Sunday, July 31, 2005


Lice and Lindane

The US FDA issued a March 28, 2003 health advisory about Lindane, a pesticide commonly used to treat lice and scabies. New warnings on the box warn consumers and doctors that this nerve poison is potentially toxic to the nervous system, and therefore should not be used as the first treatment option. Also, Lindane should be used in caution in anyone weighing less than 110 pounds. It is known to have caused seizures in some children (it is even used for intentionally causing seizures in some animal research). Lindane is even known to have quickly killed a few who have used it. Many countries have banned Lindane altogether because of its persistent toxicity to people and to the environment. In the United States, about a million prescriptions for Lindane are written each year. In addition to the adverse health effects on the person using the Lindane, most of the shampoo or lotion goes down the drain. A single treatment for head lice is sufficient to contaminate up to 6 million gallons of water. In 2001, the State of California banned Lindane totally because of the high levels documented in the Los Angeles drinking water supply. Lindane remains on the market in the rest of the US, even though safer effective treatments are available for both lice and scabies.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

New Contributer

i am michelle, i like to read, go for long walks and bike ride,camp and cook and bake.

House backs research on new energy sources

A bill which will massively increase the funding directed to improving energy efficiency and researching alternative energy sources was passed by the House July 28. The Energy Policy Act 2005, HR 6, was approved by 275 to 156 and is expected to be endorsed by the Senate before the August recess.

The bill proposes $31.2 billion funding over the three years of fiscal years 2007-2009 for basic science and applied energy research. This would include $14.5 billion for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, DoE’s leading civilian funding agency for physical sciences R&D. If fully authorized, these proposals would double that agency’s budget over five years

Detecting the Traces of Mystery Matter

Using high-speed collisions between gold atoms, scientists think they have re-created one of the most mysterious forms of matter in the universe -- quark-gluon plasma. This form of matter was present during the first microsecond of the Big Bang and may still exist at the cores of dense, distant stars.


Single molecule is in driver's seat of molecular machine

While the human body has plenty of specialized molecular motors and machines powering the mechanical work necessary for cells to function properly, scientists themselves face many hurdles as they try to create their own molecular machines in the laboratory.


Penn Researchers Take a Big Step Forward in Making Smaller Circuits

Physicists at the University of Pennsylvania have overcome a major hurdle in the race to create nanotube-based electronics. In an article in the August issue of the journal Nature Materials, available online now, the researchers describe their method of using nanotubes tiny tubes entirely composed of carbon atoms -- to create a functional electronic circuit. Their method creates circuits by dipping semiconductor chips into liquid suspensions of carbon nanotubes, rather than growing the nanotubes directly on the circuit.


Stem Cells Mend Spinal Injuries

New research shows that rats that had their spinal columns severed were able to regain use of their hind legs through the use of stem cells from embryonic rats." From the Wired article: "Spinal cord injuries can be caused by accidents or infections and affect 250,000 people a year in the United States alone, costing $4 billion annually, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders. Whittemore's team took specific cells from rat embryos called glial restricted precursor cells -- a kind of stem cell or master cell that gives rise to nerve cells

Friday, July 29, 2005

Family of genes extends lifespan

Four cousins of a known longevity gene have been found to extend lifespan as well, suggesting that the entire family influences longevity and providing targets for new drugs that fight aging.

The gene, SIR2, is thought to play a role in the life extending benefits of a low-calorie diet.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Davis have now discovered that four cousins of SIR2 also extend lifespan.

"We think these new Sir2 genes are as important as any longevity genes discovered so far," says molecular biologist David Sinclair, coauthor of the new study. "There is a growing realization from the aging field that we might finally understand how to control certain aspects of the aging process and one day have drugs that can fight some of the disabilities the process causes."

Sinclair's research group previously reported a genetic link between environmental stresses and longer life.

They found that such stresses as low salt, heat or extreme calorie restriction triggered a longevity
regulator called PNC1 that stimulated SIR2 activity.

The new study, reported in the journal Science and led by Harvard graduate student Dudley Lamming, shows that PNC1 regulates the entire SIR2 family of genes.

The find suggests that a human PNC1 gene might protect against diseases of aging.

Planet X Larger Than Pluto?

The Minor Planet mailing list is buzzing with the discovery by an amateur astronomer of a 17th magnitude object 51 astronomical units from the Sun, tentatively designated 2003 EL61. For those not versed in astronomical lingo, this is an object several times brighter than Pluto even though it is 25% farther out from the Sun (the orbit vizualised by JPL). This means that barring a strangely reflective surface, this object is larger than Pluto, possibly Mars-sized! The debate whether Pluto is a planet is likely to get rekindled by this discovery."

