science + technology news

I, Robocop

June 30, 2004

In the forthcoming film “I, Robot,” Actor Will Smith plays a police detective investigating a murder allegedly committed by a robot.

Q: I understand Proyas asked the entire cast to read Ray Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines. What did you think of the book?

A: Actually, the Wachowski brothers turned me onto it first. Kurzweil has an interesting, kind of twisted look at the potentiality of the… read more

Fractals show machine intentions

June 29, 2004

Some day machines could build themselves, which means they might not necessarily be designed to communicate with people. This could make interacting with machines difficult.

One solution is to give people a means of interpreting machines that’s similar to the way we read each other’s body language. A team of researchers has proposed a way to do so that combines fractals with algorithms that automatically cluster data.

Fragments boost 3D TV

June 29, 2004

The ultimate in video is a system that renders three-dimensional images in real-time and lets the viewer change viewpoints at will.

It takes a lot of network bandwidth to transmit that much information, however. A system that turns two-dimensional pixels from a camera array into a set of independent points in space promises to lighten the load.

Computing Gets Physical

June 29, 2004

Gadgets that let you control computers with a wave or a nod could offer an escape from keyboards and mice.

Gesture recognition technology aims to become this millennium’s remote control — a fluid, freeing means of interacting with all the digital stuff around us. Think Minority Report.

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News Analysis: The Tera of the Internet

June 29, 2004

The next generation of routers, with speeds approaching 100 terabits/second, will be the foundation for every last digital service we can imagine (and some that we can’t).

Tech Science Out on a Limb

June 29, 2004

From tiny memory chips to fanless cooling systems, cutting-edge researchers are investigating new ways to make computing devices smaller, faster and cheaper.

From organic computer memory cells to super-nanocapacitors, many of the most promising lines of research involve molecular scale technology.

What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us

June 28, 2004

Privacy advocates are hindering development of sophisticated pattern-analysis and data mining tools for detecting terrorist networks, say some experts.

Corporate Servers Spreading IE Virus [Updated]

June 28, 2004

ZDNet is reporting that corporate web servers are infecting visitors’ PCs.

The combination of two unpatched IE security holes and hacked corporate websites is apparently distributing malware via several high-credibility sites. ZDNet says users have “few options” other than alternative browsers or platforms.”

A reader points out Microsoft’s What You Should Know page. Here’s the short version for avoiding this Critical severity attack: you must install add-on software,… read more

Alzheimer’s: Beyond Stem Cells

June 25, 2004

Embryonic stem cells aren’t the most promising source to find treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, researchers say. Other possibilities, such as treating buildups of protein in the brain, will likely reap rewards faster.

Cancer Drugs Aim at More Targets

June 25, 2004

In a “cluster bomb” approach, drug companies are doing clinical trials of a new generation of cancer drugs that can attack cancer cells on multiple fronts and come in the form of pills, whereas most cancer drugs are delivered intravenously.

But some worry about side effects of the new therapy.

Cingular, Sprint PCS, Verizon in cellular data arms race

June 24, 2004

Widespread national coverage for cellular high-speed data service edged closer to reality as Cingular Wireless and Sprint PCS Group announced broadband deployments over the next two years and Verizon Wireless reaffirmed its plans to offer high-speed data in a third of its networks by year’s end.

Sprint plans average speeds of between 300K and 500Kbit/sec, with peak of 2.4Mbps in select markets; Cingular plans up to 14.4Mbit/sec; and Verizon… read more

Microsoft Patents Body-As-Network

June 24, 2004

Microsoft has received patent No. 6,754,472 for a “method and apparatus for transmitting power and data using the human body.”

Microsoft proposes linking portable devices such as watches, keyboards, displays, and speakers connected to the body via electrodes.

A variety of devices could be powered from a single power source carried on the body, via multiple power supply signals at different frequencies. Data and audio signals could also… read more

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

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