science + technology news

Unnatural Selection

January 28, 2005

Evolutionary algorithms, also known as genetic algorithms, are proving useful for solving complex problems, such as antenna design, and even creating inventions.

Revenge of the Right Brain

January 28, 2005

To flourish in this age, we’ll need to supplement our well-developed high tech abilities with aptitudes that are “high concept” and “high touch.”

High concept involves the ability to create artistic and emotional beauty, to detect patterns and opportunities, to craft a satisfying narrative, and to come up with inventions the world didn’t know it was missing. High touch involves the capacity to empathize, to understand the subtleties of… read more

Laser applications heat up for carbon nanotubes

January 27, 2005

Carbon nanotubes may find one of its quickest applications in the next generation of standards for optical power measurements, which are essential for laser systems used in manufacturing, medicine, communications, lithography, space-based sensors and other technologies.

As described in a forthcoming paper in Applied Optics, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have made prototype pyroelectric detectors coated with carbon… read more

Brain ‘avalanches’ may help store memories

January 27, 2005

Recent studies suggest that avalanches in your brain could actually help you to store memories.

Slices of rat brain tissue placed on a microelectrode array have shown that the brain cells activate each other in cascades called “neuronal avalanches.” New computer models by Indiana University biophysicist John Beggs now suggest that these brain avalanches may be optimal for information storage. If so, certain neurochemical treatments might someday improve life… read more

Animal-Human Hybrids Spark Controversy

January 27, 2005

Scientists have begun blurring the line between human and animal by producing chimeras—a hybrid creature that’s part human, part animal.

Chinese scientists at the Shanghai Second Medical University in 2003 successfully fused human cells with rabbit eggs.

In Minnesota last year researchers at the Mayo Clinic created pigs with human blood flowing through their bodies.

And at Stanford University in California an experiment might be done later… read more

Soaring global warming ‘can’t be ruled out’

January 27, 2005

A research project tested thousands of climate models and found that some produced a world that warmed by a huge 11.5°C when atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations reached the levels expected to be seen later this century.

Novel technology detects human DNA mutations

January 26, 2005

Nanosphere says its new ClearRead nanoparticle-based technology allows detection of a SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, which indicates the extent to which the gene is normal or mutated) in an unknown genotype with a greater than 99 percent confidence threshold and can be used with human DNA obtained from samples as small as a drop of blood.

The technology, reported in the February 2005 (Volume 33, Number 2), issue of… read more

Information Wants to be Liquid

January 26, 2005

The Liquid Information project wants to tear down the web and rebuild it in the image of Wikipedia: a free-for-all where readers are writers and no word is sacrosanct.

Computer scientists identify future IT challenges

January 26, 2005

A group of British computer scientists have proposed a number of “grand challenges” for IT that they hope will drive forward research, similar to the way the human genome project drove life sciences research through the 1990s.

Ambitious goals include harnessing the power of quantum physics, building systems that can’t go wrong, and simulating living creatures in every detail.

Samsung Boasts Fastest Ever Multimedia RAM

January 25, 2005

Samsung Electronics has today begun mass production of what it claims is the world’s fastest RAM for multimedia applications.

Samsung’s 256Mb XDR (eXtreme Data Rate) DRAM is 10 times faster than DDR 400 memory and five times faster than RDRam (PC800), Samsung claims.

Samsung plans to introduce a 512Mb XDR DRAM, capable of transferring data as fast as 12.8Gbps, during the first half of this year.

Google and Yahoo Are Extending Search Ability to TV Programs

January 25, 2005

Google and Yahoo are introducing services that will let users search closed captioning information on television programs on major networks.

Google presents users with short excerpts of program transcripts with text matching their search queries and a single image from the program.

Yahoo will let users watch 60-second video clips.

Ultra-realistic binaural surround sound is coming

January 25, 2005

Ultra-realistic binaural surround sound in ordinary headsets is being developed by researchers at the University of York and the University of Sydney.

The subtle distortions to sound caused by the head and ear shapes of the listener normally account for the perception of 3D location of sound.

The scientists use “spatial filters” to artifically create these distortions. They envisage booths where customers can have the shape of their… read more

Machine learns games ‘like a human’

January 25, 2005

A computer that learns to play a “scissors, paper, stone” game by observing and mimicking human players could lead to machines that automatically learn how to spot an intruder or perform vital maintenance work, say UK researchers.

In contrast to older AI programs that mimic human behaviour using hard-coded rules, CogVis, developed by scientists at the University of Leeds, learns through observation and mimicry. It teaches itself how to… read more

Human Brain Design Gets a New Timetable

January 25, 2005

The genes that specify the architecture of the human brain seem to have started evolving faster some 20 million years ago, when the great apes split off from Old World monkeys.

The genes then doubled their speed of evolution after the human lineage parted ways with that of chimpanzees five million years ago.

The finding shows many different genes are involved in constructing the special features of the… read more

It Can Be Done: Scientists Teach Old Dogs New Tricks

January 25, 2005

A diet rich in vitamin E, vitamin C and other antioxidants combined with a stimulating environment slowed the canine aging process in an experiment reported in the January issue of Neurobiology of Aging.

However, one author of the paper works for the company that sells the dog food used in the study, calling into question its validity.

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