One of the hallmarks of living things is self-replication, the ability to make new copies of biological structures. Scientists have harnessed this ability in several ways, using DNA and viruses to organize materials for things like solar panels. But inducing artificial self-replication, which would enable new types of self-fabricating materials, has proven more difficult.
As scientists decode more and more genomes, the tree of life gets pretty complicated. It makes tough work for geneticists or other researchers who want to understand which organisms share which genes -- there are just so many comparisons. So there's a growing need for a better, easily searchable bioinformatics database.
A Chinese computer scientist has a suggestion: mimic the way search engines index Chinese characters.
A new research paper brings new meaning to the joke that all science is just physics. A team of scientists at the National University of Singapore suggests that it is quantum entanglement that holds our DNA together.
It's hard to prove, but it would be a potentially explosive finding, as Technology Review explains.
Nanotech has opened the door to some serious sci-fi possibilities: tiny robots -- built by other tiny robots -- that swim in our bloodstreams eradicating infection or hunting tumors, or perhaps assembling miniscule electronic components. But programming such tiny objects to do what we want presents a problem: commands need space to exist, and space is limited aboard a nanobot. But two papers just published in the journal Nature today highlight an interesting and promising approach to this problem: embedding the commands in the nanobots' environments.
By Amber Sasse
Posted 04.17.2009 at 4:06 pm 9 Comments
Turns out life has more essential building blocks to play with than previously thought: researchers at Rockefeller University have discovered a new nucleotide in the mammalian DNA code. Remember good ol' adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine? Well, the alphabet of our DNA sequence is about to receive a new letter. Meet 5-hydroxymethylcytosine; we aren't sure what it does or where it's located, but we know it's important -- really important.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.