David Kirkpatrick

September 3, 2010

Coming soon, stem cell factories?

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:29 am

News from the world of stem cell research. This item comes from the United Kingdom, and if the current political climate on the right towards ground-breaking science and medical research holds fast most stem cell news will be coming from anywhere but the United States.

This development does look very promising.

From the link:

In a paper published in the September edition of , a team of Nottingham scientists led by Professor Morgan Alexander in the University’s School of Pharmacy, reveal they have discovered some man-made acrylate polymers which allow stem cells to reproduce while maintaining their pluripotency.

Professor Alexander said: “This is an important breakthrough which could have significant implications for a wide range of stem cell therapies, including cancer, heart failure, muscle damage and a number of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.

“One of these new manmade materials may translate into an automated method of growing  which will be able to keep up with demand from emerging therapies that will require cells on an industrial scale, while being both cost-effective and safer for patients.”

June 11, 2010

Friday video fun — graphene into fullerene

This time it’s fun with science watching graphene turn into buckyballs.

PhysOrg has an article covering this video with additional images.

From the link:

Peering through a transmission electron microscope (TEM), researchers from Germany, Spain, and the UK have observed graphene sheets transforming into spherical fullerenes, better known as buckyballs, for the first time. The experiment could shed light on the process of how fullerenes are formed, which has so far remained mysterious on the atomic scale.

“This is the first time that anyone has directly observed the mechanism of fullerene formation,” Andrei Khlobystov of the University of Nottingham toldPhysOrg.com. “Shortly after the discovery of fullerene (exactly 25 years ago), the ‘top down’ mechanism of fullerene assembly was proposed. However, it was soon rejected in favor of a multitude of different ‘bottom up’ mechanisms, mainly because people could not understand how a flake of  could form a fullerene and because they did not have means to observe the fullerene formation in situ.”

December 24, 2009

Behavior in virtual worlds

More research into social interaction in a virtual environment. A very interesting field — I’ve blogged about this type of research before — and becoming more important as more people spend higher and higher percentages of time living “virtually” instead of engaging in face-to-face contact.

The release news article:

Understanding interaction in virtual worlds

Wed, 23 Dec 2009 14:33:00 GMT

New cinema blockbuster, Avatar, leapt to the top of box office charts as soon as it came out — a stunning 3D realisation of an alien world. Our fascination with themes of escape to other fantastic places and the thrill of immersion in virtual environments also attracts millions to assume new identities in online virtual worlds.

Now researchers at The University of Nottingham, SRI International in Silicon Valley California, two Canadian universities — Simon Fraser and York — and online games developer Multiverse are to begin a new three-year international project examining online behaviour in virtual gaming environments.

The Virtual Environment Real User Study (Verus) will explore the relationships between the real-world characteristics of gamers and the individual activities and group dynamics of their avatars in online virtual worlds. Investigating how individuals interact within online environments will have many benefits.

Computer generated imagery (CGI) in the movies has made possible unprecedented levels of realism. The imagined other-world setting of Avatar, called Pandora, lived in director James Cameron’s mind for 20 years before CGI could realise his vision — and he also opted for high-definition 3D to involve audiences further.

Cameron, the Oscar-winning director of science-fiction epics like The Terminator, Aliens and The Abyss, sits on the advisory board of one Verus research partner, Multiverse. CGI in movies has developed in tandem with technological advances in computer games development, and some games sales are overtaking movies.

After its launch in November, computer game Modern Warfare 2 became the biggest entertainment product launch in history, yielding sales of $550 million in five days.

Researchers have already been studying virtual world environments, not just to help enhance the entertainment value of online games, but also to increase their effectiveness as tools for teaching and learning, professional training and collaborative work. To date, however, few coordinated investigations of virtual world behaviours and real-world users have been conducted across different cultures.

