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Virus as Metaphor: Microbiology and ’28 Days Later’

July 7, 2003

The terrifying new movie, “28 Days Later,” shows that microbial plagues have displaced nuclear winter in the public’s mind as the way the world will end.

However, the “Rage” virus, which produces dramatic effects within 20 seconds, transforming its victims into enraged, wild-eyed, indiscriminate killers and quickly spreading worldwide, is unrealistic.

Website turns tables on government officials

July 6, 2003

MIT researchers have created the Government Information Awareness (GIA) project as a response to the US government’s Total Information Awareness program.

Internet users can submit their own intelligence reports on government officials; they will be published with no effort to verify their accuracy. Software similar to Google also gleans information from Internet sites that store information about politicians. Users can also access information compiled from various real-time… read more

Quantum ‘Super Molecule’ Created

July 3, 2003

Scientists at NIST have taken an important step toward creating a “super molecule,” a blend of thousands of molecules acting in unison that would provide physicists with an excellent tool for studying molecular quantum mechanics and superconductivity.

The experiment, conducted at 150 nanoKelvin above absolute zero, may lead to creation of fermion superfluids made from gases that would be much easier to study than solid superconductors.

The researchers… read more

‘Google Pocket Guide’ released

July 3, 2003

O’Reilly has released the “Google Pocket Guide” to help Google users learn the fundamentals of a Google search.

The book includes making the most of Google’s special syntaxes, hidden options, and powerful combinations; consulting the Google dictionary; looking up individuals and businesses in the Google phonebook; finding related web sites and pages; and restricting or expanding a Google search by subject, web site, domain, time, title, etc.

For an Ailing Retina, Instant Diagnosis From Afar

July 3, 2003

Telemedicine researchers are sending digitized photographs of people’s eyes to ophthalmologists via high-speed Internet for remote examinations.

The cameras can be used to identify eye diseases including diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinopathy of prematurity.

The recent introduction of six-megapixel cameras for $1,500 and 10-megapixel cameras for $5,000 to $8,000, and a sharp drop in the prices of high-definition monitors have aided the cause.

Government, industry warn of mass hacker attacks on July 6

July 3, 2003

The government and private technology experts warned Wednesday that hackers plan to attack thousands of Web sites Sunday in a loosely coordinated “contest” that could disrupt Internet traffic.

Patent for ‘ethical AI’ issued

July 2, 2003

A U.S. patent for “ethical artificial intelligence” was issued today. The “Inductive Inference Affective Language Analyzer Simulating Artificial Intelligence” patent (No. 6,587,846) was issued to inventor/author John E. LaMuth.

“It enables a computer to reason and speak in an ethical fashion, serving in roles specifying sound human judgement, such as public relations or security functions,” LaMuth said. “This innovation is completely novel in its ability to simulate… read more

Scientists to Map Known Universe

July 2, 2003

Arecibo Observatory is receiving six more radio receivers to expand its range.

Once the “ALFA Project” is completed next year, the observatory’s staff of 15 scientists will create a detailed map of new pulsars, supernova, black holes and planets.

Mice born from transplanted womb

July 2, 2003

Mice with transplanted wombs have given birth to healthy pups — the first time that live offspring have been produced from a surgically implanted uterus.

Researchers hope the technique will benefit women who currently cannot bear children because their wombs are damaged or missing.

Probing Nanotech’s ‘Dark Side’

July 2, 2003

The U.S. Congress is on the verge of approving legislation that would require the government to examine the implications of nanotechnology as it pumps funds into the promising field. The U.K. government is also moving to probe nanotech’s promise and peril.

The New Pet Craze: Robovacs

July 1, 2003

The two leading robovac manufacturers — iRobot and Electrolux –- report that owners treat their robovacs (robot vacuum cleaners) somewhat like pets. Scientists believe that robot pets trigger a hard-wired nurturing response in humans.

Microchip Promises Smart Artificial Arms

July 1, 2003

British scientists are developing a microchip that gives people with prosthetic arms greater control over these limbs. The chip works by turning thought processes in the brain into direct advanced physical movements.

Nanomedicine

July 1, 2003

Japanese researchers have created hollow “nanocages” of proteins that can hold a few molecules of a drug (or a gene, for use in gene therapy) and bring them straight to the liver.

The scientists, who report on their work in the journal Nature Biotechnology, used a protein from the hepatitis B virus. When this protein is created in large amounts, it forms cagelike structures of about 110 molecules each,… read more

Mouse Model of Schizophrenia Could Speed Identification of New Antipsychotic Drugs

July 1, 2003

Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have produced a genetically altered mouse that exhibits behavioral abnormalities strikingly similar to those observed in humans with schizophrenia and have identified a genetic variant associated with schizophrenia in humans.

According to the researchers, the findings could mean they have identified a molecular signaling pathway — the calcineurin pathway in the forebrain — involved in the origin of schizophrenia. If so, the search for… read more

Sensors of the World, Unite!

July 1, 2003

Imagine sprinkling tiny sensors on road and fields for surveillance, putting them in buildings and bridges to monitor structural health, and installing them in industrial facilities to manage energy, inventory and manufacturing processes. That’s the idea behind the emerging technology of wireless sensor networks.

During 2001, there were 150 million CPU class chips sold. But during the same period of time, 7.5 billion embedded microcontrollers were sold.

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