Ignorance may be what it takes to do really good science, not to mention reading and writing about it. Maybe Weird Al Yankovic was right when he urged, "Dare to be stupid."
Living with Nanotubes
Carbon nanotubes are stronger than steel and 50,000 times finer than human hair. Unfortunately they kill cells, which discourages researchers who'd like to use them to diagnose and treat disease. Now scientists have created a mimic of natural mucin that can make carbon nanotubes safe for living things.
Whips and Eyelashes
Bundles of microtubules called axonemes form the flagella ("whips") and cilia ("eyelashes") that propel single-celled eukaryotes and specialized cells like sperm. The basic plan of these giant molecular machines is known, but not their detailed architecture. Scientists are using cryo-electron tomography to identify axoneme proteins and map their structures.
Mixing Neutrino Flavors
Neutrinos have mass, but only a little, and nobody knows exactly how much. Since neutrino masses are important for understanding how the universe began, an international collaboration plans a giant underground experiment near the nuclear reactors at China's Daya Bay.
Surprising Electronic Transitions
Spintronics and other technologies of the future will depend on electron correlations, where a change in the state of one electron affects the states of others. As scientists at the Advanced Light Source have discovered, correlated materials are full of surprises.
Understanding how human genes are regulated is more daunting than mapping the human genome or even identifying all the human genes. This final installment in a series on applying genomic knowledge explores MARSMotif M, a new algorithm that takes expression data from DNA microarrays, combines it with candidate "motifs" in gene on-off switches, and then uses a computer to discover new transcription networks and new target genes, with immediate promise for applications in diagnosis and treatment. It's a promising start toward decoding human gene regulation, although many complexities remain.
The Parallel Processor
The Cell processor designed by Sony, Toshiba, and IBM for Sony's Playstation 3 game console turns out to be remarkably adept at scientific applications. A report to an international conference on computing frontiers by a team of scientists from Berkeley Lab's Computing Research and NERSC Divisions analyzes the new processor and shows how a few minor adjustments could make the game chip even better for doing science.