half years of bringing you the latest tech news, Our Technological Future will continue on its own domain, with a new name and a new look!

This website will no longer be updated, but will remain online nonetheless.

A fan of this blog was nice enough to donate hosting, so a special thank you to Chris for the free webspace.

Our Technological Future continues as:

Technut News!


I hope all of you will enjoy my technology postings for years to come.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Anti-Aging Drugs Could Change the Nature of Death

Anti-Aging Drugs Could Change the Nature of Death

A new class of drugs aimed at age-related physical and mental deterioration could change not only the nature of life, but of death.

The drugs target mitochondria, the cellular power generators that provide our bodies with chemical energy. Over time, mitochondria accumulate damage, causing cells and eventually tissues to malfunction and break down. Some scientists believe that such seemingly disparate diseases as cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes and heart disease -- all of which become more common with age -- share a mitochondrial root. Fix the mitochondria, and you might fix aging itself.

Preliminary research suggests that mitochondria-rejuvenating drugs are capable, at least in lab animals, of halting these diseases and extending longevity. The research also suggests that, once they've reached the end of their traditional lifespans, these animals tend to die quickly and inexplicably, without any indication of disease or systemic breakdown.

If the pattern holds in people, death would not be preceded by months or years of suffering. It would also come without warning, forever catching family and loved ones by surprise.

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Stem Cells Used to Fix Breast Defects

Stem Cells Used to Fix Breast Defects

For the first time, doctors have used stem cells from liposuctioned fat to fix breast defects in women who have had cancerous lumps removed.

The approach is still experimental, but holds promise for millions of women left with cratered areas and breasts that look very different from each other after cancer surgery. It also might be a way to augment healthy breasts without using artificial implants.

So far, it has only been tested on about two dozen women in a study in Japan. But doctors in the United States say it has great potential.

"This is a pretty exciting topic right now in plastic surgery," said Dr. Karol Gutowski of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "There are people all over the country working on this."

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Start-Up Sells Solar Panels at Lower-Than-Usual Cost

Start-Up Sells Solar Panels at Lower-Than-Usual Cost

Nanosolar, a heavily financed Silicon Valley start-up whose backers include Google's co-founders, plans to announce Tuesday that it has begun selling its innovative solar panels, which are made using a technique that is being held out as the future of solar power manufacturing.

The company, which has raised $150 million and built a 200,000-square-foot factory here, is developing a new manufacturing process that "prints" photovoltaic material on aluminum backing, a process the company says will reduce the manufacturing cost of the basic photovoltaic module by more than 80 percent.

Nanosolar, which recently hired a top manufacturing executive from I.B.M., said that it had orders for its first 18 months of manufacturing capacity. The photovoltaic panels will be made in Silicon Valley and in a second plant in Germany.

While many photovoltaic start-up companies are concentrating on increasing the efficiency with which their systems convert sunlight, Nanosolar has focused on lowering the manufacturing cost. Its process is akin to a large printing press, rather than the usual semiconductor manufacturing techniques that deposit thin films on silicon wafers.

Nanosolar's founder and chief executive, Martin Roscheisen, claims to be the first solar panel manufacturer to be able to profitably sell solar panels for less than $1 a watt. That is the price at which solar energy becomes less expensive than coal.

"With a $1-per-watt panel," he said, "it is possible to build $2-per-watt systems."

According to the Energy Department, building a new coal plant costs about $2.1 a watt, plus the cost of fuel and emissions, he said.

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MIT Corrects Inherited Retardation, Autism In Mice

MIT Corrects Inherited Retardation, Autism In Mice

Researchers at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have corrected key symptoms of mental retardation and autism in mice.

The work, which will be reported in the Dec. 20 issue of Neuron, also indicates that a certain class of drugs could have the same effect. These drugs are not yet approved by the FDA, but will soon be entering into human clinical trials.

Fragile X syndrome (FXS), affecting 100,000 Americans, is the most common inherited cause of mental retardation and autism. The MIT researchers corrected FXS in mice modeling the disease. "These findings have major therapeutic implications for fragile X syndrome and autism," said study lead author Mark F. Bear, director of the Picower Institute and Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT.

The findings support the theory that many of FXS's psychiatric and neurological symptoms-learning disabilities, autistic behavior, childhood epilepsy- stem from too much activation of one of the brain's chief network managers-the metabotropic glutamate receptor mGluR5.

"Fragile X is a disorder of excess-excess synaptic connectivity, protein synthesis, memory extinction, body growth, excitability-and remarkably, all these excesses can be reduced by reducing mGluR5," said Bear, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

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Aging Gracefully Requires Taking Out The Trash

Aging Gracefully Requires Taking Out The Trash

Suppressing a cellular cleanup-mechanism known as autophagy can accelerate the accumulation of protein aggregates that leads to neural degeneration. In an upcoming issue of Autophagy, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies report for the first time that the opposite is true as well: Boosting autophagy in the nervous system of fruit flies prevented the age-dependent accumulation of cellular damage in neurons and promoted longevity.

"We discovered that levels of several key pathway members are reduced in Drosophila neural tissue as a normal part of aging," says senior author Kim Finley, Ph.D., a scientist in the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, "which suggests there is an age-dependent suppression of autophagy that may be a contributing factor for human neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease."

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Robots Help Elderly When Humans Cannot

Robots Help Elderly When Humans Cannot

If you grow old in Japan, expect to be served food by a robot, ride a voice-recognition wheelchair or even possibly hire a nurse in a robotic suit - all examples of cutting-edge technology to care for the country's graying population.

With nearly 22 percent of Japan's people aged 65 or older, businesses have been rolling out everything from easy-entry cars to remote-controlled beds, fueling a care-technology market worth $1.08 billion in 2006, according to industry figures.

At a home care and rehabilitation convention in Tokyo, buyers crowded around a demonstration of Secom's feeding robot, which helps elderly or disabled people eat with a spoon- and fork-fitted swiveling arm.

Operating a joystick with his chin, developer Shigehisa Kobayashi maneuvered the arm toward a block of tofu, deftly getting the fork to break off a piece. The arm then returned to a preprogrammed position in front of the mouth, allowing Kobayashi to bite.

"It's all about empowering people to help themselves," Kobayashi said. The company has already sold 300 robots, which are $3,500.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Can IBM Connect Cores In a Chip With Light?

Can IBM Connect Cores In a Chip With Light?

IBM has come up with a technology that could one day let different cores on a processor exchange signals with pulses of light, rather than electrons, a change that could lead to faster and far more energy efficient chips.

The device, known as a silicon Mach-Zehnder electro-optic modulator--converts electrical signals into pulses of light. The trick is that IBM's modulator is 100 or more times smaller than other small modulators produced by other labs. Eventually, IBM hopes the modulator could be integrated into chips.

Here's how it works. Electric pulses, the yellow dots, hit the modulator, which is also being hit with a constant beam of light from a laser. The modulator emits light pulses to correspond to the electrical pulses. In a sense, the modulator is substituting photons for electrons.

Since the beginning of the decade, several companies--Intel, Primarion, Luxtera, IBM--have been coming up with components that, ideally, will let chip designers replace wires in computers and ultimately chips with optical fiber. Wires radiate heat, a big problem, and the signals don't travel as fast as light pulses. (The research in this area is known as silicon photonics and optoelectronics.)

