science + technology news

DNA fingerprinting ‘no longer foolproof’

September 9, 2004

The genetic profiles held by police for criminal investigations are not sophisticated enough to prevent false identifications, according to Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, the father of DNA fingerprinting.

The increasing number of records being held on the British police database — currently about 2.5 million — meant that having only 10 markers per person was no longer foolproof.

He suggested 15 or 16 markers to reduce the chances… read more

Selective Shutdown Protects Nets

September 8, 2004

A researcher from the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Germany has shown that it might be possible to suppress cascade failures triggered by attacks on large Internet and power-grid network nodes by shutting down peripheral nodes.

The Evolution Will Be Mechanized

September 8, 2004

“A singularity looks great in special f/x, but is there any substance in the idea?” asks writer Bruce Sterling.

“When Vinge first posed the problem, he was concerned that the imminent eruption in artificial intelligence would lead to ubermenschen of unfathomable mental agility. More than a decade later, we still can’t say with any precision what intelligence is, much less how to build it. If you fail to define… read more

Intel Tests Long-Range Wireless Chip

September 8, 2004

Intel is testing a new chip, dubbed “Rosedale,” designed for long-distance, high-speed, wireless Internet access (WiMax).

WiMax allows users to access the Internet wirelessly across a city or rural area. Intel is looking to put its WiMax chips into laptops and other mobile devices. The final version of the WiMax chips will be released within the next 12 months.

Agents of Change

September 7, 2004

Autonomous agents are still in the labs but could eventually play a critical role in areas ranging from setting market prices to creating more resilient networks.

Autonomous agents have the potential to become an extraordinarily powerful technology, with the capacity to learn, experiment and act independent of human control. Agents could ultimately improve productivity, increase software reliability and change the operation of markets, particularly supply chains.

Brain research? Pay it no mind

September 7, 2004

The human brain is so complex it simply defies the same kind of analysis that scientists devote to subatomic particles or human immune systems.

The promise of personalized medicine

September 7, 2004

A new technology developed at IBM could bring the promise of personalized medicine one step closer to reality.

The “Genomic Messaging System” (GMS) uses a “smart” DNA stream that contains a patient’s entire medical record in compressed form as well as genetic information. The DNA stream could potentially even house images like MRIs and X-rays.

The objective is to allow researchers to see correlations between human disease and… read more

New 3D self-assembly methods could lead to 10 terabyte chips

September 7, 2004

Two new patented methods for self-assembly of three-dimensional nanostructures could lead to the development of a chip that can hold 10 terabits of information — about 500 times the storage density available today.

The two methods involve using pulsed laser deposition, which works with a variety of materials and reduces imperfections. The sequential growth method uses the laser pulses to ablate successive targets to create layers of nanodots in… read more

World’s Largest Working Computing Grid

September 7, 2004

This week, UK particle physicists will demonstrate the world’s largest working computing Grid. With more than 6,000 computers at 78 sites internationally, the Large Hadron Collider Computing Grid (LCG) is the first permanent, worldwide Grid for doing real science.

The Grid is designed to handle the expected 15 petabytes of data that will be produced each year by particle physics experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. By… read more

Internet’s Speed Increases As It Turns 35 Years Old

September 7, 2004

Teams from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and CERN have sent 859 gigabytes of data in less than 17 minutes across 16,000 kilometers of computer networks at roughly 6.63 gigabits per second on the super high-speed Internet2 network, used for education and research.

Bending sound the ‘wrong’ way sharpens scans

September 7, 2004

Ultrasound scans could soon be much more detailed, thanks to a novel material that can bend sound waves the “wrong” way. This property, known as negative refraction, means the material should bring sound waves to a focus far sharper than today’s medical scanners.

Maths holy grail could bring disaster for internet

September 7, 2004

Mathematicians could be on the verge of solving two separate million-dollar problems.

If Louis de Branges really has cracked the

Finally, a Car That Talks Back

September 3, 2004

Honda will soon become the first auto manufacturer to include, as standard equipment in some models, technology that enables drivers to converse with their cars about where to go and how to get there.

Using voice-recognition and text-to-speech technology from IBM, the 2005 Acura RL, available in October, and Honda Odyssey, available in September, will produce maps and “speak” turn-by-turn directions from the navigation system.

Search and rescue robots

September 3, 2004

Robotics researchers are focusing on using small robots to venture where humans cannot go to search for survivors of earthquakes, collapsed mines and other disasters.

The future of nanotechnology

September 3, 2004

Eric Drexler’s vision of self-assembling nanoscale machines will be difficult to achieve because of low Reynolds numbers, ubiquitous Brownian motion, and strong surface forces, says physicist Richard Jones of the University of Sheffield.

As an alternative way to achieve “radical nanotechnology,” he proposes two methods: using biological components, such as molecular motors and incorporating them into artificial nanostructures; and bionanotechnology, using some of the design methods of biology and… read more

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