Sci/tech

A Giant Step toward Infinitesimal Machinery
November 11, 2007 10:33 PM - Caltech News

Pasadena, Calif.--What are the ultimate limits to miniaturization? How small can machinery--with internal workings that move, turn, and vibrate--be produced? What is the smallest scale on which computers can be built? With uncanny and characteristic insight, these are questions that the legendary Caltech physicist Richard Feynman asked himself in the period leading up to a famous 1959 lecture, the first on a topic now called nanotechnology.

In a newly announced global Alliance for Nanosystems VLSI (very-large-scale integration), researchers at Caltech's Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) in Pasadena, California, and at the Laboratoire d'Electronique et de Technologie de l'Information-Micro- and Nano-Technologies (CEA/LETI-MINATEC) in Grenoble, France, are working together to take the pursuit of this vision to an entirely new level.

 

 

 

 

World faces choice on human cloning: U.N. study
November 11, 2007 10:09 PM - Reuters

OSLO (Reuters) - The world faces a stark choice between banning cloning of humans or preparing ways to protect them from potential abuse or discrimination, a U.N. study said on Sunday.

Experts at the U.N. University's Institute of Advanced Studies said it would only be a matter of time before scientists manage to clone a human if governments do not impose a ban.

"Whichever path the international community chooses it will have to act soon -- either to prevent reproductive cloning or to defend the human rights of cloned individuals," said A.H. Zakri, head of the Institute, which is based in Yokohama, Japan.

Seas to absorb greenhouse gas, but food chain hit
November 11, 2007 09:53 PM - By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) - Tiny ocean plankton can reduce global warming by soaking up unexpectedly large amounts of carbon dioxide but their carbon-bloated cells might damage marine food chains, scientists said on Sunday.

Experiments in a Norwegian fjord showed that plankton -- small drifting plants or creatures -- could absorb up to 39 percent more carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, in seawater pens mimicking projected climate conditions to 2150.

"This is a massive and surprising change in the carbon content of these organisms," said Ulf Riebesell, a marine biologist at the Leibnitz Institute of Marine Sciences in Kiel, Germany, who led the German and Norwegian experiments.

Toyota Eyes the Plug-in Prius
November 10, 2007 06:10 PM - By Bernie Woodall

TORRANCE, California (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp on Friday detailed plans to study U.S. consumer demand for a version of its hot-selling Prius hybrid that could be recharged at a standard outlet and run on electric power only.

A senior Toyota executive declined to say when a plug-in Prius would be launched or whether it could beat rival General Motors Corp to market with a technology seen as capable of slashing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Bob Carter, who heads the Toyota brand in the United States, said it was more important for Toyota to understand consumer expectations and hone the battery-centered technology behind plug-in cars than to race to bring them to showrooms.

AIDS vaccines experts confused and dismayed
November 10, 2007 06:04 PM - By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor - Analysis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - AIDS vaccine researchers are worried about the future of their field after learning an experimental HIV vaccine not only does not work, but just might make recipients more susceptible to infection with the AIDS virus.

They are worried about their volunteers and the future of AIDS vaccines in general. And they are worried because they cannot understand how a vaccine would make a person more vulnerable.

Researchers from Merck & Co. (MRK.N: Quote, Profile, Research), which makes the vaccine, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is helping develop it, said on Wednesday they believe a type of common cold virus used as the basis of the vaccine may somehow have made their volunteers more susceptible to HIV.

Dieting hardest for emotional eaters: study
November 9, 2007 12:51 PM - Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Emotional eaters -- people who eat when they are lonely or blue -- tend to lose the least amount of weight and have the hardest time keeping it off, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

They said the study may explain why so many people who lose weight gain it all back. "We found that the more people report eating in response to thoughts and feelings, the less weight they lost," Heather Niemeier, an obesity researcher at The Miriam Hospital and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, said in a statement.

Merck agrees to pay $4.85 billion in Vioxx settlement
November 9, 2007 12:49 PM - Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Merck & Co has agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle claims that its painkiller Vioxx caused heart attacks and strokes in thousands of users, the drugmaker said on Friday.

The agreement covers lawsuits filed against the company in U.S. courts, resolving a major legal battle that has dogged the drugmaker since it pulled Vioxx off the market three years ago.

Merck recalled the popular painkiller, which had $2.5 billion in annual sales, in September 2004 after a study showed it doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients taking it for more than 18 months.

Politics of ethanol is to make more, Iowans agree
November 9, 2007 12:21 PM - By Andrew Stern

MUSCATINE, Iowa (Reuters) - For Iowans, ethanol is a home-grown success story few presidential candidates would dare sully in their search for votes as the harvest season ends and campaigns ramp up in earnest.

In stump speeches and position papers, Democratic and Republican hopefuls vying for Iowa's January 3 first-in-the-nation caucuses pay regular homage to the biofuels industry.

The industry has created tens of thousands of jobs in Iowa -- and more than 150,000 across the United States -- and is credited with lifting the prices paid to farmers for their crops, and even eased the pain at the gas pump.

UN climate panel to meet, add pressure for action
November 9, 2007 11:47 AM - By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) - About 130 governments meet in Spain next week to agree a stark guide to the mounting risks of climate change that the United Nations says will leave no option but tougher action to fix the problem.

The U.N. climate panel, winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, will meet in Valencia from November 12-17 to condense 3,000 pages of already published science into a 20-page summary for policy makers.

 

 

 

 

Grooming goes green
November 9, 2007 10:51 AM - By Terri Coles

TORONTO (Reuters) -- Who ever thought that putting on your face in the morning might be dangerous. On the heels of massive recalls of lead-laced toys, a cosmetics safety campaign has found the offensive metal in several popular brands of lipstick. France, Italy, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom all have standards in place for organic cosmetic products, though some are industry standards and not government regulations.

 

 

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