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Light-powered Toothbrush Could Eliminate Need For Toothpaste

Light-powered Toothbrush Could Eliminate Need For Toothpaste

The Shiken Company of Japan is making a prototype solar-powered toothbrush, which causes a chemical reaction in your mouth, with the hopes of improving the elimination of harmful plaque and bacteria.

Dr. Komiyama designed the first model of this type of toothbrush more than 15 years ago: It contained a titanium dioxide rod in the neck of the brush, just below the nylon bristles. Any light falling on the wet rod would release electrons, which would react to the acid typically found in the mouth, helping break down plaque.

The latest model, the Soladey-J3X, works in much in the same way, except that it's twice as powerful.

The brush also has a solar panel at the base, which transmits electrons to the top of the toothbrush through a wire.

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Researchers Identify Granddaddy Of Human Blood Cells

Researchers identify granddaddy of human blood cells

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have isolated a human blood cell that represents the great-grandparent of all the cells of the blood, a finding that could lead to new treatments for blood cancers and other blood diseases.

This cell, called the multipotent progenitor, is the first offspring of the much-studied blood-forming stem cell that resides in the bone marrow and gives rise to all cells of the blood. It's also the cell that's thought to give rise to acute myelogenous leukemia when mutated.

Isolating this cell, which is well known in mice but had yet to be isolated in human blood, fills in an important gap in the human blood cell family tree. The work is published in the Dec. 13 issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell.

Irving Weissman, MD, director of Stanford's Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, spent his early career identifying each cell in the mouse blood family tree. The progression went from the stem cell through the progenitor cell through progressively more specialized cells, ending up with the red blood cells, platelets and immune cells that make up the bulk of the blood.

This detailed information has helped researchers understand the origins of blood diseases and cancers and has led to advances in bone marrow transplantation. But studies in mice are never a perfect substitute for understanding those same cells in humans, said Ravindra Majeti, MD, PhD, an instructor in hematology and co-lead author of the paper.

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Super Water Repellent Could Cause Big Wave In Market

Super Water Repellent Could Cause Big Wave In Market

A water repellent developed by researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory outperforms nature at its best and could open a floodgate of commercial possibilities.

The super-water repellent (superhydrophobic) material, developed by John Simpson, is easy to fabricate and uses inexpensive base materials. The patent-pending process could lead to the creation of a new class of water repellant products, including windshields, eyewear, clothing, building materials, road surfaces, ship hulls and self-cleaning coatings. The list of likely applications is virtually endless.

"My goal was to make the best possible water repellent surface," Simpson said. "What I developed is a glass powder coating material with remarkable properties that cause water-based solutions to bounce off virtually any coated surface."

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Synthetic DNA on the Brink of Yielding New Life Forms

Synthetic DNA on the Brink of Yielding New Life Forms

It has been 50 years since scientists first created DNA in a test tube, stitching ordinary chemical ingredients together to make life's most extraordinary molecule. Until recently, however, even the most sophisticated laboratories could make only small snippets of DNA -- an extra gene or two to be inserted into corn plants, for example, to help the plants ward off insects or tolerate drought.

Now researchers are poised to cross a dramatic barrier: the creation of life forms driven by completely artificial DNA.

Scientists in Maryland have already built the world's first entirely handcrafted chromosome -- a large looping strand of DNA made from scratch in a laboratory, containing all the instructions a microbe needs to live and reproduce.

In the coming year, they hope to transplant it into a cell, where it is expected to "boot itself up," like software downloaded from the Internet, and cajole the waiting cell to do its bidding. And while the first synthetic chromosome is a plagiarized version of a natural one, others that code for life forms that have never existed before are already under construction.

The cobbling together of life from synthetic DNA, scientists and philosophers agree, will be a watershed event, blurring the line between biological and artificial -- and forcing a rethinking of what it means for a thing to be alive.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Can We Cure Aging?

Can We Cure Aging?

Jim Hammond is an elite athlete. He works out two hours a day with a trainer, pushing himself through sprints, runs, and strength-building exercises. His resting heart rate is below 50. He’s won three gold medals and one silver in amateur competitions this year alone, running races from 100 to 800 meters. In his division, he’s broken four national racing records. But perhaps the most elite thing about Hammond is his age.

He is 93. And really, there’s nothing much wrong with him, aside from the fact that he doesn’t see very well. He takes no drugs and has no complaints, although his hair long ago turned white and his skin is no longer taut.

His secret? He doesn’t have one. Hammond never took exceptional measures during his long life to preserve his health. He did not exercise regularly until his fifties and didn’t get serious about it until his eighties, when he began training for the Georgia Golden Olympics. “I love nothing better than winning,” he says. “It’s been a wonderful thing for me.” Hammond is aging, certainly, but somehow he isn’t getting old—at least, not in the way we usually think about it.


They say aging is one of the only certain things in life. But it turns out they were wrong. In recent years, gerontologists have overturned much of the conventional wisdom about getting old. Aging is not the simple result of the passage of time. According to a provocative new view, it is actually something our own bodies create, a side effect of the essential inflammatory system that protects us against infectious disease. As we fight off invaders, we inflict massive collateral damage on ourselves, poisoning our own organs and breaking down our own tissues. We are our own worst enemy.

...

Some ways to reduce inflammation are elementary. It is impossible to know exactly what is going on in Jim Hammond’s body, but all the aspects of his regimen—healthy food, exercise, and a good attitude—reduce systemic inflammation. Those of us without his tenacity can turn to drug companies, which are exploring new anti-inflammatory drugs like flavonoids. Researchers are also looking at new uses for old drugs—trying to prevent Alzheimer’s using ibuprofen, for example. “The research is really to prevent the chronic debilitating diseases of aging,” says Nir Barzilai, a molecular geneticist and director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. “But if I develop a drug, it will have a side effect, which is that you will live longer.”

Point in case: aging is caused by molecular mechanisms in our bodies. Mechanisms that we can understand and manipulate in the coming biotech revolution.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Skin Transformed Into Stem Cells

Skin transformed into stem cells

Human skin cells have been reprogrammed by two groups of scientists to mimic embryonic stem cells with the potential to become any tissue in the body.

The breakthrough promises a plentiful new source of cells for use in research into new treatments for many diseases.

Crucially, it could mean that such research is no longer dependent on using cells from human embryos, which has proved highly controversial.

The US and Japanese studies feature in the journals Science and Cell.

...

The Japanese team used a chemical cocktail containing just four gene-controlling proteins to transform adult human fibroblasts - skin cells that are easy to obtain and grow in culture - into a pluripotent state.

The cells created were similar, but not identical, to embryonic stem cells, and the researchers used them to produce brain and heart tissue.

After 12 days in the laboratory clumps of cells grown to mimic heart muscle tissue started beating.

  • Therapeutic cloning produces stem cells which can develop into different types of body cell, making them ideal for research into treatment of disease.

  • But this technology involves the creation and destruction of embryos, which is ethically controversial. The stem cells created also run the risk of being rejected by the body.

  • The new technology, nuclear reprogramming, creates stem-like cells from the patient's own cells, avoiding both these problems.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Scientists Breed Mouse That Can't Get Cancer

Meet the supermouse bred by genetic scientists that CAN'T get cancer

Mice resistant to cancer have been created in a breakthrough that could lead to a human treatment free of side-effects.

