science + technology news

Prions speed evolution

August 17, 2004

Prions could help organisms adapt to tough situations by subtly altering the proteins manufactured by a cel1. The discovery backs the idea that proteins as well as DNA are vital in driving evolution.

A yeast prion can change the way that cells behave. In their infectious form, the prions sometimes helped the yeast to adapt, changing their rates of survival when they were grown in various nutrients or temperatures.

Trying to Take Technology to the Masses

August 16, 2004

Pioneering AI researcher Raj Reddy plans to unveil at yearend the PCtvt, a $250 wirelessly networked personal computer intended for the four billion people around the world who live on less than $2,000 a year.

Breakthrough Nanotechnology Will Bring 100 Terabyte 3.5-inch Digital Data Storage Disks

August 16, 2004

100 terabytes of data on a 3.5-inch disk may be possible with a new technique for creating an “Atomic Holographic DVR” disc drive within five years, priced at $570 to $750 with the replacement discs for $45.

Faster Wi-Fi spec suggested

August 16, 2004

A consortium of networking companies calling itself WWiSE (World Wide Spectrum Efficiency) is proposing a new 802.11n standard that will allow for throughput rates of up to 100 megabits per second.

802.11g, the current fastest Wi-Fi standard, has optimal rates of 54mbps but average rates of about half that.

Computers with multiple personalities

August 16, 2004

“Virtualization software” allows computers to run multiple operating systems and save money by using one computer to do the work of several.

Protein-Based Nanoactuators

August 13, 2004

Protein-based nanoactuators can now be controlled rapidly and reversibly by thermoelectric signals, emulating how muscle tissue contracts or relaxes.

The protein motors could power linear motion of nanowires for uses such as bioanalysis chips and gene delivery.

When machines breed

August 13, 2004

Evolvable hardware — machines that design themselves — can get the job done, even if humans have no idea how they do it.

Using evolutionary processes to optimize machine performance is nothing new. What is new, however, is the application of evolutionary processes in the hardware realm. Thanks to reconfigurable devices such as the field programmable gate array (FPGA) and increasing computational power, researchers are suddenly free to let… read more

Biology Enters Fourth Dimension

August 13, 2004

A new microscope that lets scientists peer deeper into living organisms than ever before and in real time has been developed by researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.

The technology, called Selective Plane Illumination Microscopy, or SPIM, allows scientists to study relatively large (2 to 3 millimeter) live organisms from many different angles, under real conditions and with minimal disruption to the specimen.

SPIM shines a very… read more

Britain Grants License to Make Human Embryos for Stem Cells

August 12, 2004

British regulators have issued the country’s first license to use cloning techniques to generate a human embryo to produce stem cells that might be used for the treatment of disease.

Emerging field shifts perceptions of human, machine limits

August 11, 2004

Canesta, a pioneering company in the perception technology field, has introduced a commercial development kit for its 3-D-sensor machine vision chip.

Applications using Canesta’s electronic perception technology include size and depth detection, image segmentation, object classification, object tracking and location analysis, and human interaction.

For example, the technology could be used to sense the location, size and shape of a person. That would allow for making an airbag… read more

Probe Set to Test Einstein Theory

August 11, 2004

NASA’s Gravity Probe B spacecraft will test Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Gravity Probe B will test two concepts of the theory: that Earth — and almost any body in space — creates a dimple in the universe’s space-time fabric; and that the rotation of the Earth twists that fabric.

It will attempt to measure those effects by aligning itself with a distant star and then measuring tiny… read more

Volcano could trigger tsunami disaster for New York

August 11, 2004

A collapsing volcano could trigger a vast tidal wave capable of wiping New York, Washington and Miami off the map, warn geologists.

Geologists are concerned that an unstable flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma in the Canaries is in danger of sliding into the sea.

If shaken loose by a volcanic eruption, the huge slab of rock would send a tsunami more… read more

Portable Internet to Be 10 Times Faster

August 11, 2004

Starting next year, South Koreans will be able to access the Internet via cell phone at 1 Mbps, ten times faster than they can currently.

RNA could form building blocks for nanomachines

August 11, 2004

Researchers have coaxed RNA to self-assemble into 3-D arrays, a potential backbone for nanotech scaffolds. These RNA structures can form a wider variety of shapes than double-stranded DNA can and are easier to manipulate than many protein alternatives.

Peixuan Guo of Purdue University and his colleagues report the findings in the August 11, 2004, issue of the journal Nano Letters.

By mixing the custom-made RNA strands with other… read more

Nature ‘mankind’s gravest threat’

August 10, 2004

Giant tsunamis, super volcanoes and earthquakes could pose a greater threat than terrorism, scientists claim.

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