dracodraconis: (Default)

Faster, cheaper DNA sequencing method developed

In another story from Boston University, researchers have developed a nanoscale sensor that detects DNA molecules as they pass through a 4 nanometer-wide silicon nanopore. The mouth of the nanopore is charged to attract the negatively charged DNA strands. Interestingly, the system works best with long DNA strands which could lead to much faster DNA processing. The system has also decreased by a factor of 10,000 the number of DNA molecules that must be captured so that DNA amplification may not be required, a step that can slow the detection process and introduce transcription errors.
dracodraconis: (Default)

Autism and schizophrenia could be genetic opposites - health - 02 December 2009 - New Scientist

Research at Simon Fraser University suggests that autism and schizophrenia may be at opposite ends of the same biological spectrum. The investigated four regions associated with increased risk of either condition and found that autism was associated with the presence of a particular copy-number variant while schizophrenia was associated with the absence of a copy-number variant. They suggest that these results support other studies "...that autism may be caused by overdevelopment of specific brain regions and schizophrenia by underdevelopment...".

dracodraconis: (Default)

Girl with Y chromosome sheds light on maleness - life - 09 April 2009 - New Scientist

A 7-year-old girl has Y-chromosome but none of the defects normally associated with it. Instead, doctors believe that she has a mutation in the CBX2 gene of chromosome 17. The gene's function is poorly understood, but they believe CBX2 shuts down SRY which is critical to male sexual development. Mice without CBX2 are normally sterile so time will tell if she will have the same problem.
dracodraconis: (Default)

Robot scientist comes up with its own new discoveries

British scientists have developed a robotic system that automates some portions of genetic research. The system uses a database of genetic information about yeast and, when it encounters missing information, creates and conducts tests to fill in the missing information. So far, the automated system has generated and tested 20 hypotheses, all of which were confirmed by tests by humans. The system is capable of performing more than 1000 tests per day with each test lasting for up to 5 days. Yeast was chosen for testing because it is often used as a model for higher organisms.

dracodraconis: (Default)

Dad's Age May Lower Junior's IQ - ABC News

A study of the intelligence of 33,000 children at 8 months, 4 years, and 7 years between 1959 and 1965 seems to indicate the optimum is an older mother with a younger father. In fact, older fathers correlated well with lower intelligence scores. Other researchers, however, are sceptical of results, stating that the type of parental care given by men at that time might have had as much or more of an effect than age.
dracodraconis: (Default)

Like Father, Like Daughter: Scientific American Podcast

Women born in the 1970s were 3 times more likely to follow their father's career path. The rest of the podcast can e found at the link.
dracodraconis: (Default)
A US company claims that its Palm Pistol, a 9-mm specifically designed for people with conditions like arthritis that have trouble firing a standard handgun, has been granted FDA approval as a Class I medical device. The FDA hasn't issued a statement about it, just admitted that there has been discussion about it. The documentation that has been seen seems to indicate that the facility, not the gun, has been successfully registered with the FDA.

Scientists has discovered a gene variant that seems to correlate with whether or not a person responds will to placebo treatment for fear of public humiliation. The gene is involved in serotonin production so it is believed that those who have the gene variant are less affected by "fear" tests so respond better to the placebo treatment. Further studies are required to determine if the gene is generally linked to good response to placebo treatment or whether this is only specific to this disorder.

An Israeli medical researcher has solved the problem of how to use a laser to seal wounds. The trick is to monitor the temperature of the wound to ensure that it stays between 60 and 70 degrees Celsius. A "solder" of water-soluble protein is applied as the laser is moved over the wound. The result heals faster, has less inflammation, and has less risk of infection that traditional sutures.

A Vancouver company has developed a wind turbine that could generate up to 50% more power than current designs. The trick is using an electronic transmission that lets it continue to operate at high efficiency even when they blades are moving slowly, such as under low-wind conditions. it also makes the system more responsive to gusts so it can maintain high efficiency even under chaotic wind conditions.

An accident by a graduate student attempting to make a solar cell has yielded a high-conductivity photodetector that might one day lead to cheaper cameras with higher optical resolution and lower sensor noise.
dracodraconis: (Default)
One of the United States' intelligence councils issued a report that over the next few decades the world dominance of the US will fade, although it will remain to be a force with which to be reckoned. China, India, and Russia were noted as countries that will continue to have more and more impact on the world stage.

