Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tuesday Tech Digest

A star exploding within a star was discovered, while the first images from the Europeans' Venus Express spacecraft were returned. Strange ice falling in the Bay Area.

French researchers have discovered why a spider hanging from a thread doesn't rotate, while researchers at Yale have completely mapped out the sense of smell for the first time--in fruit flies. A scientist in Oklahoma has discovered how to reverse cell division, and the mysteries of poison were unravelled in Germany.

Watch out for this fish.

Have you tried the laser diet yet?

The latest and greatest "magic bullet": hollow shell nano-particles, known as polymersomes, are effective in delivering drugs directly to cancer tumors. And a new successful way to spin nanofibers into whole cloth was introduced. Nanoclothes may be just around the corner. They'll be popular in Hollywood and on the fashion runways.

A new breakthrough for sequencing the entire human genome in a matter of mere hours was proposed by researchers at UCSD. This would allow doctors to tailor medicines to an individual's specific genome.

Old wives' tales win: Honey really does have healing power when used as a wound dressing.

Ben Franklin move over: bifocals replaced with smart glasses which switch focus in an instant.

A possible model for how the brain recognizes faces was presented, along with some confirming evidence. The brain communicates in both analog and digital modes at the same time. The actual physical process of nerve communication was imaged for the first time (see left) this week. We're far more predictable than we think. But we're also smarter.

A soliton is a single isolated wave all by itself. They were first observed and named by John Scott Russell (1808-1882) who observed a solitary wave in the Union Canal and reproduced the phenomenon in a wave tank. Long believed to be possible by theory, solitons in a solid were observed for the first time.

Yet another missing link was found.

Google continued to produce this week. First it patented voice search, then in what was arguably the most important software news of the week, Google Calendar wasreleased. Login with your Google account name. Encyclopedic list of Google services.

Who says quantum mechanics isn't useful? You may be using these in your house in the near future. Motorized nano-cars from Texas. Best gas mileage on the planet. For the rest of us, this coal to diesel breakthrough could mean the end of Middle Eastern oil dependence. And hybrids probably aren't as good as you think.

Quantum Weirdness of the week: researchers have tentative evidence that a) proton-tunneling is possible, and b) it is the mechanism that explains how some enzymes seem to work their magic. "AADH catalyzes the breakage of the otherwise very stable, carbon-hydrogen bond at ambient temperatures, a feat that would appear to be impossible."--The Economist. Both findings are controversial, but if true would appear to indicate that quantum weirdness is necessary for life itself.

Can you train a hard-boiled egg to jump?


brylun said...

About the BBC's Venus story: "Venus ... which is thought to have undergone runaway greenhouse warming."

You gotta love that unbiased reporting. No agenda journalism here. ;)

Syl said...

Scientists hope to learn how Venus, which is similar to Earth in size, mass and composition, evolved so differently over the last 4.6 billion years.

Just wondering if the fact Venus is so much closer to the Sun will figure in any of their theories.

Like, you know, any explanations as to why Venus is so hot.


loner said...

A picture's worth a thousand words—even if it's a picture of just one.

Rick Ballard said...


Do you take Science? I can't find a link to that coal conversion article.

Nice job again, btw.