To address this shortcoming, Verus researchers will recruit volunteers and observe their gaming activity at multiple locations worldwide. The studies will take place in computer laboratories, Internet cafes and other popular gaming environments. In these settings, researchers will interview and track the volunteers as they play online in virtual worlds such as Second Life and World of Warcraft, as well as in other virtual environments that have been specially designed for the project.

Dr Thomas Chesney, Lecturer in Information Systems at Nottingham University Business School, is co-Principal Investigator with Dr John Murray from Silicon Valley-based SRI International, a leading independent non-profit scientific research institute.

Dr Chesney said: “Virtual world interfaces are likely to increase in popularity and they could even become the main way we access information in the future. SRI has assembled an international team with complementary strengths to study virtual world behaviour and it is an honour to be part of that.

“This project has the potential to contribute significantly to our understanding of computer mediated communication,” he added.

John Murray PhD, who leads the project at SRI, said: “We have formed a strong, multidisciplinary team of international researchers and organisations with extensive knowledge of behaviours in virtual worlds, as well as in experimental economics, social and behavioural sciences, education research, linguistics, cognitive engineering and artificial intelligence.”

“We anticipate that the study’s findings will significantly enhance SRI’s existing capabilities in the study and use of virtual worlds, especially for our work for clients in the fields of education, simulation and training.”

The research will be carried out in collaboration with other academic colleagues at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, and York University in Toronto, Canada. Multiverse, a leading gaming platform developer in California, which will provide specialised virtual environments for the study.

The controlled gaming experiments will take place at Nottingham University Business School in the United Kingdom and at Simon Fraser University and York University in Canada. Research will include human-computer interaction studies, user surveys and questionnaires, on-site participant observations and other ethnographic methods of study.

The team will invite participants to contribute their own perspectives on their avatars (virtual identities) and themselves, and explain how they see and experience the virtual environments in which they play.

Education Professor Suzanne de Castell from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, said: “A small sample will be, initially at least, studied more in depth to see whether using technologies like eye tracking and skin temperature may reveal significant objective physiological correlations between players’ real-world states and virtual-world situations and activities.”

Director of Nottingham University Business School in the UK, Professor Leigh Drake, added: “Our expertise in experimental and behavioural economics, and relating to behaviour in virtual worlds, combined with the additional strengths we will contribute from our role in The University of Nottingham’s Horizon Digital Economy Hub, represents a significant contribution to this project.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Simon Fraser University and York University in Canada, where we already have strong links with faculty at the Schulich School of Business through our research in issues relating to sustainability and business ethics.”

— Ends —

Notes to editors: Nottingham University Business School is one of the UK’s leading centres for management education and ranks among the world’s leading business schools in the 2009 Financial Times and The Economist 2009 Global Top 100 rankings. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 70 per cent of the School’s research was rated as either ‘internationally excellent’ or ‘world-leading,’ ranking it 6th in the UK.

The School ranks 1st in the UK, 3rd in Europe and 23rd globally in the Aspen Institute’s Top 100Beyond Grey Pinstripes ranking of the world’s most innovative MBA programmes that lead the way in integrating social, environmental, and ethical issues into management education and research.

The Business School has pioneered entrepreneurship teaching and research at Nottingham and the University won the 2008-2009 Times Higher Education ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ award. The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations.

The University of Nottingham provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. It is ranked in the UK’s Top 10 and the World’s Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.

Described by The Times as Britain’s “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. Nottingham has won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation, School of Pharmacy).

Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives (www.science-city.co.uk) in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.

June 4, 2009

Looking into cells with nanotech

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:49 pm

Via KurzweilAI.net — Just wow.

Revolutionary Ultrasonic Nanotechnology May Allow Scientists To See Inside Patient’s Individual Cells
Science Daily, June 3, 2009

Nanoscale GHz-range ultrasonic technology that could allow scientists to see inside a patient’s individual cells to help diagnose serious illnesses is being developed by researchers at The University of Nottingham.

The new technology may also allow scientists to see objects even smaller than optical microscopes and be so sensitive they may be able to measure single molecules.