HMP Research Station Field Update July 28, 2005

Over the course of the next week the Hamilton Sundstrand team will test the suit in various scenarios including as part of traverse with the Mars-1 Humvee Rover. Tomorrow we'll have a photo report of the Hamilton Sundstrand space suit activity."

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Mars Express Image: Water ice in crater at Martian north pole

Mars Express Image: Water ice in crater at Martian north pole The crater is 35 kilometres wide and has a maximum depth of approximately 2 kilometres beneath the crater rim. The circular patch of bright material located at the centre of the crater is residual water ice.

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Computers replacing people - How far can it go?

"It's intriguing to watch as computers are being used for tasks that require much more analysis and other human-like thinking than in the past, such as generating letters to customers, initial screening of resumes for jobs, and filtering e-mail before it reaches its recipients. While I'm sure computers have potential in this area, I saw three examples within the last week where the computer showed its lack of human intellect. ... There has been much talk about, and work in, the field of artificial intelligence - making computers 'think' like humans. For rote tasks in which the process is simple (such as opening a door when motion is detected), computers work pretty well. But for complex tasks, such as deciding what mail should and shouldn't be delivered to your e-mail box, computers may always experience some difficulty. Perhaps I'll do a follow up commentary several years from now on this subject ... unless, of course, by that time this column is being written by a computer

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Nanocell's double hit on cancer

A nanocell that can burrow into a tumour, cut off its blood supply and detonate a lethal dose of anti-cancer toxins has been developed.

The double-action therapy, which comes packed in a tiny double chamber, leaves healthy cells unscathed.

It has proved safe and effective against melanoma and a form of lung cancer in mice.

Details of the technique, developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are published in Nature.

The idea of using nanoparticles as a sort of therapeutic 'Trojan horse' is entirely new
Henry Scowcroft

The technique combines two methods of combating cancer - poisoning tumour cells and cutting off the blood supply to the tumour.

Previously, the dual strategy has proved difficult as chemotherapy could not be delivered to tumours if the supply line - the blood vessels - had been cut.

Also, the drugs required are delivered on different schedules - blood vessel-destroying anti-angiogenics over a prolonged period, and chemotherapy in cycles.

Double balloon

The MIT team tackled the problem by creating a structure for the nanocell that resembled a balloon within a balloon.

The researchers loaded the outer membrane of the nanocell with an anti-angiogenic drug and the inner balloon with chemotherapy agents.

They also created a surface chemistry which allowed the nanocell to evade detection by the immune system.

The nanocell was made small enough to pass through tumour vessels, but too large for the pores of normal vessels.

Once inside the tumour, the nanocell's outer membrane disintegrates, rapidly deploying the anti-angiogenic drug.

The blood vessels feeding the tumor then collapse, trapping the loaded nanoparticle in the tumor, where it slowly releases the chemotherapy.

Tests in mice showed the nanocell shrank the tumour, stopped angiogenesis (new vessel growth) and avoided damage to surrounding healthy tissue much more effectively than other cancer treatments.

Eight out of 10 mice treated with the nanocells survived for more than 65 days.

Mice treated with the best current therapy survived for just 30 days, while untreated animals died at 20 days.

The nanocell worked better against melanoma than lung cancer - indicating the need to tweak the design for different cancers.

Elegant system

Lead researcher Professor Ram Sasisekharan said: "This model enables us to rationally and systematically evaluate drug combinations and loading mechanisms.

"It's not going to stop here. We want to build on this concept."

Dr Judah Folkman, of Children's Hospital Boston, said: "It's an elegant technique for attacking the two compartments of a tumor, its vascular system and the cancer cells."

Henry Scowcroft, of Cancer Research UK, said: "This is a fascinating approach to cancer therapy that seems to be paying off in animal models of the disease.

"The idea of using nanoparticles as a sort of therapeutic 'Trojan horse', attacking the cancer cell by stealth from within, is entirely new.

"Although this concept is only starting out on the long road to becoming a treatment for cancer patients, these preliminary results look very promising indeed."

Japanese Develop 'Female' Android

The BBC is reporting that Japanese scientists have unveiled the most human-looking robot yet devised - a "female" android called Repliee Q1. 'She' has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, can flutter her eyelids, move her hands like a human and even appears to breathe. She can only sit though at present, so we're a long way from Blade Runner yet

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Windows Vista Beta 1 Due

Beta 1 of Windows Vista, formerly known as Longhorn, will be released coming wednesday. The download will be available to beta testers an hour after the official announcement.
I only have one question .
Where is my Invitation Microsoft ?

NASA Cassini Finds Recent and Unusual Geology on Enceladus

Cassini's July 14 flyby brought it within 109 miles of the surface of the icy moon. The close encounter revealed a landscape near the south pole almost entirely free of impact craters.

