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UA Physicists Invent 'QuIET'- Single Molecule Transistors

UA Physicists Invent 'QuIET'- Single Molecule Transistors

By Lori Stiles
August 30, 2006

University of Arizona physicists have discovered how to turn single molecules into working transistors. It's a breakthrough needed to make the next-generation of remarkably tiny, powerful computers that nanotechnologists dream of.

They have applied for a patent on their device, called Quantum Interference Effect Transistor, nicknamed "QuIET." The American Chemical Society publication, "Nano Letters," has published the researchers' article about it online at Nano Letters. The research is planned as the cover feature in the print edition in November.

A transistor is a device that switches electrical current on and off, just like a valve turns water on and off in a garden hose. Industry now uses transistors as small as 65 nanometers. The UA physicists propose making transistors as small as a single nanometer, or one billionth of a meter.

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Jefferson Radiation Oncologists Among First to Use Cone Beam CT to Improve Treatment Accuracy

Jefferson Radiation Oncologists Among First to Use Cone Beam CT to Improve Treatment Accuracy

While one of the Holy Grails in radiation oncology is to spare as much healthy tissue as possible during therapy, patients undergoing treatment for weeks at a time physically change. Patients can lose weight during a period of therapy. They might lose or gain fluid. Tumors may shrink or unfortunately, continue to grow. As a result, radiation target sites change, which can be problematic for treatment.

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson are among the first centers in the nation to study the effect of incorporating a new technology – cone beam CT – into a source of radiation, namely a linear accelerator, in an attempt to find an answer to this vexing problem.

The technology creates three-dimensional axial CT slices of a patient’s tumor, enabling therapists and doctors to compare these images with initial treatment planning images to determine how precisely focused the radiation set-up is. They can then make position adjustments if necessary to deliver a more targeted therapy to the patient. The hope is that this technology will lead to more highly customized radiation treatments, where higher doses are directed at the tumor while sparing the patient’s normal body structures.

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Patent Fight Rattles Academic Computing

Patent Fight Rattles Academic Computing
The Associated Press


August 29, 2006

Increasingly, we see these systems as the foundation of academic computing. In an Aug. 27 story about a patent dispute in the academic computing field, The Associated Press gave an erroneous title for Alfred Essa of the Minnesota state college and university system. He is associate vice chancellor and deputy chief information officer, not CIO.

Every day, millions of students taking online college courses act in much the same way as their bricks-and-mortar counterparts. After logging on, they move from course to course and do things like submit work in virtual drop boxes and view posted grades _ all from a program running on a PC.

It may seem self-evident that virtual classrooms should closely resemble real ones. But a major education software company contends it wasn't always so obvious. And now, in a move that has shaken up the e-learning community, Blackboard Inc. has been awarded a patent establishing its claims to some of the basic features of the software that powers online education.

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Critic Alleges Deceit in Study On Stem Cells

Critic Alleges Deceit in Study On Stem Cells
Report's Basic Facts Are Unchallenged

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 26, 2006; Page A02

A landmark scientific report that was supposed to bridge the gap between proponents and opponents of human embryonic stem cell research has become the focus of an escalating feud, with a prominent critic of the research alleging that scientists were deceptive in presenting their results.

At issue is a series of experiments described in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, in which scientists at Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) in Worcester, Mass., described a method for making stem cells without harming a human embryo. The basic facts of the report remain unchallenged.

But in an unusual move yesterday, Nature corrected wording in a lay-language news release it had distributed in advance and posted clarifying data it had asked the scientists to provide.

At the core of the battle is a widely distributed e-mail from Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who raised three issues.

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Adult Stem Cells Are Touchy-Feely, Need Environmental Clues for Change

University of Pennsylvania Researchers: Adult Stem Cells Are Touchy-Feely, Need Environmental Clues for Change
August 24, 2006

PHILADELPHIA -- A certain type of adult stem cell can turn into bone, muscle, neurons or other types of tissue depending on the feel of their physical environment, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. The researchers discovered that mesenchymal stem cells, which regularly reside in the bone marrow as part of the bodys natural regenerative mechanism, depend on physical clues from their local environment in order to transform into different types of tissue. The researchers were even able to manipulate stem cells by changing the firmness of the gel on which they were grown.

The findings, which appear in the Aug. 25 issue of the journal Cell, have implications for the use of adult stem cells in medical treatments. It may even be possible to prepare stem cells for transplant in the laboratory by growing them in the right physical setting beforehand.

"Basically, mesenchymal stem cells feel where they're at and become what they feel, said Dennis Discher, a professor in Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science and a member of Penns Institute or Medicine and Engineering. The results begin to establish a physical basis for both stem cell use against diseases and for stem cell behavior in embryonic development.

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Ethical stem cells still horrify Vatican

Ethical stem cells still horrify Vatican
27th August 2006, 9:30 WST

The Catholic church is rejecting claims in the US of new "embryo-safe" stem-cells, pouring cold water on hopes by many scientists of ending ethical uproar over their research.

A US company says it has developed a way to create the stem cells without harming the original embryo, which the Vatican holds is a full-fledged human life.

The breakthrough technique was meant to answer critics at the papal palace, the White House and beyond, who have long argued that it was ethically reproachable to attempt to save one life by taking another.

But the head of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, Bishop Elio Sgreccia, told Reuters in an interview that the new method by Advanced Cell Technology Inc failed to overcome the church's many moral concerns.

Sgreccia said the procedure was wrong footed from the start - experimenting with embryos is reprehensible, as is use of "unnatural" in-vitro embryos created at fertility clinics, like the ones the US scientists employed in their research.

