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Sick? DNA Scanner Tells What Ails

December 27, 2002

A prototype diagnostic tool under development by two London companies offers rapid genetic analysis of infectious diseases, delivering results in a half hour rather than the usual two weeks with DNA labs.

The box takes a DNA sample directly from saliva. DNA is extracted from the sample and then multiplied in a miniature polymerase chain reaction, which clones DNA strands rapidly. Once enough DNA is present, it can be… read more

Smart coating for military vehicles being developed

December 26, 2002

The New Jersey Institute of Technology has received a U.S. Army contract to develop a nanotech-based smart coating that would enable military vehicles, if corroded or scratched, to detect and heal themselves. The vehicles could also change color on the battlefield, creating instant camouflage and rendering tanks, helicopters and military trucks virtually invisible.

The coatings could also reduce the sensitivity of explosives and thus make them safer for soldiers… read more

G.E. Research Returns to Roots

December 26, 2002

GE scientists hope to develop super-thin lighting and energy sources that could be rolled off printing presses like newspapers. And that could usher in an era of cheap, clean-burning lights, batteries, solar cells — and the beginning of plastic-based electronics.

Religious Sect Say It Will Announce the First Cloned Baby

December 26, 2002

The Raelians, a religious sect that contends that space travelers created the human race by cloning themselves, plan to announce today that the first cloned human baby has been born.

Shoes and sheets get wired

December 26, 2002

“Electrotextiles” woven with wires and electronic devices are being fashioned into speedometer shoes, chameleon curtains. singing shirts, and to measure footfalls, detect explosions and spot smuggling. “Soft keypads” allow wearers to control remote devices. And antennas can be woven in.

Gadgets could be next: clothes and woven-in sensors could record athletes’ heart rate, hydration and blood sugar levels.

Fuel Cells: Japan’s Carmakers Are Flooring It

December 26, 2002

On Dec. 2 in Tokyo, Toyota and Honda rolled out the world’s first commercially available cars running on hydrogen fuel cells. The current cost: $1 million per car; it will take at least 10 years to bring prices down to $100,000.

Ford expects to launch a fuel-cell compact in 2004. General Motors has three different fuel-cell prototypes; commercial models won’t be ready until 2010.

Butterflies point to micro machines

December 26, 2002

Micro air vehicles that mimick insects will soon be a reality, thanks to aerodynamics research using high-speed cameras in a wind tunnel to analyze how the animals moved through the air.

Laser leads nerve growth

December 26, 2002

A laser beam can guide nerve cells to grow in a particular direction, researchers have shown. The technique might help damaged nerves to regrow or could connect them to electronic implants, such as artificial retinas and prosthetic limbs.

Making Robots, With Dreams of Henry Ford

December 26, 2002

IRobot is perhaps the only company in the world that develops and sells robots to the military, researchers, large corporations, and consumers. Most robotics makers focus on just one segment, and 2002 has been a busy year for the company.

The Matrix Makers: virtual cinematography

December 25, 2002

The two sequels of “The Matrix” will feature photorealistic virtual actors that are impossible to tell from real ones, say the producers. “The Matrix Reloaded” arrives in theaters on May 15, “Matrix Revolutions” in early November.

Actor performances are captured on five high-resolution digital cameras; a complex algorithm calculates the actor’s appearance from every angle the cameras missed and allows for creating scenes with virtual actors.

Many Tools of Big Brother Are Up and Running

December 25, 2002

Most of the technical prerequisites for the Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness national surveillance system are already in place. Computerized data sifting and pattern matching that might flag suspicious activities are not much different from programs already in use by private companies.

The Origin of Religions, From a Distinctly Darwinian View

December 24, 2002

Dr. David Sloan Wilson of Binghamton University, a renowned evolutionary biologist, argues that the religious impulse evolved early in hominid history because it helped make groups of humans comparatively more cohesive, more cooperative and more fraternal, and thus able to present a formidable front against bands of less organized or unified adversaries.

Sony soon to deliver child robot

December 23, 2002

Shades of A.I. the movie: Sony is developing a 24-inch child-like robot that can interact with its “carers,” expressing emotions through words, songs and body language. It can recognize up to 10 human faces and voices and adapt its behaviour according to the way it is treated. The SDR4X Dream Robot will be available April 7 for $60,000 to $80,000.

False Dawns in the Brave World of New Genetics

December 21, 2002

Gene science has the potential to transform the course of our lives, from “designer babies” to slowing the aging process. But how far advanced is it — and exactly where is it going? Scientists at its cutting edge separate the hype from the reality.

The end of history, tech version?

December 20, 2002

Do you think machines will become more intelligent than people in the next 100 years? Won’t that present a danger to humankind? What can be done to keep that from happening?

These are among the questions in a survey pitting views of the future by Bill Joy against those of Ray Kurzweil and Hans Moravec.

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