science + technology news

New Skin Lets Robots Get Sensitive

June 16, 2005

A new type of skin with more than 1,000 infrared sensors embedded all over its surface allows a robot to “feel” changes in its surroundings and move accordingly.

Thin films of silicon nanoparticles roll into flexible nanotubes

June 15, 2005

By depositing nanoparticles onto a charged surface, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have crafted nanotubes from silicon that are flexible and nearly as soft as rubber.

“Resembling miniature scrolls, the nanotubes could prove useful as catalysts, guided laser cavities and nanorobots,” said Sahraoui Chaieb, a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at Illinois.

To create their flexible nanotubes, Chaieb and his colleagues – physics professor… read more

Nanoparticles carry cancer-killing drugs into tumor cells

June 15, 2005

University of Michigan scientists have created the nanotechnology equivalent of a Trojan horse to smuggle a powerful chemotherapeutic drug inside tumor cells – increasing the drug’s cancer-killing activity and reducing its toxic side effects.

The drug delivery vehicle is a manmade polymer molecule called a dendrimer. Less than five nanometers in diameter, these are small enough to slip through tiny openings in cell membranes. Dendrimers have a tree-like structure… read more

Second Blue Gene system rises up the ranks

June 15, 2005

IBM’s new Blue Gene Watson performed 91.3 trillion calculations per second, or 91.3 teraflops. That means it’s second only to IBM’s original Blue Gene/L system, the fastest supercomputer in the world.

Blue Gene Watson has been used for protein simulations that tie into biology and drug development research.

Nano-stamping makes its mark

June 14, 2005

Researchers at Massachussetts Institute of Technology and Virginia Commonwealth University reckon their supramolecular nanostamping printing technique could enable the mass production of nanodevices. The method uses DNA hybridization to replicate a pattern and has a resolution of less than 40 nm.

Robots putting their heads together

June 14, 2005

The key to getting robots to perform complex tasks may not be in making them smarter. Instead, it may be in getting a lot of dumb robots to act together.

That’s the idea behind a project being led by the University of Pennsylvania, funded by a $5 million grant from the Department of Defense. The purpose of the Scalable Swarms of Autonomous Robots and Sensors project is to create… read more

The Ethics of Creating Consciousness

June 14, 2005

Next month, IBM is set to activate the most ambitious simulation of a human brain yet conceived. It’s a model they say is accurate down to the molecule.

No one claims the “Blue Brain” project will be self-aware. But this project, and others like it, uses electrical patterns in a silicon brain to simulate the electrical patterns in the human brain — patterns which are intimately linked to thought.… read more

The People vs. Pixel

June 13, 2005

Can actors be replaced with digital replicas?

“We’ve never been able to teach a computer to act,” George Lucas says. “It’s a talent, it’s a skill, it’s something you learn, it’s something you’re born with, and I don’t see in the foreseeable future that computers can become human enough in their artificial intelligence to have the same crazed psychology you need in order to relate to other people, so… read more

When Nanopants Attack

June 13, 2005

An Eddie Bauer store protest highlighted a growing movement aimed at probing the potential health risks of nanotechnology.

Redefining the Power of the Gamer

June 12, 2005

Virtual characters powered by advanced AI techniques, allowing them to change their emotional state in fairly complicated ways in response to the conversational English being typed in by the human player: this is the future of video games.

Nanotubes route signals at up to 10 GHz

June 10, 2005

UC Irvine scientists have demonstrated for the first time that carbon nanotubes can route electrical signals on a chip faster than traditional copper or aluminum wires, at speeds of up to 10 GHz.

The research integrates high-speed nanotube-interconnect technology and high-speed nanotube-transistor technology into an ultra-high-speed all-nanotube electronic circuit that could be faster than any existing semiconductor technology.

UC Irvine news release

A case of mistaken identity crisis

June 10, 2005

People afflicted with multiple personalities reveal that the idea of the self is a fiction.

The illusion of self is merely a by-product of the brain’s organizational sophistication.

Benjamin Libet conducted an experiment in which he found that the brain activity began about half a second before the person was aware of deciding to act. The conscious decision came far too late to be the cause of the… read more

Honey, I Shrunk the PC

June 10, 2005

University of Arizona scientists have discovered how to use quantum mechanics to turn molecules into working transistors in the lab at room temperature, a breakthrough that might one day lead to high-powered computers the size of a postage stamp.

The proposed transistor is a ring-shaped molecule such as benzene. Attaching the two electrical leads to non-opposite sides of the ring allows the electrons to flow through the molecular ring… read more

HP Unveils New Interface For Nano-Electronic Circuits

June 10, 2005

According to HP, coding theory will be the key to building a “defect tolerant interface” for its nanoelectronic cross-bar architecture in future processors.

The method adds 50 percent more nanowires as an “insurance policy” to fabricate nano-electronic circuits with nearly perfect yields even though the probability of broken components will be high.

Nanowires show promise for atomic engines

June 9, 2005

Atomic electromagnets made from coils of individual gold atoms could prove valuable for nanocircuits and machines.

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