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October 19, 2006, 9:08 PM CT

Hyper-Cest MRI And Molecular Imaging

Hyper-Cest MRI And Molecular Imaging Two-compartment phantom is a diagram of how HYPER-CEST works
Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California at Berkeley have developed a new technique for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) that allows detection of signals from molecules present at 10,000 times lower concentrations than conventional MRI techniques. Called HYPER-CEST, for hyperpolarized xenon chemical exchange saturation transfer, this new technique holds great promise for molecular imaging, in which the spatial distribution of specific molecules is detected within an organism. Ultimately, HYPER-CEST could become a valuable tool for medical diagnosis, including the early detection of cancer.

In a paper reported in the October 20, 2006 issue of the journal Science, the team of scientists report on a technique in which xenon atoms that have been hyperpolarized with laser light to enhance their MRI signal, incorporated into a biosensor and associated with specific protein or ligand targets. These hyperpolarized xenon biosensors generate highly selective contrast at sites where they are bound, dramatically boosting the strength of the MRI signal and resulting in spatial images of the chosen molecular or cellular target.

This research was led by Alexander Pines and David Wemmer, who both hold joint appointments with Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley. Their paper is entitled Molecular Imaging Using a Targeted Magnetic Resonance Hyperpolarized Biosensor. Co-authoring the paper with Pines and Wemmer were Leif Schroder and Thomas Lowery, plus Christian Hilty.........

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October 18, 2006, 8:41 PM CT

National Center for X-ray Tomography

National Center for X-ray Tomography The new soft x-ray microscope at the National Center for X-ray Tomography captured its first x-rays on August 23, 2006
The National Center for X-ray Tomography (NCXT) has officially been dedicated at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Located at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source (ALS), this new center features a first-of-its-kind x-ray microscope that will enable researchers to perform "Computerized axial tomography scans" on biological cells, just one of a number of unprecedented capabilities for cell and molecular biology studies.

"X-ray microscopy is an emerging new technology that expands the imaging toolbox for cell and molecular biologists, and we are going to make this technology available to the greater biological community," said cell biologist and microscopy expert Carolyn Larabell, who is the principal investigator for the new center. Larabell, holds a joint appointment with Berkeley Lab's Physical Biosciences Division and the Anatomy Department of UC San Francisco. Her co-principal investigator at the center is.

Berkeley Lab physicist Mark Le Gros.

The NCXT is being funded with grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). For construction and five years of operation, the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program in DOE's Office of Science has provided about $7 million. NIH has provided about $5 million through its National Center for Research Resources program, which establishes "biomedical technology resource centers," such as the NCXT, to provide researchers and clinical scientists with "the environments and tools they need to understand, detect, treat, and prevent a wide range of diseases."........

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October 15, 2006, 8:55 PM CT

Software To Calculate Heart Attack Risk

Software To Calculate Heart Attack Risk
Pioneering computer software is helping doctors to decide how best to treat patients admitted to hospital with suspected heart attacks.

An international consortium of researchers, led by the University of Edinburgh, has developed a programme that enables doctors to swiftly assess the severity of a patient's condition. The new 'risk calculator' is already being used in British hospitals.

Doctors using the new system take key data from patients at their bedside, and input it into the specially-devised programme. Key facts - such as a patient's age, medical history and blood pressure - are recorded by doctors, as well as information derived from on-the-spot blood samples and kidney tests.

The new patient's statistical profile is then input into a computer and matched with data derived from thousands of other coronary cases. Using the outcomes of these prior cases as a guide, the computer will not only give an accurate assessment of the new patient's conditions, but also recommend possible therapy. Significantly, it will be able to predict the likelihood the patient suffering a heart attack, and even their chances of dying in the next months.

Chest pain accounts for more than a quarter of all emergency medical admissions in the United Kingdom. Spotting high risk heart patients quickly can be difficult, but Professor Keith Fox, of the University of Edinburgh, says the new tool will help: "Identifying those with threatened heart attack from the very a number of patients with chest pain is a real clinical challenge, but critically important in guiding emergency and subsequent patient care. Higher risk patients need more intensive medical and interventional therapy".........

