science + technology news

New planet found in Milky Way

May 25, 2005

Astronomers have found a massive gaseous planet about 1000 times the size of Earth and about halfway to the center of the galaxy, or about 25,000 light years away.

The project used a little-known technique called micro-lensing — using the gravitational pull of a star to act as a giant lens — to help astronomers to look for new planets.

Light gun fires photons one by one

May 25, 2005

The first photon gun capable of firing single particles of light over optical fibers was unveiled on Tuesday.

Since quantum encryption works only if the key is sent using individual photons, the breakthrough may remove one of the final obstacles keeping perfectly secure messages from being sent over standard telephone fibers.

Researchers at Toshiba’s Cambridge Research Laboratory in the UK have developed a light-emitting diode that produces up… read more

The 2020 vision of robotic assistants unveiled

May 25, 2005

Household companions, android medics and robot entertainers of the future will be showcased at the Prototype Robot Exhibition in Japan.

Earth-to-Virtual Earth

May 25, 2005

Microsoft has previewed a future MSN service called Virtual Earth that’s designed to be a deeply immersive local search experience.

Users will be able to map a particular location and then search local listings for businesses nearby. Eventually, they’ll be able to click on a listing and get more information about the business.

The MSN Virtual Earth announcement followed a preview of Google Earth last Friday. Google Earth… read more

Fuel for the New Millennium

May 24, 2005

A new hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology for portable devices is reportedly safe and longer-lasting than today’s batteries.

The new technology stores fuel in the form of the stable and non-explosive sodium borohydride solution, converting it to hydrogen as needed.

Infineon, IBM collaborate on new memory tech

May 24, 2005

Infineon and IBM have launched a program to research phase-change memory, material that retains data by changing its structure between crystalline and amorphous.

Phase change memory has the advantage that data doesn’t depend on an electrical charge, so, like flash memory it persists when a computer is turned off. On the other hand, phase change memories can wear out mechanically.

Wormhole ‘no use’ for time travel

May 24, 2005

A new study by Stephen Hsu and Roman Buniy of the University of Oregon says the idea of building a traversable wormhole may be fundamentally unstable.

However, they also assert that “semi-classical” wormholes — in which the space-time “tube” shows only weak deviations from the laws of classical physics — are the most desirable type for time travel because they potentially allow travellers to predict where and when they… read more

Kurzweil to grads: ‘Follow your passion’

May 23, 2005

“Follow your passion,” Ray Kurzweil advised graduates at Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 21.

“That’s the only way to create knowledge that has value,” he added. “Find a challenge that you can feel passionate about. Then find the ideas that rise to the challenge. They exist, and you can find them.

“Decide to succeed, rather than to fail. It’s entirely in your control.… read more

Portugal to get world’s first commercial wave farm

May 23, 2005

A Scottish company will deploy sausage-shaped tubes off Portugal to create the world’s first commercial wave power plant, providing 2.25 megawatts of electricity to 1,500 homes from 2006.

Television Reloaded

May 23, 2005

It’s a transformation as significant as when we went from black-and-white to color — and it’s already underway. The promise is that you’ll be able to watch anything you want, anywhere — on a huge high-def screen or on your phone.

Another transition well underway is time-shifting, the ability to rearrange the schedule to watch programs at your convenience, not the networks’.

Digital Immortality — Download the Mind by 2050

May 23, 2005

The wealthy will be able to download their consciousness into computers by 2050 – the not so well off by “2075 or 2080,” claims futurologist Dr. Ian Pearson, head of the Futurology unit at BT.

“The new PlayStation is 1 per cent as powerful as a human brain,” he said. “It is into supercomputer status compared to 10 years ago. PlayStation 5 will probably be as powerful as the… read more

NEMS Device Detects The Mass Of A Single DNA Molecule

May 23, 2005

Cornell University researchers have built a device that can detect a single DNA molecule.

The device can be combined with microfluidics to perform genetic analysis of very small samples of DNA, even the amount present in a single cell. Current techniques for genetic analysis require small samples of DNA to be replicated many times through PCR amplification.

The researchers believe their technology could be used to identify even… read more

Inert ‘Cornell dots’ for tagging, imaging and optical computing developed

May 20, 2005

By surrounding fluorescent dyes with a protective silica shell, Cornell University researchers have created fluorescent nanoparticles with possible applications in displays, biological imaging, optical computing, sensors and microarrays such as DNA chips.

These are all applications for which quantum dots have been used or are being considered. But the new Cornell nanoparticles offer an appealing alternative because of their greater chemical inertness and reduced cost.

Since optical microscopes… read more

Cloned human embryos deliver tailored stem cells

May 20, 2005

The possibility of growing your own tissue or organs in the lab for transplantation is a step closer following experiments that successfully cloned patient-specific stem cells.

Woo Suk Hwang, of Seoul National University, South Korea and colleagues used an improved technique for cloning embryos to create stem cell lines for 11 patients with various diseases or injuries. The lines exactly match the patients’ nuclear DNA and immune system.

Photonic silicon chips operate at 1.5 gigabits per second

May 19, 2005

Cornell University researchers have taken a major step in getting electronics and photonics to talk to each other, using a silicon device that allows an electrical signal to modulate a beam of light at a micron scale.

The work is described in a paper published in the May 19, 2005, issue of Nature.

Cornell University news release

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