Small news, very small news

March 16th, 2006 | by ian |

DNA map of AmericasNew Scientist reports on DNA Origami:

A map of the Americas measuring just a few hundred nanometres across has been created out of meticulously folded strands of DNA, using a new technique for manipulating molecules dubbed “DNA origami”.

According to the map’s creator, Paul Rothemund at Caltech in Pasadena, US, DNA origami could prove hugely important for building future nano-devices including molecular machines and quantum computer components.

The legendary scientific journal Nature has a blog from which we learn of the first highly detailed simulation of the structure of a lifeform, the tobacco mosaic virus, for a grand total 50 billionths of a second.

One of the world’s most powerful supercomputers has conjured a fleeting moment in the life of a virus. The researchers say the simulation is the first to capture a whole biological organism in such intricate molecular detail.
Model of Virus
The fleeting simulation, published in this month’s Structure, reveals that although the virus looks symmetrical it pulses in and out asymmetrically, as if it were breathing.

The model also shows that the virus coat collapses without its genetic material. This suggests that, when reproducing, the virus builds its coat around the genetic material rather than inserting the genetic material into a complete coat. “We saw something that is truly revolutionary,” Schulten says.

Reported everywhere, the soon to be completely ubiquitous Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has unsurprisingly been demonstrated to be hackable:
RFID tag

“Researchers have discovered a way to infect Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags with a computer worm, raising the disturbing prospect that products, ID cards, and even pets could be used to spread malicious code.”

Sometimes convenience comes at the cost of security. No doubt many folks will start working hard on RFID security systems for which there will be a huge market… To learn about the problem in detail see the most excellent paper “Is Your Cat Infected with a Computer Virus?”

Finally in the hope and anticipation of finding something small and newsworthy, New Scientist reports on a candidate for other life in our solar system:Enceladus

“Saturn’s tiny moon, Enceladus is brimming with liquid water and cannot be ruled out as a distant outpost of life. So say Cassini mission scientists after studying the geysers of ice particles and water vapour found spewing out of the moon’s south polar region in 2005.”

And thats all the very small news that fits to print this week!

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