Last Thursday, a group of Islamist militants has said "enough is enough" with regard to Somali pirates taking their supertanker. The are now en route to the port where the tanker is being held with plans to attack and retrieve the tanker. So far, the pirates say they'll fight back, but some sources report that they have lowered their ransom demand from $25 million(US) to $15 million(US) while others say the random is still $25 million(US). It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Etherpad is a new online wordprocessor that allows multiple people to edit the same document in real-time. Each person's changes show up in a different colour so you can see which person has made or is making changes. A sidebar contains a real-time chat window so the collaborating authors can discuss changes. TechCrunch provides a review of the program.

For those who enjoyed Iron Man, Jeff Bridges published an online photo diary taken while he worked on the movie, complete with commentary.

Scientists say they have identified a set of biomarkers that are highly predictive of physiological and chronological age, at least in nematodes. They hope to find similarly predictive biomarkers in humans that could then predict whether a person was aging more slowly or more rapidly than the norm.

NASA has discovered ice sheets almost 1/2 a mile thick far closer to the equator that previously thought. These may provide a ready source of water for future Mars missions.

Monty Python has gotten sick of people posting clips of their shows online without permission, but rather than fight it they decided to post the clips themselves, but added a link to where you can purchase the high quality versions of the originals. The link takes you to the Monty Python YouTube channel where you can get all of your Pythony-goodness.

DenOfGeek lists 75 84 comics that are in the process of being made (maybe) into movies.

Swiss researchers have developed the most water-resistant fabric ever made. In addition to being self-cleaning, it reduces the drag from moving through water by up to 20%, making it ideal for high-tech swim suits.

dracodraconis: (Default)
Japanese researchers claim to have cloned frozen mice (that is, mice that were frozen, not that they created frozen clones) and postulate that the same could be done for woolly mammoths.

Richard Dawkin's next target is, according to the Telegraph, "anti-scientific fairy tales". According to the article, he plans to write a book aimed at children to contrast scientific thinking with mythological thinking. Although he is not certain that childhood belief in magic has a detrimental effect, he plans to at least explore the question.

British researchers propose that it may be practical for future manned missions beyond earth's magnetosphere to carry their own "mini-magnetosphere". Simulations show that a magnetic bubble only a few hundred meters across would be sufficient to protect the spacecraft's occupants. Edit: They also performed tests using a $20 magnet and a plasma stream that appeared to work well, but cautioned that scaling it up to a full space ship is more than 15 to 20 years off. The link has a video of the "hole" the magnet makes in a plasma beam.

Cassini's new mission is to check Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons, for evidence of life by sampling material ejected in a giant plume from the moon's south pole for the presence of methane and other organic chemicals.

A little-known fungus in Padagonia makes diesel vapour as a bi-product of consuming plant waste, making it a possible cheap source of biofuel from cellulose waste.

dracodraconis: (Default)
A recent study says that fibromyalgia my be all in the head, specifically a "... global dysfunction of cerebral pain-processing." according to the study's lead author.

The benefits of dark chocolate: reduced risk of heart disease (but no more than 1/2 a bar per week) and resveratrol, a compound associated with the health benefits of red wine. The latter study was conduct by the Hershey's Centre for Health and Nutrition, which is amusing given the current public health advisory against purchasing Hershey's chocolates from Canadian stores around Toronto.  Some products had been recalled in 2006 in response to positive tests of salmonella at the now-defunct Smiths Falls plant but were stolen from the recycling depot where they had been held for the past two years.

Yet more worries for pregnant women: a British study says that pregnant women who drink coffee, even no more than a cup each day, raise the risk of giving birth to an underweight baby.

Click here to see a picture of the Epsilon Eridani system where, last week, it was discovered that there were two asteroid belts and it's own version of the Kuiper belt, increasing the likelihood that planets also exist. The star, slightly smaller than ours and only 850 million years old so it is unlikely that intelligent life exists yet on any planet circling the star, given ours required almost 4 billion years to reach it's present state.

New Scientist reports that Australian researchers have found a possible genetic link to male-to-female transsexualism. Previously, Austrian researchers had discovered a potential genetic link to female-to-male transsexualism.

