science + technology news

Bionic suit offers wearers super-strength

April 12, 2005

University of Tsukuba researchers have developed a motor-driven metal exoskeleton dubbed HAL, or hybrid assistive limb, that you strap onto your legs to power-assist leg movements.

Two control systems interact to help the wearer stand, walk and climb stairs. A “bio-cybernic” system uses bioelectric sensors attached to the skin on the legs to monitor signals transmitted from the brain to the muscles.

World’s fastest transistor operates at blinding speed

April 12, 2005

The world’s fastest transistor has been developed by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers.

The prototype bipolar junction transistor has a maximum operating speed of 604 GHz, meaning it can carry out 604 billion operations per second.

Colour coding DNA promises cheaper sequencing

April 12, 2005

A new technique that color-codes DNA for laser sequencing may offer a faster and cheaper way of sequencing genomes.

Cells That Go Back in Time

April 11, 2005

Some animals can grow new body parts through a process called dedifferentiation — and humans may be able to do so, too. New regeneration studies could solve ethical concerns about embryonic stem-cell research.

Touching Molecules With Your Bare Hands

April 11, 2005

Scripps Research Institute scientists are develping new technology that combines hand-held objects with sophisticated computer displays, called Tangible Interfaces for Structural Molecular Biology.

It uses 3-D fabricating printers that “print” solid objects out of thousands of layers of plaster or plastic, allowing for construction of models of proteins, DNA, and other biological molecules. These models can be touched, twisted, tweaked, and tossed from person to person.

Then, using… read more

Non-acoustic sensors detect speech without sound

April 11, 2005

DARPA is working on Advanced Speech Encoding, aimed at replacing microphones with non-acoustic sensors that detect speech via the speaker’s nerve and muscle activity, rather than sound itself.

DARPA is also pursuing an approach first developed at NASA’s Ames lab, which involves placing electrodes called electromyographic sensors on the neck, to detect changes in impedance during speech. A neural network processes the data and identifies the pattern of words.… read more

Programmed DNA forms fractal

April 8, 2005

Erik Winfree, an assistant professor of computer science at The California Institute of Technology, has showed that it is possible to coax short strands of artificial DNA to spontaneously assemble into a Sierpinski triangle.

The ability is a step toward embedding programming instructions in chemical processes and shows that there is no theoretical barrier to using molecular self-assembly to carry out any kind of computing and nanoscale fabrication, according… read more

A Single-Protein Wet Biotransistor

April 8, 2005

A single-protein wet biotransistor has been devised by physicists. It uses a bacterial protein called azurin in a strategic position between two gold electrodes, which act as the source and drain of a transistor. A third electrode, acting as the gate, enables the centrally located azurin to allow the passage of an electrical current

The Smallest Electric Motor

April 8, 2005

The smallest electric motor in the world, devised by physicists at UC Berkeley, is based on the shuttling of atoms between two metal droplets—one large and one small—residing on the back of a carbon nanotube.

Courtesy Zettl Research Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California at Berkeley

The Coming Chip Revolution

April 8, 2005

Carbon nanotubes are emerging as a leading candidate to replace silicon in future chips.

One IBM prototype device using carbon nanotubes can carry up to 1,000 times the current of copper wires used in today’s silicon chips, making it vastly more efficient.

In addition to being excellent conductors of heat, nanotubes are 10 times stronger than steel and are resistant to radiation. This matters because as chips get… read more

Gordon Moore on 40 years of his processor law

April 7, 2005

Gordon Moore is skeptical about quantum dots, nanotechnology, an other new technologies replacing mainstream digital silicon in the future.

“You can clearly make a tiny little transistor by these techniques with potentially great high frequency, but can you connect a billion of them together? That’s really the problem; it’s not making a small transistor.”

Sony patent takes first step towards real-life Matrix

April 7, 2005

Sony has patented a device that fires pulses of ultrasound at the head to modify firing patterns in targeted parts of the brain, creating “sensory experiences” ranging from moving images to tastes and sounds.

It could allow for movies and computer games in which you get to smell, taste and perhaps even feel things. And it could give blind or deaf people the chance to see or hear, the… read more

High-resolution Ultrasonic Transmission Tomography

April 6, 2005

University of Southern California researchers have demonstrated a novel “High-resolution Ultrasonic Transmission Tomography” (HUTT) system that offers 3D images of soft tissue that are superior to those produced by existing commercial X-ray, ultrasound or MRI units.

According to Vasilis Marmarelis, a USC professor of biomedical engineering, HUTT offers nearly order-of-magnitude improvement in resolution of structures in soft tissue (0.4 mm, compared to 2 mm for the best alternatives).… read more

Nanobacteria in clouds could spread disease, scientists claim

April 6, 2005

Micro-organisms in clouds could play a crucial role in the spread of disease and in the formation of rain drops, scientists have claimed.

The radical theories about nanobacteria — micro-organisms considerably smaller than ordinary bacteria — in clouds are published in two recent articles in the Journal of Proteome Research.

The scientists say nanobacteria are now accepted as being widely prevalent in the terrestrial environment and suggest that… read more

Scan ‘shows if people trust you’

April 6, 2005

MRI brain scans of volunteers playing a money game showed that a brain region called the caudate nucleus lights up when it receives or computes data to make decisions based on trust.

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