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Robot Futures are Up

A article offers predictions from the "futurology department" that cover all sorts of weird stuff.It seems we'll have emotional robot toys within 4 years, self-driving robot cars by 2015, robot guide dogs for the blind by 2017, basic rights for robots by 2020, and brain downloads for digital immortality by 2051. There are also plenty of non-robotic predictions for nuclear fusion, space elevators, medicinal fruit and regenerating teeth.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Nanoparticles activate brain cells

Nanoparticles have delivered genes into the brains of living mice with an efficiency that is similar to or better than viral vectors and with no observable toxic effect.

The nanoparticles, designed by researchers at the University at Buffalo, activate adult brain stem cells, suggesting that it could be possible to turn on the otherwise dormant cells to provide replacements for cells destroyed by neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's.

The nanoparticles used in the study can be synthesized easily in days.

They are created from hybrid, organically modified silica (ORMOSIL), which allows for the development of a library of tailored nanoparticles to target gene therapies for different tissues and cell types.

Nonviral vectors typically suffer from low expression and efficacy rates, especially in vivo, but the researchers say that this study is the first time a nonviral vector has shown efficacy in vivo at levels comparable to a viral vector.

In the study, targeted dopamine neurons took up and expressed a fluorescent marker gene (see image), showing that the nanoparticle technology can effectively deliver genes to specific types of brain cells.

"In the future, this technology may make it possible to repair neurological damage caused by disease, trauma or stroke," says study coauthor Earl J. Bergey.

The team next plans to conduct similar studies in larger animals.

The research is reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Stem cells showing success for heart attacks

A stem cell therapy that has effectively treated heart attacks in pigs is now being tested in humans.

A study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that in just two months, stem cells harvested from a pig's bone marrow and injected into a damaged heart restored heart function and repaired damaged heart muscle by 50% to 75%.

Two people are now enrolled at Johns Hopkins in a Phase I clinical trial designed to test the safety of injecting adult stem cells at varying doses into people with a recent heart attack. The trial, from which results are expected in mid-2006, will in total involve 48 people at several sites in the US.

"Ultimately, the goal is to develop a widely applicable treatment to repair and reverse the damage done to heart muscle that has been infarcted, or destroyed, after losing its blood supply," says cardiologist Joshua Hare, senior author of the study and lead trial investigator.

"There is reason for optimism about these findings, possibly leading to a first-ever cure for heart attack in humans," he says. "If a treatment can be found for the damage done by a heart attack to heart muscle, then there is the potential to forestall the serious complications that traditionally result from a heart attack, including disturbances of heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, and decreased muscle pumping function that can lead to congestive heart failure."

The Hopkins findings were first presented last fall at the 2004 Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association and will be published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Nanotech moves closer to a cure

When Dr. James Baker returned from the first Gulf War in 1991, his University of Michigan colleagues must have assumed the medical researcher's head had sustained a direct Scud missile hit. The good doctor came home with some pretty wacky ideas.

Here was one of them: Instead of using live viruses to destroy diseased cells, why not send in man-made, nanoscale molecules with tiny tendrils that scientists could engineer to battle specific types of cancers?

Remember, this was the early '90s. Few had even heard of the internet, much less "nanotechnology," which was then firmly the domain of futurists, and certainly not on the radar of respectable beaker slingers.

"In fact, there was a lot of derision at NIH (National Institutes of Health) that this was not real science," Baker recalls. "But as it became clear that gene therapy was not going anywhere without different approaches, I think the reality of, the necessity of, bioengineering in this process became clear."

Today, the National Cancer Institute is on its way to becoming a Nano Cancer Institute as it prepares to spend $144.3 million over five years on the engineered nanoparticles "approach" that Baker and just a few others had championed more than a decade ago. As for Baker, he's doing rather well in his corner office at the Center for Biologic Nanotechnology with a panoramic view of downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Baker had been involved in the Army's first attempts at DNA delivery of the adeno vaccine to combat acute respiratory illness among the troops. He found that not only was the body's immune system fighting off the viral-based vaccine, but the entire works were coming to "hard stops" at 150 nanometers. Things just did not get into cells very effectively beyond that.

It seemed clear to Baker that engineered nanoparticles would have to become part of the solution if they wanted to really chase after the bad guys in the body. "If we now want to fix the dysfunction of cells that lead to most of the diseases that we're currently fighting, we have to engineer at the same scale as the cells," Baker says.

That's the problem that was swirling around in Baker's head after the Gulf War. He wasn't the only scientist working on it, but he did have one advantage. He's located just 100 miles south of a nanotech pioneer: former Dow chemist Donald Tomalia, who had invented a type of particle called dendrimers. Tomalia realized -- unfortunately about two decades before the rest of the world -- that his man-made, tendriled molecule could be used in targeted drug delivery.