A protein produced by the creatures may hold the key to a future therapy.

It attacks tumour cells, but does not harm healthy tissue in the body.

Scientists hope it can one day be adapted for use in humans - saving them the pain, nausea and hair loss usually associated with cancer treatments.

The breakthrough hinges on a mouse gene called Par-4, which produces the protein. U.S. researchers genetically engineered a group of mice to have higher levels of the protein than normal.

These creatures were found to be immune to many forms of the disease, such as cancer of the liver and prostate, the journal Cancer Research reports.

Tests suggest the protein could also beat off breast, pancreatic and head and neck cancers.

Crucially, the animals did not suffer any visible side-effects, the U.S. scientists said.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nanosolar's Breakthrough - Solar Now Cheaper Than Coal

Nanosolar’s Breakthrough - Solar Now Cheaper than Coal

Their mission: to deliver cost-efficient solar electricity. The Nanosolar company was founded in 2002 and is working to build the world’s largest solar cell factory in California and the world’s largest panel-assembly factory in Germany. They have successfully created a solar coating that is the most cost-efficient solar energy source ever. Their PowerSheet cells contrast the current solar technology systems by reducing the cost of production from $3 a watt to a mere 30 cents per watt. This makes, for the first time in history, solar power cheaper than burning coal.

These coatings are as thin as a layer of paint and can transfer sunlight to power at amazing efficiency. Although the underlying technology has been around for years, Nanosolar has created the actual technology to manufacture and mass produce the solar sheets. The Nanosolar plant in San Jose, once in full production in 2008, will be capable of producing 430 megawatts per year. This is more than the combined total of every other solar manufacturer in the U.S.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Nuke to the Future!

Nuke to the Future

The portable nuclear reactor is the size of a hot tub. It’s shaped like a sake cup, filled with a uranium hydride core and surrounded by a hydrogen atmosphere. Encase it in concrete, truck it to a site, bury it underground, hook it up to a steam turbine and, voila, one would generate enough electricity to power a 25,000-home community for at least five years.

The company Hyperion Power Generation was formed last month to develop the nuclear fission reactor at Los Alamos National Laboratory and take it into the private sector. If all goes according to plan, Hyperion could have a factory in New Mexico by late 2012, and begin producing 4,000 of these reactors.

Though it would produce 27 megawatts worth of thermal energy, Hyperion doesn’t like to think of its product as a “reactor.” It’s self-contained, involves no moving parts and, therefore, doesn’t require a human operator.

“In fact, we prefer to call it a ‘drive’ or a ‘battery’ or a ‘module’ in that it’s so safe,” Hyperion spokeswoman Deborah Blackwell says. “Like you don’t open a double-A battery, you just plug [the reactor] in and it does its chemical thing inside of it. You don’t ever open it or mess with it.”

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nano Cancer Bombs And Mini Organs From MIT

Nano cancer-bombs and mini organs from MIT

Scientists at MIT have developed remote-controlled nano particles that, with the push of a button, can deliver drugs directly to a tumour. The same research director has also found a way to build tiny human "livers" just 500 micrometres across. This work should lead to more reliable toxicity testing for new drugs.

According to Geoff von Maltzahn, post-doctoral researcher at the Harvard-MIT division of health sciences & technology (HST), the nano particles are first persuaded to clump together, which makes it easier to track their progress through a patient's body. Then, drug molecules are attached to the clumps of nanoparticles with DNA tethers and the whole lot is injected into the patient.

The nanoparticles are then tracked with an MRI scanner (hence the clumping). When they get to their target they are pulsed with an electromagnetic field at between 350-400kHz. This is harmless to the human body, but melts the tether and releases the drugs exactly where they are needed.

The breakthrough rests on a property of the nanoparticles: superparamagnetism. This characteristic causes them to give off heat when they are exposed to a magnetic field. This heat breaks the connection with the DNA tether, and allows the system to deliver the drugs.

Using DNA as the tether has another advantage: it makes it possible to choose the EM frequency that will break the bond, since longer or differently arranged strands will have different melting points. This means one clump of nanoparticles can carry multiple doses of drugs to several sites. If each drug has differently tuned DNA tethers, doctors can use a different EM frequency to deliver each dose.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Second Life Brain-Computer Interface, Thought Controlled Technology

Brain-computer interface for Second Life

While recent developments in brain-computer interface (BCI) technology have given humans the power to mentally control computers, nobody has used the technology in conjunction with the Second Life online virtual world — until now.

A research team led by professor Jun’ichi Ushiba of the Keio University Biomedical Engineering Laboratory has developed a BCI system that lets the user walk an avatar through the streets of Second Life while relying solely on the power of thought. To control the avatar on screen, the user simply thinks about moving various body parts — the avatar walks forward when the user thinks about moving his/her own feet, and it turns right and left when the user imagines moving his/her right and left arms.

The system consists of a headpiece equipped with electrodes that monitor activity in three areas of the motor cortex (the region of the brain involved in controlling the movement of the arms and legs). An EEG machine reads and graphs the data and relays it to the BCI, where a brain wave analysis algorithm interprets the user’s imagined movements. A keyboard emulator then converts this data into a signal and relays it to Second Life, causing the on-screen avatar to move. In this way, the user can exercise real-time control over the avatar in the 3D virtual world without moving a muscle.


New Technology Can Be Operated By Thought
Neuroscientists have significantly advanced brain-machine interface (BMI) technology to the point where severely handicapped people who cannot contract even one leg or arm muscle now can independently compose and send e-mails and operate a TV in their homes. They are using only their thoughts to execute these actions.

Thanks to the rapid pace of research on the BMI, one day these and other individuals may be able to feed themselves with a robotic arm and hand that moves according to their mental commands.

...

In previous studies, this lab developed the technology to tap a macaque monkey's motor cortical neural activity making it possible for the animal to use its thoughts to control a robotic arm to reach for food targets presented in 3D space.

In the Pittsburgh lab's latest studies, macaque monkeys not only mentally guided a robotic arm to pieces of food but also opened and closed the robotic arm's hand, or gripper, to retrieve them. Just by thinking about picking up and bringing the fruit to its mouth, the animal fed itself.

The monkey's own arm and hand did not move while it manipulated the two-finger gripper at the end of the robotic arm. The animal used its own sight for feedback about the accuracy of the robotic arm's actions as it mentally moved the gripper to within one-half centimeter of a piece of fruit.

"The monkey developed a great deal of skill using this physical device," says Meel Velliste, PhD. "We are in the process of extending this type of control to a more sophisticated wrist and hand for the performance of dexterous tasks."

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Researchers Simulate Photosynthesis, Design Better Leaf

Researchers successfully simulate photosynthesis and design a better leaf

University of Illinois researchers have built a better plant, one that produces more leaves and fruit without needing extra fertilizer. The researchers accomplished the feat using a computer model that mimics the process of evolution. Theirs is the first model to simulate every step of the photosynthetic process.

...

Photosynthesis converts light energy into chemical energy in plants, algae, phytoplankton and some species of bacteria and archaea. Photosynthesis in plants involves an elaborate array of chemical reactions requiring dozens of protein enzymes and other chemical components. Most photosynthesis occurs in a plant’s leaves.

...

