David Kirkpatrick

July 11, 2008

Latest breakthroughs — stem cells, solar and hard drives

Here’s a more traditional (for this blog) posting from KurzweilAI.net — a stem cell breakthrough, solar energy harvesting breakthrough, and another breakthrough (see a theme here) in hard drive capacity.

New Technique Harvests Stem Cells at Earlier Stage
HealthDay News, July 9, 2008

Researchers at Vrije Universiteit Brussel have derived human embryonic stem cells (hESC) earlier in the development stage of a blastomere (when it only has four cells), so the whole embryo is not destroyed.

Previously, scientists were able to derive hESC lines at the 8-cell stage, but that methodhad variable success rates and required the cells to be cultured with established hESCs. The new method doesn’t require a co-culture.

The development could make stem cell researcheasier to conduct by not raising as many ethical concerns. It could also change pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), by enabling the biopsy of one cell from a 4-cell stage embryo. This would let the remaining three cells grow into a blastocyst (five-day embryo) that could be implanted into the uterus and develop into a healthy baby. Currently GPD is performed at the 8-cell stage.

See Also Stem cell breakthrough leaves embryos unharmed

 
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Organic dye lets window panes harvest the Sun
New Scientist news service, July 10, 2008

MIT electrical engineer Marc Baldo had developed a method to turn up to 20% of incident light into electricity at a fraction of the cost of conventional photovoltaic cells.

Exotic organic dyes are coated onto an ordinary sheet of glass, trapping light inside the glass and allowing it to be channelled to photovoltaic cells placed along the edges of the sheet. The dyes can absorb light across the visible spectrum and emit it at the longer frequencies needed for optimal conversion.

 
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Seagate’s Latest Desktop HDD Has 1.5TB Capacity
Hot Hardware, July 10, 2008

Seagate announced Thursday three new consumer-level hard drives today, which it claims are the “industry’s first 1.5-terabyte desktop and half-terabyte notebook hard drives.”

The company claims that it is able to greatly increase the areal density of its drive substrates by using perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology.

 
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