science + technology news

For a Start-Up, Visions of Profit in Podcasting

February 25, 2005

The primarily amateur Internet audio medium known as podcasting may be the commercial Web’s next big thing.

Recent proliferation of portable iPods and other devices for storing and playing files in the MP3 audio format has created a mobile audience in this country – more than 11 million and growing – on whom podcasters are counting to listen to much more than downloaded songs and the occasional audio book.… read more

Compression algorithms harnessed to fight HIV

February 25, 2005

Microsoft algorithms used to compress digital images and recognize patterns in email spam are being used to help scientists identify key genetic features across many different strains of HIV.

This could enable them to engineer an HIV vaccine that is effective against several strains at once.

Brave new world. Get ready for robots that can think

February 24, 2005

A robot capable of speeds up to 20 kilometers an hour that plays soccer with and against humans on Segway human transporters is being developed.

For Simpler Robots, a Step Forward

February 24, 2005

New passive-dynamic robots depend on simple mechanics instead of complex, real-time electronic calculating power for their humanlike gait and use a fraction of the power.

The concepts may be useful in designing prosthetic limbs.

Specialized Brain Cells Predict Intentions as Well as Define Actions

February 23, 2005

A study by UCLA neuroscientists featuring functional magnetic resonance imaging suggests for the first time that mirror neurons help people understand the intentions of others — a key component to social interaction.

The team found that Pre motor mirror neuron areas of the brain — areas active during the execution and the observation of an action — ascribe intentions to actions when presented within a context. Previously, these neurons… read more

Robots That Act Like Rats

February 23, 2005

Researchers have recorded the behavior of rat pups and built rat-like robots with the same basic senses and motor skills to see how behavior can emerge from a simple set of rules.

University Of California – Davis news release

High-intensity ultrasound creates hollow nanospheres and nanocrystals

February 23, 2005

Using high-intensity ultrasound, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created hollow nanospheres and the first hollow nanocrystals.

The nanospheres could be used in microelectronics, drug delivery and as catalysts for making environmentally friendly fuels.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign news release

Software learns to translate by reading up

February 23, 2005

Translation software that develops an understanding of languages by scanning through thousands of previously translated documents has been developed by Information Sciences Institute.

It takes a statistical approach, building probabilistic rules about words, phrases and syntactic structures.

The translated documents used to teach the translation algorithms can be electronic, on paper, or even audio files. The developer says the system is not only faster than other methods, but… read more

New Methods of Solving Combinatorial-explosion Problems

February 22, 2005

Researchers have developed tools to solve many so-called intractable computer problems, at least in certain practical situations, by using methods that avoid searching the lengthy paths that occur in “heavy tails” of a path distribution.

One of the most effective approaches is to find a “backdoor set” — a small number of key variables whose values can be fixed in advance. In an airline scheduling problem with 10,000 variables,… read more

Tiny Is Beautiful: Translating ‘Nano’ Into Practical

February 22, 2005

Nanoparticles of various sorts are already found in products like sunscreen, paint and inkjet paper. More exotic varieties offer promise in medicine for sensitive diagnostic tests and novel treatments: the detection of Alzheimer’s disease by finding a protein in spinal fluid, for instance, or nanoparticles that heat up and kill cancer cells.

Single-molecule switch opens the door to biomolecular electronics

February 22, 2005

Scientists from the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University have created the first reproducible single molecule negative differential resistor and in the process have developed a groundbreaking experimental technique that provides a “roadmap” for designing single-molecule devices based on biochemistry.

Arizona State University news release

Brain study points to ‘sixth sense’

February 22, 2005

Following the Asian tsunami, scientists struggled to explain reports that primitive aboriginal tribesmen had somehow sensed the impending danger in time to join wild animals in a life-saving flight to higher ground.

A new theory suggests that the anterior cingulate cortex, described by some scientists as part of the brain’s “oops” center, may actually function as an early warning system — one that works at a subconscious level to… read more

A genius explains

February 22, 2005

Daniel Tammet is an autistic savant who can perform mind-boggling mathematical calculations at breakneck speeds.

He can also describe how he does it. Now scientists are asking whether his exceptional abilities are the key to unlock the secrets of autism.

Holograms Poised to Reveal Bio Data

February 22, 2005

The next generation of biosensors may use low-cost, more-sensitive holograms instead of chips.

NTT RedTacton Human Area Network

February 21, 2005

NTT’s “RedTacton” Human Area Networking technology Research Project safely turns the surface of the human body into a data transmission path at speeds up to 10 Mbps.

It uses weak electric fields on the surface of the body as a transmission medium.

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