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Building a Better Cat

December 5, 2002

Hasbro’s FurReal Friends has become one of the season’s hottest toys, subordinating gadgetry to realistic cat attributes (such as fur) and behaviors.

When the cat is first turned on, it “wakes up,” stretching its neck and arching its back. It meows and then begins to monitor six scattered sensors that can tell if it is being touched on the head, neck, back or tail.

It… read more

Startup debuts ‘nanoimprint’ litho tool for 20-nm designs

December 4, 2002

Molecular Imprints Inc. plans to unveil next week “the world’s first step and flash imprint lithography” tool for use in processing a range of emerging devices at the 100-nm (0.10-micron) node, down to a few nanometers and at about one-tenth the cost of traditional projection systems.

The tool is geared for the emerging nanotechnology field.

The Disappearing Computer

December 4, 2002

“We are in the early years of a truly digital decade, in which the intelligence of the PC is finding its way into all kinds of devices, transforming them from passive appliances into far more significant and indispensable tools for everyday life,” says Bill Gates.

“Computers are becoming smaller, more powerful, less power-hungry and far less expensive, making it easier to build computing power and connectivity into everyday devices.… read more

Infant rat heads grafted onto adults’ thighs

December 4, 2002

Infant rats are being decapitated and their heads grafted onto the thighs of adult rats by researchers in Japan. The purpose is to investigate how the transplanted brain can develop and maintain function after prolonged total brain ischemia (no blood flow). The controversial research may have value in studies of brain injury in newborn babies.

A Few Good Toys

December 4, 2002

The Army’s goal is to come up with a uniform by 2008 with helmet that enhances hearing and protect ears from battle cacaphony and heads-up display built into the visor to display infrared images. A wheeled robot “mule” would follow a soldier around with equipment for purifying water and recharging batteries.

The Army warfighter of 2025 will have lightweight body armor made with nanomaterials to deflect a bullet with… read more

Xerox Says New Material Will Allow Plastic Transistors

December 3, 2002

Xerox researchers are developing an experimental polymer that can be used to make organic transistors on a plastic substrate and could be easier to manufacture at lower cost.

Immobots Take Control

December 3, 2002

Immobots (immobile robots), a new breed of cost-effective intelligent machines, are beginning to crop up in situations where autonomy is important, such as distant space probes, copiers, and cars.

Using “model-based programming,” these systems “have a commonsense model of the physics of their internal components and can reason from that model to determine what is wrong and to know how to act,” said Brian Williams, a professor at MIT’s… read more

Will China Blindside the West?

December 2, 2002

China’s transformation is trickling even into the poor interior, dragging all 1.3 billion people into the world economy. When historians look back on our time, I think they’ll focus on the resurgence of China after 500 years of weakness — and the way America was oblivious as this happened. For most of human history, China was the world’s largest economy and most advanced civilization. Then it stagnated after about 1450,… read more

Solaris movie: slow-paced scifi

December 2, 2002

Solaris, a movie adapted from the brilliant scifi novel by Stanislaw Lem and set on a space station, features shape-shifting reality, a mysterious planet that reads minds, and replicants, but lapses into slow-paced, soporific gloom.

Reviews:

New York Times
Slashdot
Salon
Chicago Sun-Times

Sales of Computer Chips Rise for Third Consecutive Quarter

December 2, 2002

Worldwide semiconductor sales increased to $12.52 billion in October, a 1.8 percent jump from September and a 20 percent rise from 2001.

Major segments: chips for personal computers and wireless devices, flash memory and digital signal processors.

First Baby of 2003 to Be a Clone?

December 2, 2002

Cloning enthusiast Severino Antinori claims the first cloned human will be born in January. The scientific community is skeptical and many researchers warn that a human clone would carry a high risk of death and deformity.

However, Michael West, CEO of Advanced Cell Technology, the leading private company in human therapeutic cloning, said, “All those stories about cloned animals being abnormal is just silliness.”

Quantum computing making ‘tremendous progress’

December 2, 2002

There has been what one researcher calls “tremendously rapid progress” in quantum computing in the last year. A device for overcoming quantum “decoherence” has been developed at the University of New South Wales, using two phosphorus atoms precisely embedded in a silicon crystal.

Other researchers at Innsbruck University in Austria have achieved a quantum computation using a single trapped calcium ion, the first calculation made on a system proven… read more

Listening to the Internet reveals best connections

December 2, 2002

The reliability and strength of internet connections can be assessed by converting the latency of a series of pulses into musical sounds, according to Chris Chafe, a cellist and director of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University in California.

Digital image stored in single molecule

December 2, 2002

University of Oklahoma researchers have found a way to store 1024 bits of information in 19 hydrogen atoms in a single liquid-crystal molecule. The data are stored in the interactions of the protons’ magnetic moments, activated by firing an electromagnetic pulse containing 1024 different radio frequencies (each with amplitude modulation on or off) at the molecule.

Researcher Bing Fung hopes the “molecular photography” technique could one day be used… read more

God Is the Machine

November 30, 2002

That life might be information, as biologists propose, is far more intuitive than the corresponding idea that hard matter is information as well. When we bang a knee against a table leg, it sure doesn’t feel like we knocked into information. But that’s the idea many physicists are formulating. The new science of digitalism says that the universe itself is the ultimate computer — actually the only computer. Weaving together… read more

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