Technology

We take "self-assembly" for granted when it is carried out by the biopolymers which are our hair, teeth, or skin. But when scientists devise new ways for molecules to self assemble into new materials, it is an important achievement.

Researchers with the Macromolecules and Interfaces Institute (MII www.mii.vt.edu) at Virginia Tech report such a development in the online issue for the Journal of the American Chemical Society, in the article, "Aggregation of Rod-Coil Block Copolymers Containing Rigid Polyampholyte Blocks in Aqueous Solution" (10.1021/ja070422+) and at the 233rd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Chicago, March 25-29.

From now, I plan to write a report every week about the news, announcements, important essays and interesting stories of the project. I would like to give you a clear overview of Wikipedia. I hope you’re going to enjoy the first edition.

What to start with if not this brand new wonderful project: Planet Wikimedia. It’s a blog agregator which collects all the Wikipedia related posts and blogs to make it easier to follow the changes. You can request for inclusion here. This process leads to a peer-reviewed list of feeds. (They’ve added my blog’s wikipedia tag to the list, so this post is also going to show up there.)

TOKYO 02/03/2007

Japan's advanced humanoids can now serve tea and wash the cup afterwards, but they still need to learn from their mistakes if they are to become real household helpers.

A Tokyo University team this week showed their latest robots which can perform more complicated daily tasks, but the machines still have a learning curve.


Japan's advanced humanoids can now serve tea and wash the cup afterwards, but they still need to learn from their mistakes if they are to become real household helpers. © AFP,Ken Shimizu

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory [EMBL] has developed a new computational tool that makes images obtained with cutting-edge microscopes even sharper. The technological advance and its applications are published in this week's online issue of the journal Nature Methods.

Since the Single Plane Illumination Microscope [SPIM] was developed at EMBL in the early 2000s it turned into one of the most powerful tools in cell biology. SPIM allows scientists to study large, living specimen along many different angles, under real conditions and with minimal harm to the specimen.

Researchers have used the world's thinnest material to create a new type of technology, which could be used to make super-fast electronic components and speed up the development of drugs.

Physicists at The University of Manchester and The Max-Planck Institute in Germany have created a new kind of a membrane that is only one atom thick.

It's believed this super-small structure can be used to sieve gases, make ultra-fast electronic switches and image individual molecules with unprecedented accuracy.

The findings of the research team is published today (Thursday 1 March 2007) in the journal Nature.

Two years ago, scientists discovered a new class of materials that can be viewed as individual atomic planes pulled out of bulk crystals.

These one-atom-thick materials and in

According to a new study published in the latest issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine and conducted in the Department of Psychology of McGill University, thermography shows great promise as a diagnostic method of measuring sexual arousal. It is less intrusive than currently utilized methods, and is the only available test that requires no physical contact with participants. Thermography is currently the only method that can be used to diagnose sexual health problems in both women and men. In fact, women and men demonstrated similar patterns of temperature change during sexual arousal with no significant differences between genders in the time needed to reach peak temperature.

USC's lego-like autonomous robotic units show off ability to reconfigure into different systems for different tasks.

Wei-Min Shen of the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute recently reported to NASA significant progress in developing "SuperBot," identical modular units that plug into each other to create robots that can stand, crawl, wiggle and even roll. He illustrated his comments with striking video of the system in action, video now posted on line. 

What role can scientists play in public decisions about the development and deployment of weapons systems? As the United States continues to commit its troops and technology around the world, this question is worrisome to the public and to concerned scientists alike. According to Rebecca Slayton, a lecturer in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at Stanford, there's some hope: Science gives experts an important, albeit limited, space for influencing public decisions.

Slayton will make her case Feb.

A robotic therapy device may help people regain strength and normal use of affected hands long after a stroke, according to a University of California, Irvine study.

Stroke patients with impaired hand use reported improved ability to grasp and release objects after therapy sessions using the Hand-Wrist Assisting Robotic Device (HOWARD). Each patient had at least moderate residual weakness and reduced function of the right hand, although the affected hands were neither totally paralyzed nor unable to feel.

Scientists using data from the HRSC experiment onboard ESA's Mars Express spacecraft have produced the first 'hiker's maps' of Mars. Giving detailed height contours and names of geological features in the Iani Chaos region, the maps could become a standard reference for future Martian research. The maps are known as topographic maps because they use contour lines to show the heights of the landscape.


This image of Mars taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on board ESA's Mars Express outlines the scales (1:200 000, 1:100 000 and 1:50 000) of the series of topographic maps of the planet's surface that can be realized thanks to HRSC data.