Gene regulatory networks in cell nuclei are similar to cloud computing networks, such as Google or Yahoo!, researchers report today in the online journal Molecular Systems Biology. The similarity is that each system keeps working despite the failure of individual components, whether they are master genes or computer processors.
This finding by an international team led by Carnegie Mellon University computational biologist Ziv Bar-Joseph helps explain not only the robustness of cells, but also some seemingly incongruent experimental results that have puzzled biologists.
“Similarities in the sequences of certain master genes allow them to back up each other to a degree we hadn’t appreciated,” said Bar-Joseph, an assistant professor of computer science and machine learning and a member of Carnegie Mellon’s Ray and Stephanie Lane Center for Computational Biology.
Between 5 and 10 percent of the genes in all living species are master genes that produce proteins called transcription factors that turn all other genes on or off. Many diseases are associated with mutations in one or several of these transcription factors. However, as the new study shows, if one of these genes is lost, other “parallel” master genes with similar sequences, called paralogs, often can replace it by turning on the same set of genes.
Researchers at the University of Twente (UT) have developed a new type of resin that can be broken down by the body. This new resin makes it possible to replicate important body parts exactly and make them fit precisely.
The resin can be given different properties depending on where in the body it is to be used. Cells can be sown and cultured on these models, so that the tissues grown are, in fact, produced by the body itself. The new resin has been developed by Ferry Melchels and Prof. Dirk Grijpma of the UT’s Polymer Chemistry and Biomaterials research group. An article on this breakthrough will be appearing in the authoritative specialist journal, Biomaterials.
Stereolithography is a technology with which three-dimensional objects can be made from a digital design. It is also possible to scan an object using a CT scanner (or micro-CT scanner) to obtain a digital image. The object in question can subsequently be copied extremely accurately with a stereolithograph. A stereolithograph is therefore a 3D replicating machine with a very high resolution. The way it works is based on the local hardening of a liquid resin with computer-driven light. The resins available for stereolithography so far harden into chemical networks that cannot be broken down.
Unmanned aircraft maker AeroVironment got an additional $5.4 million to further develop the diminutive aircraft that can fly into tight spaces undetected, perch and send live surveillance information to its handlers.
Last Fall, AeroVironment, got $4.6 million initial funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop the Stealthy, Persistent, Perch and Stare Air Vehicle System (SP2S), which is being built on the company’s one-pound, 29-inch wingspan battery-powered Wasp unmanned system.
According to DARPA, the key technical challenges of the new aircraft include: multifunctional materials that integrate the SP2S airframe structure with the power supply and transmit/receive antennas; advanced aerodynamics and control systems, including the ability to land and return home automatically; perch-and-grip technology; micro miniature pan/tilt/zoom EO cameras; (5) autonomous image capture; and data link communications relay capability with multiple digital channels that enables beyond-line-of-sight communications, with data/video encryption.
Experts say the ability to actually fly in and perch like a bird will be one the more technically challenging aspects of the system.
Virgin Media will offer 100 to 150Mbps broadband speeds up to two years before BT completes its rival fibre network.
“We have an opportunity with our network to provide significantly higher speeds,” Virgin Media’s chief executive Neil Berkett told BBC News.
BT has said its fibre network will hit the first crop of UK cities by early 2010 and will be complete by 2012.
Virgin currently offers a top speed of 50Mbps while BT is pledging 40 to 60Mb.
Mr Berkett said its fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) network was capable of supporting up to 200Mbps but roll out of higher speeds was a “function of timing”.
He said: “When we look at the market I don’t see us getting the returns right now for 100 or 150Mbps.
IBM Research on Thursday is expected to uncover work it is doing to bring the brain’s processing power to computers, in an effort to make it easier for PCs to process vast amounts of data in real time.
The researchers want to put brain-related senses like perception and interaction into hardware and software so that computers are able to process and understand the data quicker while consuming less power, said Dharmendra Modha, a researcher at IBM. The researchers are bringing the neuroscience, nanotechnology, and supercomputing fields together in an effort to create the new computing platform, he said.
The goal is to create machines that are mind-like and adapt to changes, which could allow companies to find more value in their data. Right now, a majority of information’s value is lost, but relevant data can allow businesses or individuals to make rapid decisions in time to have significant impact, he said.
“If we could design computers that could be in real-world environments and sense and respond in an intelligent way, it would be a tremendous step forward,” Modha said.
There is a problem in the core philosophy of computing and a new approach is needed, Modha said. Today’s model first defines objectives to solve problems, after which algorithms are built to achieve those objectives.
“The brain is the opposite. It starts with an existing algorithm and then problems [are] second. It is a computing platform that can address a wide variety of problems,” Modha said.
For example, the new approach could help efficiently manage the world’s water supplies through real-time analysis of data that could help discover new patterns, Modha said. A network of sensors could monitor temperature, pressure, wave height and ocean tide across the oceans. “Imagine streaming this data to a global brain that discovers invariant patterns and associations that no algorithms of today can do,” Modha said.
It will also be able to sense the world’s markets, like stocks, bonds and real estate, extracting patterns and associations in the way the brain extracts information from those environments.
Also see IBM to Build “Thinking” Computers Modeled on the Brain and IBM plans ‘brain-like’ computers.