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Private Enterprise- To mars

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Author Topic: Private Enterprise- To mars  (Read 10793 times)
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« Reply #90 on: September 03, 2007, 07:50:36 pm »

A pair of clean energy advances are also worthy of mention. A spray-on material that harvests infrared light could lead to cheap solar cells that can be painted onto surfaces. And titanium dioxide nanotubes that serve as a catalyst for extracting hydrogen from water using sunlight could make a clean method of generating hydrogen fuel more practical.

One more thing on the subject that makes our inner most structure more then practical in use.

Self-assembly is among the most common processes in the natural world. In the context of technology, self-assembly is the practice of harnessing natural forces to cause objects to assemble themselves into useful configurations.

The champion of self-assembly is DNA, the molecule that encodes the instructions for making the proteins that control life's processes. Researchers have been using DNA to self-assemble various structures and devices for several years.

In a recent project, scientists made short strands of artificial DNA spontaneously assemble into a fractal pattern known as a Sierpinski triangle. The work demonstrated that theoretically possible to program DNA to carry out any type of computation and nanoscale fabrication. (Programmed DNA forms fractal, TRN April 6/13, 2005)

A related development that deserves mention is a DNA machine that links molecules, opening a route to making sophisticated materials molecule-by-molecule.

Related to the notion of self-assembly are machines that reproduce, reconfigure and repair themselves. In a significant milestone, researchers developed simple modular robots that reproduce themselves. The robots consist of cubes that can rotate on a diagonal axis and attach to each other. Given a supply of the cubes in the right places, a machine can assemble a copy of itself, which in turn can go on to assemble another copy, which in turn can assemble another... (Machine reproduces itself, TRN May 18/25, 2005)

Tissue Engineering

A long-standing dream of biotechnology researchers is the ability to grow replacement organs. One of the main challenges to growing replacement organs is finding ways to get blood vessels to form inside the tissue before it is placed inside the body.

Researchers have brought tissue engineering a significant step forward with a method for growing muscle tissue that contains blood vessels. They also showed that tissue grown using the method survives better in mice and rats than tissue formed using previous techniques.

The key to the breakthrough was seeding several types of cells on a three-dimensional scaffold to form skeletal muscle tissue. (Cell combo yields blood vessels, TRN June 29/July 6, 2005)

Cells also feature prominently in a biochip development that deserves mention: a sensor that measures changes in the size of cells, including human cancer cells and bacteria, in order to quickly gauge the cells' reactions to changes in their environment like anticancer drugs.

A new shape-shifting material also deserves mention. It could bring about stents and sutures that automatically undo themselves when immersed in water.

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