science + technology news

Science at the Edge, edited by John Brockman

August 30, 2004

A stellar cast of thinkers tackles the really big questions facing scientists in a book developed from pieces that first appeared on the web forum Edge.

A leading role is given to the computer and the potential for machine intelligence.

The cutting-edge thinkers include Ray Kurzweil on the Singularity, Steven Pinker on human nature, Martin Rees on the future of the universe, Rodney Brooks on robots that have… read more

Jaw transplant allows man to chew after nine years

August 30, 2004

Doctors at the University of Kiel in Germany have grown a jaw bone from stem cells in the patient’s own bone marrow implanted into a layer of muscle on the patient’s right shoulder.

Biggest bets in the universe unveiled

August 30, 2004

British-based bookmaker Ladbrokes is taking bets on whether the five biggest physics experiments in the world will come good before 2010: life on Titan, gravitational waves, the Higgs boson, cosmic ray origins, and nuclear fusion.

Computers Can Argue, Researcher Claims

August 30, 2004

Agent-based negotiation is a significant addition to our understanding of how to automate the sorts of complex behaviors that — until now — have been exhibited only by people.

Polyester enables next generation of hard disk drives

August 29, 2004

The next generation of hard disk drives will require lubricant coatings that can hold up to faster speeds and denser data. Perfluoropolyethers (PFPEs), the current industry standard, are running up against the polymer’s limits in protecting hard drives against daily wear and tear.

So University of Illinois Ph.D. candidate Wei Xiao developed an entirely new lubricant called SHP — sterically hindered polyester, based on inexpensive and abundant polyester.

Tools design DNA-nanotube logic

August 26, 2004

Researchers have recently begun to use DNA to assemble carbon nanotubes into transistors, the building blocks of computer chips.

Researchers from Duke University are aiming to make the process easier with a suite of computer-aided design (CAD) tools designed to build computer circuits at a density of 2,500 transistors per square micron — about 30 times more closely packed than devices made using current chipmaking technologies.

Five photons linked

August 26, 2004

Researchers in China, Austria, and Germany have entangled five photons, making it possible to check computations for errors.

Salad oil may fuel hydrogen car of future

August 26, 2004

Sunflower oil could prove to be a source for a hydrogen generator that uses only sunflower oil, air and water vapor. The secret lies in two catalysts, one based on nickel, the other on carbon.

Computer chips get tough

August 26, 2004

A method to make virtually perfect crystals of silicon carbide could revolutionize the electronics industry.

Silicon carbide (SiC) is much better than silicon at carrying current in an electronic circuit, so it could potentially reduce the amount of energy wasted in every electronic device in the home or office. It can also operate at much higher temperatures, so it could be used in devices that would precisely control the… read more

‘Super Earth’ Discovered at Nearby Star

August 26, 2004

European astronomers have found one of the smallest planets known outside our solar system, a world about 14 times the mass of our own around a star much like the Sun.

No planet so small has ever been detected around a normal star. And the finding reveals a solar system more similar to our own than anything found so far.

Brain Disease Blocker

August 25, 2004

Genetics researchers are reporting some exciting progress in the search for a cure for genetic brain-wasting diseases like Huntington’s disease, using RNA interference, a gene therapy.

Crisis Alert in Critical State

August 25, 2004

The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a mess. “Unfortunately, I think it will take a major catastrophe where hundreds of thousands of people are killed for people to understand what (we) have been saying,” said Jim Gabbert, who oversees California’s Emergency Alert System.

The FCC plans to rebuild the EAS, sending warnings to computers, PDAs, cell phones, and is considering the idea of automatically turning on TVs and radios… read more

Stem Cells: Promise, in Search of Results

August 24, 2004

At three Boston laboratories, the world of stem cell research can be captured in all its complexity, promise and diversity.

HK firm develops cyber girlfriend

August 24, 2004

Hong Kong company Artificial Life has developed a “virtual girlfriend” game for 3-G mobile phones.

GM ‘marathon’ mice break distance records

August 24, 2004

Mice that can run almost twice the distance of normal mice have been genetically engineered by Salk Institute scientists, raising questions over performance-enhancing drugs for atheletes.

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