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Science Links 2007-09-07

We live in interesting times. From the (UK) Telegraph:

Professor Ulf Leonhardt and Dr Thomas Philbin, from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, have worked out a way of reversing this pheneomenon, known as the Casimir force, so that it repels instead of attracts.

Their discovery could ultimately lead to frictionless micro-machines with moving parts that levitate. But they say that, in principle at least, the same effect could be used to levitate bigger objects too, even a person.

More at Dr. Ulf Leonhardt’s page on this research.

The dinosaurs were always doomed. From the BBC, a report on research about the asteroid that struck off Yucatan 65 million years ago. It was a piece off a larger one that broke up in a collision 160 million years ago. That set the Chicxulub chunk on its fateful trajectory. Most of the dinosaurs that went extinct hadn’t even evolved when that collision happened. Creepy.

And finally, it’s not just cord blood anymore. “Personalized” embryonic stem cells for sale. “A company in California called StemLifeLine has announced that it will offer a service to generate stem cells from excess frozen embryos stored after in vitro fertilization (IVF). The company promises a huge potential payoff: the cells could one day be used to treat disease in the buyers or in their families. But the service is already garnering criticism from some scientists and ethicists who say that without current medical uses for those cells, there’s no point in people paying for them.” All I have to say is, “Christ on a bike!”