Advanced Cell then made things worse by extracting what could be a "totipotent" cell, Sgreccia said.

"This is not just any cell, but a cell capable of reproducing a human embryo," Sgreccia said. He added that, in effect: "a second embryo is being destroyed".

Across the Atlantic, Richard Doerflinger, a bioethics expert with the US Conference of Bishops, has accused the scientists of "killing" 16 embryos during their research.

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Microsoft sues "cybersquatters" for infringement

Microsoft sues "cybersquatters" for infringement

August 22, 2006

If Microsoft did go after someone like Google or Yahoo and said 'We're going to sue you because you are not being responsible enough for keeping that stuff out of there,' that's more going to the source By Daisuke Wakabayashi

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. said on Tuesday it has filed two lawsuits against so-called "cybersquatters" or "typosquatters" who use the company's product names to profit illegally from online advertising.

The world's largest software maker said the explosion in online advertising in recent years had given rise to the illegal registration of Web site domains containing trademark Microsoft phrases or common brand name misspellings.

With billing for the ads determined by number of clicks, such sites can drive up traffic and, ultimately, ad revenue.

The sites prey on the errors or ignorance of surfers who type in a non-Microsoft Web address like "" in search of a genuine Microsoft Hotmail e-mail account.

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Radical 'Ballistic Computing' Chip Bounces Electrons Around Like Billiards

Radical 'Ballistic Computing' Chip Bounces Electrons Around Like Billiards

"Everyone has been trying to make better transistors by modifying current designs, but what we really need is the next paradigm," says Quentin Diduck, a graduate student at the University who thought up the radical new design. "We've gone from the relay, to the tube, to semiconductor physics. Now we're taking the next step on the evolutionary track."

That next step goes by the imposing name of "Ballistic Deflection Transistor," and it's as far from traditional transistors as tubes. Instead of running electrons through a transistor as if they were a current of water, the ballistic design bounces individual electrons off deflectors as if playing a game of atomic billiards.

Though today's transistor design has many years of viability left, the amount of heat these transistors generate and the electrical "leaks" in their ultra-thin barriers have already begun to limit their speed. Research groups around the world are investigating strange new designs to generate ways of computing at speeds unthinkable with today's chips. Some of these groups are working on similar single-electron transistors, but these designs still compute by starting and stopping the flow of electrons just like conventional designs. But the Ballistic Deflection Transistor adds a new twist by bouncing the electrons into their chosen trajectories—using inertia to redirect for "free," instead of wrestling the electrons into place with brute energy.

Full story.

Common brain cells may have stem-cell-like potential

Healing potential discovered in everyday human brain cells
Common brain cells may have stem-cell-like potential

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- University of Florida researchers have shown ordinary human brain cells may share the prized qualities of self-renewal and adaptability normally associated with stem cells.

Writing online today (Aug. 16) in Development, scientists from UF's McKnight Brain Institute describe how they used mature human brain cells taken from epilepsy patients to generate new brain tissue in mice.

Furthermore, they can coax these pedestrian human cells to produce large amounts of new brain cells in culture, with one cell theoretically able to begin a cycle of cell division that does not stop until the cells number about 10 to the 16th power.

"We can theoretically take a single brain cell out of a human being and - with just this one cell - generate enough brain cells to replace every cell of the donor's brain and conceivably those of 50 million other people," said Dennis Steindler, Ph.D., executive director of UF's McKnight Brain Institute. "This is a completely new source of human brain cells that can potentially be used to fight Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke and a host of other brain disorders. It would probably only take months to get enough material for a human transplant operation."

The findings document for the first time the ability of common human brain cells to morph into different cell types, a previously unknown characteristic, and are the result of the research team's long-term investigations of adult human stem cells and rodent embryonic stem cells.

Last year, the researchers published details about how they used stem-like brain cells from rodents to duplicate neurogenesis - the process of generating new brain cells - in a dish. The latest findings go further, showing common human brain cells can generate different cell types in cell cultures. In addition, when researchers transplanted these human cells into mice, the cells effectively incorporated in a variety of brain regions.

The human cells were acquired from patients who had undergone surgical treatment for epilepsy and were extracted from support tissue within the gray matter, which is not known for harboring stem cells.

When the donor cells were subjected to a bath of growth agents within cell cultures, a type of cell emerged that behaves like something called a neural progenitor - a cell that is a bit further along in development than a stem cell but shares a stem cell's vaunted ability to divide and transform into different types of brain cells.

Continue reading "Common brain cells may have stem-cell-like potential" »

Biodiesel plant planned for Rock County

Biodiesel plant planned for Rock County
Its capacity would be more than double that of refinery under construction in Dane County
Posted: Aug. 17, 2006

The state's largest biodiesel refinery has been planned for Rock County as interest heats up for home-grown fuels.

Construction of the $42 million plant is scheduled for 2007 with completion late that year. The plant will be built on 15 acres in Evansville, next to a grain elevator owned by Landmark Cooperative Services - the state's largest farm cooperative.

Biodiesel is an alternative fuel that can be made from soybeans, vegetable oil or restaurant grease. It can run in most diesel engines and can help reduce dependence on foreign oil.

The Evansville plant is expected to produce 45 million gallons of biodiesel a year, according to developers North Prairie Productions LLC, of Waterloo.

That would be more than double the capacity of the state's first large-scale biodiesel plant, which is scheduled to open in early 2007 in Dane County.

The Evansville plant could have a "really large impact" in the state, said Bob Karls, executive director of the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board.

More than 85% of biodiesel comes from soybeans. The legumes are one of the state's largest crops, and Rock and Dane counties are the largest soybean-producing counties in the state.

Full story.