science + technology news

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.

Science at the Edge, edited by John Brockman

August 30, 2004

A stellar cast of thinkers tackles the really big questions facing scientists in a book developed from pieces that first appeared on the web forum Edge.

A leading role is given to the computer and the potential for machine intelligence.

The cutting-edge thinkers include Ray Kurzweil on the Singularity, Steven Pinker on human nature, Martin Rees on the future of the universe, Rodney Brooks on robots that have… read more

Jaw transplant allows man to chew after nine years

August 30, 2004

Doctors at the University of Kiel in Germany have grown a jaw bone from stem cells in the patient’s own bone marrow implanted into a layer of muscle on the patient’s right shoulder.

Biggest bets in the universe unveiled

August 30, 2004

British-based bookmaker Ladbrokes is taking bets on whether the five biggest physics experiments in the world will come good before 2010: life on Titan, gravitational waves, the Higgs boson, cosmic ray origins, and nuclear fusion.

Computers Can Argue, Researcher Claims

August 30, 2004

Agent-based negotiation is a significant addition to our understanding of how to automate the sorts of complex behaviors that — until now — have been exhibited only by people.

Polyester enables next generation of hard disk drives

August 29, 2004

The next generation of hard disk drives will require lubricant coatings that can hold up to faster speeds and denser data. Perfluoropolyethers (PFPEs), the current industry standard, are running up against the polymer’s limits in protecting hard drives against daily wear and tear.

So University of Illinois Ph.D. candidate Wei Xiao developed an entirely new lubricant called SHP — sterically hindered polyester, based on inexpensive and abundant polyester.

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