Yale researchers have put together the blueprints for an artificial cell, based on electrocyte cells found in electric eels, that could become a bio-battery for implants, allowing the devices to be powered by the host.

Also from back in September, British researchers have isolated nerve cells responsible for the feeling of pleasure associated with stroking. They also discovered that the optimal stroke is 5 cm/second with a pressure of 2 grams per square cm, and suggests it may be useful in helping to treat chronic pain.

Finally, though not a S&T article... Ontario is officially a have-not province so qualifies for transfer payments.

dracodraconis: (Default)
"Junk" DNA may hold key to evolution of thumb and big toe - linked to tool use and upright posture respectively. The Yale research team identified at set of genes that they dubbed HACNS1 that, when introduced into mouse embryo,  appeared to drive changes in the structure of the thumb and big toe. The researchers stress that the work is highly preliminary and they don't even know for sure if human-like structural changes would occur of the gene were to be spliced into mouse DNA.

Mentally taxing work linked to increase in food intake - despite the fact that the brain uses pretty much the same amount of energy whether working hard or at rest. The Quebec study compared the food intake, glucose and insulin levels, and cortisol levels among female students after one of three tasks: relaxing, mild mental exertion, and moderate mental exertion. They found that the caloric intake increased with the level of mental exertion, and that this was accompanied by increased glucose and insulin level instability, as well as higher cortisol levels that indicate an increase in stress levels.

Election kills Canadian DCMA bill - The announcement of an October 14th federal election is expected to kill the C-61 bill, known as the Canadian DCMA. It is expected that the bill will be resurrected in the event of a Conservative win.

First paper-based transistor - has been built by Portugese researchers who claim that it performs as well as transistors based on glass. The transistor was constructed by depositing, at room temperature, an inorganic semiconductor, the first used on a paper substrate, onto the surface. The porosity of paper presented a challenge to creating the transistor and still results in the current seepage when it is supposed to be "off". They plan to try using laminated paper to avoid the current leakage problem, and eventually hope to use the process to create cheap, disposable electronics.
dracodraconis: (Default)
Transsexuality gene identified... maybe - A variation in the gene cytochrome P17 leads to higher-than-average levels of both male and female sex hormones, and appears to be linked to female-to-male transsexuality. The researchers caution that this only means that there is probably a genetic component to transsexuality and that it is a complex behaviour with multiple factors involved. In fact, the gene variant is present in some women who are not transsexual, and is absent in some women who are transsexual.

New solar cell material soaks up the infrared - Almost half of energy from the sun is in the infrared wavelength, but contemporary solar cells can only capture the visible wavelengths so are limited to a theoretical maximum of 40% efficiency. A new material developed by Spanish researchers can absorb both visible light and infrared wavelengths so could boost the theoretical upper limit to 63%.

Efficiency of thermoelectric materials boosted - US researchers have boosted the zT from 1 to 1.5, a 50% improvement in thermoelectric efficiency. Although still a long way from the goal of 3 or 4 (sufficient to compete with an automobile engine), this discovery indicates that the maximum thermoelectric efficiency should be higher than 1.5. Many mechanical systems, such as steam generators and automobile engines, generate a lot of waste heat (60% in the case of a gasoline engine), so adding a thermoelectric material could increase the overall efficiency of these systems.

Former Queen guitarist completes his PhD - After a 30-year hiatus, Brian May returned to school to complete his doctorate in astronomy. His thesis is titled A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud.

Nanowires used to make large image sensor - Berkley researchers were able to build a prototype image sensor by growing two types of nanowire "lawns", then transferring them to a the same surface. Almost 80% of the elements were functional. The process can work with a wide range of surfaces, and easily scalable to large surface areas.
dracodraconis: (Default)
German scientists have found a gene that makes it more difficult for men to learn from their mistakes. Men with what is referred to as an A1 mutation have fewer D2 (dopamine) receptors in their brain so are less strongly affected by negative feedback. This mutation is apparently present in more than one-third of the population, but the article does not indicate whether this is a gender-specific problem, only that the experiments were conducted solely using male volunteers. The researchers theorize that this may be why the A1 mutation is linked to addictive and compulsive disorders.

Found on Slashdot
dracodraconis: (Default)
A recent study published in the British Journal of Medicine discusses the genes that appear to control for magic. They report that FOXP2 and MCR1 may be involved, based on long-term study involving muggles, witches, wizards and squibs as documented by J.K. Rowling.