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October 15, 2006, 8:19 PM CT

Internet Users May Be Taking Phishing Bait

Internet Users May Be Taking Phishing Bait
A higher-than-expected percentage of Internet users are likely to fall victim to scam artists masquerading as trusted service providers, report researchers at the Indiana University School of Informatics.

"Designing Ethical Phishing Experiments: A study of (ROT13) rOnl query features," published online, simulated phishing tactics used to elicit online information from eBay customers. The online auction giant was selected because of its popularity among millions of users-and because it is one of the most popular targets of phishing scams.

The study, one of the first of its kind, reveals that phishers may be netting responses from as much as 14 percent of the targeted populations per attack, as opposed to 3 percent per year.

Phishers send e-mail to Internet users, spoofing legitimate and well-known enterprises such as eBay, financial institutions and even government agencies in an attempt to dupe people into surrendering private information. Users are asked to click on a link where they are taken to a site appearing to be legitimate. Once there, they are asked to correct or update personal information such as bank, credit card and Social Security accounts numbers.

Surveys by the Gartner Group report that about 3 percent of adult Americans are successfully targeted by phishing attacks each year, an amount that might be conservative given that many are reluctant to report they have been victimized, or may even be unaware of it. Other surveys may result in overestimates of the risks because of misunderstanding of what constitutes identity theft.........

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October 12, 2006, 9:59 PM CT

Closer To Holy Grail Of Modern Chemistry

Closer To Holy Grail Of Modern Chemistry
University of Chicago chemist David Mazziotti has developed a new method for determining the behavior of electrons in atoms and molecules, a key ingredient in predicting chemical properties and reactions. He presented the details of his method in the Oct. 6 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.

"In his new paper, David Mazziotti has made a major advance in fundamental theory," said Nobel laureate Dudley Herschbach, the Frank Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University. "It will surely find wide application".

The behavior of electrons in atoms and molecules affects many significant chemical reactions that govern everyday phenomena, including the fuel efficiency of combustion engines, the depletion of ozone in the atmosphere, and the design of new medicines. The importance of electrons in these and countless other chemical phenomena have led scientists since the 1950s to seek an efficient way to determine the distribution of electrons in atoms and molecules.

There can be hundreds or even thousands of electrons moving around the nuclei of a molecule--far too many for their distribution in the molecule to be determined exactly even with modern supercomputers. But during the 1950s, scientists realized that they could, in principle, use only a pair of electrons to represent any number of electrons accurately.........

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October 12, 2006, 9:37 PM CT

Solio Universal Hybrid Charger

Solio Universal Hybrid Charger
Solio, the Universal "Hybrid" Charger , can charge all of your handheld electronic products, even if you've been relocated to Antarctica. It works by absorbing power from the sun and storing the energy within the Solio's own internal battery (charging Solio's internal battery takes 8-10 hours of direct sunlight). If your igloo comes with a wall socket, you can also plug it in to charge it.

Not only can it charge your cell phone, but also your PDA, digital camera, and game player.

(It includes seven tips and cables, so it's compatibile with most devices.) To give you an idea, one hour of sun will give you enough juice to play your iPod for about an hour. When fully charged it can charge your cell phone twice over.

At the Clinton Global Initiative (which brings together a community of global leaders to 'devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges') soiree in NY, they gave Solio as one of the gifts for its 1,500 participating members. Movers and shakers such as Richard Branson, Tony Blair, The King of Jordan, Bill Gates, George Bush and many more received their own energy sources.........

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October 11, 2006, 8:25 PM CT

More Powerful Computer Chips

More Powerful Computer Chips
A University of Central Florida research team has made a substantial inroad toward establishing extreme ultraviolet light (EUV) as a primary power source for manufacturing the next generation of computer chips.

The team, led by Martin Richardson, university trustee chair and UCF's Northrop Grumman professor of X-Ray optics, successfully demonstrated for the first time an EUV light source with 30 times the power of previous recorded attempts enough to power the stepper machines used to reproduce detailed circuitry images onto computer chips.

