science + technology news

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.

Genetic fingerprints will help extend life

June 9, 2004

A drop of blood from a thumbprick will be enough to test 10,000 elements of our health a decade or two from now, says a leading scientist.

Dr Leroy Hood told the Bio 2004 conference in San Francisco yesterday that scientists would soon be able to spot the genetic fingerprints of most ailments by running that drop of blood through a computer.

“My prediction is that, if this… read more

Nanotechnology pioneer slays ‘grey goo’ myths

June 9, 2004

Eric Drexler, known as the father of nanotechnology, today publishes a paper that admits that self-replicating machines are not vital for large-scale molecular manufacture, and that nanotechnology-based fabrication can be thoroughly non-biological and inherently safe.

“Runaway replicators, while theoretically possible according to the laws of physics, cannot be built with today’s nanotechnology toolset,” says Dr. Drexler, writing in the Institute of Physics journal Nanotechnology. “Self-replicating machines aren’t necessary for… read more

New Service by TiVo Will Build Bridges From Internet to the TV

June 9, 2004

New TiVo technology will allow users to download movies and music from the Internet to the hard drive on their video recorder, bypassing traditional cable, satellite and broadcast television services.

Cell Repair Nanorobot Design And Simulation

June 8, 2004

A new Russian study by Svidinenko Yuri simulates cell-repair nanorobots. Yuri has generated several models based on the book Nanomedicine by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

Brain-mimicking circuits to run navy robot

June 8, 2004

Researchers are building electronic circuits that mimic the brain, producing an agile controller that can maneuver robot vehicles with speed and precision.

The new technology imitates the olivocerebellar circuit, which controls balance and limb movement.

Rise of the Machines

June 8, 2004

Visionaries are making robots that can perform music, rescue disaster victims and even explore other planets on their own.

Nanotech Memory Chips Might Soon Be a Reality

June 8, 2004

Nantero plans to create NRAM, a high-density nonvolatile random access memory chip using nanotubes, on a standard semiconductor production line.

Like today’s flash and SRAM memories, carbon nanotube designs can maintain data when power is turned off; but they can also operate faster and on less power than flash memory, and are much cheaper and more compact than SRAM.

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