science + technology news

Alarm Sounded on Global Warming

June 16, 2004

Ten of the nation’s top climate researchers warned yesterday that policymakers must act soon to address the dangers associated with global warming, which they described as a looming threat that will hit hardest and soonest at the world’s poor and at farmers.

The academics emphasized that if international leaders do not act soon, they will not have the option of reversing global warming.

Researchers, including Chris Field of… read more

Capturing Thinking As It Happens

June 15, 2004

A team led by UC San Diego neurobiologists has developed a method of interpreting brain EEG signals that allows for real time visualization of thought and action. It has the potential to advance our understanding of disorders like epilepsy and autism.

Thought processes occur on the order of milliseconds but current brain imaging techniques, such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and traditional EEGs, are averaged over seconds. This provides… read more

Gene doping

June 15, 2004

Gene therapy for restoring muscle lost to age or disease is poised to enter the clinic. But elite athletes
are eyeing it to enhance performance.

Treatments that regenerate muscle, increase its strength, and protect it from degradation, degradation will soon be entering human clinical trials for musclewasting disorders.

Among these are therapies that give patients a synthetic gene, which can last for years, producing high amounts of indetectable,… read more

Computing needs a Grand Challenge

June 15, 2004

Sir Tony Hoare, British computing pioneer and senior scientist at Microsoft Research, believes the computer industry needs a “grand challenge” to inspire it.

By 2020, Hoare predicts, the world will contain 100 times as many computers as it does now, each with 100 times as much power and memory, all interconnected. And to best understand this world, he says, we should not think of it as containing many discrete… read more

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.

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