science + technology news

Robot Uses Whiskers To Get Around

October 1, 2004

University of Tokyo and University of Zurich researchers have developed a robot that uses real mouse whiskers as sensors.

Each whisker is plugged directly into a capacitor microphone at the front of the robot. This capacitor can detect vibrations with acute sensitivity — up to 3 thousand vibrations per second (3 kiloHertz). The process imitates the way a real mouse uses its whiskers to sense, via the nerves in… read more

Time on a Chip: The Incredible Shrinking Atomic Clock

October 1, 2004

Researchers are developing atomic clocks 1,000 times more accurate than the best quartz oscillators and a cubic centimeter in size.

They could fit into future cell phones or hand-held computers.

New Surface Chemistry May Extend Life of Technology for Making Transistors

September 30, 2004

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers developed a technique that uses surface chemistry to make tinier and more effective p-n junctions in silicon-based semiconductors.

The technique may lead to faster silicon-based transistors, helping to shrink the active region in p-n junctions from the current 25 nm down towards 10 nm thick.

University of Illinois news release

Angela Belcher, Nanotechnologist, awarded MacArthur Fellowship

September 30, 2004

Angela Belcher, associate professor of materials science at MIT, has received a 2004 MacArthur Fellowship.

The Fellowship, with its non-restricted stipend of $500,000, is intended for “individuals who show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work.” Along with other research projects, Belcher has genetically modified viruses to interact with solutions of inorganic semiconductors, yielding self-assembling metal films and wires with diameters in the low tens of… read more

DNA as Substrate Speeds Up Chemical Reaction Discovery Time

September 30, 2004

Harvard University scientists have developed a new way to test the reactions between multiple chemicals simultaneously by piggybacking collections of different small organic molecules onto short strands of DNA, which then gives the reactants the opportunity to react by zipping together.

This system for reaction discovery, driven by DNA-templated synthesis, is so efficient that a single researcher can evaluate thousands of potential chemical reactions in a two-day experiment.… read more

Scientists Bringing ‘Table Top’ Particle Accelerators a Step Closer

September 30, 2004

Three research teams announced new developments in producing relativistic electron beams using laser-produced plasmas to accelerate the beams.

The beams have a narrow energy spread and are focusable. These new developments could help to shrink the size and cost of future particle accelerators for fundamental physics experiments and applications in materials and biomedicine. Laser electron accelerators could eventually fit into a university basement.

All three research teams published… read more

Mobile with 360 Mbit/s

September 30, 2004

Siemens researchers have developed a new mobile data communication system that can transfer data at of up to 360 megabits per second — about 100 times faster than the most powerful DSL connection.

The system uses Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) technology to eliminate multipathing interference and multi-hop stations, a combination of base station, amplifier and router.

British Researchers Apply for Licence to Generate Human Brain Cells

September 29, 2004

The scientists who cloned Dolly the sheep at Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute have formally applied for a license to clone human embryos to find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (called MND or motor neurone disease in the UK).

The research team plans to take DNA from the skin or blood of a person with MND and implant it into a human egg from which the genetic material has been… read more

New Sequence Involved In DNA Replication Timing May Aid In Cancer Detection

September 29, 2004

Scientists have discovered a DNA sequence that is involved in controlling DNA replication timing.

Because alterations in DNA replication timing are associated with cancer, this discovery may lead to improved methods for cancer detection. In many cancer cells, the normal order of DNA replication is altered. Tests for DNA replication timing may eventually become a method for early detection of cancer.

Programmed Human Aging Supports Survival of Species

September 29, 2004

A University of Southern California researcher proposes that aging is programmed so that the majority of a population dies prematurely to provide nutrients for the sake of a few individuals who have acquired the genetic mutations that increase their chances of reproduction.

Valter Longo’s research, based on observations of programmed aging in baker’s yeast, could imply that humans die earlier than they have to due to programmed human aging.… read more

Nanotube Defects Detected Using Vibrations

September 29, 2004

Max Planck Institute researchers have measured the vibrational modes of carbon nanotubes with atomic resolution and demonstrated that the vibrations are substantially modified near defects.

Using a scanning tunneling microscopy technique, the vibrational modes of carbon nanotubes were mapped with sub-nanometer spatial resolution. This allows the study of the role of local defects in the flow of heat and electrical charge in carbon nanostructures.

Maxread more

Device to Save Hospitals Billions

September 29, 2004

New Zealand engineers and medical experts are developing a computer program that senses the level of pain a patient is in and measures the exact amount of pain relief and sedative drugs they need.

Using a digital video camera, it determines what level of agitation a patient is experiencing.

They hope their development will eventually save hospitals throughout the world billions of dollars in wasted drugs and help… read more

Engineering God in a Petri Dish

September 29, 2004

Advisors to the International Association for Divine Taxonomy, which include biochemists, biophysicists, ecologists, geneticists and zoologists from the University of California at Berkeley, the Smithsonian and other institutions, are attempting to determine where on the phylogenetic map to put God.

If evolutionary theory is accurate, God’s genetic makeup should most resemble Earth’s first life forms. Or if creationists are right, God’s DNA is more like the life forms he… read more

I.B.M. Supercomputer Sets World Record for Speed

September 28, 2004

IBM’s BlueGene/L supercomputer has surpassed the Earth Simulator as the world’s fastest supercomputer by attaining a sustained performance of 36.01 teraflops, eclipsing the top mark of 35.86 teraflops reached in 2002 by the Earth Simulator.

BlueGene/L is only one-hundredth the physical size of the Earth Simulator and consumes one twenty-eighth the power per computation, the company said.

The BlueGene/L will have wide commercial applications, first in the petroleum… read more

Eavesdropping Call Center Computers Cut Talk Time

September 28, 2004

IBM researchers are developing an artificial intelligence system for call centers that uses speech recognition and search engine technology to search a call center’s databanks for the information a customer wants and present it to the operator before the caller has finished explaining what they want.

The system works by listening in to the conversation and identifying keywords spoken by the customer. It then flashes up the most relevant… read more

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