science + technology news

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

Foresight Institute Announces Feynman Prize Finalists

September 15, 2004

Foresight Institute has announced the finalists for the 2004 Foresight Feynman Prize. The $10,000 prize, awarded in two categories, theory and experimental, recognizes researchers whose recent work has most advanced the field toward the achievement of Feynman’s vision for nanotechnology: molecular manufacturing.

The 2004 finalists for the Experimental prize are: Angela Belcher from MIT Department of Materials; Homme Hellinga, Duke University Medical Center; William Shih, Dana Farber Research Laboratory,… read more

Speech Code From I.B.M. to Become Open Source

September 15, 2004

IBM announced it will contribute some of its speech-recognition software to two open-source software groups.

After decades of research and development, speech recognition is moving toward mainstream use. Advances in statistical modeling, pattern-matching algorithms and processing power have enabled speech recognition to interpret a far broader vocabulary of words and phrases than in the past, though glitches remain.

The software for speech-recognition applications once had to be custom… read more

Game sequel takes leaps in AI technology

September 15, 2004

Electronic Arts has published The Sims 2, which it believes is a leap forward in artificial intelligence for games.

What’s remarkable about this computer game, released worldwide Tuesday, is that the domestic drama is not scripted. The characters act the way they do because that is what naturally unfolds. It’s a quality dubbed “emergence,” based on the history of the characters’ relationships and their own artificial, or preprogrammed, intelligence.

Amazon to Take Searches on Web to a New Depth

September 15, 2004, a start-up owned by, plans an advanced technology that the company says will take searches beyond mere retrieval of Web pages to let users more fully manage the information they find.

The new service, launched Tuesday night, offers users the ability to store and edit bookmarks on an central server computer, keep track of each link clicked on previous visits to a Web… read more

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