science + technology news

UIC Unveils World’s Most Powerful MRI for Decoding the Human Brain

September 21, 2004

The University of Illinois at Chicago has unveiled the world’s most powerful magnetic resonance imaging machine.

The current industry standard for MRI systems is 1.5 tesla, which limits researchers to imaging water molecules. As a result, only anatomical changes can be detected and monitored.

By contrast, UIC’s 9.4-tesla magnet will enable researchers to detect signals from sodium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen — the metabolic building blocks of… read more

Only in Quantum Physics: Spinning While Standing Still

September 20, 2004

Penn State researchers found experimental evidence for a “supersolid” form of helium-4 that displayed the frictionless-flow properties of a superfluid.

Penn State Press Release

They’re Robots? Those Beasts!

September 20, 2004

Lobsters, snakes, cockroaches, fish and other animals are inspiring the designers of biomimetic robots.

Designs based on animal motion could allow robots to move in environments currently inaccessible to today’s generation of wheeled or tank-treaded robots.

Record Atom-Scale Resolution

September 20, 2004

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers used aberration correction technology to improve the resolution of a scanning transmission electron microscope to 0.6 angstroms (.06 nm, approximately the diameter of an atom), a new record.

ONRL news release

Nose-Steered Mouse Could Save Aching Arms

September 20, 2004

Dmitry Gorodnichy’s “nouse” software allows computer users to move on-screen using their noses.

The software uses webcams to track the tip of the user’s nose. Nose movements move the onscreen cursor. Blinking the right or left eye twice replaces a right or left mouse click.

Alice Chatbot Wins for Third Time

September 20, 2004

Richard Wallace’s Alice chatbot program beat three other finalists to take the 2004 bronze metal for the Loebner Prize competition.

The bronze metal goes to the program best able to maintain a life-like conversation. No program has won gold or silver metals, which will go to programs able to convince half the judges that the program is a human, either via video (gold) or text (silver).… read more

Order of Magnitude Increase for Carbon Nanotube Length

September 20, 2004

Los Alamos National Laboratory and Duke University chemists have grown a world-record-length four-centimeter-long, single-wall carbon nanotube.

It was made using catalytic chemical vapor deposition from ethanol vapor, and is significantly larger than previous maximum lengths of just a few millimeters.

Los Alamos National Labs news release

Nanotube Visible Light Antenna

September 20, 2004

Scientists at Boston College have used an array of carbon nanotubes to create a rudimentary visible-light antenna.

The researchers used nanotubes that were hundreds of nm long.

Applications could include demodulation of fiber-optic television signals or efficient solar energy conversion.

Rules for Self-Configuring Robots

September 20, 2004

Robots that change shape and even split into smaller parts to explore unfamiliar terrain could soon be feasible, thanks to new algorithms designed to enable such metamorphic tricks.

Researchers have published definitive control methods for self-reconfigurable robots. Robots using these rules will not fall apart as they change shape or get irreversibly stuck while moving. The rules instruct robots how to roam over terrain, build tall structures to overcome… read more

High-Tech Hearing Bypasses Ears

September 17, 2004

Bone-conduction hearing technology, first used for hearing aids and for military headsets, is now heading to the mass market.

Several companies are using the technology for improved sound from cell phones and music players, including an underwater MP3 player. The technology can also be used to reduce background noise when a cell phone’s user is speaking.

Chip architecture uses nanowires

September 17, 2004

Hewlett-Packard Laboratories researchers are simulating chips that would use nanowire crossbar arrays.

These simulations show that nanowire crossbar arrays can contain as many as 100 times more devices in a given area than today’s chip technologies, even with the redundancy required by high defect rates in nanowire crossbar arrays.

Multiwalled carbon nanotubes grown on dendrimer-based catalyst at lowest temperature

September 17, 2004

Bradley Fahlman of the Central Michigan University chemistry department has grown multiwalled carbon nanotubes on a dendrimer-based catalyst at 175 degrees Celsius, the lowest-reported temperature to date. Traditional methods involve temperatures between 600 and 1000 degrees.

This is the first instance of growing nanotubes from a dendrimer at temperatures low enough to retain individual links between nanotubes and dendrimers. The discovery could lead to many industrial applications.… read more

A Milestone In Human DNA Sequencing

September 17, 2004

Researchers in the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute and Stanford Human Genome Center have reached a halfway point in decoding the human genome by finishing chromosome 5, the 12th chromosome finished, with 12 more to go.

The fifth chromosome contains key disease genes and a wealth of information about how humans evolved. This large chromosome contains 923 genes, including 66 genes known to be involved in human disease.… read more

Predictions for IP Television Highlight Increased High Speed Bandwidth for the Home

September 17, 2004

All major phone companies have initiatives related to broadband-delivered IP television, according to FCC Chairman Michael Powell.

Verizon is rolling out high-capacity fiber-optic lines with the goal of signing up one million homes by the end of this year and another two million homes in 2005. Qwest Communications already operates a small IP television service in Arizona, and the other three Baby Bells are also ramping up their efforts.

Nanotube Oscillator Could Weigh Individual Atoms

September 16, 2004

Using a carbon nanotube, Cornell University researchers have produced a tiny electromechanical oscillator that might be capable of weighing a single atom.

The device, perhaps the smallest of its kind ever produced, can be tuned across a wide range of radio frequencies, and one day might replace bulky power-hungry elements in electronic circuits.

The device also has applications in mass sensing and basic research.

Cornellread more

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