BBC – Earth News – Ant mega-colony takes over world

A single mega-colony of ants has colonised much of the world, scientists have discovered.

Argentine ants living in vast numbers across Europe, the US and Japan belong to the same inter-related colony, and will refuse to fight one another.

The colony may be the largest of its type ever known for any insect species, and could rival humans in the scale of its world domination.

What’s more, people are unwittingly helping the mega-colony stick together.

Argentine ants Linepithema humile were once native to South America. But people have unintentionally introduced the ants to all continents except Antarctica.

These introduced Argentine ants are renowned for forming large colonies, and for becoming a significant pest, attacking native animals and crops.

In Europe, one vast colony of Argentine ants is thought to stretch for 6,000km 3,700 miles along the Mediterranean coast, while another in the US, known as the “Californian large”, extends over 900km 560 miles along the coast of California. A third huge colony exists on the west coast of Japan.

via BBC – Earth News – Ant mega-colony takes over world.

The Recent Future / July 2, 2009 / Nature / 0 Comments

Australian scientists kill cancer cells with trojan horse | Global Industries | Health & Drugs | Reuters

Australian scientists have developed a “trojan horse” therapy to combat cancer, using a bacterially-derived nano cell to penetrate and disarm the cancer cell before a second nano cell kills it with chemotherapy drugs.

The “trojan horse” therapy has the potential to directly target cancer cells with chemotherapy, rather than the current treatment that sees chemotherapy drugs injected into a cancer patient and attacking both cancer and healthy cells.

Sydney scientists Dr Jennifer MacDiarmid and Dr Himanshu Brahmbhatt, who formed EnGenelC Pty Ltd in 2001, said they had achieved 100 percent survival in mice with human cancer cells by using the “trojan horse” therapy in the past two years.

The scientists plan to start human clinical trials in the coming months. Human trials of the cell delivery system will start next week at the Peter MacCullum Cancer Center at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and The Austin at the University of Melbourne.

via Australian scientists kill cancer cells with trojan horse | Global Industries | Health & Drugs | Reuters.

The Recent Future / June 29, 2009 / Health / 0 Comments

Australian scientists may have worked out the mystery of teleportation | The Daily Telegraph

AUSTRALIAN scientists have developed a new method for transmitting data with light that may lead to super-fast quantum computers and teleportation technology.

The research team from the Australian National University developed a new approach to generating quantum entanglement in beams of light using only two parts.

Quantum entanglement is a process in which two objects are linked together in such a way that any changes to the properties of one can be measured from the other regardless of the distance between them.

This process of linking particles has existed for a few years but team leader Dr Jiri Janousek says this new method allows it to be achieved in a much simpler way.

“Usually, when you want to generate entanglement you need a lot of sources of light and a lot of receivers but we found a way to use only one source and one receiver to generate and measure entanglement,” Dr Janousek said.

via Australian scientists may have worked out the mystery of teleportation | The Daily Telegraph.

The Recent Future / June 21, 2009 / SciFi / 0 Comments

‘Cloak of silence’ tech could hide submarines –

A new invisibility cloak for sound could help doctors find tiny tumors or hide submarines from enemy sonar.

“Our focus is not about dampening noise, but to guide sound waves around structures,” said Nicholas Fang, a professor a the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and coauthor, along with Shu Zhang and Leilei Yin, on a paper that appears in the journal Physical Review Letters.

For example, “if we have a coating on a submarine that bends acoustics waves before they hit the surface, guiding them around the submarine smoothly, then you won’t be able to detect a submarine using sonar.”

The same technology that could render a military submarine invisible to sonar could also be used to create high-definition, in-utero baby pictures or detect previously undetectable, tiny tumors.

via ‘Cloak of silence’ tech could hide submarines –

The Recent Future / June 18, 2009 / Tech / 0 Comments

University of Colorado team finds definitive evidence for ancient lake on Mars

A University of Colorado at Boulder research team has discovered the first definitive evidence of shorelines on Mars, an indication of a deep, ancient lake there and a finding with implications for the discovery of past life on the Red Planet.

Estimated to be more than 3 billion years old, the lake appears to have covered as much as 80 square miles and was up to 1,500 feet deep — roughly the equivalent of Lake Champlain bordering the United States and Canada, said CU-Boulder Research Associate Gaetano Di Achille, who led the study. The shoreline evidence, found along a broad delta, included a series of alternating ridges and troughs thought to be surviving remnants of beach deposits.

“This is the first unambiguous evidence of shorelines on the surface of Mars,” said Di Achille. “The identification of the shorelines and accompanying geological evidence allows us to calculate the size and volume of the lake, which appears to have formed about 3.4 billion years ago.”

via University of Colorado team finds definitive evidence for ancient lake on Mars.

The Recent Future / June 17, 2009 / Nature / 0 Comments

The Recent Future / June 15, 2009 / Tech / 0 Comments

Quantum Leap in Lighting

Seth Coe-Sullivan flicks the switches on two desk lamps, and even from across the conference room, it’s immediately obvious which light the chief technology officer of QD Vision is there to brag about. The light coming from the lamp on the left is a harsh bluish white. The lamp on the right casts a warmer, more yellow glow. Coe-Sullivan holds a hand under each lamp. The hand under the bluish light looks pale and sickly; the other looks darker and healthier. The harsher light lacks wavelengths in the red end of the spectrum, so there’s no light to illuminate the reddish tinge that blood provides to human skin.

QD Vision, based in Watertown, MA, is promoting a new LED-based lamp that it made with Nexxus Lighting of Charlotte, NC. Nexxus makes a lamp designed to screw into standard sockets used in recessed ceiling lighting. It consists of an array of white-light LEDs encircled by fins that remove excess heat. QD Vision adds an optic–a plastic cover with a special coating that snaps into place over the LEDs.

The Recent Future / June 15, 2009 / Tech / 0 Comments

How Down Syndrome Stops Cancer

For decades scientists have known that people with Down syndrome, who have an extra copy of chromosome 21, get certain types of cancer at dramatically lower rates than normal. Now, partly by using stem cells derived from the skin of an individual with Down syndrome, researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston have pinpointed the gene that appears to underlie the cancer-protective effect.

The researchers say the results of their study, which were published today in Nature, may point to a promising new target for future cancer treatments. And according to stem-cell biologists, the work also highlights a growing trend in the field: harnessing disease-specific stem cells not as therapies but rather as models for understanding particular genetic disorders.

The Recent Future / June 15, 2009 / Health / 0 Comments

Test for Cancer With a Take-Home Kit

What if checking for cancer was as easy as a pregnancy test?

Soon, it will be. Catching cancer early is the most crucial step to providing effective and proactive treatment against it. But most folks won’t undergo expensive and inconvenient testing until symptoms start to surface, and by then it could be too late. New advances in nanotechnology could change that, bringing an over-the-counter prostate cancer test kit to your pharmacy in the next few years.

The Recent Future / June 15, 2009 / Health / 0 Comments

New ‘broadband’ cloaking technology simple to manufacture

Researchers have created a new type of invisibility cloak that is simpler than previous designs and works for all colors of the visible spectrum, making it possible to cloak larger objects than before and possibly leading to practical applications in “transformation optics.”

Whereas previous cloaking designs have used exotic “metamaterials,” which require complex nanofabrication, the new design is a far simpler device based on a “tapered optical waveguide,” said Vladimir Shalaev, Purdue University’s Robert and Anne Burnett Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The Recent Future / June 15, 2009 / SciFi / 0 Comments