Tomalia saw that Baker was one of the few scientists at the time who also saw the possibilities within these sticky little nanothings. "He was a medical guy who could understand this," Tomalia says. "I think he very quickly began to realize the important implications that dendrimers would have."

All through the mid- and late '90s, Baker and Tomalia quietly experimented with these particles. A synthetic chemist and a medical researcher made for an odd couple at the time.

Lack of cooperation and understanding between the scientific disciplines is one of the toughest challenges facing nanotech researchers. Cooperation may sound simple to those outside the academic world, but cross-disciplinary collaboration is not the way universities have traditionally been organized.

That's the thinking behind the University of Michigan's new Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and the Biological Sciences, which Baker will head. "I think any university that doesn't develop collaborative centers like this is going to be frozen out," he says.

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Multi-booting Mac Intel Developer Machines

Ross Carlson over at has a great article up on how to install multiple operating systems on the new Intel based developer edition Macs. His particular setup triple-booted Mac OS X 10.4.1 (Intel), CentOS 4 and Windows XP. Just makes me drool.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Disease diagnosis, bioengineering covered at state nano summit

Kurt L. Krause, an associate professor of biology and biochemistry at UH, will give a presentation at 11 a.m. on the "Role of Protein Design in Bionanotechnology."

Sponsored by the Nanotechnology Foundation of Texas, the 2005 Nano Summit is a daylong forum for Texas natural science, engineering and medical researchers to meet and exchange information on their respective areas of expertise. With a focus on major nanoscience research activities across Texas, the conference also is of benefit to corporate research and development executives, as well as students in related disciplines. UH is a co-host of the event.

Tiny technology can change world

Nanoscale research will go beyond earthly imagination

The biggest thing in the future will be very, very small. Very, very, very small.

Nanotechnology and nanoscale research deal with machines and materials on the atomic and molecular levels and have been heralded as the next industrial revolution. But nanotech promises to have an even greater effect on society, according to Dr. Greg Nordin, professor of computer and electrical engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

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Nerve damage repair agent hope

Scientists say they have discovered a protein that could be injected to repair damaged nerves and brain cells.

The protein, KDI tripeptide, works by blocking the harmful effects of a substance present in degenerative brain diseases and spinal cord injuries.

By blocking this substance, called glutamate, KDI prevents permanent cell death and helps the body heal itself.

The Finnish work from the University of Helsinki will be published online by the Journal of Neuroscience Research.

Human trials

So far the researchers have tested KDI in the lab on animals and nerve cells from humans.

I think it is totally feasible we would be ready to start human clinical trials within a year
Lead researcher Dr Päivi Liesi

The findings have been promising and they hope to be able to begin treating people with nerve and degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, using KDI injections within a year.

Since KDI occurs naturally in some form in the body, researchers do not believe it will have major toxic side effects. None have been noted during their work to date.

Lead researcher Dr Päivi Liesi said: "We have had such good results with animals that I think it is totally feasible we would be ready to start human clinical trials within a year."

Currently, KDI has to be injected as a solution directly to the damaged area.

However, in the future it might be possible to make the treatment as an oral drug or an intravenous injection, said Dr Liesi.

Future promise

Her work builds on that of Dr George Martin from the National Institute on Ageing, at the US National Institutes of Health, who first discovered the molecule that KDI is derived from.

Dr Martin said: "This represents a new approach and one with considerable promise.

"When you look at the potential for preventing spinal cord injury progressing to total lack of physical control, to the fact that people could regenerate and regain their lives, this could be enormously important."

Dr Hugh Pearson, from the Alzheimer's Research Trust and the School of Biomedical Sciences at Leeds University, said: "This is an interesting study, though while the peptide has some significance for Alzheimer's disease treatment, it would be in slowing the mental decline associated with the disease. It does not represent a cure.

Side effects

"KDI will not generate new neurons but will increase the connections between the remaining neurons in the patient's brain.

"There is some evidence that this can improve cognition in Alzheimer's disease patients."

He said there might be problems with delivery of KDI - the tripeptide would be broken down by the body if given orally or intravenously.

Although the researchers do not expect side effects, he said the peptide could upset the balance of electrical activity in neurons and this might have some short to long term side effects.

"While there are some benefits, this approach is perhaps more significant for spinal cord repair than for Alzheimer's disease, where neurite outgrowth and reconnection of nerve cells with their target will provide long-lasting repair of damage."

Developmental genes drive aging: Harvard researchers

The same genes responsible for children's growth and development are responsible for their degeneration, assert Harvard researchers in a new report.

According to a press release on the report, scientists have long frowned on the idea that development is linked to aging.