It wasn’t feasible to tackle this question with experiments on actual plants, Long said. With more than 100 proteins involved in photosynthesis, testing one protein at a time would require an enormous investment of time and money.

“But now that we have the photosynthetic process ‘in silico,’ we can test all possible permutations on the supercomputer,” he said.

...

Using “evolutionary algorithms,” which mimic evolution by selecting for desirable traits, the model hunted for enzymes that – if increased – would enhance plant productivity. If higher concentrations of an enzyme relative to others improved photosynthetic efficiency, the model used the results of that experiment as a parent for the next generation of tests.

This process identified several proteins that could, if present in higher concentrations relative to others, greatly enhance the productivity of the plant. The new findings are consistent with results from other researchers, who found that increases in one of these proteins in transgenic plants increased productivity.

“By rearranging the investment of nitrogen, we could almost double efficiency,” Long said.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Photorealism, Part Deux!

A little while ago, I posted How Long Until Photorealistic Virtual Environments?

But that was before I had seen this:

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Monday, October 22, 2007

HIV Cure Found

Researchers Knock Out HIV

With the latest advances in treatment, doctors have discovered that they can successfully neutralise the HIV virus. The so-called ‘combination therapy’ prevents the HIV virus from mutating and spreading, allowing patients to rebuild their immune system to the same levels as the rest of the population.

To date, it represents the most significant treatment for patients suffering from HIV.

Professor Jens Lundgren from the University of Copenhagen, together with other members of the research group EuroSIDA, have conducted a study, which demonstrates that the immune system of all HIV-infected patients can be restored and normalised. The only stipulation is that patients begin and continue to follow their course of treatment.

...

Combination therapy prevents the virus from forming and mutating in human beings. When the virus is halted in its progress, the number of healthy CD4+T cells begins to rise and patients, who would otherwise die from HIV, can now survive. The immune system is rejuvenated and is apparently able to normalise itself, providing that the combination therapy is maintained. The moment the immune system begins to improve, the HIV-infected patient can no longer be said to be suffering from an HIV infection or disease, already declining in strength.

This thin-section transmission electron
micrograph depicted the ultrastructural
details of two "human immunodeficiency
virus" (HIV) virus particles, or virions.


It sounds to me like HIV is basically cured.

It wasn't too long ago that HIV meant your end.

I clearly remember watching the documentaries on TV when I was still a kid and HIV was still a hot topic.

I've seen the people who had HIV talk in front of the camera. They looked enormously time-ravaged. Some of them were just 1 tan-shade away from that of a corpse.

It's kind of strange to have seen HIV rise and fall within my own lifetime.

Once a death sentence. Now a manageable ailment.

We are now clearly seeing the very beginnings of the biotechnology revolution that will leave a big footprint on the next decade.

Cancer will be going the same way.

Future generations will never have to deal with this shit.

Only we, who are adults A.D. 2007, will remember the havoc that these diseases once wreaked upon our frail bodies...

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How Long Until Photorealistic Virtual Environments?

My guess would be... not long.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Why Can't We Regrow Bodyparts?

Why can't we regrow bodyparts?

Well, as it turns out...

We can, in fact, regrow bodyparts.



Also see my previous post that is more detailed about the regrowing fingertip story.

Here's a link to the original page.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Regrowing Fingers - Tissue Regeneration Technology Already Exists

A Doctor, a Pig, and a Magical Pixie Dust That Could Regrow Fingers

...

Spievack had never seen a plane act this way. He got down on his knees for a closer look, and just as he said, "You've got to get rid of this thing," he pointed at the engine, inserting his middle finger directly into the propeller's path. "And that's how I cut my finger off," he says.

Over the years, Dr. Stephen Badylak has had problems explaining what he does for a living. He used to say, "I do biomedical engineering." But then he'd have to explain biomedical engineering. After a while, as a default response, Badylak would simply say, "Well, I'm in medical research." He hoped that would be enough, but it often prompted, "What are you researching?" Badylak says, "I got tired of struggling with it. So now I just tell them I make body parts." Badylak has regrown sizable portions of esophagi, tendons, ligaments, bladders, urethras, abdominal walls, blood vessels, and hearts within animals and humans.

...

But that life would be a lot better for a lot of people if their bodies could be manipulated into fixing and replacing lost or damaged body parts -- similar to what happens to fetuses the first few months in the womb. If a fetus loses an arm or a leg, it grows back. "Humans can grow an entire human being in nine months. That's pretty remarkable," says Badylak. "If you think about it that way, you can say we just want an arm, you know, or we want a leg. Just give us enough information that we can do that."

...

A few days after Lee Spievack canceled his appointment with the hand surgeon, he received a package from his older brother containing a vial of powder that looked like Kraft Parmesan cheese. His brother instructed him to sprinkle it on his finger every other day until the powder was gone.

Lee Spievack is not a man who asks a lot of questions. So in the case of the vial, Spievack didn't much care what it contained (ground-up pig bladder) or where it came from (a little farm in Albion, Indiana).

...

Spievack followed his brother's directions: Every other day for the next eight days, he sat down at his living-room coffee table and sprinkled the powder on his finger. Whatever powder fell onto the table he scooped up with a piece of paper, then dropped back into the vial. He covered his finger with a Band-Aid. A few days went by, and Spievack could see something was happening. There was skin growing, and tissue on the inside, too. He insists that what happened after four weeks did not surprise him in the least, though it should have. Because his fingertip grew back.

The fingerprint took a couple more months. The tip is a little hard on the end, but he can feel things just fine. Spievack says he was particularly happy this past winter; while all of his fingers chapped in the cold weather, the new fingertip didn't. The only side effect during treatment was that his finger began to smell like a pig's quarters at the state fair. "It was a pretty offensive odor," Spievack says. He doesn't much think about his finger anymore, except when he clips his nails. He usually cuts them once a week, but the new nail has to be clipped every two days. "That fingernail grows like a son of a bitch," he says.

This is just bizarre.

And to think that Badylak had problems convincing other people of his findings.

Only Spievack took him seriously end they teamed up.

If only people were a little more open-minded to possibilities... technologies like these would already be widely used.

And we wouldn't be having such a hard time convincing people of the very real possibility of immortality within our lifetimes.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Artificial Cornea Gives Hope To The Blind

Artificial Cornea Gives Hope To The Blind

German researchers have developed an artificial cornea that promises easy integration with a patient's native cornea, and prevents cellular hyperplasia on its plastic surface

...

Researchers in Dr. Karin Kobuch's working group at Regensburg University Hospital have already tested these corneas in the laboratory and found that their cells graft very well at the edge and cease growing where the coating stops. The optical center of the implant thus remains clear. The first implants have already been tested in rabbits' eyes - with promising results. If further tests are successful, the technology will be tried on humans in 2008.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Robot Car To Compete In Darpa Urban Challenge

A Land Rover That Drives Itself

In an airplane hanger on MIT's campus in Cambridge last week, a team of engineering students and researchers put the finishing touches on Talos, a Land Rover that drives itself. Talos is MIT's entry in the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's (DARPA) robotic car race, which will take place on November 3, in Victorville, CA.

Known as the Urban Challenge, the race will test the ability of robotic cars from 35 different teams to obey traffic laws and drive safely in a city-like environment without human assistance. The vehicles will need to find their way to a preprogrammed destination while paying attention to lane markers, other cars, and unexpected obstacles, such as potholes in the road. (See video.)