The successful use of EUV light for this purpose marks a milestone in an industry-wide effort to create the most efficient and cost-effective power source for the next generation of chip production. Chips are now manufactured using longer-wavelength ultraviolet light sources.

The UCF breakthrough came as a result of a collaboration between Richardson and Powerlase Ltd., a company based in England. The company provided UCF with a powerful Starlase laser to combine with the specialized laser plasma source technology that the UCF team has developed. The unique technology combines the high conversion of laser light to EUV and effectively eliminates the neutral and charged particles that are associated with existing EUV plasma sources. If allowed to stream freely away from the source, those particles can harm the expensive optics used in EUV steppers.........

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October 10, 2006, 10:31 PM CT

EPA to monitor water systems

EPA to monitor water systems
Sandia National Laboratories scientists are working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), University of Cincinnati and Argonne National Laboratory to develop contaminant warning systems that can monitor municipal water systems to determine quickly when and where a contamination occurs.

It's all part of the EPA's Threat Ensemble Vulnerability Assessment (TEVA) program to counter threats against water systems. The program uses a computational framework containing a suite of software tools that can simulate threats and identify vulnerabilities in drinking water systems, measure potential public health impacts, and evaluate mitigation and response strategies.

The EPA became especially concerned about potential water system contamination after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on Washington, D.C. and New York.

U.S. water systems consist of large networks of storage tanks, valves, and pipes that transport clean water to customers over vast areas. By the very nature of their design, they provide multiple points for potential contamination -- either accidental or intentional.

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.

"Our involvement dates back about three years ago when the EPA became aware of some LDRD [internally-funded Laboratory Directed Research and Development program] research we were doing to model threat assessments to water systems," says Sean McKenna, Sandia project researcher. "We started working with the EPA in March 2003".........

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October 10, 2006, 10:14 PM CT

Research Development And Economic Growth

Research Development And Economic Growth impact of R&D on the economy
New calculations from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) suggest research and development (R&D) accounted for a substantial share of the resurgence in U.S. economic growth in recent years. Using data from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) annual surveys of government, academic, industry and non-profit R&D expenditures, the bureau determined R&D contributed 6.5 percent to economic growth between 1995 and 2002.

Some 40 percent of the nation's productivity and growth is unaccounted for in the gross domestic product (GDP), as per BEA Director Steve Landefeld. That's mainly because reliable data in some economic sectors simply don't exist.

NSF and agencies in a number of other nations collect extensive R&D expenditure data because R&D is vital to economic growth and social welfare, and often results in unimagined benefits. Indeed, the resources organizations devote to R&D influence both economic growth and international competitiveness.

In 2004, NSF's Division of Science Resources Statistics (SRS) enter into a multi-year agreement with BEA to use data from R&D expenditure surveys SRS routinely collects to produce an R&D "satellite account" -a supplemental set of data that can be factored into economic measurements--to determine the impact of R&D spending by various organizations on U.S. growth and productivity.........

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October 10, 2006, 9:21 PM CT

No Hands Video

No Hands Video
Now, a St. Louis-area teenage boy and a computer game have gone hands-off, thanks to a unique experiment conducted by a team of neurosurgeons, neurologists, and engineers at Washington University in St. Louis.

The boy, a 14-year-old who suffers from epilepsy, is the first teenager to play a two-dimensional video game, Space Invaders, using only the signals from his brain to make movements.

Getting subjects to move objects using only their brains has implications toward someday building biomedical devices that can control artificial limbs, for instance, enabling the disabled to move a prosthetic arm or leg by thinking about it.

A number of gamers think fondly of Atari's Space Invaders, one of the most popular breakthrough video games of the late '70s. The player controls the motions of a movable laser cannon that moves back and forth across the bottom of the video screen. Row upon row of video aliens march back and forth across the screen, slowly coming down from the top to the bottom of the screen. The objective is to prevent any one of the aliens from landing on the bottom of the screen, which ends the game. The player has an unlimited ammunition supply.

The aliens can shoot back at the player, who has to evade, moving left and right. There are lots of levels of play, reflecting the speed at which the aliens descend. The Washington University subject mastered the first two levels of play, using just his imagination.........

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