In the new report, published in the journal Physiology, Joao Pedro de Magalhaes and George Church of Harvard Medical School argue that new evidence supports the theory that aging is driven by the same genetic processes behind development.

"We now know of several animals that can delay development and as a result delay aging as well," says de Magalhaes, the report's lead author. "Even in mammals there is growing evidence that aging is a consequence of developmental mechanisms. For instance, the pace of development influences the pace of aging, suggesting that the timing of developmental mechanisms determines the timing of aging in mammals."

The researchers do not think, however, that aging is an intentional product of evolution.

"I don't think aging is under strong selection," says de Magalhaes. "What happens, at least in higher organisms like mammals, is that evolution is not about selecting for long life. Evolution is about optimizing developmental mechanisms for reproduction. Once an organism has passed its genes to the next generation evolution gives up on it and the same genes responsible for the growth and maturation of that organism will inadvertently end up killing it. Examples include cell proliferation genes that are crucial in embryonic development but at older ages become harmful and can cause cancer and other age-related diseases."

De Magalhaes says the theory provides reason for optimism, as scientists already know many genes regulating development and aging.

"Some hormones like growth hormone and genes involved in insulin-like signaling appear to do just that: they regulate growth and development early in life and later contribute to aging," he says.

Despite this, de Magalhaes warns that there is much work to do before researchers know all of the genes involved.

"Development and aging are so complex that it will be some time before we fully understand them," he says.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Non-Terrestrial Officers

At The Guardian, a story about a military computer hacker: Game over.

Gary McKinnon has been accused of committing the 'biggest military computer hack of all time', and if extradited to the US faces up to 70 years in jail. So how did this techno geek from north London end up cracking open the Pentagon and Nasa's systems? He talks exclusively to Jon Ronson as he awaits his fate.

The most interesting part:

What was the most exciting thing you saw?" I ask.

"I found a list of officers' names," he claims, "under the heading 'Non-Terrestrial Officers'."

"Non-Terrestrial Officers?" I say.

"Yeah, I looked it up," says Gary, "and it's nowhere. It doesn't mean little green men. What I think it means is not earth-based. I found a list of 'fleet-to-fleet transfers', and a list of ship names. I looked them up. They weren't US navy ships. What I saw made me believe they have some kind of spaceship, off-planet."

Self-Healing Systems

Scientific American has a fascinating five page article on recovery-oriented computing; Self-Repairing Computers. This gives a nice review of the motivations behind self-healing systems, as well as the technology.

It seems a very important trend in the IT business at the moment. There's undoubtedly a huge market, HP and CA seem to be after it too - a few steps behind IBM. Expect more on this throughout the year!

Appologies for the slow updates, writing all day is really draining me! Sadly, the situation will get worse before it improves

Cyborg Jesse Sullivan Has Bionic Arms

Jesse Sullivan repaired power lines for the Tennessee Power Company and lost his arms after touching a live wire carrying 7,400 volts of electricity. His right arm was fitted with an old WWII style prosthesis but on his left arm they wanted to attach a new expiramental bionic arm. Doctors pulled out four main nerves that used to connect to Sullivan's left arm and fastened them just beneath the skin on his chest and a $6 million dollar bionic arm was attached. (I know $6 million dollars! That's sort of funny, isn't it?) The bionic arm allows Sullivan to bend his elbow and open and close his hand. He can make these movements by his own thoughts and can even feel hot and cold. Now he can feed himself, shave, put on his own socks and glasses, do the dishes, weed and mow his garden. He even painted a window! He is hoping to tie his shoes some day soon. Sullivan says, "When I first came to Chicago I was still suffering from the accident and I felt deep anxiety and fear, but now I feel great, this has given me hope for the future".

Utility-scale solar power generation "imminent"

The future of solar energy is looking positively sunny: Solar concentrators using highly efficient photovoltaic solar cells are promising to reduce the cost of electricity from sunlight to competitive levels soon.

"Concentrating solar electric power is on the cusp of delivering on its promise of low-cost, reliable, solar-generated electricity at a cost that is competitive with mainstream electric generation systems," said Vahan Garboushian, president of Amonix, Inc. of Torrance, Calif. "With the advent of multijunction solar cells, PV concentrator power generation at $3 per watt is imminent in the coming few years."

Herb Hayden of Arizona Public Service (APS) and Robert McConnell and Martha Symko-Davies of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) organized an international conference held May 1-5 in Scottsdale, Ariz. where the efficiency gains were announced and discussed.

Solar concentrator systems have been under development with Arizona Public Service's solar research facility. Photovoltaic (PV) concentrator units are much different than the flat silicon photovoltaic modules sold around the world that average 13% efficiency. PV concentrators come in larger module sizes, typically 20 kilowatts to 35 kilowatts each, they track the sun during the day and they are more suitable for large utility installations.