Follow the link to the BMJ website to read the full paper in either HTML or PDF form.

Found on "Greg Laden's Blog", courtesy of ScienceBlogs.
dracodraconis: (Default)
A team of US researchers were able to treat mice with sickle-cell anemia using skin cells reprogrammed to act as stem cells. The reprogramming was achieved by using retroviruses to insert therapeutic genes into the cells. Much work still remains before they can be certain that the retrovirus procedure is safe for use on humans.
dracodraconis: (Default)
Among the stories in today's post: Energy-harvesting mechanical fish, the world's smallest radio, the benefits of swearing at work, and soy's affects on sperm count.
New Scientist - Energy and Fuels
Mechanical 'fish' could tap turbulence for energy - Devices that harvest energy from swirling wakes surrounding buildings are being developed by US researchers. Their novel designs – inspired by fish – could generate electricity using eddies, something that conventional turbines cannot do.
Multi-touch display can 'see' objects too - A computer screen that also acts as a two-handed touch interface and a crude infrared camera has been developed by researchers at Microsoft's labs in the UK. The technology – dubbed ThinSight – was developed by adding an extra layer of electronics behind a normal laptop screen. This adds a couple of centimetres to the overall thickness, but completely transforms its abilities. The screen "sees" by using a grid of paired infrared sensors and transmitters that sit just behind the backlight of the laptop's LCD panel. The sensors can form crude images when infrared light bounces off an object (see images, right). This could allow the screen to identify hand gestures or to see objects, and let them interact with onscreen images.
Physics Org
Look, Ma, no batteries: Powering nanoelectronics with light - Scientists have developed solar cells 200 hundred times thinner than a human hair that they believe will power the nanoscale gadgetry of tomorrow, according to a study released Wednesday. Virtually invisible to the naked eye, a single strand can crank out up to 200 picowatts. Two hundred billionths of a watt may not seem much, but at nanoscale it is enough to provide a steady output of electricity to run ultralow power electronics, including some that could be worn on -- or even inside -- the body.
Toward world's smallest radio: nano-sized detector turns radio waves into music - Researchers in California today report development of the world’s first working radio system that receives radio waves wirelessly and converts them to sound signals through a nano-sized detector made of carbon nanotubes. The “carbon nanotube radio” device is thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. The development marks an important step in the evolution of nano-electronics and could lead to the production of the world’s smallest radio, the scientists say.
National Geographic News
Gene-Altered Plant, Tree Can Suck Up Toxins - Two types of genetically modified plants can remove toxic compounds from the environment, according to research by a pair of independent groups. One group developed Arabidopsis plants—small plants related to cabbage and mustard—that can clean up soil contaminated with cyclonite, or RDX. The widely used explosive is highly toxic and carcinogenic. The other team modified a poplar tree to soak up a host of cancer-causing compounds from soil, groundwater, and air.
Swearing at Work is Bleeping Good For You - This is the kind of news that your HR folks don't want to hear, but researchers today said letting workers swear at will in the workplace can benefit employees and employers. The study found regular use of profanity to express and reinforce solidarity among staff, enabling them to express their feelings, such as frustration, and develop social relationships, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia (UES).
How the U.S. Became Switchboard to the World - A lucky coincidence of economics is responsible for routing much of the world's internet and telephone traffic through switching points in the United States, where, under legislation introduced this week, the U.S. National Security Agency will be free to continue tapping it. ...International phone and internet traffic flows through the United States largely because of pricing models established more than 100 years ago... The United States, where the internet was invented, was also home to the first internet backbone. Combine that architectural advantage with the pricing disparity inherited from the phone networks, and the United States quickly became the center of cyberspace as the internet gained international penetration in the 1990s.
Purpose of Appendix Believed Found - Some scientists think they have figured out the real job of the troublesome and seemingly useless appendix: It produces and protects good germs for your gut. That's the theory from surgeons and immunologists at Duke University Medical School, published online in a scientific journal this week.
ABC News: Technology & Science
