Monthly Archives: January 2008

Geneticists Discover a Way to Extend Lifespans to 800 Years

Geneticists Discover a Way to Extend Lifespans to 800 Years

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There is now a way to extend the lifespan of organisms so that humans could conceivably live to be 800 years old. In an amazing development, scientists at the University of Southern California have announced that they’ve extended the lifespan of yeast bacteria tenfold — and the recipe they used to do it might easily translate into humans. It involves tinkering with two genes, and cutting down your calorie intake. Tests have already started on people in Ecuador.

Cheap Pill Lets You Eat Burgers Without Getting Fat

The cheap pill that lets you eat burgers and chips without getting fat

A pill is being created to let hamburger-and-chips lovers eat their favourite fatty foods without putting on too much weight.

It could reduce the need to eat large amounts of vegetables with a meal, would be cheap to buy and could be on sale in Britain within a year.

Its creator Dr Joseph Kanner said: “A lentil burger doesn’t always have the same appeal as a beefburger – this pill will allow you to eat more of your favourite foods without becoming as fat as you would without it.

“Ideally, we should eat fruit and vegetables all the time – but it is a shame not to indulge in our favourite foods when we want to.”

As a side-effect, the pill will cut the risk of developing cancer by mopping up free radicals, the substances that damage body cells.

The pill contains polyphenol chemicals, which Dr Kanner has shown reduce the amount of fat absorbed into the blood.

“It is feasible to get such a pill into the shops within a year if it is marketed as a supplement – like a vitamin C tablet – rather than as medication, which would require lots of stringent testing.”

Dr Kanner admitted his pill would not reduce all fats but would limit oxidised fats being absorbed.

“This study suggests that the time will come soon where people can eat their French fries without plugging their arteries full of fat.”

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I can has cheezburger??

(*sigh*… yes, you can has cheezburger…)

Stem cells produced without destroying embryo

Stem cells produced without destroying embryo

U.S. researchers at Advanced Cell Technology have developed a method to make embryonic stem cells that do not harm mice embryos. It is likely that the method can be applied to human embryos.

In their experiment, the ACT researchers, headed by Robert Lanza, let a fertilized mouse egg divide three times (one cell to two cells; two to four; and four to eight).

With eight cells inside the egg (at the stage before a cell mass, called a blastocyst, becomes implanted in the womb—or the embryonic stage), they remove one cell and, then, let the remaining seven cells grow normally just like the eight-cell egg would nominally grow.

They state that the removal of one cell did not change the way the seven-cell egg developed when compared to the eight-cell egg. In fact, it was stated that one cell is already used as a test called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD, also called Embryo Screening), which is used to evaluate for genetic defects within the human embryo.

It is being reported that the PGD test has been shown not to affect the development of the seven-cell egg any differently than the eight-cell egg.

If this technique can be applied successfully to humans, then it could provide scientists with a new source of cells and allow children born using the PGD test to have the one cell divide once—using one cell for the test and the other cell for growing embryonic stem cells to combat future degenerate diseases .

Rabies Virus Helps Deliver Drugs into the Brain

Rabies Virus Helps Deliver Drugs into the Brain

One of the greatest challenges neurologists face is successful delivery of drugs to the brain. This is because a special filtering layer of tissue, called the blood brain barrier, protects the brain and spinal cord. The barrier acts like a molecular sieve, allowing only properly sized molecules through. This means that any medication needing to reach the brain (for example, to kill a brain tumor) needs to be small enough, and even then, it is difficult to target the drug to specifically reach the brain.

Kumar and his colleagues from Harvard Medical School have developed a potentially revolutionary drug delivery method, taking advantage of a known master infiltrator of the brain: the virus responsible for rabies, also known as the rhabdovirus. Rabies viruses travel from the site of infection (a local wound bite) to the nerves, through which it gains access to the brain. It is one of the few viruses known to be nearly 100% deadly to mankind, when vaccination has not been administrated. Kumar and colleagues took advantage of the virus’ neurotropic ability by isolating a protein from the viral outer layer used to bind to the brain cells. They then attached an experimental drug to the purified fragment of protein, a small-interfering RNA. This RNA-peptide complex showed highly specific ability to access neurons in the brain that expressed receptors to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This high specificity of drug action was demonstrated to only occur in the brain, and not in other tissues of the body.

New Solar Collector So Efficient It Works At Night

New Solar Collector So Efficient It Works At Night

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Researchers at Idaho National Laboratory, along with partners at Microcontinuum Inc. (Cambridge, MA) and Patrick Pinhero of the University of Missouri, are developing a novel way to collect energy from the sun with a technology that could potentially cost pennies a yard, be imprinted on flexible materials and still draw energy after the sun has set.

The new approach, which garnered two 2007 Nano50 awards, uses a special manufacturing process to stamp tiny square spirals of conducting metal onto a sheet of plastic. Each interlocking spiral “nanoantenna” is as wide as 1/25 the diameter of a human hair.

Because of their size, the nanoantennas absorb energy in the infrared part of the spectrum, just outside the range of what is visible to the eye. The sun radiates a lot of infrared energy, some of which is soaked up by the earth and later released as radiation for hours after sunset. Nanoantennas can take in energy from both sunlight and the earth’s heat, with higher efficiency than conventional solar cells.

“I think these antennas really have the potential to replace traditional solar panels,” says physicist Steven Novack, who spoke about the technology in November at the National Nano Engineering Conference in Boston.

The catch is that the energy can’t be stored in batteries yet, which is necessary to actually put this technology to good use.

But the researchers are working on that. I’m sure it’ll pan out nicely in the long run.

Venture Stores Solar Power With Molten Salt

Venture stores solar power with molten salt

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A newly created company called SolarReserve intends to commercialize a solar power plant capable of generating electricity and storing it in molten salt.

The venture was created by investment firm US Renewables Group, which has licensed technology from Hamilton Sundstrand, a subsidiary of United Technologies. A plant will be capable of generating 500 megawatts of peak power, the size of a typical power plant.

Solar thermal technology, which uses heat intensified by lenses and mirrors to create electricity, is being pursued by utilities because it is relatively cost-effective. It is also called concentrated solar power (CSP).

But because the sun’s energy is intermittent, companies are seeking out large-scale storage techniques, from compressed air to massive batteries. Molten salt storage is already used at the Nevada Solar One plant.

Intel Produces 80 Core Chips

We’ve seen dual core chips and quad core chips.

You’d think 8-core chips would be next, right?

Think again. The title of this post does not contain a typo. 😉

CPU’s with 80 cores are coming.

Intel predicts these 80-core chips to be commercially available within 5 years.

This degree of computing performance is now only available to scientists that have access to supercomputers.

These 80-cores open the door to photorealistic gaming and deeper artificial intelligence.