The Urban Challenge is a follow-up to DARPA's Grand Challenge race, held in 2004 and 2005, in which cars navigated an empty desert road. The new, more complex racing environment reflects the rapid progress being made in robotic cars: while none of the teams finished the first Grand Challenge race, 5 out of 23 cars finished the second one. Stanford University's team, which won the latter race, will enter the Urban Challenge with Junior, an upgraded version of its winning car. (See "Stanford's New Driverless Car.")

In order to "see" its environment, MIT's Talos is equipped with numerous laser range finders, radar units, Global Positioning Systems, and video cameras, explains Emilio Frazzoli, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and one of the team leaders. The researchers developed novel software--which runs on 10 quad-core computers in the Land Rover's trunk--to make sense of the incoming data and to calculate the car's next move. The 40 processors produce so much heat that the team added an air-conditioning unit to the roof of the car. (See slide show.)


Also see:

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Monday, October 01, 2007

30 Year Power Laptop Battery Invented

Scientists Invent 30 Year Continuous Power Laptop Battery

Your next laptop could have a continuous power battery that lasts for 30 years without a single recharge thanks to work being funded by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. The breakthrough betavoltaic power cells are constructed from semiconductors and use radioisotopes as the energy source. As the radioactive material decays it emits beta particles that transform into electric power capable of fueling an electrical device like a laptop for years.

Although betavoltaic batteries sound Nuclear they’re not, they’re neither use fission/fusion or chemical processes to produce energy and so (do not produce any radioactive or hazardous waste). Betavoltaics generate power when an electron strikes a particular interface between two layers of material.

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The reaction is non-thermal which means laptops and other small devices like mobile phones will run much cooler than with traditional lithium-ion power batteries.

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The best part about these cells are when they eventually run out of power they are totally inert and non-toxic, so environmentalists need not fear these high tech scientific wonder batteries. If all goes well plans are for these cells to reach store shelves in about 2 to 3 years.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cheap Solar Panel Ready For Mass Production

New Low Cost Solar Panels Ready for Mass Production

Produced at less than $1 per watt, the panels will dramatically reduce the cost of generating solar electricity and could power homes and businesses around the globe with clean energy for roughly the same cost as traditionally generated electricity.

Sampath has developed a continuous, automated manufacturing process for solar panels using glass coating with a cadmium telluride thin film instead of the standard high-cost crystalline silicon. Because the process produces high efficiency devices (ranging from 11% to 13%) at a very high rate and yield, it can be done much more cheaply than with existing technologies. The cost to the consumer could be as low as $2 per watt, about half the current cost of solar panels. In addition, this solar technology need not be tied to a grid, so it can be affordably installed and operated in nearly any location.

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Sampath has spent the past 16 years perfecting the technology. In that time, annual global sales of photovoltaic technology have grown to approximately 2 gigawatts or two billion watts -- roughly a $6 billion industry. Demand has increased nearly 40% a year for each of the past five years -- a trend that analysts and industry experts expect to continue.

By 2010, solar cell manufacturing is expected to be a $25 billion-plus industry.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cancer Cure May Be Available In Two Years

Cancer cure 'may be available in two years'

Cancer sufferers could be cured with injections of immune cells from other people within two years, scientists say.

US researchers have been given the go-ahead to give patients transfusions of “super strength” cancer-killing cells from donors.

Dr Zheng Cui, of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, has shown in laboratory experiments that immune cells from some people can be almost 50 times more effective in fighting cancer than in others.

Dr Cui, whose work is highlighted in this week’s New Scientist magazine, has previously shown cells from mice found to be immune to cancer can be used to cure ordinary mice with tumours.

The work raises the prospect of using cancer-killing immune system cells called granulocytes from donors to significantly boost a cancer patient’s ability to fight their disease, and potentially cure them.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week gave Dr Cui permission to inject super-strength granulocytes into 22 patients.

Dr Cui said: “Our hope is that this could be a cure. Our pre-clinical tests have been exceptionally successful.

“If this is half as effective in humans as it is in mice it could be that half of patients could be cured or at least given one to two years extra of high quality life.

“The technology needed to do this already exists, so if it works in humans we could save a lot of lives, and we could be doing so within two years.”

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Nano Memory 1,000 Times Faster

Nanoscale computer memory retrieves data 1,000 times faster

Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania have developed nanowires capable of storing computer data for 100,000 years and retrieving that data a thousand times faster than existing portable memory devices such as Flash memory and micro-drives, all using less power and space than current memory technologies.

example of nanowires

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Tests showed extremely low power consumption for data encoding (0.7mW per bit). They also indicated the data writing, erasing and retrieval (50 nanoseconds) to be 1,000 times faster than conventional Flash memory and indicated the device would not lose data even after approximately 100,000 years of use, all with the potential to realize terabit-level nonvolatile memory device density.

“This new form of memory has the potential to revolutionize the way we share information, transfer data and even download entertainment as consumers,” Agarwal said. “This represents a potential sea-change in the way we access and store data.”

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Current solid-state technology for products like memory cards, digital cameras and personal data assistants traditionally utilize Flash memory, a non-volatile and durable computer memory that can be erased and reprogrammed electronically. Data on Flash drives provides most battery-powered devices with acceptable levels of durability and moderately fast data access. Yet the technology’s limits are apparent. Digital cameras can’t snap rapid-fire photos because it takes precious seconds to store the last photo to memory. If the memory device is fast, as in DRAM and SRAM used in computers, then it is volatile; if the plug on a desktop computer is pulled, all recent data entry is lost.

Therefore, a universal memory device is desired that can be scalable, fast, durable and nonvolatile, a difficult set of requirements which have now been demonstrated at Penn.

“Imagine being able to store hundreds of high-resolution movies in a small drive, downloading them and playing them without wasting time on data buffering, or imagine booting your laptop computer in a few seconds as you wouldn’t need to transfer the operating system to active memory” Agarwal said.

This may not be as impressive as the Optical Memory 50.000 Times Faster, but if this nano-memory gets here before optical memory... I'll just make due with the nano-memory for a while.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Halve Your Heating Bill With One 12 Inch Miracle Tube

How this 12inch miracle tube could halve heating bills

Amazing British invention creates MORE energy than you put into it - and could soon be warming your home

It sounds too good to be true - not to mention the fact that it violates almost every known law of physics.

But British scientists claim they have invented a revolutionary device that seems to 'create' energy from virtually nothing.

Their so-called thermal energy cell could soon be fitted into ordinary homes, halving domestic heating bills and making a major contribution towards cutting carbon emissions.

Even the makers of the device are at a loss to explain exactly how it works - but sceptical independent scientists carried out their own tests and discovered that the 12in x 2in tube really does produce far more heat energy than the electrical energy put in.

The device seems to break the fundamental physical law that energy cannot be created from nothing - but researchers believe it taps into a previously unrecognised source of energy, stored at a sub-atomic level within the hydrogen atoms in water.


The system - developed by scientists at a firm called Ecowatts in a nondescript laboratory on an industrial estate at Lancing, West Sussex - involves passing an electrical current through a mixture of water, potassium carbonate (otherwise known as potash) and a secret liquid catalyst, based on chrome.