Study: Eating Soy May Slash Sperm Count - Men who eat just half a serving of soya a day have drastically fewer sperm than those who do not consume such foods, according to a small, preliminary study. The study's researchers say larger trials are needed to determine whether men hoping to conceive a child should try to avoid soya foods, such as tofu, tempeh and soya milk. However, soya industry representatives caution that the new findings contradict earlier studies that have shown no impact on sperm count from soya-based products.
BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
Gene-block birth control 'on way' - An American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference was told a technique called "RNA interference" could stop sperm entering the egg. However, the new "Pill" is at least a decade away - and may have its own side-effects.
dracodraconis: (Default)
Among the stories in today's post: beaming energy from space, frog-inspired tape, building wormholes, women's preference for deep-voiced men, and 80 million years without sex.
New Scientist - Energy and Fuels
Pentagon backs plan to beam solar power from space - A futuristic scheme to collect solar energy on satellites and beam it to Earth has gained a large supporter in the US military. Space-based solar power would use kilometre-sized solar panel arrays to gather sunlight in orbit. It would then beam power down to Earth in the form of microwaves or a laser, which would be collected in antennas on the ground and then converted to electricity. Unlike solar panels based on the ground, solar power satellites placed in geostationary orbit above the Earth could operate at night and during cloudy conditions.
National Geographic News
Early Venus Had Oceans, May Have Been Habitable - Venus, not Mars, may have been the most likely planet in the solar system to have also developed life, scientists say. The cloud-shrouded planet most likely started with oceans much like Earth's, which evaporated as Venus heated up, according to new research.
Frog-Inspired Tape Reusable, Doesn't Lose Grip - The toe pads of tree frogs and crickets have inspired a new supersticky—yet reusable—adhesive, scientists report. Conventional tape cracks when it is pulled off a surface. The cracks enable removal, but usually also render the tape useless for reapplication, the authors said. The toe pads of tree frogs and crickets, on the other hand, contain microscopic channel patterns that prevent cracking. The researchers embedded the same type of microchannels in the new adhesive, which thwarted cracks, said study co-author Animangsu Ghatak.
BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
Test 'can spot Alzheimer's risk' - A newly developed blood test can identify those at risk of Alzheimer's disease up to six years before symptoms would become apparent, researchers say.
Eighty million years without sex - The mystery of how an animal has survived for 80 million years without sex has been solved by UK scientists. A Cambridge team says the creature owes its existence to a genetic quirk that offers some recompense for its prolonged celibacy. The animal is a tiny invertebrate known as a bdelloid rotifer. It lives in freshwater pools. If deprived of water, it survives in a desiccated state until water becomes available again. The secret to this novel survival mechanism lies in a twist of asexual reproduction, whereby the animal is able to make two separate proteins from two different copies of a key gene.
ABC News: Technology & Science
Women Dig 'Deep and Sexy' Voices - "We know in this society that women have a preference for men who have a lower or a deeper voice pitch," said Coren Apicella, a student researcher at Harvard University, explaining that there have been polls and studies on the subject.
Physics Org
'Electromagnetic Wormhole' Possible with Invisibility Technology - The team of mathematicians that first created the mathematics behind the "invisibility cloak" announced by physicists last October has now shown that the same technology could be used to generate an "electromagnetic wormhole." Last year, David R. Smith, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke's Pratt School, and his coauthors engineered an invisibility device as a disk, which allowed microwaves to pass around it. Greenleaf and his coauthors have now employed more elaborate geometry to specify exactly what properties are demanded of a wormhole's metamaterial in order to create the "invisible tunnel" effect. They also calculated what additional optical effects would occur if the inside of the wormhole was coated with a variety of hypothetical metamaterials.
Swedish Agency Develops Underwater Wireless Technology - The Swedish Defense Research Agency, FOI has developed an underwater wireless technology that has been tested for accurately predicting weather conditions, sea pollution and earthquakes. The new technology is a vast improvement over traditional echo sound technology.
Car Insurers' Devices Track Teen Drivers - Several U.S. auto insurers have begun offering in-car cameras or global positioning equipment to help parents monitor their teenagers' driving behavior, hoping to reduce the alarming number of crashes involving young new motorists. Under Teen Safe Driver, a camera records audio and video images of both the road and the driver when motion sensors detect swerving, hard braking, sudden acceleration or a collision. The footage goes to an analysis center where it is graded for riskiness and sent on to parents with comments and coaching tips. Teen drivers have mixed feelings about the technology; one in 20 even cover the camera after it is first installed, according to program officials.
