science + technology news

Motor Transport in Bionano Systems

May 4, 2005

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam and from the University of Amsterdam have now modelled and simulated the motor traffic for different compartment geometries and filament arrangements, and have determined the optimal conditions for the transport of nanocargo in these systems.

Biomimetic systems based on molecular motors and filaments have many potential applications in bionanotechnology, pharmacology, and medicine.

During the next couple… read more

Memory mimic aids reading

May 4, 2005

Researchers from the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) have devised ScentHighlights, software that leverages the way the brain models words to help speed the process of reading or skimming through digitized text.

The software highlights portions of text in a way that makes it cognitively easier for the user to find what she is looking for.

ScentHighlights expands on a set of topics of interest supplied by a… read more

Robots to help out blind shoppers

May 4, 2005

Computer scientists have developed a robot that could help blind people to shop or find their way around large buildings.

It uses radio frequency identification tags to locate items and a laser range finder to avoid collisions.

‘Personal supercomputer’ goes on sale

May 4, 2005

The DC-96 computer, developed by Orion Multisystems, offers a peak computing power of 230 gigaflops and 192 gigabytes of memory for $100,000.

Bandwidth Advance Hints at Future Beyond Wi-Fi

May 4, 2005

With 500 megabits/sec and higher capacity, ultrawideband (UWB) will eventually replace the ubiquitous Wi-Fi wireless standard.

The future could include wireless home networks that simultaneously interconnect multiple screens, computers and audio and video streams.

Deciphering DNA, Top Speed

May 4, 2005

A few companies are close to commercializing technologies that could reduce the high cost of decoding genomes.

Helicos’s technology eliminates many of the expensive and time-consuming steps in conventional DNA sequencing. The machine works, in essence, by photographing the process of DNA replication.

The commerical version will sequence a whole genome in three days for $5,000.

Smart Phones: Intelligence Spreads

May 4, 2005

The Yankee Group estimates a global market of 49 million smart phones by yearend and 98 million in 2006 as the devices push deeper into the mainstream.

(A BusinessWeek special report.)

Chimeras on the Horizon, but Don’t Expect Centaurs

May 3, 2005

If research on human embryonic stem cells ever gets going, people will be hearing a lot more about chimeras, creatures composed of more than one kind of cell.

Such creations — of pigs with human hearts, monkeys with human larynxes — are likely to be unsettling to many.

Video conferencing gets quantum security

May 3, 2005

Quantum cryptography has been sped up to the point that it can be used to secure video conferencing, currently over a distance of about 120 kilometers.

Scientists from Toshiba’s Cambridge Research Laboratory have invented a system capable of generating 100 quantum keys every second, each consisting of 128 bits. This is fast enough for every individual frame of video to be protected by its own encryption.

Scientists create animals that are part-human

May 2, 2005

The biological co-mingling of animal and human is now evolving into exotic and unsettling mixes of species, evoking the Greek myth of the monstrous chimera, which was part lion, part goat and part serpent.

Particularly worrisome to some scientists are the nightmare scenarios that could arise from the mixing of brain cells: What if a human mind somehow got trapped inside a sheep’s head?

Ex-CIA chief warns of EMP nuke threat

May 2, 2005

Former CIA Director James Woolsey Woolsey has called on U.S. to defend against a devastating “Scud-in-a-bucket” attack.

“A simple ballistic missile from a stockpile somewhere in the world outfitted on something like a tramp steamer and fired from some distance offshore into an American city or to a high altitude, thereby creating an electromagnetic pulse effect … could well be one of the most damaging ways of using a… read more

Harvard scientists create high-speed integrated nanowire circuits

April 29, 2005

Chemists and engineers at Harvard University have made robust circuits from nanowires that align themselves on a chip of glass during low-temperature fabrication, creating rudimentary electronic devices that offer solid performance without high-temperature production or high-priced silicon.

The researchers, led by chemist Charles M. Lieber and engineer Donhee Ham, produced circuits at low temperature by running a nanowire-laced solution over a glass substrate, followed by regular photolithography to etch… read more

‘All-optical’ switch could advance light-based telecommunications

April 29, 2005

Duke University physicists have developed a switching technique that uses a very weak laser beam to control a much stronger beam. The achievement could make optical telecommunications devices perform far more efficiently.

The report in Science also suggests possible techniques for using switching beams as weak as single photons, making them useful for quantum computing.

Duke University news release

Huge radio telescope boasts supercomputer brain

April 29, 2005

A revolutionary new radio telescope called LOFAR will consist of 20,000 antennas spread over 400 kilometers to detect long-wavelength radio signals (up to 30 meters).

It will be connected to a 27.4 teraflops supercomputer via 22 terabits/sec fiber optics to model and compensate for ionospheric path distortions (“twinkling”) in real time.

A main objective is to discover the end of the so-called cosmic dark age — a few… read more

NASA Funds ‘Miracle Polymer’

April 28, 2005

NASA had awarded Rice University $11 million over the next four years to develop an experimental power cable made from carbon nanotubes that could theoretically conduct electricity up to 10 times better than traditional copper wire and weigh one-sixth as much.

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