science + technology news

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.

VR headset spots concussion in minutes

April 28, 2005

A virtual-reality headset is being developed that can diagnose the extent of a head injury within minutes.

The system puts the wearer through an array of neuropsychological tests designed to pick up reduced reaction times and deficits in working memory, conditions that would indicate injuries to different parts of the brain.

By measuring reaction times in a battery of tests, the system is designed to detect even mild… read more

Desktop nuclear fusion demonstrated

April 28, 2005

Nuclear fusion in a tabletop device has been performed, involving heating an ordinary lithium tantalate crystal soaked in deuterium gas.

While the technique is unlikely to lead to power generation, such a device could act as a portable source of neutrons for analysing materials and medical imaging, and perhaps even spacecraft propulsion.

Group of Scientists Drafts Rules on Ethics for Stem Cell Research

April 27, 2005

The National Academy of Sciences has proposed ethical guidelines for research with human embryonic stem cells.

The report paves the way for research involving animals called chimeras that have been seeded with human cells. The purpose of such experiments is to test first in animals the human organs that could be grown from embryonic stem cells.

But it places certain types of experiments out of bounds, at least… read more

Mind-reading machine knows what you see

April 27, 2005

It is possible to read someone’s mind by remotely measuring their brain activity using functional MRI scanning, researchers have shown. The technique can even extract information from subjects that they are not aware of themselves.

The setup could also be used as a “consciousness-meter,” says John-Dylan Haynes at University College London; “a device that allows us to assess whether a patient is consciously perceiving his or her outside environment.”

Super-Eruptions Pose Global Threat ’5-10 Times More Likely Than Asteroid Impact’

April 27, 2005

A volcanic super-eruption would have severe environmental effects and might threaten global civilization. This is the assessment of a Geological Society of London working group composed of senior Earth Scientists.

Trapping atoms for quantum computing

April 26, 2005

Ohio State University scientists have taken a step toward the development of quantum computers by making tiny holes in an egg carton-shaped surface of laser light that could one day cradle atoms.

They’ve been able to form about a billion gaseous rubidium atoms into a pea-sized cloud with magnetic fields. Now they are working to move that cloud into position above a chip supporting an optical lattice formed where… read more

The Next Wave of Disruptive Technologies

April 26, 2005

The semantic Web, autonomous agents, sensor networks, and RFID are among the emerging technologies that will radically change the future of manufacturing.

Staying Out in Front

April 25, 2005

A published road map for the semiconductor industry has the smallest distances between wires on a memory chip shrinking from 90 nanometers today to 65nm in 2007, to 45nm in 2010, to 32nm in 2013 and on down from there.

HP hopes to apply some of its research ideas toward the 32nm milestone. The idea isn’t to replace silicon transistors but to build certain devices, such as ultradense memories,… read more

In Small Trial, Gene Therapy Is Seen as Aid in Alzheimer’s

April 25, 2005

A small clinical trial has produced preliminary evidence that gene therapy may slow the decline in mental functioning associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The gene involved in this trial controls production of nerve growth factor, a protein that can protect brain cells from death.

Microbial fuel cell: High-yield hydrogen source and wastewater cleaner

April 25, 2005

Using a new electrically-assisted microbial fuel cell (MFC) that does not require oxygen, researchers at Penn State and Ion Power Inc. have developed the first process that enables bacteria to coax four times as much hydrogen directly out of biomass than can be generated typically by fermentation alone.

“This form of renewable energy production may help offset the substantial costs of wastewater treatment as well as provide a contribution… read more

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