science + technology news

Hydrogen Cars

May 17, 2004

A Department of Energy report has found that nanotechnology could reduce the high costs of hydrogen cars by developing revolutionary ways of producing and storing hydrogen.

Hydrogen stores energy more effectively than batteries, burns twice as efficiently in a fuel cell as gasoline does in an engine, and produces a single waste product, water.

Bush Letter Sees Promise of Stem Cells

May 17, 2004

The Bush administration has acknowledged that additional lines, or colonies, of embryonic stem cells could speed scientific research, a statement that advocates for patients say could mark the first step toward easing limits on taxpayer financing for the studies.

Peek Into the Future at NextFest

May 17, 2004

Wired magazine’s NextFest featured possible future innovations such as a dancing humanoid robot, computer-controlled prosthetic limbs, intricate robot dinosaurs, and a projection system made from airborne water droplets.

FCC proposes that unused TV spectrum goes to wireless

May 17, 2004

The FCC has proposed that wireless devices and wireless broadband providers be able to operate in unused bands of broadcast television spectrum.

To ensure this doesn’t cause interference, the FCC proposed to require unlicensed devices to incorporate “smart radio” features that detect used spectrum.

Robots and the Rest of Us

May 14, 2004

The First International Symposium on Roboethics asked questions like “Who is to be held morally accountable for an unmanned war crime?” and “Are machines permitted to give orders?”

‘Nanobodies’ promising as anti-cancer medicines

May 13, 2004

Researchers are using a new class of extremely small antibodies named “nanobodies” with all the advantages of the conventional antibodies, but are small, very stable, soluble proteins that are much easier and less expensive to produce than conventional antibodies.

The researchers at VIB, Flanders Interuniversity Institute of Biotechnology have recently begun to evaluate nanobodies as anti-cancer medicines. The first results look promising: in experiments conducted on mice, a tumor… read more

Building Character, Wrinkle by Wrinkle, in a 3-D World

May 13, 2004

A 3-D graphics technique called normal mapping (aka polybump mapping) permits game designers to first create a richly detailed model, such as wrinkled clothing, by using millions of polygons. Then special software is used to map the rich detail onto the same object in a model made with far fewer polygons.

The result is a realistic-looking object that, because it is made up of few polygons, does not require… read more

McGreevey Signs Bill Creating Stem Cell Research Institute

May 13, 2004

Saying that the frontiers of medical science should not be hemmed in by politics, New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey signed legislation Wednesday to establish the nation’s first state-supported stem cell research facility.

The action made New Jersey the only state other than California to provide funds for the research, and came as the Bush administration faces increasing pressure to relax its restrictions.

Globe Grows Darker as Sunshine Diminishes 10% to 37%

May 13, 2004

Instruments around the world recorded a drop in sunshine reaching the surface of Earth, as much as 10 percent from the late 1950′s to the early 90′s, or 2 percent to 3 percent a decade.

In some regions like Asia, the United States and Europe, the drop was even steeper. In Hong Kong, sunlight decreased 37 percent.

Pollution dims sunlight in two ways, scientists theorize. Some light bounces… read more

Wearable Wireless Displays Are In Sight

May 13, 2004
A "heads up" display from MicroOptical

Tiny wearable screens–with diagonals of less than half an inch–are now available that project what looks like a lifesize screen floating in space just a couple of feet from your eyes.

These devices permit the wearer to remain totally engaged with their environment, able to see everything around them.

Future screens won’t stick out, but rather will be embedded into the frames and will be wirelessly connected to… read more

The Language of Pattern Recognition

May 13, 2004

Scientists and businesspeople may inhabit different cultures, but they’re looking for the same thing: patterns.

The trick is in reading the data points better or faster — or gathering more data — than anyone else. The winner is the one who needs the fewest clues to make out the big picture. They can extract more insight from a set of facts or generate data that reveal more about how… read more

Quantum trick may multiply CD capacity

May 13, 2004

A new method for “entangling” photons could one day allow information to be more densely stored on CDs and other memory devices.

By entangling the photons, they share a single quantum state, which makes them behave like a single photon with a shorter wavelength and higher energy.

This overcomes the diffraction limit (light cannot be used to see or inscribe features that are smaller than half its wavelength),… read more

U.S. government moves to build world’s fastest civilian computer

May 13, 2004

The Energy Department plans to build the world’s fastest civilian computer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Capable of 50 trillion calculations per second (50 teraflops), it will surpass the power of Japan’s Earth Simulator, now considered the world’s fastest, at 36 teraflops.

“This computer will propel the United States into global lead in high speed computers aimed at scientific discovery,” said Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

Cray, IBM,… read more

On-chip antenna allows for ultrasmall radio chip

May 12, 2004

A radio antenna less than one-tenth of an inch long on a computer chip is another step in building an “ultrasmall radio chip” — a transceiver, processor and battery all placed on a chip not much larger than a pinhead, say University of Florida researchers.

Applications of tiny, cheap and disposable radios include pairing them with tiny, inexpensive sensors as a way of saturating large areas with sensing and… read more

Big Blue says breakthrough means Millipede may crawl out of lab

May 12, 2004

IBM says its MEMS/nanotech combo storage effort, Millipede, is creeping toward reality — this time with its first working quantum storage prototype.

A Millipede device will hold 4,096 miniature read-write heads and is expected to debut in 2006 or 2007 at 5 to 10 gigabytes and go up from there. It will use the same size packaging as SD flash cards, making it compatible with digital cameras, mobile phones… read more

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