science + technology news

The space simulator — modeling the universe on a budget

June 23, 2004

UCLA astrophysicists working at Los Alamos National Laboratory have been using the Space Simulator, a cluster of roughly 300 computer processors to model some of the most intriguing aspects of the Universe.

The Space Simulator is a 294-node Beowulf cluster supercomputer with theoretical peak performance just below 1.5 teraflops.

In addition to simulating the structure and evolution of the Universe, the Space Simulator has been used to study… read more

Nano Killers Aim at Mini Tumors

June 23, 2004

Kereos is developing nanotechnologies to identify tumors that measure just 1 mm in diameter, then kill them with a tiny but precise amount of a chemotherapy drug.

The biomarker being used is a group of four proteins that signal that a tumor needs to recruit blood vessels, a process called angiogenesis.

Rise of the Machines

June 23, 2004

The film I, Robot takes place in Chicago in the year 2035, just as the NS-5 automated domestic assistant comes to market.

The all-purpose personal robot is expected to have such wide appeal that it will shift the ratio of humans to bots from about 15 to 1 to 5 to 1. But the release is tarnished when an NS-5 named Sonny is accused of murder.

Detective Del… read more

NASA Spaces on Energy Solution

June 23, 2004

Scientists from around the world will soon gather to discuss how satellites could be used to address the world’s energy needs by relaying solar power to Earth. But the U.S. government’s decision to abandon research in 2001 could prevent the alternative energy source from ever seeing the light of day.

The Future of Business Intelligence

June 22, 2004

Within three years, companies and governmental agencies will be able to successfully run analytics within a centralized data warehouse containing 1 petabyte or more of data — without performance limitations.

Over the next five years, automated banking systems will become increasingly complex by considering customer financial status and wealth, transactional history, and even family and business relationships, to produce complex man/machine interactions that resemble artificial intelligence.

Oxygen burst: MIT is readying new technologies that put humans in the center of computing

June 22, 2004

MIT’s Project Oxygen — so named because founder Michael Dertouzos believed computers should be as invisible to their users as the air they breathe — has begun to bear technology fruit.

Last week, in a series of demonstrations at MIT’s futuristic Stata Center, researchers showed off a new reconfigurable microchip that enables a mobile device to change, chameleon-like, from cellphone to hand-held computer to music player; a 1,020-microphone array… read more

Manned Private Craft Reaches Space in a Milestone for Flight

June 22, 2004

A veteran civilian test pilot on Monday became the first human to reach space in a privately developed program, guiding a tiny rocket ship more than 60 miles above California.

“The flight today opens a new chapter in history, making space access within the reach of ordinary citizens,” said Patti Grace Smith, the associate administrator for commercial space transportation for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Your Lapel Is Ringing

June 22, 2004

Wrist-watch phones, minute handsets woven into clothes, and more are already on sale in Asia. Expect to see them in the U.S. over the next 12 months.

You’ll see cell phones that are cleverly disguised in watches, bracelets, jacket lapels, backpacks — any imaginable place that will make gabbing a fashion statement.

NTT DoCoMo is developing a technology called FingerWhisper that uses a hand’s bone structure. When a… read more

Earth Simulator still supercomputer champion

June 22, 2004

NEC’s Earth Simulator is still the fastest supercomputer in the world, according to the latest “TOP500” list, announced Monday.

At about half that rate is Thunder, built at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, followed by ASCI Q, from Los Alamos National Laboratory. A Chinese supercomputer made the top ten for the first time this year.

Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee, who maintains the list, and… read more

They make mistakes ? they’re only inhuman

June 21, 2004

The Stepford Wives and I, Robot films are cautionary tales of the perils of allowing humans to be stripped of their humanity, which happens when you replace emotional people with thinking but unfeeling machines.

I.B.M. Decides to Market a Blue Streak of a Computer

June 21, 2004

I.B.M. intends to announce this week its plans for a commercial version of the Blue Gene/L supercomputer, intended to study protein-folding.

Two new Blue Gene/L prototype supercomputers are ranked in the top 10, as the fourth fastest and the eighth fastest.

A Blue Gene/L machine that I.B.M. is building for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory should be up and running next year. According to I.B.M. and… read more

Human embryo research plan is first of its kind

June 18, 2004

If approved, a team of British researchers plans to perform therapeutic cloning of human embryos. They will be used as sources of embryonic stem cells, which have the potential to form any of the hundreds of different tissues found in the body.

The researchers hope their work will lead to huge advances in medicine, among them novel treatments for disease.

Q&A With MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte

June 18, 2004

According to Nicholas Negroponte, founding chairman of MIT’s Media Laboratory, new products or services likely to make the biggest splash will be peer-to-peer “in every form conceivable: cell phones without towers, sharing leftover food, bartering, etc. Furthermore, you will see micro-wireless networks, where everyday devices become routers of messages that have nothing to do with themselves.”

Strange food for thought

June 17, 2004

The brain-gain revolution is already under way. But will these “neural enhancement” drugs turn us into Einsteins or Frankensteins?

Artificial Intelligence: Animation Finally Gets NextGen Technology

June 17, 2004

New animation technology applies artificial intelligence to character animation.

In video games, characters can learn to compete and make it more challenging for the user. In movies, animators can automate characters in scenes so they don’t have to tell each character what to do.

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