This creates a reaction that releases an incredible amount of energy compared to that put in. If the reaction takes place in a unit surrounded by water, the liquid heats up, which could form the basis for a household heating system.

If the technology can be developed on a domestic scale, it means consumers will need much less energy for heating and hot water - creating smaller bills and fewer greenhouse gases.


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Monday, September 17, 2007

Renewable Ethanol Straight Out Of Sci-Fi

Renewable Fuel Straight Out of Sci-Fi

Professor Pengchen (Patrick) Fu is using cyanobacteria to produce ethanol from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water. This is exceedingly cool since ethanol, a useful fuel, burns cleanly to produce energy, carbon dioxide, and water. See the pattern? It’s a sustainable cycle, essentially storing solar energy in a fuel that we already know and love.

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HIV Destroying Enzyme Created

Indian doc develops enzyme that can destroy HIV

Dr Indrani Sarkar has has every reason to be excited. Her PhD thesis, which started in 2002 at the Max Planck Institute in Dresden, Germany, has thrown open the doors for developing enzymes that can destroy the dreaded Human Immuno-deficiency Virus or HIV within infected cells permanently.

Indrani and a team of scientists have developed an enzyme called Tre. Tre is a custom enzyme capable of detecting, recognising and destroying HIV, much like a pair of molecular scissors.

"In laymans terms, it's an engineered enzyme which recognises sequences in the HIV genome that is duplicated, integrated virus and by the process of recombination, it cuts out the virus from the genome," says she.

The biggest challenge with treating HIV today is that the virus becomes dormant and often develops resistance to HIV drugs.

The only way then to cure HIV is to get rid of the virus completely and Tre, the enzyme that Indrani constructed after a year and its 126 "cycles of mutation" totally deplete HIV in the human genome in three months in laboratory conditions.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Light Propulsion Could Cut Mars Transit From Six Months to a Week

Photon Propulsion Breakthrough Could Cut Mars Transit From Six Months to a Week

The aerospace industry has taken notice of a California researcher who, using off-the-shelf components, built and successfully demonstrated the world's first successful amplified photon thruster. Dr. Young Bae of the Bae Institute first demonstrated his Photonic Laser Thruster (PLT) with an amplification factor of 3,000 in December, 2006.

Major aerospace agencies and primary contractors have since invited Bae to present his work, including NASA JPL, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), and AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory). Senior Aerospace Engineer at AFRL, Dr. Franklin Mead, "Dr. Bae's PLT demonstration and measurement of photon thrust (is) pretty incredible. I don't think anyone has done this before. It has generated a lot of interest."

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Bae's PLT demonstration produced a photon thrust of 35 uN, which is sufficient for several space missions currently envisioned, and is scalable to achieve much greater photon thrust for future space missions. Applications for PLT include: highly precise satellite formation flying configurations for building large synthetic apertures in space for earth or space observation, precision contaminant-free spacecraft docking operations, and propelling spacecraft to unprecedented speeds greater than 100 km/sec.

Bae, looking forward with anticipation, observes, "This is the tip of the iceberg. PLT has immense potential for the aerospace industry. For example, PLT powered spacecraft could transit the 100 million km to Mars in less than a week." Several aerospace players have expressed intent to collaborate with the Bae Institute to further develop and integrate PLT into civilian, military, and commercial space systems.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Synthetic Biology: Scientists Engineer Memory In Yeast Cells

Scientists synthesize memory in yeast cells

Harvard Medical School researchers have successfully synthesized a DNA-based memory loop in yeast cells, an experiment that marks a significant step forward in the emerging field of synthetic biology.

After constructing genes from random bits of DNA, researchers in the lab of Pamela Silver, a faculty member in Harvard Medical School's Department of Systems Biology, not only reconstructed the dynamics of memory, but also created a mathematical model that predicted how such a memory "device" might work.

"Synthetic biology is an incredibly exciting field, with more possibilities than many of us can imagine," says Silver, lead author of the paper to be published in the Sept. 15 issue of the journal Genes and Development. "While this proof-of-concept experiment is simply one step forward, we've established a foundational technology that just might set the standard of what we should expect in subsequent work."

Like many emerging fields, there's still a bit of uncertainty over what, exactly, synthetic biology is. Ask any three scientists for a definition, and you'll probably get four answers.

Some see it as a means to boost the production of biotech products, such as proteins for pharmaceutical uses or other kinds of molecules for, say, environmental cleanup. Others see it as a means to creating computer platforms that may bypass many of the onerous stages of clinical trials. In such a scenario, a scientist would type the chemical structure of a drug candidate into a computer, and a program containing models of cellular metabolism could generate information on how people would react to that compound.

Either way, at its core, synthetic biology boils down to gleaning insights into how biological systems work by reconstructing them. If you can build it, it forces you to understand it.

The news articles on artificial life and synthetic biology are popping out of the ground like mushrooms.

This is a booming field, which holds enormous potentials.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

How Technology Changes Advertising And Marketing

Technologies Changing Copywriting, Advertising and Marketing

From the Get In Writing site:

There is no doubt that we are in the midst of many changes in the world of marketing and advertising as new technologies are changing the way we view and interact with businesses and products.

As copywriting professionals, we feel these changes too. Attention spans are shrinking, new mediums are developing and competition is increasing. Staying on top of it all has become essential in staying competitive.

Their article has some cool videos to go along with it:

Hypersonic Speakers (direct sound at any position in 3D)


Flexible OLED Displays

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Bottle Makes Dirty Water Drinkable

Bottle makes dirty water drinkable

The way fresh water is supplied to disaster-hit regions could be revolutionised after an Ipswich-based businessman invented a £190 bottle that makes foul-smelling water drinkable in seconds.

Michael Pritchard hopes that the bottle could be a life-saver for refugees in disaster regions where access to clean drinking water is vital.

However, the military are already latching on to his idea. Four hours after Mr Pritchard launched his new "Life Saver" bottle at the DESI defence show in London yesterday, he sold out his entire 1,000 stock. "I am bowled over," he said.

Military chiefs are excited because the bottles, which can distill either 4,000 litres or 6,000 litres without changing the filter, will have huge benefits for soldiers who hate drinking iodine-flavoured water.

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Conventional filters can cut out bacteria measuring more than 200 nanometres but not viruses, which typically are 25 nanometres long.

Mr Pritchard's bottle can clean up any water - including faecal matter - using a filter that cuts out anything longer than 15 nanometres, which means that viruses can be filtered out without the use of chemicals.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Artificial Life Another Step Closer

Scientists a step nearer to creating artificial life

To the untrained eye, the tiny, misshapen, fatty blobs on Giovanni Murtas's microscope slide would not look very impressive. But when the Italian scientist saw their telltale green fluorescent glint he knew he had achieved something remarkable - and taken a vital step towards building a living organism from scratch.

The green glow was proof that his fragile creations were capable of making their own proteins, a crucial ability of all living things and vital for carrying out all other aspects of life.

Though only a first step, the discovery will hasten efforts by scientists to build the world's first synthetic organism. It could also prove a significant development in the multibillion-dollar battle to exploit the technology for manufacturing commercially valuable chemicals such as drugs and biofuels or cleaning up pollution.

