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.


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


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.”


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."


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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