Saturday, April 28, 2007
According to an article at New Scientist, DARPA is developing a plasma shield that would allow troops to stun and disorientate enemies. The system will use a technology known as dynamic pulse detonation (DPD), which involves producing a ball of plasma with an intense laser pulse, and then a supersonic shockwave within the plasma using another pulse. The result is a gigantic flash and a loud bang in a the air. 'The company has also pitched a portable laser rifle, which would be lethal, to the US Army. It would weigh about fifteen kilograms, would have a range of more than a mile, and could have numerous advantages over existing rifles - better accuracy and the ability to hit a moving target at the speed of light
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
A mineralogist at London's Natural History Museum was contracted to help identify an unknown mineral found in a Serbian mine. While he initially thought the miners had discovered a unique compound, after its crystal structure was analyzed and identified the researcher was shocked to find the material already referenced in literature. Fictional literature. Dr. Chris Stanley, from the BBC article: 'Towards the end of my research I searched the web using the mineral's chemical formula — sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide — and was amazed to discover that same scientific name, written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luthor from a museum in the film Superman Returns ... I'm afraid it's not green and it doesn't glow either — although it will react to ultraviolet light by fluorescing a pinkish-orange
Thursday, April 19, 2007
A standard desktop printer loaded with a silver salt solution and vitamin C has been used to produce electronic circuits, including mobile phone antennas, circuits, RFID chips and inductive coils, on a range of surfaces Read More
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Richard Jones and commenters bring our attention to a number of enticing research papers on the use of catalysis and molecular motors to produce movement. One paper mentioned sounds particularly useful: an overview of progress on Synthetic Molecular Motors Read More...
ScienceDaily reports on a new discovery in the biochemical regulation of stem cells: "After injury, even adult muscles can heal very well because they have a reserve supply of muscle stem cells, called satellite cells, which they can utilize for repair. Until now, it was unclear how this supply of satellite and muscle progenitor cells, out of which both muscle cells as well as satellite cells develop, keeps itself 'fresh'. ... a molecular switch, abbreviated RBP-J, regulates this 'fountain of youth'. If the switch is absent, the satellite cells generate muscle cells in an uncontrolled way, resulting in the depletion of the satellite cell reserves." It doesn't look like the researchers have yet conclusively proven that this switch controls the age-related decline in the satellite cell population (and resulting loss of healing capacity), however. The root cause of this decline is likely an evolutionary adaptation to avoid cancer resulting from age-damaged stem cells - so even if manipulation of RBP-J can induce elderly muscles to vigor, you'd better have a good cancer therapy to hand.