The achievement is a major advance for the new field of "synthetic biology". Its proponents hope to construct simple bespoke organisms with carefully chosen components. But some campaigners worry about the new technology's unsettling potential and argue there should be a moratorium on the research until the ethical and technological implications have been discussed more widely.

One of the field's leading lights is the controversial scientist Craig Venter, a beach bum turned scientific entrepreneur who is better known for sequencing the human genome and scouring the oceans for unknown genes on his luxury research yacht. The research institute he founded hopes to create an artificial "minimal organism". And he believes there is big money at stake.

In an interview with Newsweek magazine earlier this year, Dr Venter claimed that a fuel-producing microbe could become the first billion- or trillion-dollar organism. The institute has already patented a set of genes for creating such a stripped-down creature.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Elixer Of Youth Through A Simple Injection?

The 'elixir of life' that could soon be given by injection

The prospect of holding back the years with a simple injection could be closer than we think.

Scientists have taken a step towards developing a treatment that could erase the health problems associated with ageing.

While their breakthrough relates to rogue genes behind two rare genetic diseases, the approach they used could one day be harnessed to slow down the ageing process - creating an "elixir of life".

The research focuses on mitochondria, sausage-shaped "powerhouses" in every cell of the body except red blood cells.
They turn the food we eat into energy that can be used by the heart, muscles, brain and other parts of the body.

Research has suggested their deterioration is an important cause of ageing, according to a report in New Scientist magazine.

Defects in this mitochondrial DNA are blamed for a range of rare genetic diseases, including some forms of diabetes, blindness and heart problems.

They have also been linked to ageing - suggesting that fixing the flaws could slow down the onset of old age.

However, all attempts to fix flaws by inserting healthy DNA into mitochondria - a technique known as gene therapy - have failed, with the fresh genes stubbornly staying outside the powerhouses.

Now, by labelling the functional genes with an "address code" - which effectively tells them where to go - French scientists have succeeded in smuggling them inside the mitochondria.

Once there, the pair of genes repaired the damage behind a rare form of blindness and a muscle wasting disease, says the New Scientist report.

In time, the same approach could be used to create injections of genes that will erase flaws thought to be linked to the ageing process.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Skinny Gene Discovered

Researchers say 'skinny' gene really exists

A team of American researchers say they may have found the "skinny" gene after they were able to manipulate obesity among worms and mice.

Published in the Sept. 5 issue of the journal Cell Metabolism by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the report looks at the role played by a single gene in fat formation.

Greater activity in the "adipose" gene -- first discovered in fruit flies 50 years ago -- was found to keep fruit flies, worms and mice skinny, regardless of how much they ate.

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In genetically engineered mice, researchers found that increased activity in the gene led to leaner, healther mice, even if they ate more than regular mice. Mice with reduced gene activity were fatter, less healthy and had diabetes.

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The most promising result, however, seemed to be that different combinations of the gene's variants led to a range of body types.

"This is good news for potential obesity treatments, because it's like a volume control instead of a light switch; it can be turned up or down, not just on or off," Graff said. "Eventually, of course, the idea is to develop drugs to target this system, but that's in the years to come."

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Human-Animal Hybrid Embryos A Step Closer To Reality

Human-Animal Embryos A Step Closer

Scientists are today expected to be given the go-ahead to create human-animal embryos.

The hybrid embryos will be produced by mixing human cells with animal eggs.

Controversially, the embryos will only be 99.9% human. Around 0.1% of the DNA will be from the animal.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is likely to approve the work after a public consultation found the majority of people were at ease with the research.

The decision will infuriate religious groups, who say scientists are playing God.
If God's got a problem with it, let him stop those evil scientists himself.

The hybrids will be used to generate stem cells, which could lead to new treatments for currently incurable conditions, such as Parkinson's and motor neurone disease.

Professor Lyle Armstrong of Newcastle University has already applied for a licence to create hybrid embryos. He told Sky News that the shortage of human eggs has held back stem cell research.

"I get three to four good quality human eggs a month. But in one day I can get 200 cow eggs from a local slaughter house.

"It offers us the chance to make stem cell technology more acccessible to everyone."

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Go Solar For Less Than $600

Go Solar, Room by Room

I’d bet you thought that you’d have to spend thousands of dollars to go completely off the grid? Even with state sponsored incentives, going all solar could set you back quite a bit. What would you think about going solar, room by room!? There’s a system out there that makes going solar very affordable and you can add to it as you go! No, this won’t take you off the grid in one fell swoop, but it can get you closer to energy independence without breaking the bank!

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Starfish Robot Shows Robotic Introspection And Self-Modeling

Starfish Robot Shows Robotic Introspection And Self-Modeling

A new four-legged robot can automatically synthesize a predictive model of its own topology (where and how its body parts are connected), and then successfully move around. It can also use this "proprioceptive" sense to determine if a component has been damaged, and then model new movements that take the damage into account.

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If the robot is damaged, it can sense the problem and attempt to compensate. The robot has tilt and angle sensors in all of its joints; readings from these sensors are used by the robot to create a self-image. If sensors indicate that a part is missing or damaged, it changes its image of itself and moves on.

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As for sf references, everybody remembers the HAL-9000 unit that ran the spaceship in 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL was also able to sense problems in the ship and then get one if its servants (the human astronauts) to install new components, if necessary.

Despite their achievement, the researchers remain modest in the face of nature. "We never officially named it, but we usually refer to it as the Starfish robot, even though a real starfish has five rather than four legs," said lead researcher Josh Bongard, now at the University of Vermont. "Also, a real starfish is much better than our robot at recovering from injury, because it can actually regrow its legs."

See a remarkable Starfish robot video.

Many more movies and pictures of the Starfish robot can be found here.

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1 Terabyte On 1 Disc

How to fit 1TB of data on one CD-sized disc

Blu-ray and HD DVD have pushed the limits of optical storage further than anyone thought possible. But a new technology has emerged which makes Blu-ray's 50GB capacity look tiny. Mempile in Israel says it's able to fit an incredible 1TB of data onto one "TeraDisc" which is the same size as CDs and DVDs. That's 20 times the capacity of a maxed-out dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

The incredible capacity achieved using this new technology is made possible by employing 200 5GB layers, each one only five microns apart. The discs are completely transparent to the red lasers which are used in the associated recorder.

Prototypes have already been made to store up to 800GB of data, and Mempile says it will crack the 1TB barrier before moving on to build 5TB blue laser disks.

Dr Beth Erez, Mempile's Chief Marketing Officer says that the first 1TB disks have a lifespan of 50 years and could be on the shelves in two to three years.

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On a 1TB disc, you could store:

  • 212 DVD-quality movies
  • 250,000 MP3 files
  • 1,000,000 large Word documents

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Flying Saucer Goes On Sale In A Few Months




Flying saucer 'nears US take-off'

It has been called the vehicle of the future and the ultimate way to beat the rush hour commute.

It is the M 200G, otherwise known as a "flying saucer", which is being built by a company in Davis, California called Moller International.

It says the futuristic contraption will go on sale in a few months and hopes to expand production to 250 a year.

Company representatives say it is easy to operate, with plenty of leg room and space for a passenger.

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Capable of vertical take-off and landing, the craft - so far a one-off prototype - hovers like a helicopter up to 10ft off the ground. Any higher and the driver would need a pilot's licence.

It is the brainchild of Dr Paul Moller, an aeronautics engineer who envisions a "highway in the sky" which he believes could cut conventional commuter traffic in half.