Ordinary, flat-plate solar modules have their entire sun-receiving surface covered with costly silicon solar cells and are positioned at a fixed tilt to the sun. In contrast, Amonix's systems offer significant cost savings by using inexpensive flat, plastic Fresnel lenses as an intermediary between the sun and the cell. These magnifying lenses focus and concentrate sunlight approximately 250 times onto a relatively small cell area. Through concentration, the required silicon cell area needed for a given amount of electricity is reduced by an amount approximating its concentration ratio (250 times). In effect, a low-cost plastic concentrator lens is being substituted for relatively expensive silicon.

"We have seen steady progress in photovoltaic concentrator technology," said Hayden, Solar Program Coordinator at APS. "We are working with advanced multijunction PV cells that are approaching 38% efficiency, and even higher is possible over time. Our goal is to install PV concentrator systems at $3 per watt, which can happen soon at production rates of 10 megawatts per year. Once that happens, higher volumes are readily achieved."

With information from, the leading clearinghouse on renewable power news.

Scientists worried by riot control ray gun

Scientists are questioning the safety of a Star Wars-style riot control ray gun due to be deployed in Iraq next year.

Quantum computing jumps to the future

Two Swiss scientists have made a theoretical breakthrough that could bring the age a quantum computing a step nearer.

Hans-Andreas Engel and Daniel Loss of the University of Basel in Switzerland have explained how to make a device called a spin-parity meter, quantum computing's equivalent of the transistor.

Although they have worked out how to build one, they have not got as far as putting one together.

Quantum computers substitute information encoded using the magnetic state

- the spins - of electrons for the binary ones and noughts of conventional processors. But because pairs of electrons can be a mixture of spin combinations, a quantum computer is capable of encoding information in many more states, making it much more powerful. Some have estimated that you could fit the power of a contemporary server into a quantum handheld.

Engel and Loss have shown how it is possible to measure the spins of electrons without disturbing them and builds on work done by David DiVincenzo and his team at IBM. Their work looks at how computing can be performed by mapping data as it spreads through a network of components and is designed to avoid pitfalls in earlier quantum computing theories that treated data in a more conventional, circuit-base way.

More information on recent quantum computing developments can be read in this Nature article.

Coding a Transhuman AI 2.3 published

Coding a Transhuman AI 2.3 has just been published. The paper is 179K; there is a summary. CaTAI discusses how to build a general intelligence, along with the specific issues associated with creating a self-modifying or "seed" AI (one that can understand and rewrite its own source code). I expect this paper to be extended considerably in the future, but the published sections are complete and self-contained. I may revise this paper further before the Foresight Conference, but the initial version is now available for review.

Laboratory grows world record length carbon nanotube

University of California scientists working at Los Alamos National Laboratory in collaboration with chemists from Duke University have recently grown a world record-length four-centimeter-long, single-wall carbon nanotube.

HMP Research Station Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse

Ongoing research activities included the Arhtur Clarke Mars Greenhouse team finishing their upgrades and preparing the greenhouse for autonomous mode which will start shortly.

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NASA Announces New Centennial Challenge: The Astronaut Glove Challenge

The Astronaut Glove Challenge award will go to the team that can design and manufacture the best performing glove within competition parameters. The $250,000 purse will be awarded at a competition scheduled for November 2006.

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

MacOS X for x86

Bad news for most of us: we'll need a SSE3 powered CPU to start the GUI. I arrived at this conclusion after disassembling the code being executed when I get those Illegal instruction messages when trying to run graphical stuff like WindowServer -daemon, open and so on. The instruction being executed when the exception happens is fisttpll, a PNI (Prescott New Instructions) one

Ionatron Announces the Introduction of the First Deployable JIN Counter IED System

Tucson, AZ, June 27, 2005 – Ionatron, Inc., (Nasdaq: IOTN) a next generation controlled directed energy weapon technology company, today announced that the introduction of the first field deployable JIN Counter IED system will occur on July 7th at the NASA Stennis Space Center on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Ionatron established its production facility at the NASA Stennis Space Center on April 1st of this year. The Honorable Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, will host the event. Attendees will include members of the Federal, State, and Local Government, representatives of the military, military families, as well as representatives of local and national media.

Ionatron expects to deliver 12 JIN Counter IED systems to the Government over the next 60 days from its Stennis manufacturing facility in Mississippi. Additionally, the Government has asked Ionatron, as part of the response to the Government’s statement of work, to provide a price for a minimum of 90 days of support in Iraq for these systems. The Iraq operational support, upon contract finalization, will be priced to also include equipment spares, ongoing training of military personnel and continued development and improvements of the JIN technology based on feedback from Department of Defense testing and field operations. The Company anticipates that recommended improvements will be incorporated into future production versions of the JIN technology.

