SETI bioastro: Nanogirl News for April 6, 2000

From: Larry Klaes (
Date: Fri Apr 14 2000 - 09:59:24 PDT

From: "Gina Miller" <>
To: <>
Cc: <>
Subject: [nanotech] ~Nanogirl News~
Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 19:28:02 -0700

~Nanogirl News~
April 5, 2000

*More than two dozen science projects at 21 universities around the UK are
being given millions of pounds to improve their facilities. The projects
getting the extra money include a fire safety engineering research facility
at the University of Ulster, and a sterile environment at Birmingham
University for developing nanotechnology - products and tools made at a
sub-microscopic level. (BBC news 3/4/00)

*With the help of his back-top computer, the modern soldier sees all. Army
working on 'Land Warrior' computer that would give soldier a sixth sense.
Thanks to anticipated developments in microelectromechanical systems and
nanotechnology, the future warrior will wear a smart uniform and an even
smarter helmet. His load will be cut by two-thirds, according to the design
engineers at the Soldier Center in Natick, Mass.
(PG April 2,00)

*Skyscrapers in a microworld. Developers are pushing processing boundaries
to give new dimensions to the world of MEMS. The image of MEMS is right up
there with Mom and mince pie, too. As an enabling technology, the tiny
devices are linked to medical marvels, car safety, and computer chips-so
many of the day's sacred icons.

That's why researchers across the country are out to devise ways to improve
on the technology, to turn out microdevices cheaper and faster, and to
design them in greater variety. (Mechanical Engineering)

*Expanding life's alphabet. If you want new proteins, add more letters to
the genetic code

In an attempt to go one better than nature, researchers in California are
expanding the genetic code that has given rise to just about every form of
life. They hope to create artificial DNA capable of producing proteins no
one has ever seen before. (New Scientist April 00)

*World beating ANU laser technology goes on show. A team of AUSTRALIAN
scientists will unveil their powerful new semiconductor 980nm laser this
week (5 April). The researchers from the Australian National University in
Canberra will also outline the commercialisation strategy for the new lasers
and a research agreement with a Taiwanese company. Professors Jim Williams
and Chennupati Jagadish are leading a team of scientists that has succeeded
in producing a type of semiconductor laser with world beating performance.
(Eurekalert April 4, 00)

*Technique tethers molecules to silicon with atomic precision. Researchers
at the University of Illinois have successfully tethered individual organic
molecules at specific locations on silicon surfaces. The precise
manipulation of molecules on the atomic scale is an important step in the
potential merger of molecular electronics and silicon-based technology.

(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign April

*Unique study reveals new details on how genes are transcribed. Scientists
at Berkeley have reported the first direct observations of what happens when
the message of a gene is being read during the actual transcription of
single DNA molecules. (Berkeley Lab April 3, 00)

*Northwestern researcher develops molecular method to improve plastics. A
Northwestern University materials scientist has developed a novel method to
improve polymers that could impact the plastics industry, optical
communications, medicine and nanotechnology.This method improves polymers by
changing the actual organization of the macromolecules using small molecules
as additives, rather than changing the polymer's chemical structure as
catalysts do.

(Northwestern news 4/4/00)*engi

*The genetics of aging: New study says cell division errors may be the
common link

Gradual genetic changes may be the source of many, if not all illnesses of
aging. A new study by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute and the
Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation concludes that human
aging and its associated diseases can be traced to a gradual increase in
cell division errors in tissues throughout the body.

(Scripps 3/31/00)

*Genome Project Has Sequenced Two-Thirds of Human DNA. The Human Genome
Project, the federally funded effort to decode the human genetic blueprint,
announced Wednesday that it has successfully sequenced two-thirds of the
estimated 3 billion chemicals that make up human DNA. (Latimes 3/30/00)

*Decision time. A single protein may be the first step to customising human
stem cells

The discovery two years ago of a technique for creating an immortal line of
human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) raised hopes that it would one day be
possible to grow endless supplies of specialised cells, or even organs for
transplants. But researchers are still puzzling over the exact biochemical
signals needed to control stem cells.

(New Scientist April 00)

*Crawling Out of the Sea. Researchers Say They Have Missing Link. The
remains of a creepy-crawly fish that lived 370 million years ago could hold
the answer as to how we got here. Dr. Per Ahlberg looked at thousands of
bones in hundreds of collections before he found two unusual pieces deep in
the bowels of a Latvian museum, tucked away in a drawer. The discovery of
the bone pieces, one from Latvia, the other from Estonia, made his heart
beat faster when he realized what he was holding. (ABC 4/5/00)

*Building a Brainier Mouse. By genetically engineering a smarter than
average mouse, scientists have assembled some of the central molecular
components of learning and memory. By JOE Z. TSIEN assistant professor in
the department of molecular biology at Princeton University (Scientific
American 4/00)

*WIMPS could be a key to universe. Teams of researchers in different parts
of the world are busy trying to build devices that could detect weakly
interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. Actually detecting WIMPs, which are
now only theoretical, could answer questions about how the universe formed
after the Big Bang, the nature of its structure, and whether it will end in
a Big Crunch. For more than 70 years scientists have known that something
they can't see - dark matter - supplies the gravitational tug needed to
account for observations, such as the outer stars of galaxies revolving
faster than they would if only visible objects were pulling on them. In
theory, WIMPs would account for the missing dark matter. (USA Today 4/3/00)

*'Instant-On' Memory Device May Give Hard Drive the Boot. A radical new
magnetic memory device that could eliminate the need for hard drives and
provide "instant-on" capabilities for a wide range of consumer products has
moved closer to the production line. (Latimes 4/3/00)

*The British Government is almost certain to change the law to allow the use
of cloned human embryos to create tissue to treat human illnesses. The UK
Daily Telegraph reports that an inquiry has recommended that the potential
benefits of human embryo cloning outweigh the ethical problems. British
ministers are now expected to end the ban on therapeutic cloning of embryos
for research that could cure diseases of organs such as the kidney, liver
and heart. (The Lab 3/4/00)

*Fusion that Keeps on Going. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL)
Nuclear fusion in a doughnut. The TCV reactor in Lausanne holds hydrogen
plasma as hot as 100 MK. Researchers there have demonstrated a technique for
driving plasma current that is expected to be part of future fusion-based
power plants. Fusion power promises a clean and almost inexhaustible source
of energy. Physicists developing the tokamak type of reactor have made
progress over the past few decades, but several challenges remain. One of
them is replacing pulsed operation--creating the superhot plasma for only
tens of seconds at a time--with continuous operation. Now a Swiss team
reports in the 10 April PRL that they have successfully tested what may be
the most promising technology for the steady-state mode. (PRF 31 March 2000)

*physics : Air traffic control. Molecular traffic can spontaneously direct
itself along a network of channels. Philip Ball explains how this could be
used to separate large molecules from small. (Nature Science Update 3/31/00)

*Sandia National Laboratories presents fully integrated lab-on-a-chip

A user injects a sample into the liquid analysis system of the hand-held,
integrated device for analyzing liquid and gas mixtures, under development
at Sandia National Laboratories. (A powerful new portable chemical analysis
device that fits in the palm of a hand is being developed by the Department
of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories and will be presented Sunday, March
26, at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.
(Sandia 3/00)

Gina "Nanogirl" Miller

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