science + technology news

2004: The year in technology

January 3, 2005

Computer worm wars, “phishing” emails intended to trick recipients into revealing personal or financial information, powerful new supercomputers, and running robots were among the top tech stories of 2004.

Engineered enhancers closer than you think

January 3, 2005

In the next few decades, futurists say, athletes and soldiers will call on artificial muscles to lift heavier loads and run faster. Bionic eyes will let them see distant targets, while nanobots enhance their cognitive abilities and genetic-engineering techniques boost their performance under pressure.

Many of those enhancement techniques, some based in electronics, are already in the works, such as artificial muscles made from electroactive polymers and researchers placing… read more

People of the Year: Bloggers

January 3, 2005

Bloggers are among “World News Tonight’s” People of the Year.

Bloggers have taken the lead over traditional media on a number of stories.

This week, their influence has become readily apparent. Dozens of bloggers have been filing firsthand reports from the areas devastated by southern Asia’s deadly tsunamis. Bloggers around the world have made themselves useful, encouraging donations to relief groups, posting the names of the missing and… read more

The Future of Calamity

January 3, 2005

Future catastrophes — from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, mudslides, droughts, malaria, AIDS, crop failures, global warming and other causes — may be far grimmer than the recent Asian tsunami.

Meditation Gives Brain a Charge, Study Finds

January 3, 2005

Brain research is beginning to produce concrete evidence that mental discipline and meditative practice can change the inner workings and circuitry of the brain and allow people to achieve different levels of awareness.

Using functional magnetic resonance imagining (fMRI), Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin, in collaboration with Tibet’s Dalai Lama,has pinpointed the left prefrontal cortex, an area just behind the left forehead, as the place where brain… read more

Nanoparticles Replace Toxic Virus Vectors for Gene Therapy

December 31, 2004

A gene therapy method that doesn’t rely on potentially toxic viruses as vectors is being developed by University at Buffalo scientists.

The researchers delivered fluorescent genes to cells using nanoparticles as DNA carriers as an alternative vector to viruses. Using confocal microscopy and fluorescent spectroscopy, the scientists tracked transfection optically in real time, including the delivery of genes into cells, the uptake of genes by the nucleus and their… read more

Ultrafast Supercomputer to Simulate Nuke Explosion

December 31, 2004

Leading nuclear scientists will witness next summer the results of the greatest effort ever in supercomputing: a 3-D simulation of the explosion of an aging nuclear bomb, produced by the world’s fastest computer, BlueGene/L, running at 360 teraflops.

The Invisible Fighter

December 30, 2004

Researchers may be developing an invisibility cloak for soldiers and vehicles using digital cameras that can capture nearby surroundings and then project that scene on uniforms and vehicles.

The system would create a mobile movie screen that is indistinguishable from the surrounding cityscape.

Man and the Machines

December 30, 2004

It’s time to start thinking about how we might grant legal rights to computers. At some point in the not-too-distant future, we might actually face a sentient, intelligent machine who demands, or who many come to believe deserves, some form of legal protection. The plausibility of this occurrence is an extremely touchy subject in the artificial intelligence field….

You, Robot

December 30, 2004

Roboticist Hans Moravec has founded Seegrid Corporation to develop vision-enabled robotic carts that can be loaded and then walked through various routes to teach them how to navigate on their own and move supplies around warehouses without human direction.

Coated nanotubes make biosensors

December 30, 2004

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are using carbon nanotubes to sense single molecules, and are tapping the way carbon nanotubes give off near-infrared light in order to read what the sensors have detected.

The sensors could eventually be used to monitor biochemical changes in biological fluids and tissue in real time.

Transparent transistors may lead to new industries

December 29, 2004

Researchers at Oregon State University and Hewlett Packard have reported a first example of a new class of thin-film materials, called amorphous heavy-metal cation multicomponent oxides, that could be used to make transparent transistors that are inexpensive, stable, and environmentally benign.

This could lead to new industries and a broad range of new consumer products, scientists say.

The new material combines the characteristics of different elements to give… read more

China Launches Next-Generation Internet

December 29, 2004

China is rolling out the first network based on Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) technology, a major component of the next-generation Internet.

Officials claim top transmission speeds of 2.5 to 10 gigabits per second, with a trial connecting schools in Beijing and Tianjin reaching 40 gigabits per second. Coverage is expected to expand to 100 universities in the near future.

A key advantage of IPv6 is that it… read more

Human brain result of ‘extraordinarily fast’ evolution

December 29, 2004

New research by Bruce Lahn, an assistant professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago, suggests that humans evolved their cognitive abilities not owing to a few sporadic and accidental genetic mutations but rather from an enormous number of mutations in a short period of time, acquired though an intense selection process favoring complex cognitive abilities.

Lahn suggests that the development of human society may be the reason.… read more

Antibiotic Resistant Bacterium Uses Sonar-Like Strategy to ‘See’ Enemies Or Prey

December 28, 2004

Scientists have found that bacteria can use a Sonar-like system to spot other cells (either normal body cells or other bacteria) and target them for destruction.

Reported in the December 24 issue of Science, this finding explains how some bacteria know when to produce a toxin that makes infection more severe. It may lead to the design of new toxin inhibitors.

Schepens Eye Research Institute newsread more

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