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Science Links 2007-09-01

There’s way more out there than a procrastinator like me can write good posts about. So, when the spirit moves me, I’ll post a few links.

IBM researchers demonstrate the feasibility of storing data on a single atom. (Original sources here and here. Another, slightly more detailed, popular article here.) The storage densities are vast. Somebody pointed out you could put all of YouTube on one small chip, or thereabouts. I’m sure the advertising industry will figure out a way to fill it all with crap by tomorrow.

Possible vaccine against multiple sclerosis. This is over two weeks old by now, but, well, that’s how it goes. The vaccine consists of special parts of the myelin protein, the one which the immune system attacks in multiple sclerosis. DNA engineering was used to get just the part that tends to calm the immune system down. Early results look promising.

Engineered cells in the brain dissolve amyloid plaques in mice. Amyloid plaques are the immediate cause of brain degeneration in Alzheimer’s, so this is exciting news. Mice have rather different brains than people (well, most people), so it remains to be seen how well this scales up. The method was to take fibroblast cells from the skin of the mice, introduce the gene for an amyloid-destroying enzyme, and then implant the engineered cells into the brains of the mice where they proceeded to secrete enyme and destroy plaques.

And, finally, a crochet project. You too can represent Lorenz equations in your living room.

crocheted model of 3D graph of solutions to Lorenz equation describing chaotic systems

Lorenz manifold model crocheted by Hinke Ozinga and Bernd Krauskopf, Bristol University