science + technology news

Building a Smarter Search Engine

January 4, 2005

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have developed Clusty, a search engine using AI to search the Web and cluster results by topic.

Clusty searches the results of other search engines and indexes, applies AI to pick out the major themes found within the results for each search, and organizes them into folders.

January 4, 2005

Responses by readers to a request for New Year’s wishes ranged from futuristic visions such as photosynthesis in humans and nanocameras that fit inside cells, to serious themes including recognition for scientists in developing countries and freedom from reliance on oil.

2004: The year in biology and medicine

January 3, 2005

Fears of a global flu pandemic, the inexorable spread of AIDS and the pervasiveness of tuberculosis were some of the threats which marked out 2004. But the year saw landmark advances too, with the cloning of the first human embryos, the birth of the first totally fatherless mammal and other significant steps forward in stem cell technology.

Life interrupted

January 3, 2005

Some scientists are concerned that the need for speed is shrinking our attention spans, prompting our search for superficial answers and settling us into a rhythm of constant interruption in which deadlines are relentless and tasks are never quite finished.

Scientists call this phenomenon “cognitive overload,” and say it encompasses the modern-day angst of stress, multitasking, distraction and data flurries.

According to David Meyer, a Michigan psychologist and… read more

Technology Research Advances of 2004

January 3, 2005

The profusion of technology research in 2004 includes a nanowire-based biochip developed by Harvard University researchers that detects single viruses, fault-tolerant chip design for nanowire logic circuits, a software program for designing computer chips made from DNA-assembled carbon nanotubes, and a scheme for storing light pulses using a photonic crystal that could make possible blazingly fast all-optical computer chips, quantum computers and quantum communications systems.

Ambulances May Get Virtual Doctors

January 3, 2005

Researchers are developing technology for ambulances to place virtual doctors inside ambulances.

The Navy’s First Responder Emergency Communications-Mobile uses an international maritime satellite and varying frequencies to bridge communication gaps. It has multiple cameras inside and outside a standard ambulance.

A patient’s vital signs and other data are beamed in real time to the closest trauma center, where doctors can instruct paramedics in the field and prep a… read more

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….

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