Ionatron is presently performing the development and production activities under a U.S. Government letter contract, pending finalization of the formal contract for this effort. Ionatron’s pricing for the initial 12 JIN units is approximately $10 million. Spares, testing services, training and 90 days of in Iraq support are anticipated to be approximately an additional $13 million.

Ionatron and the U.S. Government Joint Team continue to work in conjunction to deliver the JIN Counter IED systems to Iraq as rapidly as possible in order to help protect our troops and Iraqi civilians and to support the Global War on Terrorism.

Volvo Asks Gov't if It Could Drive Drunk

Car maker Volvo has asked the Swedish government to waive the country's strict drunken driving laws to allow its test drivers to booze on the job, news reports said Wednesday.

The safety-conscious automaker wants to test a new technology that is designed to make the car take control of steering when a driver's reaction time is slowed because of intoxication or fatigue.

Missions to moon, Mars

THE US House of Representatives yesterday overwhelmingly endorsed President Bush's plans to go to the moon and Mars. But the House also insisted that NASA concentrate on space research and on repairing the Hubble orbiting telescope

Hydrogen car powers to record finish

A special hydrogen-powered car invented by Swiss scientists has set a new world record.
The PAC 11 car came in first at the Shell Eco-Marathon in Ladoux, France, completing a 25-kilometre circuit using only one gram of hydrogen.

Windows Vista, Server and IE 7 Betas to Arrive in Sync

Microsoft confirmed that it will deliver the beta 1 version of Longhorn Server on August 3, along with the beta 1 release Internet Explorer 7. They'll be available along with the beta 1 version of Windows Vista, the next-generation Windows formerly known as Longhorn, which Microsoft announced friday morning.

Supermodel Bot Sells Auto

Quoting from an article in the June 13 issue of Interactive Advertising Age by Kris Oser: "An interactive ad at laddie-title Web site racked 16,000 registrants in a three week period...The ad features a video version of VH1 VJ Rachel Perry...Ms. Perry is actually avatar compiled from 400 video clips, powered by artificial intelligence, explained Adi Sideman, CEO, Oddcast, the New York technology company that developed the avatar. 'Any line or phrase that is typed in is checked against thousands of keywords and phrases'."

Nanotech: Moving Closer to a Manufacturing Revolution

Nanotechnology's long-expected transformation of manufacturing has just moved closer to reality. A new analysis of existing technological capabilities, including proposed steps from today's nanotech to advanced molecular machine systems, was released today by the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology.

The study, "Molecular Manufacturing: What, Why and How," performed by Chris Phoenix, CRN Director of Research, is available online at It shows how existing technologies can be coordinated toward a reachable goal of general-purpose molecular manufacturing.

Nanobot Surgery

"Nanosurgery: Miniaturization in surgery," is the title of an interesting item posted at the NanoTsunami site. The article is an except from a 465-page report called Nanobiotechnologies- applications, markets and companies, published by Jain PharmaBiotech.

Surgery is continuously moving towards more minimally invasive methods. The main driver of this technical evolution is patient recovery: the lesser the trauma inflicted on the patient, the shorter the recovery period.

Minimally invasive surgery, often performed by use of catheters navigating the vascular system, implies that the operator has little to no tactile or physical information about the environment near or at the surgical site [e.g., instrument force and performance; tissue density, temperature or chemistry; presence, composition, and quantity of fluids]. This information can be provided by biosensors implanted in the catheters. Nanotechnology will play an important role in the construction of miniaturized biosensing devices.

That's exciting, from a medical point of view, but it's not especially radical. However, this section...

Robotics is already developing for applications in life sciences and medicine. Robots can be programmed to perform routine surgical procedures. Nanobiotechnology introduces another dimension in robotics leading to the development of nanorobots also referred to as nanobots. Instead of performing procedures from outside the body, nanobots will be miniaturized for introduction into the body through the vascular system or at the end of catheters into various vessels and other cavities in the human body.

A surgical nanobot, programmed by a human surgeon, could act as an autonomous on-site surgeon inside the human body. Various functions such as searching for pathology, diagnosis and removal or correction of the lesion by nanomanipulation can be performed and coordinated by an on-board computer. Such concepts, once science fiction, are now considered to be within the realm of possibility. Nanorobots will have the capability to perform precise and refined intracellular surgery which is beyond the capability of manipulations by the human hand.

Surgical nanobots are moving closer to the mainstream. With capabilities "coordinated by an on-board computer," they almost certainly will be built through some form of molecular manufacturing.

