science + technology news

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

Hydrocarbons in the deep Earth?

September 14, 2004

Experiments point to the possibility of an inorganic source of hydrocarbons at great depth in the Earth’s upper mantle, which underlies the crust at depths of about 12 to 37 miles beneath the continents.

These would be “hydrocarbons that come from simple reactions between water and rock and not just from the decomposition of living organisms,” stated Dr. Russell Hemley of the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory and co-author of… read more

Have we seen an exoplanet?

September 14, 2004
2M1207 (center) and companion

Astronomers may have taken the first ever photograph of a planetary system outside our own solar system. The image appears to be a planet orbiting a young brown dwarf star (2M1207) about 230 light years away.

“Our discovery represents a first step towards opening a new field in astrophysics: the imaging and spectroscopic study of planetary systems,” says team member Anne-Marie Lagrange from the Grenoble Observatory in… read more

Speech recognition in silicon

September 14, 2004

Carnegie Mellon University and University of California and Berkeley researchers have received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to move automatic speech recognition from software into hardware.

The goal is to create a radically new silicon chip architecture that does speech recognition up to 1,000 times more efficiently than a conventional computer and that can be incorporated in portable devices like cell phones and PDAs.… read more

Pinpointing cancer fight

September 13, 2004

The National Cancer Institute has launched a five-year, $144 million project to investigate using nanotechnology to fight cancer.

Step Toward Universal Computing

September 13, 2004

Transitive Corp. of Los Gatos, California claims to have cracked one of most elusive goals of the software industry: a near-universal emulator (called QuickTransit) that allows software developed for one platform to run on any other, with almost no performance hit.

Global to Local: The Social Future as seen by six SF Writers

September 13, 2004

Cory Doctorow, Pat Murphy, Kim Stanley Robinson, Norman Spinrad, Bruce Sterling and Ken Wharton discuss the quality of life in the future.

FCC: Broadband Usage Has Tripled

September 13, 2004

The number of U.S. broadband subscribers has tripled in recent years, according to an FCC report.

The report also says that the number of users of broadband services (speeds exceeding 200 kbps in both directions) soared to 28 million in December 2003 from 9.6 million in 2001.

Forty-three percent of Internet-enabled households will have high-speed connections by the end of this year, according to IDC, up from 36… read more

Improved superconductors discovered

September 10, 2004

Scientists have demonstrated a simple and industrially scaleable method for improving the current densities of superconducting coated conductors in magnetic field environments by adding nanoscale defects. The discovery could increase the carrying capacity of superconducting wires and tapes by as much as 200 to 500 percent.

The advance is important for the development of powerful, energy-efficient superconducting electric motors and generators for civilian and military applications.

Magnetic fields… read more

Nanotechnology-based data storage on rise

September 10, 2004

Nanotechnology could yield billions of dollars of new data storage devices, based on exotic technologies, in just the next few years, with vastly larger memory and faster response times.

Experts predict a growth in the global market for such nano-based storage from $97 million in 2004 to $17.9 billion by 2008 and $65.7 billion by 2011.

Semiconductors Offer a New Way to Cut the Cord

September 10, 2004

Electronic devices will start to come equipped with a short-range, high-speed wireless radio technology known as ultrawideband because it offers rapid, cable-free transfer of large digital files.

Semiconductor-based ultrawideband transceivers from Freescale will provide 220 megabits per second by the end of the year.

Wired M.D.

September 9, 2004

Imagine a computer chip that can diagnose thousands of diseases from a single drop of blood, or detect any possible chemical or biological hazard.

Peidong Yang, a chemistry professor at the University of California Berkeley has grown exceptionally long, flexible nanowires from the same materials used in computer chips, like silicon and gallium nitride.

“Because of the unique dimension of these nanowires — thin and very long –… read more

Rise of the robot

September 9, 2004

Future Horizons, a semi-conductor analyst company based in Kent, in England, believes that by 2010 there will be 55.5 million robots, in a world market worth more than $75 billion — up from $6.13 billion last year.

But the real explosion in robotics is coming among the “immobots,” or “bots” — bits of software that are incorporated into larger objects. We’re getting glimpses of how good these can be:… read more

Team Hopeful in Its Effort to Recreate Primal Life

September 9, 2004

Scientists analyzing the genomes of microbes believe that they have reconstructed the pivotal event — the merger of two primitive bacterial-type cells into a eukaryote — that created the one-celled organism from which all animals and plants are descended, including people.

Because all living creatures are part of the single tree of life, it should in principle be possible to trace their lineages from the tree’s very root, the… read more

Magnet-making bacteria could target tumours

September 9, 2004

Bacteria that make tiny magnetic particles could be harnessed to create drugs that home in on a specific site in the body. The particles come ready-wrapped in their own biological membrane, so molecules such as anticancer drugs could easily be attached.

Doctors could then direct the drugs to a certain area of the body using magnets, says Andrew Harrison of the University of Edinburgh, UK. Confining the medicine where… read more

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