"We have this wonderful natural resource above us," Dr Moller told the BBC.

"Look at the sky above us - how many aircraft do you see? It's a great space that is not being utilised. That is what we plan to use. Cars are finished as a means of getting around. It's only a matter of time."

The flying saucer is powered by eight engines which can run on petrol, diesel or even ethanol.

For many more movies, visit the flying car movie page on www.moller.com.

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Super Muscular Mice Through Genetic Engineering

'Mighty mice' made mightier

The Johns Hopkins scientist who first showed that the absence of the protein myostatin leads to oversized muscles in mice and men has now found a second protein, follistatin, whose overproduction in mice lacking myostatin doubles the muscle-building effect.

Results of Se-Jin Lee’s new study, appearing on August 29 in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE, show that while mice that lack the gene that makes myostatin have roughly twice the amount of body muscle as normal, mice without myostatin that also overproduce follistatin have about four times as much muscle as normal mice.

Lee, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of molecular biology and genetics, says that this added muscle increase could significantly boost research efforts to “beef up” livestock or promote muscle growth in patients with muscular dystrophy and other wasting diseases.

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“To my surprise and delight, there was an additive effect,” said Lee, who notes these muscular mice averaged a 117 percent increase in muscle fiber size and a 73 percent increase in total muscle fibers compared to normal mice.

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Mechanical Heart Removed After Organ Heals Itself

Mechanical heart removed after organ heals self

A 15-year-old Camrose, Alta. girl has become one of the few patients to be taken off an artificial heart device because her own diseased heart healed itself.

"It's changed everything," Melissa Mills told CTV's Canada AM. "I have such a respect for life now."

Mills was sent to Edmonton's Stollery Children's Hospital last year after a sudden illness affected her heart and a transplant was urgently needed.

Her parents were told to prepare for the possibility that their daughter might not survive.

Doctors at the hospital implanted a Berlin Heart, a mechanical device worn outside the body that keeps blood pumping in a person with a damaged heart. The Stollery is one of a few facilities in Canada to work with the Berlin Hearts, which are the world's first mechanical hearts designed for children.

Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, Montreal's McGill University Health Centre and Sainte-Justine Hospital also work with the artificial heart device.

With that done, Mills then waited for a heart to become available for a transplant. At one point, she was at the top of the North American transplant list.

But over the next few months, her condition improved dramatically. Her own heart regained strength and after 146 days on the Berlin Heart, Melissa underwent surgery to have the device removed.

"For sure it's a miracle," Dr. Holger Buchholz, a heart specialist, said Tuesday.

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Levitation Figured Out By Scientists

Physicists have 'solved' mystery of levitation

Levitation has been elevated from being pure science fiction to science fact, according to a study reported today by physicists.

In earlier work the same team of theoretical physicists showed that invisibility cloaks are feasible.

Now, in another report that sounds like it comes out of the pages of a Harry Potter book, the University of St Andrews team has created an 'incredible levitation effects’ by engineering the force of nature which normally causes objects to stick together.

Professor Ulf Leonhardt and Dr Thomas Philbin, from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, have worked out a way of reversing this pheneomenon, known as the Casimir force, so that it repels instead of attracts.

Their discovery could ultimately lead to frictionless micro-machines with moving parts that levitate But they say that, in principle at least, the same effect could be used to levitate bigger objects too, even a person.

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Implanting Microchips In Soldier's Brains

Pentagon to implant microchips in soldiers' brains

The Department of Defense is planning to implant microchips in soldiers' brains for monitoring their health information, and has already awarded a $1.6 million contract to the Center for Bioelectronics, Biosensors and Biochips at Clemson University for the development of an implantable "biochip".

Soldiers fear that the biochip, about the size of a grain of rice, which measures and relays information on soldiers vital signs 24 hours a day, can be used to put them under surveillance even when they are off duty.

But Anthony Guiseppi-Elie, C3B director and Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Bioengineering claims the that the invivo biosensors will save lives as first responders to the trauma scene could inject the biochip into the wounded victim and gather data almost immediately.

He believes that the device has other long-term potential applications, such as monitoring astronauts’ vital signs during long-duration space flights and reading blood-sugar levels for diabetics.

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Life Extension Pill Tested In Humans

Longevity Pill Tested in Humans

Sirtris Pharmaceuticals announces that its souped-up version of resveratrol has passed early tests in humans.

What if I told you there was a pill that slows aging and allows you to live a healthy life to age 100?

Such a pill may exist right now. It's being tested in people in very early-stage human clinical trials. Today, the company making the pill, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, announced its findings from preclinical testing in cells and animals, and also from tests conducted on 85 male volunteers this summer.

The verdict: so far, the pill works, although it will be years before we know how well it works, or if it can actually extend the life span of people in the same way that it has bumped up the life span of mice.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Artificial Robot Brain For Natural Movement

EU project builds artificial brain for robots

Scientists in Spain have achieved a giant leap for robotkind by building the first artificial cerebellum to help them interact with humans. The cerebellum is the portion of the brain that controls motor functions.

The project will now implant the man-made cerebellum into a robot so as to make its movements and interaction with humans more natural. The overall goal is to incorporate the cerebellum into a robot designed by the German Aerospace Centre in two year's time. The researchers hope that their work will also result in clues on how to treat cognitive diseases such as Parkinson's.

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The scientists at the University of Granada are focusing on the design of microchips that incorporate a full neuronal system, emulating the way the cerebellum interacts with the human nervous system.

Implanting the man-made cerebellum in a robot will allow it to manipulate and interact with other objects with far greater effectiveness than previously managed.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Solar Power Will Hit Mainstream In Only A Few Years

Forecast for solar power: Sunny

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The outlook for solar, though, is getting much brighter. A few dozen companies say advances in technology will let them halve the price of solar-panel installations in as little as three years. By 2014, solar-system prices will be competitive with conventional electricity when energy savings are figured in, Deutsche Bank says. And that's without government incentives.

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Like wind power, solar energy is spotty, working at full capacity an average 20% to 30% of the time. Solar's big advantage is that it supplies the most electricity midday, when demand peaks. And it can be located at homes and businesses, reducing the need to build pollution-belching power plants and unsightly transmission lines.

In states such as California, with high electricity prices and government incentives, solar is already a bargain for some customers. Wal-Mart recently said it's putting solar panels on more than 20 of its stores in California and Hawaii. Google is blanketing its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters with 9,212 solar panels, enough to light 1,000 homes.

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The solar industry is expected to triple in the next three years, from about $13 billion to $40 billion in revenue, says analyst Jesse Pichel of Piper Jaffray.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mind Controlled Bionic Arm Can Play Piano

Engineers develop a mind-controlled prosthetic arm dexterous enough to play piano

This summer the team hit a critical milestone when it finished Proto 2, a thought-controlled mechanical arm—complete with hand and articulated fingers—that can perform 25 joint motions. This dexterity approaches that of a native arm, which can make 30 motions, and trumps the previously most agile bionic arm, the Proto 1, which could bend at the elbow, rotate its wrist and shoulder, and open and close its fingers. A person wearing a Proto 2 could conceivably play the piano.






How long before we voluntarily have our limbs amputated to replace them with superior technology?

Also see The Future Of Mind Control.

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