 
Read Original Article>>

November 14, 2008

Nanotubes may replace flash memory

From KurzweilAI.net — This sounds like another huge breakthrough utilizing carbon nanotubes.

 

Telescoping Carbon Nanotubes Can Make Flash Memory Replacment
Next Big Future, Nov. 13, 2008

Researchers at The University of Nottingham have used carbon nanotubes to make fast non-volatile memory.

 
Read Original Article>>

 

This is from the “read original article” link:

If one nanotube sits inside another — slightly larger — one, the inner tube will ‘float’ within the outer, responding to electrostatic, van der Waals and capillary forces. Passing power through the nanotubes allows the inner tube to be pushed in and out of the outer tube. This telescoping action can either connect or disconnect the inner tube to an electrode, creating the ‘zero’ or ‘one’ states required to store information using binary code. When the power source is switched off, van der Waals force — which governs attraction between molecules — keeps the Inner tube in contact with the electrode. This makes the memory storage non-volatile, like Flash memory.

August 11, 2008

Digital Matter project gets $3M

From KurzweilAI.net:

$3 million grant awarded to build ‘digital matter’
KurzweilAI.net, Aug.10, 2008

Research in diamond mechanosynthesis (DMS) — building diamond nanostructures atom by atom using scanning probe microscopy — just received a major boost with a $3 million grant from the U.K. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, awarded to Professor Philip Moriarty at the University of Nottingham for a “Digital Matter” project, the Nanofactory Collaboration plans to announce Monday.


Diamond mechanosynthesis with computer-automated tooltip (artist’s impression)

The Nottingham work grew out of continuing discussions since 2005 on DMS between Moriarty and Robert A. Freitas Jr., a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing (IMM).

“Diamond mechanosynthesis is the key technology that will let us fabricate atomically precise diamond products, including molecular computers, microbivores, and a host of other molecular machines,” said IMM Senior Fellow Ralph Merkle in an email interview. Merkle co-founded the Nanofactory Collaboration with Freitas in 2001 to pursue molecular manufacturing via DMS.

“There’s a body of theoretical work that says diamond mechanosynthesis is feasible, including specific computational chemistry analyses of specific reactions and specific reaction pathways. Now we have to make it happen in the lab, and Moriarty’s work is the first step along this path.”

In April 2008, Freitas and Merkle published the results of a comprehensive three-year project to computationally analyze a complete set of DMS reaction sequences and an associated minimal set of tooltips that could be used to build basic diamond and graphene (e.g., carbon nanotube) structures. These structures include all of the tools themselves, along with the necessary tool recharging reactions.

Moriarty is interested in testing the viability of positionally controlled atom-by-atom fabrication of diamondoid materials as described in the Freitas-Merkle minimal toolset theory paper. Moriarty’s efforts will be the first time that specific predictions made by sophisticated computational chemistry software in the area of mechanosynthesis will be rigorously tested by experiment.

His work also directly addresses the requirement for “proof of principle” mechanosynthesis experiments requested in the 2006 National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) review, in the 2007 Battelle/Foresight nanotechnology roadmap, and by EPSRC’s Strategic Advisor for Nanotechnology, Richard Jones (Physics, Sheffield University, U.K.).

Also see:
Mechanosynthesis toolset is important new step toward the nanofactory

April 14, 2008

Stem cells, micro-scaffolding and strokes

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:36 pm

From KurzweilAI.net:

Can micro-scaffolding help stem cells rebuild the brain after stroke?
KurzweilAI.net, April 13, 2008Neural stem cell-scaffold combinations could be injected into the brain to provide a framework inside the cavities caused by stroke so that the cells are held there until they can work their way to connect with surrounding healthy tissue, University of Nottingham neurobiologists propose.

Strokes cause temporary loss of blood supply to the brain, which results in areas of brain tissue dying, causing loss of bodily functions such as speech and movement.