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Laser delivers DNA

July 19, 2002

Lasers can open a temporary doorway into cells so that DNA can get inside, researchers at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany report. This technique might hasten gene therapy by making it easier to get new genes into living cells without harming them.

Team demos ‘first quantum crypto prototype machine’

July 19, 2002

The “first fully integrated quantum cryptography prototype machine” has exchanged encryption keys across a 67km fiber optic network.

The advance was achieved by a team from the University of Geneva and Swiss electronics company id Quantique. In contrast to methods based on codes, the keys formed by quantum cryptography can, in principle, be completely uncrackable because the legitimate receiver of a message can test whether it has been intercepted… read more

Multilingual Machines

July 19, 2002

A new language-translation system called EliMT from Meaningful Machines in New York City uses a statistical technique in an attempt to make machine translation more accurate.

EliMT looks for words with a tendency to cluster together in databases of translations and can refine itself in either a fully automated or a human-assisted manner as more data are entered.

Quantum entanglement stronger than suspected

July 18, 2002

Pairs of photons linked by entanglement can pass through gold sheets without the entanglement being destroyed, in an experiment at Leiden University. The finding means quantum linking of particles is far more robust than scientists thought and could help them develop new ways of making quantum computers.

Ebola virus could be synthesised

July 18, 2002

The technique used to create the first synthetic polio virus, revealed last week, could be also used to recreate Ebola or the 1918 flu strain that killed up to 40 million people, according to experts.

The real worry is that bioterrorists could use the method to recreate viruses such as Ebola and smallpox.

Genetic algorithm tunes up public speakers

July 18, 2002

A new voice processing system could help you “evolve” your voice so it sounds the way you want it to. An algorithm analyses the voice signal to determine which aspects of it need to be enhanced or suppressed, modifying pitch, volume and speed to produce the required effect.

Next Dimension in Baby Watching

July 17, 2002

Clinicians and parents can watch real-time live-action ultrasound images of a fetus, thanks to GE Medical Systems’ Voluson 730 ultrasound system.

Some neurological defects may be apparent in the movement of the fingers.

One Terabyte On a 12-cm Disc

July 17, 2002

At InterOpto’02 – international optoelectronics exhibition hold in Chiba, Japan – OPTWARE Co. Ltd. demoed a super-high speed optical disk system that uses a hologram and stores 1 terabyte data in a 12-cm-CD-size disc, with 100Mbps – 1Gbps transfer rate. Available in 2003 as 19-inch rackmount, 2005 for PC.

To Err Is Human

July 17, 2002

The recent midair collision in Germany raises questions on the reliability of machine vs. human intelligence.

Ordered to climb higher by the electronic voice of the cockpit’s automatic collision detector, the pilot obeyed the befuddled ground controller instead. The airliner dove head-on into a DHL cargo jet — a tragedy that might have been averted if people put more faith in machines.

Blinded by Science

July 17, 2002

“Science fact is rapidly outstripping science fiction,” said Neil Gershenfeld, head of the new Center for Bits and Atoms at M.I.T.’s Media Laboratory.Examples include:

* A radio-signal message “teleported” in a laser beam

* Genetically altered goats whose milk contains a gene from the golden-orb weaving spider

* “Tooth phone”

* Using principles of insect locomotion and the suction qualities of geckos’ toes to develop lifelike… read more

It Slices! It Dices! Nanotube Struts Its Stuff

July 16, 2002

Nanotubes can be processed to acquire remarkable properties: fibers thinner than a human hair that can be woven as a cloth or into a 100-times stronger muscle, molecular-scale electronic circuits, low-cost TV displays, X-ray sources, heat sinks, and microscopic gears.

They’ve Seen the Future and Intend to Live It

July 16, 2002

The April

Human brain ‘paid off’ by long life

July 16, 2002

A theory based on an economic model has been applied to human evolution to explain long life spans. According to the model, the brain requires such an enormous investment of energy during childhood that human ancestors must have evolved long life spans to make that initial investment worthwhile.

Scientists build polio virus from scratch

July 16, 2002

Scientists have built the virus that causes polio from scratch in the lab, using only genetic sequence information from public databases and readily available technology. The finding raises the possibility that bioterrorists could use a similar approach to create devasting diseases without having to gain access to protected viral stocks.

A War of Robots

July 11, 2002

Since the United States military campaign began in Afghanistan, the unmanned spy plane has gone from a bit player to a starring role in Pentagon planning. Rather than the handful of “autonomous vehicles,” or A.V.’s, that snooped on Al Qaeda hideouts, commanders are envisioning wars involving vast robotic fleets on the ground, in the air and on the seas — swarms of drones that will not just find their foes,… read more

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