Power Armor For the Elderly

The question of how to care for the growing number of people in the upper age bracket has a new answer - assistive power armor for the elderly." From the article: "The sleek, high-tech get-up looks like a white suit of armor. It straps onto a person's arms, legs and back and is equipped with a computer, motors and sensors that detect electric nerve signals transmitted from the brain when a person tries to move his limbs. When the sensors detect the nerve signals, the computer starts up the relevant motors to assist the person's motions. Sankai says the suit, dubbed 'Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) 5,' can let a person who can barely do an 176-pound leg press handle 397 pounds

Personal Robots

The Robots are Coming! Finally Fulfilling Our Childhood Fantasies, Robot Servants and Companions Begin Arriving. By Jonathan Silverstein. ABC News. "[I]n a move that will certainly redeem the scientific community, leaps and bounds are being made in the world of domestic robots. ... Whether you realize it or not, robots are everywhere. They build the cars that we drive and the computers we work on, they fight terrorists overseas and dispose of bombs, placing their own metal frames at risk while humans watch safely from a distance. Though robots have long had a place in manufacturing and the military, they've only just begun creeping into our homes to play maid, gardener and pool boy. ... In a world where robots have long been more fantasy than fact, it's not hard to understand why researchers and engineers sometimes reach deep into their childhood for inspiration. ... Though their help and companionship may be welcomed by some, at least one question remains: with researchers developing robots to do our mundane, time-consuming tasks and chores, what are we going to do with all that extra time?"

AI agents in artificial world could create new languages

A major research project into virtual reality known as "New and Emergent World models Through Individual, Evolutionary and Social Learning"—or NEW-TIES—has begun.

The project will consist of 1,000 agents (simple AI programs) which will interact together in a simulated world networked on 50 computers.

Agents will be able to move around, build things, communicate and even "reproduce."

Scientists speculate that the agents might create virtual languages and cultures.

The project is backed by a consortium of European universities and is expected to run until 2007.

There is a full New Scientist report.

Using Virtual Minds to Train Soldiers

An LA Weekly article describes research at the USC Intelligent Agents and Multiagent Systems program into the military applications of virtual minds. These virtual minds simulate qualities of the human mind and could be used for training soldiers or even in real world applications that require human-like decision making capabilities. The researchers, Stacy Marsella and David V. Pynadath, hope to go beyond mere simulations to create machines with the emotional and intellectual equal of human minds. In an interesting link to yesterday's story on religion, the author notes that both researchers admit that creating intelligent machines makes them feel like they're playing God.

SanDisk readies 70-nm flash line, posts profit

Amid a 70-nm flash-memory chip and systems launch, SanDisk Corp., a supplier of flash storage card products, said second quarter revenues increased 19 percent on a year-over-year basis to $515 million and increased 14 percent compared to the first quarter of 2005.

Canadian, German fuel tank development brings cheap hydrogen vehicles closer to reality

Researchers in Canada and Germany have taken a step toward making hydrogen-powered vehicles a reality. The team has devised -- in theory -- a way to store hydrogen in a chemically altered form of graphite.

The development addresses one of the major obstacles in developing hydrogen-powered cars -- the challenge of storing hydrogen in the vehicle safely and economically.

Up to now, hydrogen has been stored in high-pressure tanks, a dangerous and inefficient solution. The work was done by Dr. John Tse, a physics professor at the University of Saskatchewan, along with colleagues at the Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences in Ottawa and Germany's Technical University of Dresden. "The second step ... is to follow it up with some hard thinking [about] how to make this compound," says Dr. Tse.

The Best...

A.I. I have ever seen is ALICE

Friday, July 22, 2005


Kibertron is a project for the creation
of a Full–sized Autonomous Humanoid

Microsoft Explains Windows Vista Name

With the announcement of Longhorn's official name, Microsoft has left many users asking: why Windows Vista? Company representatives told BetaNews that Microsoft felt the new version of Windows "deserved a name that was more representative of what it specifically brings to customers."

Mac OS X Gaining Ground In Corporate Environs

MacWorld quotes a Jupiter Research report on the increasing penetration of Mac OS X in the business world. From the article: 'The report found that in businesses with 250 employees or more, 17 percent of the employees were running Mac OS X on their desktop computer at work. In Businesses that had 10,000 or more employees, 21 percent of employees used Mac OS X on their desktop work computer.' Analyst Joe Wilcox adds, 'Companies that were considering Linux are now buying Mac OS X instead.'

New OS war ?

With Apple now switching to x86 I find my self debating witch OS i want on my next computer. I like MacOS X however i alos like SuSe Linux. mof course i'll hold out until i can see reviews on the final version of Windows Vista but who nows maybe i'll be able to triple boot.

Nano World: Nanotools face challenges has an article about the difficulties in turning the tools used in the lab to build nanotech into useful industrial processesLink

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