October 2/9, 2006


DNA sponges

Synthetic branched DNA strands that connect to form molecular webs produce inexpensive, biocompatible hydrogels capable of encapsulating drugs and biological materials, including living cells. The DNA hydrogels could be used to deliver drugs, grow organs and other tissues, and culture cells. (Enzyme-Catalysed Assembly of DNA Hydrogel, Nature Materials, October 2006)

Chip charts gene action

A biochip combines microfluidics and fluorescent gene expression indicators to track gene expression in living cells over time. The chip has 256 tiny cell-containing chambers that can each host an automated gene expression experiment. The biochip could be used for drug development, health care and basic science. (A High-Throughput Microfluidic Real-time Gene Expression Living Cell Array, Lab on a Chip, published online September 29, 2006)

One-two nano punch

Biodegradable polymer nanoparticles that contain water-attracting shells and water- repellent cores can deliver drugs and DNA to cancer cells. The core-shell nanoparticles were more effective at suppressing breast cancer in mice than drugs or DNA alone. (Co-Delivery of Drugs and DNA from Cationic Core–Shell Nanoparticles Self-Assembled from a Biodegradable Copolymer, Nature Materials, October 2006)

Biochip microscope

A biochip that sports a diagonal line of nanoscale holes across a microfluidic channel is an inexpensive, compact, lensless microscope. The biochip could speed up, simplify and lower the cost of imaging cells and microorganisms for medical diagnostics and research. (Optofluidic Microscopy -- a Method for Implementing a High Resolution Optical Microscope on a Chip, Lab on a Chip, October 2006)

Gel-driven biochip

An inexpensive method of making temperature-sensitive gels within microfluidic channels can be used to create pumps and valves. The technique could be used to make drug delivery devices that are triggered by changes in body temperature. (Maskless Microfabrication of Thermosensitive Gels Using a Microscope and Application to a Controlled Release Microchip, Lab on a Chip, October 2006)

Nanotech initiative report card

The National Academy of Sciences' National Materials Advisory Board has issued a report assessing the National Nanotechnology Initiative, the framework for guiding federally-funded nanotechnology research and development. The report calls for more research on environmental, health and safety effects of nanotechnology; continued government support of the initiative; the creation of an independent advisory panel; better reporting of how funds are used in order to assess economic impacts; and experimental data to determine the potential of molecular manufacturing (A Matter of Size: Triennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, National Academy of Sciences, September 25, 2006)


View from the High Ground: ICL's John Pendry
Physics as machine tool, negative refractive index, metamaterials, shattered wine glasses, higher capacity DVDs, scientific backwaters, risk perception and practice, practice, practice.

How It Works: Quantum computing: qubits
Photons, electrons and atoms, oh my! These particles are the raw materials for qubits, the basic building blocks of quantum computers.

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October 6 th, 2006
Northeast climate heading south
In forecasting the effects of global warming there are generally two scenarios, bad and very bad.

A study by the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment, a collaboration between the Union of Concerned Scientists and a team of independent scientists from universities across the US, plots the effects of global warming on the Northeast in two cases

September 21st, 2006
Female faculty frustrated

August 8th, 2006
Highlights from Siggraph

July 25, 2006
Cooked wine


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"Physics is to the rest of science what machine tools are to engineering. A corollary is that science places power in our hands which can be used for good or ill. Technology has been abused in this way throughout the ages from gunpowder to atomic bombs."
- John Pendry, Imperial College London

  Thanks to Kevin from
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