science + technology news

TV’s Future Is Here, but It Needs Work

June 2, 2005

What if you had a TiVo-like set-top box, complete with a hard drive that could hold 200 hours of video – but instead of recording live broadcasts, you could tap into an enormous library of shows, stored on the Internet, and watch them whenever you liked?

Camera sees behind objects

June 2, 2005

Researchers from Stanford University and Cornell University have put together a projector-camera system that can read a playing card that is facing away from the camera.

The dual-photography system gains information from a subject by analyzing the way projected patterns of light bounce off it.

Survey: U.S. residents addicted to e-mail

June 2, 2005

U.S. residents are so hooked on e-mail that some check for messages in the bathroom, in church and while driving, a new survey sponsored by America Online Inc. has found.

About a fourth of respondents acknowledged being so addicted to e-mail that they can’t go more than two or three days without checking for messages. That includes vacations, during which 60% of respondents admitted logging into their in-boxes.

Yahoo Meets Searchers’ Mindsets

June 2, 2005

Yahoo has developed a smart search tool, Mindset, that adjusts results based on how commercial they are.

When people search using Mindset, a simple slider appears on top of the search results. As the slider is moved closer to shopping, commercial listings rise to the top. If it’s moved in the other direction, toward researching, the results weigh toward educational, community and informational sites.

Molecular transistor developed

June 2, 2005

University of Alberta scientists have designed and tested a new concept for a single molecule transistor.

They have shown, for the first time, that a single charged atom on a silicon surface can regulate the conductivity of a nearby molecule at room temperature, while all surrounding atoms remain neutral.

A molecule placed adjacent to that charged site is “tuned,” which allows electrical current to flow through the molecule… read more

Magnetic resonance goes nano

June 1, 2005

Japanese researchers have built a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) device that has the potential to overcome the current quantum-computng limit of 10 quantum bits.

It could also allow NMR devices to be used in chemistry, biology and medicine to examine smaller samples.

The device measures electron spin by measuring electrical resistance across a 200-by-200-nanometer area of semiconductor material rather than using a centimeter-scale coil to pick up radio… read more

Japan Eyes Advanced Supercomputer as Early as 2010

June 1, 2005

Japan is aiming to develop a supercomputer it hopes will be fast enough to help it regain the top spot, with more than one petaflop (quadrillion calculations per second) by 2011.

That would compare with 70.72 teraflops (trillion calculations per second) for IBM’s Blue Gene/L, currently the world’s fastest computer.

Heroin addiction gene identified and blocked

June 1, 2005

Scientists have identified a critical gene (AGS3 in the nucleus accumbens in the brain) involved in heroin addiction relapse in rats and successfully blocked it, eliminating cravings for the drug.

A related treatment could become available to humans within the next couple of years.

Would you have allowed Bill Gates to be born?

June 1, 2005

There is a good chance we will soon have a genetic test for detecting the risk of autism in an embryo or fetus.

The development of such a screening tool raises the possibility that parents might one day have the option of preventing the birth of a child with even a mild form of the disorder.

As genetic testing moves into the world of mental health, we are… read more

Fertilizer from the stars

June 1, 2005

Gamma-ray bursts from nearby supernovas of giant stars or a collision between neutron stars could have showered our planet with nitrate, an essential nutrient for plants, helping plants colonize the land about 440 million years ago.

Low fat, low protein diet boosts longevity

June 1, 2005

Lowering the amount of protein and fat in flies’ diet helped increase lifespan by nearly 65%, while eating less sugar increased longevity only by about 9%, implying that the effect was not due solely to a reduction of total calories.

Self-wiring supercomputer is cool and compact

June 1, 2005

An experimental supercomputer made from hardware that can reconfigure itself to tackle different software problems is being built by Edinburgh University researchers.

It will use Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) chips instead of conventional fixed, general-purpose processing devices.

The researchers say it could usher in a new generation of compact supercomputers over the coming decade that will be up to 100 times more energy efficient than a conventional… read more

Revolutionary nanotechnology illuminates brain cells at work

May 31, 2005

Scientists at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Plant Biology and Stanford University are using molecular sensors to view changes in brain chemical levels.

The sensors alter their 3-dimensional form upon binding with the neurotransmitter glutamate, which is then visible via a process known as fluorescence resonance energy transfer, or FRET.

Toyota Aims To Sell Service Robots By 2010

May 31, 2005

Toyota Motor Corp. aims to start selling robots that can help look after elderly people or serve tea to guests by 2010.

Without Apology, Leaping Ahead in Cloning

May 31, 2005

Dr. Woo Suk Hwang of South Korea hopes to use animal stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries in rats, dogs and, possibly, monkeys.

If the animal trials go well, he hopes to apply for permission in South Korea and the United States to start conducting human trials in two to three years.

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