science + technology news

Inventor plans ‘invisible walls’

June 15, 2004

The inventor of an “invisibility” cloak has said that his next project will be to develop the technology to allow people to see through walls.

The cloak works by projecting an image onto itself of what is behind the wearer, using a new material called “retro-reflectum” that allows you to see a three-dimensional image.

Phone Giants Are Projected to Dominate Internet Calls

June 15, 2004

As much as 30 percent of homes in the United States and Britain could subscribe to Internet-based phone services in the next three years if major telecommunications companies offer services similar in price and quality to traditional phone connections, according to a new survey.

The findings suggest that the market for low-priced Internet phone services will most likely be dominated by phone companies, cable providers, and possibly local phone… read more

Mutant human stem cell lines created

June 14, 2004

Immortal cell lines have been made from genetically flawed human embryos. Scientists hope they will help develop new therapies.

Microscopy moves to the picoscale

June 14, 2004

Physicists have made an atomic force microscope capable of imaging features less than 100 picometers across. The new “higher-harmonic” force microscope uses a single carbon atom as a probe and has a resolution that is at least three times better than that of traditional scanning tunnelling microscopes.

How it works: As the tungsten tip of the probe is made to oscillate at sub-nanometer amplitudes, the interaction between the tip… read more

Demo: Wearable Robots

June 14, 2004

University of Utah robotics expert Stephen Jacobsen has developed a powered “exoskeleton” that allows for carrying massive loads without getting tired.

Exoskeletons could enable soldiers to haul heavier equipment over greater distances, allow rescue workers to carry survivors more safely, and eventually help disabled people get around

Each leg has powered joints at the hip, knee, and ankle and about 20 sensors, all coordinated by an onboard PC… read more

A Computer That Has an Eye for Van Gogh

June 14, 2004

Researchers are developing pattern-analysis programs that can quickly examine hundreds of paintings to determine authenticity.

Dog’s verbal tricks probe origin of language

June 11, 2004

A pet dog with a “vocabulary” of 200 words has given scientists clues that some animals may have the comprehension necessary for language, even though they cannot actually talk.

SIA boosts forecast, touts nano effort

June 11, 2004

The U.S. electronics industry’s long-term prospects could dim unless a national effort to boost nanoelectronics gets underway, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association.

Many believe that the higher leakage currents that come with scaling CMOS devices will force the industry to adopt new technologies by 2020.

John Kelly, senior vice president for IBM’s Technology Group, called for the creation of a National Research Institute to lead a “massive,… read more

Bacterial Integrated Circuits

June 11, 2004
Basic architecture of a BBIC

University of Tennessee microbiologists have developed Bioluminescent Bioreporter Integrated Circuits (BBIC) that use chips to collect signals from specially altered bacteria to track pollution.

Now, with the support of NASA’s Office of Biological and Physical Research, they’re designing a version for sensing contaminants on spaceships.

Future uses could be as a bioterrorism monitor, household toxins detector, and diagnostic tool for doctors.

The Brain Starts to Change at Age 40

June 11, 2004

Researchers at Children’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School report that aging brains show significant differences in the behavior of several groups of genes that are important for brain function and that may contribute to the aging process.

One group of the genes plays a role in “synaptic plasticity” — the ability of the brain to make new connections so critical to learning and memory. Another group of… read more

Study Supports View That Ice Age Is Still Quite a Way Off

June 11, 2004

A group of climate and ice experts says it has new evidence that Earth is not even halfway through the current warm era.

The evidence comes from ice extracted from Antarctica, composed of thousands of ice layers formed as each year’s snowfall was compressed over time. It reveals many similarities between today’s atmospheric and temperature patterns and those of a prolonged warm interval that took place 430,000 years ago.

Human subjects play mind games

June 10, 2004

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have placed an electrocorticographic (ECoG) grid atop patients’ brains to gather motor signals that enable patients to play a computer game using only the signals from their brains.

The breakthrough is a step toward building biomedical devices that can control artificial limbs, some day, for instance, enabling the disabled to move a prosthetic arm or leg by thinking about it.

The… read more

Lithography makes a connection for nanowire devices

June 10, 2004

Harvard University researchers have used a photolithography technique to set up interconnects to nanowire devices. The method uses a statistical approach to ensure that a high proportion of the nanowires connects to the electrodes — there is no need to link the two components individually.

“We believe this is the first reported bottom-up assembly and device integration approach that is fully scalable in terms of device density and area… read more

Embryos Yield New Stem Cell Lines

June 10, 2004

Scientists at a Chicago fertility clinic isolate 12 new lines from genetically flawed human embryos. The research could lead to increased understanding of genetic diseases.

The embryos had gene mutations for two forms of muscular dystrophy, certain blood diseases and a cause of mental retardation — seven diseases in all.

Brain learns like a robot

June 10, 2004

Our brains are following the laws of artificial intelligence, researchers have found.

Baylor College of Medicine neuroscientists plotted brain activity on a graph to give a mathematical description of processes that underlie the formation of value judgements. The patterns they saw resembled those made by robots as they learn from experience.

close and return to Home