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Software To Improve AIDS Survival? 97

Roland Piquepaille writes "There are more than 33 million people living with HIV worldwide. No cure or vaccine has been unveiled this week in Mexico during the International AIDS Conference. Still, European researchers have developed 'a predictive software system for HIV that could help extend the lives of victims of the killer disease.' The scientists working on the EuResist project have combined HIV databases in Italy, Sweden and Germany, creating what is probably the largest database on AIDS and HIV in the world. Armed with information about more than 18,000 patients, 64,000 therapies, and 240,000 viral mode measurements, the researchers have created new mathematical prediction models, which should soon be available to medical researchers and doctors all over the world."

Creating Designer Isotopes 71

Roland Piquepaille writes "According to a Michigan State University (MSU) news release, 'Made-to-order isotopes hold promise on science's frontier,' nuclear physicists can now start a new career as isotope designers. These scientists can build specific rare isotopes to solve scientific problems and open doors to new technologies. The lead researcher says this approach has already given us the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan technology. He's now going further, saying that he wants to build objects 100,000 times smaller than the atomic nucleus. He calls this 'femtotechnology.' Also available are additional details and pictures of the tools used for this kind of research, picked from a 415-page design paper." Update: 05/11 14:30 GMT by SS: Readers have noted that the summary inaccurately portrays the scale of the 'femtotechnology.' The MSU researcher refers to "the capacity to construct objects on an even more minute scale, that of the atomic nucleus 100,000 times smaller."

Birds Give a Lesson to Plane Designers 250

Roland Piquepaille points out a news release from the University of Michigan where researchers are looking to birds and bats for insights into aerospace engineering. Wei Shyy and his colleagues are learning from solutions developed by nature and applying them to the technology of flight. A presentation on this topic was also given at the 2005 TED conference. From the news release: "The roll rate of the aerobatic A-4 Skyhawk plane is about 720 degrees per second. The roll rate of a barn swallow exceeds 5,000 degrees per second. Select military aircraft can withstand gravitational forces of 8-10 G. Many birds routinely experience positive G-forces greater than 10 G and up to 14 G. Flapping flight is inherently unsteady, but that's why it works so well. Birds, bats and insects fly in a messy environment full of gusts traveling at speeds similar to their own. Yet they can react almost instantaneously and adapt with their flexible wings."

Speeding Up STM Imaging 44

Roland Piquepaille writes "Probably not many of you have used a scanning tunneling microscope (STM), the essential tool of nanoscience. And you might think that it's as easy to take a picture of an atom with an STM as it is to take a shot with your digital camera. In fact, the imaging of individual atoms with an STM is quite slow. Now researchers at Cornell University have shown how to accelerate this process — by adding a radio transmitter, they are able to speed up atomic-level microscopy by a factor of at least 100. A typical STM currently has a sampling rate of about one KHz. This new radio-frequency STM can operate a thousand times faster."

Super-Light Plastic As Strong as Steel 226

Roland Piquepaille writes "A new composite plastic built layer by layer has been created by engineers at the University of Michigan. This plastic is as strong as steel. It has been built the same way as mother-of-pearl, and shows similar strength. Interestingly, this 300-layer plastic has been built with 'strong' nanosheets of clay and a 'fragile' polymer called polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), commonly used in paints and glue, which acts as 'Velcro' to envelop the nanoparticles. This new plastic could soon be used to design light but strong armors for soldiers or police officers. The researchers also think this material could be used in biomedical sensors and unmanned aircraft."

Drawing on Air With Haptics in 3D 62

Roland Piquepaille writes "In a recent article, reports that a team of computer scientists at Brown University has developed 'Drawing on Air', a haptic-aided interface to help artists to create 3D illustrations while wearing a virtual reality mask. 'The technique introduces two new strategies, using one hand or two hands, to give artists the tools they need for drawing different types of curves, and for viewing and editing their work.' The researchers hope that these techniques will improve the precision with which scientists can interact with their 3D data using a computer. This also would help artists to illustrate complicated artistic, scientific, and medical subjects."

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