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Maid to Order

September 19, 2002

Roomba, a new housecleaning robot spawned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Artificial Intelligence Lab and built by iRobot, will vacuum your living room. It’s the first robot designed to live in your home, serve a useful purpose, and be priced for the mass market — at $199 — on sale this week.

Controlling Robots with the Mind

September 19, 2002

People with nerve or limb injuries may one day be able to command wheelchairs, prosthetics and even paralyzed arms and legs by “thinking them through” the motions.

Scientists have developed implantable microchips that will embed the neuronal pattern recognition now done with software, thereby eventually freeing the brain-machine interface devices from a computer. These microchips will send wireless control data to robotic actuators.

Microchips in the Blood

September 18, 2002

Many of the promised genomic drugs will be impossible to swallow as pills. Instead, they will have to be injected in minute quantities at precise intervals for months at a time. Just the job for an implantable syringe-on-a-chip. Researchers in this field refer to their goal as intelligent drug delivery. The intelligence is derived from a piece of silicon one centimetre square. Etched in the silicon is a matrix of… read more

In Nature vs. Nurture, a Voice for Nature

September 17, 2002

Discoveries about genetically determined human nature have been ignored or suppressed in modern discussions of human affairs, says MIT psychologist Dr. Steven Pinker in the forthcoming The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.

The “blank slaters” — critics of sociobiology and their many adherents in the social sciences — have sought to base the political ideals of equal rights and equal opportunity on a false biological premise:… read more

International Lisp Conference 2002

September 17, 2002

The Association of Lisp Users (ALU) has announced the International Lisp Conference 2002 in San Francisco, October 27 – 31, focused on Lisp and Functional Languages, Web Applications, Robotics and Bioinformatics.

The event will also feature the Dynamic Languages RoboCup Simulation League Competition and Chatterbot Competition.

Hollywood goes to war

September 16, 2002

Using tools such as a virtual-reality theatre with a 150-degree screen, a monster SGI computer, and a 10.2 Dolby sound system, the Institute for Creative Technology, affiliated with the University of Southern California, seeks to create interactive games that reflect 21st-century military challenges. It is at the forefront of work on AI and expects to create a virtual human able to talk, express emotions and display body language, within five… read more

Speed of light broken with basic lab kit

September 16, 2002

Electric signals can be transmitted at least four times faster than the speed of light using only basic equipment, Tennessee State University physicists have discovered.

However, signals also get weaker and more distorted the faster they go, so in theory no useful information can get transmitted at faster-than-light speeds.

On a Single Chip, Intel Joins Realms of Analog and Digital

September 16, 2002

Manufacturing processes are converging. Intel has announced a new manufacturing process to blend digital and analog functions on a single silicon chip. In the future, all functions of a cellphone, for example, could be consolidated on a single chip.

The Supercomputing Speed Barrier

September 16, 2002

Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers are operating the Q supercomputer at 30 teraflops; supercomputers will eventually be able to surpass 100 teraflops at the national coalition of Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories, and Los Alamos National Labs has announced plans for 200 teraflops.

Senator to introduce nanotech bill

September 13, 2002

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. plan to introduce a nanotechnology bill on Sept. 17 focused on economic growth and development, jobs, and global competitiveness. The bill is expected to make the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) a standing government program.

The Pulse of Life: Music of Our World and Beyond

September 13, 2002
Spectral analysis of a musical selection by Hildegaard of Bingen. CREDIT: Andrew Kaiser

Could ET understand terrestrial music? Composer Andrew Kaiser suggests that music may communicate “something of our consciousness that is essentially human, regardless of the civilization from which it emerges.”

Even if ET is deaf, the language of music could communicate meaning because of its precise mathematically structure, he believes.

‘Smart’ Silicon Dust Could Help Screen for Chemical Weapons

September 13, 2002

Scientists report the development of dust-size “smart” silicon crystals that could be used to detect chemical and biological agents from a distance, using a laser light source.

Intel pushing to develop 1-billion transistor processor

September 13, 2002

Intel Corp. has announced it is developing a 1-billion-transistor chip that will integrate logic, graphics and security. It is part of Intel’s “convergence” push to accelerate the development of computing and communications.

Nanowire or nanotube? Intel looks ahead

September 11, 2002

Intel is working with Harvard and other universities on silicon nanowires and carbon nanotubes. After 2010, one of these technologies could begin to replace standard transistors and over time become the building block of chips.

Intel is also experimenting with atomic layer deposition, which lets manufacturers make chips by piling single layers of atoms on top of each other.

Single atom memory device stores data

September 11, 2002

A workable atomic memory that uses individual atoms to store information has been developed by physicists, representing a density equivalent to 250 terabits of data per square inch.

In the experiment, each single silicon atom was added or removed from a block of twenty others using a scanning tunnelling microscope.

According to Tom Theis, director of physical sciences at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center, it may one day… read more

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