The basis of a human body's cells' ability to communicate with one another is the vesicle. That little ball packed with biological material is the medium through which all of our billions of cells coordinate with each other to keep our conscious stable and our bodies responsive. However, despite that importance, high resolution live imagery of cell and vesicle interaction has remained elusive.
Now, scientists from the University of Copenhagen have succeeded producing the first hi-res live recording of the interaction. In the nearer term, this development could greatly assist the study of diseases, like schizophrenia and Huntington's, that result from vesicle-cell interaction failure.
Like most Army commanders, Lt. General Rick Lynch says that he needed more troops in Iraq, and that they would have saved the lives of men lost under his command. Unlike most commanders though, Lynch isn't demanding flesh and blood soldiers, but steel and rubber robotic infantrymen.
Speaking at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference, Lynch said that robot systems already in place could have saved 122 of the 155 men who died during his time in Iraq.
Bringing the "wanted poster in the post office" concept into the 21st century, the FBI has begun using facial recognition software to identify fugitives on North Carolina highways. The software measures the biometric features of thousands of motorists' DMV photos, matching them against mugshots. When the face matches that of a known criminal, the authorities jump into action.
Ever since Schuyler Skaats Wheeler introduced the first axial-bladed electric desk fan in 1882, fan technology has remained remarkably conservative. But that classic bladed design wasn't good enough for the innovative people at Dyson. With their new desk fan, Dyson has thrown out over a hundred years of axial desk fan technology to create the first fan that provides a continuous stream of smooth air.
Rounding out the 2009 science Nobel Prizes are Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz, and Ada E. Yonath, who will receive the prize in chemistry for their work on an atomic-scale map of the ribosome.
Ribosomes are the cellular organelle responsible for assembling amino acids into proteins. If DNA is the blueprint, ribosomes are the construction workers. Ribosomes themselves are composed of a combination of RNA and specialized proteins.
While Robert Frost famously said that he prefers the world to end in fire, physicists have long predicted the universe will end with an icy sputter known as "heat death." Heat death occurs when the universe finally uses up all its energy, with all motion stopping and all the atoms in creation grinding to a halt. And, based on new calculations from a team of Australian physicists, it looks like heat death is far closer than previously thought.
While I undoubtedly learned a lot at the Singularity Summit, the conference's greatest benefit was the questions it didn't answer. Unresolved issues regarding the Singularity have provided a lot of philosophical grist for my admittedly limited intellectual mill, and working through those problems has been as exciting as any talk I saw at the Summit.
To wrap up our coverage of the Singularity Summit, I'm going to count down my ten most vexing unanswered questions about Kurzweil's theoretical baby, the eventual merge of human and artificial intellifnece, and I am interested to hear any opinions, questions or (hopefully) answers you all have about any or all of these still unexplained facets of our future.
We live in a world designed by Charles K. Kao, Willard S. Boyle, and George E. Smith. Their work on the physics of light made possible the fiber optic cables carrying this web page to your phone, and the digital camera on the other side. And on December 10th, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden will award them the Nobel Prize in physics for their work.
Like many other aspects of health care, the implementation of personal genetic medicine has run aground against the costs of producing an entire genome. Even now, a decade after the completion of the Human Genome Project, commercial whole genome sequencing can cost as much as $100,000. And at that price, the sequencing just isn't worth the benefits.
For almost two years, the honeybees that support almost all human agriculture have fought a plague right out of a sci-fi movie. Varroa mites, a deadly parasite, have hid in the labyrinthine combs of beehives, feeding off the juices of still-living insects, and causing the the problem we know as Colony Collapse Disorder.
To help our bee allies fend off the alien invaders, the Agriculture Research Service division of the Department of Agriculture has created a new breed of super-vigilant bees that will take the fight to the mites.