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Hybrid Human-Animal DNA Experiments Raise Concerns 311

Kevin Fishburne writes "British scientists are calling for a new agency to oversee the mixing of human and animal DNA, which is progressing at a rate most may not be aware of: 'Among experimentation that might spark concern are those where human brain cells might change animal brains, those that could lead to the fertilization of human eggs in animals and any modifications of animals that might create attributes considered uniquely human, like facial features, skin or speech. ... Some disagree. "We think some of these should be done, but they should be done in an open way to maintain public confidence," said Robin Lovell-Badge, head of stem cell biology and developmental genetics at Britain's Medical Research Council, one of the expert group members. He said experiments injecting human brain cells into the brains of rats might help develop new stroke treatments or that growing human skin on mice could further understanding of skin cancer.'"

Researchers Create Logic Circuits From DNA 94

separsons writes "Researchers at Duke University recently used DNA to craft tiny chips used in computers and electronic circuits. By mixing DNA snippets with other molecules and exposing them to light, researchers created self-assembling, DNA-based logic circuits. Once perfected the tech could serve as an endlessly abundant, cheap alternative to silicon semiconductors. Chris Dwyer, lead researcher on the project, says that one grad student using DNA to make self-assembling circuits could produce more logic circuits in one day than the global silicon chip industry can create in an entire month!"

Creating a Quantum Superposition of Living Things 321

KentuckyFC writes "Having created quantum superpositions of photons, atoms, and even molecules, scientists are currently preparing to do the same for larger objects — namely viruses. The technique will involve storing a virus in a vacuum and then cooling it to its quantum-mechanical ground state in a microcavity. Zapping the virus with a laser then leaves it in a superposition of its ground state and an excited one. That's no easy task, however. The virus will have to survive the vacuum, behave like a dielectric, and appear transparent to the laser light, which would otherwise tear it apart. Now a group of researchers has worked out that several viruses look capable of surviving the superposition process, including the common flu virus and the tobacco mosaic virus. They point out that after creating the superposition, scientists will be able to perform the Schrodinger's Cat experiment for the first time, which should be fun (but less so for the virus)."

Nano Origami for DNA, Complete With Software 32

wisebabo writes "Some researchers at Technische Universitaet Muenchen and Harvard have developed a way to make DNA 'Origami' fold up into all sorts of desired nanoscale shapes. While this has been done before, there now seems to be a much greater assortment of shapes they can create. What's particularly interesting is that they've developed some software that can be used (presumably with a DNA assembler) that will create what you want; think of CAD/CAM on a molecular scale! 'The toolbox they have developed includes a graphical software program that helps to translate specific design concepts into the DNA programming required to realize them. Three-dimensional shapes are produced by "tuning" the number, arrangement, and lengths of helices.'"

Large Hadron Collider Goes Live September 10th 409

Naznarreb writes "CERN announced today that the first attempt to circulate a beam through the Large Hadron Collider will be on September 10th, 2008. You can read the press release here. They also announced the event will be webcast live. According to the release, they're just planning to run a few tests laps, not smash any particles, so the world won't be ending quite yet." And despite that September 10th date, according to the BBC, "On 9 August, protons will be piped through LHC magnets for the first time."

3D Crystal Grown On a DNA Lattice 61

An anonymous reader suggests an article over at ScienceDaily about the achievement of the holy grail of nanoscience: "[R]esearchers at the US Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have for the first time used DNA to guide the creation of three-dimensional, ordered, crystalline structures of nanoparticles. The ability to engineer such 3-D structures is essential to producing functional materials that take advantage of the unique properties that may exist at the nanoscale — for example, enhanced magnetism, improved catalytic activity, or new optical properties."

One picture is worth 128K words.