science + technology news

Let a Thousand Reactors Bloom

September 3, 2004

China plans to build 30 nuclear reactors by 2020, but a team of Chinese scientists says it needs a lot more: 300 gigawatts of nuclear output, not much less than the 350 gigawatts produced worldwide today.

For safety, China’s new meltdown-proof HTR-10 reactor design would use inert helium instead of superhot water.

Hydrogen Fuel Closer to Fruition

September 3, 2004

A new “solar hydrogen” method could produce cheap hydrogen from water in seven years, using a commercial solar panel

Is Portable Video Ready for Its Close-Up?

September 2, 2004

Microsoft has launched the Windows Mobile Portable Media Center, a software design for an audio player with a color video screen — a sort of video iPod.

CinemaNow will offer 200 movies and television programs, coded for the Windows devices, that must be downloaded into a Windows XP computer before being transferred to a Portable Media Center.

Computers equipped with television tuner cards can also record programs and… read more

Domestic bliss through mechanical marvels?

September 2, 2004

The force driving the development of personal robots– and what will eventually create demand for them in the marketplace — is aging baby boomers, who will be increasingly unable to care for themselves or their homes.

Robot experts predict that a decade from now, boomers might buy a specialized R2D2-like robot to clean the kitchen and another health care ‘bot to monitor vital signs and make sure pills are… read more

Virtual Humans Proposed As Space Travelers

September 2, 2004

A partnership between in-the-flesh space voyagers and virtual humans may make sense for a humans-to-Mars mission and other manned space exploration, says author Peter Plantec.

A virtual human could be set up to monitor highly complex systems in real time. It can interface with the human sojourner, easing that person’s workload, Plantec advised, by monitoring onboard systems and automatically make whatever critical adjustments it has been authorized to do.

Mysterious signals from 1000 light years away

September 2, 2004

A radio signal designated “SHGb02+14a” seems to be coming from a point between the constellations Pisces and Aries, where there is no obvious star or planetary system within 1000 light years. And the transmission is very weak.

It has a frequency of about 1420 megahertz (one of the main frequencies at which hydrogen, the most common element in the universe, readily absorbs and emits energy).

Alien Contact More Likely by ‘Mail’ Than Radio, Study Says

September 2, 2004

A new study suggests it is more energy-efficient to communicate across interstellar space by sending physical material than beams of electromagnetic radiation.

Beams of radiation are cone-shaped and grow in size as they travel outward, meaning the great majority of their energy is wasted.

A far more energy-efficient — although slower — way of communicating over great interstellar distances is to send a physical object, which can hold… read more

Scientific Method Man

September 2, 2004

The “verifier” method — used by psychologist Gordon Rugg to reveal the Voynich manuscript as a hoax — may revolutionize the scientific method and help solve seemingly unsolvable mysteries, such as the origins of the universe or the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

The new method detects erroneous reasoning based on pattern-matching, bias, lack of familiarity with other fields of science, differing definitions of key terms, and other factors. It… read more

First practical plastic magnets created

September 1, 2004

The world’s first plastic magnet to work at room temperature has passed the elementary test of magnetism.

One of the most likely applications is magnetic coating of computer hard disks, which could lead to a new generation of high-capacity disks.

Plastic magnets could also have important medical applications, for example in dentistry or the transducers used in cochlear implants. Organic magnetic materials are less likely to be rejected… read more

Cloning from the dead claim attacked

September 1, 2004

Viable embryos have been created from dead people by fusing their cells with empty cow eggs, a controversial fertility scientist, Panayiotis Zavos, claimed on Tuesday.

However, the claims were immediately met with both revulsion and scepticism from the UK scientific community.

Neptune-Class Worlds Found

September 1, 2004

Astronomers using telescopes in Hawaii, California and Texas have found the first Neptune-size planets outside our solar system, far smaller than any planets previously detected.

The near simultaneous discovery of these smallest-yet planets indicates they could be common, said Geoff Marcy, a planet hunter from UC Berkeley.

Kurzweil to keynote 1st Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology

August 31, 2004

The Foresight Institute announced today that Ray Kurzweil will keynote the 1st Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology: Research, Applications, and Policy, October 22-24, 2004 at the Crystal City Marriott Hotel, Washington DC area.

The conference is dedicated to in-depth exploration and discussion of research status, disruptive applications, and policy issues in nanotechnology.

Kurzweil’s keynote, “An Exponentially Expanding Future from Exponentially Shrinking Technology,” will describe how fast we… read more

Mini Supercomputers, Power Misers

August 31, 2004

Orion Multisystems plans to create “personal supercomputers” aimed at researchers, designers and other users of high-performance computers.

A key innovation is to control the power consumption so that the whole system can be run from a standard electrical socket.

Orion’s DS-96 deskside Cluster Workstation is capable of handling 150 Gflops (150 billion calculations per second) on a regular basis and 300 Gflops peak and hard-disk capacity of up… read more

Intel’s Next-Gen Chips

August 31, 2004

The world’s leading chipmaker is pushing the semiconductor manufacturing envelope by shrinking transitor size from 90 nanometers to 65.

The reduction allows Intel to cut the chip size of existing designs in half, reducing cost and power usage. Or by keeping the chip the same size, Intel could double the number of transistors in a given die area, allowing for new circuit capabilities and improved performance.

The Ups and Downs of Nanobiotech

August 30, 2004

Ten years from now, a visit to the doctor could be quite different than it is today. How different? Imagine tiny particles that “cook” cancers from the inside out; “smart bomb” drugs that detonate only over their targets; and finely structured scaffolds that guide tissue regeneration.

Academic labs, small startups, and giant pharmaceutical companies are working to turn these proofs-of-principle into approved therapies.

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