Wired Science
New Algae-Growing Technique Could Lead to Earth-Friendly Fabric, Paint - Going green is fashionable, but dyeing our clothes has remained a decidedly eco-unfriendly practice. Now, British scientists have developed a way to grow harmless algae to add color to fabric and paint. The algae, called diatoms, are single-celled organisms that are unique because they pack iridescent shells. The hard silica shells act like crystals -- depending on the configuration of the holes in the shell, the color changes. The perception of color is maintained without altering the chemical composition of fabric, which is a fundamentally different way of producing color.
dracodraconis: (Default)
Physics Org
Asteroid heads for Earth, Russian astronomer claims - Boris Shustov, director of the Institute of Astronomy, said at a forum that the Apophis asteroid could have a bigger impact than an asteroid that hit Siberia in 1908, the Novosti news agency reported. Apophis' predicted track would take it within 17,000 miles of Earth in 2029, Shustov said.
Group Renames Asteroid for George Takei - An asteroid between Mars and Jupiter has been renamed 7307 Takei in honor of the actor, best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu in the original "Star Trek" series and movies. "I am now a heavenly body," Takei, 70, said Tuesday, laughing. "I found out about it yesterday. ... I was blown away. It came out of the clear, blue sky - just like an asteroid."
Technology Review Feed - Nanotech Top Stories
Display Technology Promises Cheaper Solar - The big manufacturing equipment that has helped bring down costs for flat-screen TVs based on liquid-crystal-display (LCD) technology may soon bring prices for solar electricity more in line with prices for electricity from the grid. Applied Materials, a company based in Santa Clara, CA, that supplies manufacturing equipment to LCD makers, as well as to major microchip makers, has converted its equipment to produce thin-film silicon solar cells that are cheap enough to compete with more conventional solar cells. This may eventually lead to much cheaper solar power.
Nonstick Chewing Gum - Most everyone has had the displeasure of stepping on chewing gum in a parking lot. Cleaning up the sticky mess might become easier, thanks to a new gum created by U.K.-based Revolymer. The gum easily comes off roads, shoes, and hair, and it barely sticks at all to some surfaces.
New Scientist - Energy and Fuels
Grass-munching bugs could charge rural phones - A bacteria-powered cellphone charger could keep people in developing countries talking, even when they live far from the grid. A team of students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, US, has designed a microbial fuel cell (MFC) that runs on plant waste.
Technology Review Feed - Biotech Top Stories
Deciphering Human Differences - Yale University molecular biologist Michael Snyder, along with colleagues Alex Eckehart Urban and Jan Korbel (from left to right), used new computer algorithms to identify hundreds of structural variations--chunks of shuffled DNA--in the human genome. Mapping and characterizing these structural variants could be key to understanding human diversity and the origins of many diseases.
BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
Chilli compound fires painkiller - A chemical from chilli peppers may be able to kill pain without affecting touch or movement. Conventional local anaesthetics affect all nerve cells. But the researchers Harvard team, writing in Nature, said that with capsaicin, the chilli chemical, they can target just pain receptors. However, a UK expert said it might be difficult to inject it safely.
Captive breeding 'weakens' beasts - Animals bred in captivity to help conservation programmes can quickly become less fit for survival in the wild, research suggests.
Mirrors 'could deflect' asteroids - Flying mirrors could save earth from a catastrophic asteroid collision, researchers have claimed. Up to 5,000 mirrors would be used to focus a beam of sunlight on to the asteroid, melting the rock and altering its orbital path away from earth. Orbiting mirrors would be used to focus sunlight on an area of the asteroid - heating the rock to around 2,100 degrees Celsius. This would create a thrust which would nudge the asteroid off course. For an asteroid on the scale of that which is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs, a 5,000-strong fleet of spacecraft would need to focus a beam on the surface for three or more years.
Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
Identifying fingerprints in seconds - Researchers at the University of Warwick, UK, say they have developed a technology to identify damaged fingerprints in just a few seconds. Their approach neglects surface marks and focuses on underlying patterns. The researchers claim that their technique is fast and 100% accurate -- at least it was on 500 people tested at the London Science Museum in August 2007. Now, they want to introduce this technology, which uses sweat pores as comparison points, in ID cards or passports and to access sensitive buildings. Will this new technology enter our biometric future? Time will tell.
