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Surprising twist in debate over lab-made H5N1

March 11, 2012

H5N1 virus (credit: Lennart Nilsson)

A researcher who created one of the H5N1 mutants and a leading U.S. health official say the threat has been blown out of proportion, offering what they said were clarifications and “new data” to better gauge the risk it presents.

Contrary to widespread reports, the researcher, Ron Fouchier of Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, revealed that the virus made in his lab does not kill ferrets infected by… read more

NASA Funds Sci-Fi Technology

May 10, 2004

The NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) funds long-range, wild ideas, such as a space elevator, shape-shifting space suits, antimatter-powered probes to Alpha Centauri, Robotic armada to destroy incoming asteroids, and a way to move a hurricane with satellite-beamed microwave energy.

Blinded eyes restored to sight by stem cells

June 24, 2010

Stem cells have restored sight to 82 people with eyes blinded by chemical or heat burns, restoring vision to a level up to 0.9 on a visual acuity scale (1 represents perfect vision), reports Graziella Pellegrini at the University of Modena in Italy.

Large Hadron Collider puts a grid on it

October 6, 2008

CERN has launched one of the world’s largest computing grids, drawing on the computing power of more than 100,000 processors to allow 7,000 scientists in 33 countries to process the 15 petabytes of data produced each year from the Large Hadron Collider.

“About half the world’s scientists will be looking at this data,” said director general of CERN Robert Aymar.

Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior

March 22, 2007

UPDATED 8/22/2010: Harvard confirms misconduct by morality researcher

The brain has a genetically shaped mechanism for acquiring moral rules, similar to the neural machinery for learning language, according to Harvard evolutionary biologist Marc Hauser.

Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a… read more

Galileo to spearhead extension of worldwide search and rescue service

March 14, 2012

Galileo GNSS

The global reach of Europe’s Galileo navigation system is being harnessed to pinpoint distress calls for rapid search and rescue.

Satellites locate the source of distress calls from radio beacons on ships and aircraft, then local authorities are alerted.



Intel’s Big Shift After Hitting Technical Wall

May 18, 2004

Intel has acknowledged that it hit a “thermal wall” on its microprocessor line by raising the clock speed of its chips and reducing the minimum feature size to 90 nanometers from the industry standard of 130 nanometers.

“Classical scaling is dead,” said Bernard S. Meyerson, chief technologist for I.B.M.’s systems and technology group. “In the past, the way everyone made chips faster was to simply shrink them.”

Today,… read more

Virtual reality you can reach out and touch

July 1, 2010

A team from nine European universities and research institutes in developing technology to make VR objects and characters touchable, using haptic and multi-modal interfaces, new signal processing techniques, and generation of VR objects in real time.

Goldmine bug DNA may be key to alien life

October 13, 2008
(Greg Wanger/Gordon Southam)

A new species, the bacteria Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator (“the bold traveller”), discovered deep in a gold mine, could be the key to life on other planets because of its unique ability to live in complete isolation, devoid of light and oxygen.

It gets its energy from the radioactive decay of uranium in the surrounding rocks and has genes to extract carbon from dissolved carbon dioxide and other… read more

Intel Plans Faster Chips That Also Save Power

March 29, 2007

Intel is developing a new generation of 45 nanometer chips that would achieve a significant increase in performance without consuming more power.

SRI International releases report on costs and benefits of online learning programs

March 21, 2012

A new SRI International report prepared for the U.S. Department of Education provides guidance to educational leaders as they work to implement successful, cost-effective online learning programs for secondary schools.

The report, “Understanding the Implications of Online Learning for Educational Productivity,” summarizes past research on the cost and outcomes associated with online learning programs in higher education and offers strategies for implementing such programs effectively… read more

The Little Engine That Could

June 1, 2004

Robert X. Cringley predicts the coming demise of the landline telco monopolies from VoIP (voice over Internet) and Linux running on the latest generation of WiFi routers connected to local subscribers via a mesh network.

“The result is a system with economics with which a traditional local phone company simply can’t compete,” he says.

Future planes, cars may be made of ‘buckypaper’

October 20, 2008

Florida State University researchers are developing new fabrication techniques for buckypaper (a material based on carbon nanotubes that is 10 times lighter but potentially 500 times stronger than steel) that soon may make it competitive with the best composite materials now available.

FSU reseachers used high magnetism to cause most of the nanotubes to line up in the same direction, increasing their collective strength.

Uses include low-weight electromagnetic… read more

Virtual Maps for the Blind

April 9, 2007

Researchers in Greece have developed a new system that converts video into virtual, touchable maps for the blind.

The software tracks each structure and determines its shape and location. That data is used to create a three-dimensional grid of force fields for each structure. Two common-touch interfaces simulate the force fields by applying pressure to the user’s hand: the CyberGrasp glove, which pulls on individual fingers, and the Phantom… read more

The snails of war

March 26, 2012


Researchers are experimenting with creating tiny, self-powered remote-controlled animal/machine hybrids as an alternative to tiny robots, starting with snails and cockroaches.

They poke two electrodes coated with enzymes through the shell of the snail into a space between the shell and the body, where glucose is present, produced by the snail for its own biological purposes.

The enzymes promote chemical reactions that produce electricity drawn from glucose molecules.… read more

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