dracodraconis: (Default)
Physics Org
Beyond a 'speed limit' on mutations, species risk extinction - Harvard University scientists have identified a virtual "speed limit" on the rate of molecular evolution in organisms, and the magic number appears to be 6 mutations per genome per generation -- a level beyond which species run the strong risk of extinction as their genomes lose stability.
Are women being scared away from math, science, and engineering fields? - Have you ever felt outnumbered? Like there are just not that many people like you around? We’ve all felt outnumbered in one situation or another and walking into a situation in which you sense the possibility of being ostracized or isolated can be quite threatening. One group that may experience this kind of threat is women who participate in math, science, and engineering (MSE) settings- settings in which the gender ratio is approximately 3 men to every 1 woman. Mary Murphy argues that the organization of Math, Science and Engineering environments themselves plays a significant role in contributing to this gap. Murphy contends that situational cues (i.e. being outnumbered) may contribute to a decrease in women’s performance expectations, as well as their actual performance.
Negativity is contagious, study finds - Though we may not care to admit it, what other people think about something can affect what we think about it. This is how critics become influential and why our parents’ opinions about our life choices continue to matter, long after we’ve moved out. But what kind of opinions have the most effect" An important new study in the Journal of Consumer Research reveals that negative opinions cause the greatest attitude shifts, not just from good to bad, but also from bad to worse.
New plastic is strong as steel, transparent - By mimicking a brick-and-mortar molecular structure found in seashells, University of Michigan researchers created a composite plastic that's as strong as steel but lighter and transparent. (see also: Mother-of-pearl inspires super-strong plastic)
Scientific American
How Do Artists Portray Exoplanets They've Never Seen? - Stargazers have yet to lay eyes on any of the nearly 240 planets detected outside our solar system. These so-called exoplanets are too faint for current telescopes to distinguish from the stars they orbit*; instead astronomers rely on indirect methods to infer their existence. Yet popular news accounts, supplied by space agency press services, overflow with bold, almost photo-realistic images of distant worlds.
washingtonpost.com - Technology
Online Videos May Be Conduits for Viruses - Online videos aren't just for bloopers and rants _ some might also be conduits for malicious code that can infect your computer. As anti-spam technology improves, hackers are finding new vehicles to deliver their malicious code. And some could be embedded in online video players, according to a report on Internet threats.
Physics Org
Software 'Chipper' Speeds Debugging - Computer scientists at UC Davis have developed a technique to speed up program debugging by automatically "chipping" the software into smaller pieces so that bugs can be isolated more easily.
Driverless Truck Lurches Out of Lab - Oshkosh Truck chief engineer John Beck programs a mission route into TerraMax, a military-vehicle prototype that can navigate traffic and avoid obstacles without a driver, at a test track near the company. During a recent test on property owned by manufacturer Oshkosh Truck Co., TerraMax barreled down a dusty road with its driver seat empty. It stopped at a four-way intersection and waited as staged traffic resolved before obediently lurching on its way. If the Defense Department gets its way, vehicles like TerraMax - about as long as a typical sport utility vehicle and almost twice as high - could represent the future of transportation for the military's ground forces.
ABC News: Technology & Science
Blind People: Hybrid Cars Pose Hazard - Gas-electric hybrid vehicles, the status symbol for the environmentally conscientious, are coming under attack from a constituency that doesn't drive: the blind. Because hybrids make virtually no noise at slower speeds when they run solely on electric power, blind people say they pose a hazard to those who rely on their ears to determine whether it's safe to cross the street or walk through a parking lot. Officials with the Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind are quick to point out that they're not advocating a return to gas guzzlers. They'd just like the fuel-efficient hybrids to make some noise.
Can Creativity Survive in Hollywood? - Researchers at Vanderbilt University concluded a couple of years ago that creative persons are likely to live somewhere between normalcy and schizophrenia. They may be socially awkward, adept at finding new uses for old tools, but they are not sick. The researchers even gave the condition a name: schizo-type. But, that's on an individual level. Can personal creativity survive large-scale collaboration? Is it possible for a bunch of highly creative people, working together on a single project, to produce a product that is more creative than the sum of its parts?

January 2010

     1 2


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags