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Utopia 2.0

February 10, 2003

Dave Biggs, a systems manager at the University of British Columbia’s Sustainable Development Research Institute, helps people of different philosophical backgrounds forge a common future with an innovative Web-based game called QUEST, which lets tens of thousands of users model and reshape the future of the towns where they live.

Finding Life Away From Earth Will be Tough Task

February 9, 2003

Using basic techniques to search for the simplest evidence of ancient life on Earth is the best approach to finding evidence of life elsewhere, according to University of Washington paleontologist Roger Buick.

Buick said fossil evidence of early life, whether from Earth or somewhere else, could be so tiny that it is at the limits of -– or beyond -– current capabilities in optic microscopic resolution. Those life forms… read more

Optical Observation Of Single Molecules In Their Natural State

February 5, 2003

Scientists at Cornell University have for the first time optically isolated individual biological molecules in naturally occurring molecular concentrations and watched their complex behavior as they interact with a protein.

The technique, made possible by the ability of nanofabrication to produce a microchip with light-impeding holes with a diameter one-tenth of the wavelength of light, could promise a new method of DNA sequencing by which the genetic code can… read more

Mutant Bacteria Become Microscopic Motors

February 5, 2003

University of Arkansas researcher Steve Tung is incorporating living bacteria into microelectromechanical systems to form living motors for pumps and valves. These tiny bioMEMS devices could be used in systems for drug delivery or DNA sequencing.

News tip: Walter Purvis

Turning a Digital Database Into Local Radio

February 5, 2003

A database of thousands of samples plus digital audio processing enables radio D.J. Carson Daly to do a synthesized, virtual top-10 countdown show tailored to the phoned-in requests of radio listeners in 11 different cities.

Phrases like “coming in at No. 4″ were recorded once and stored in the database for reuse. The call letters and phone numbers of the 11 stations, in Mr. Daly’s voice, are automatically inserted.

Where Should Space Exploration Go From Here?

February 5, 2003

“Most of the punditry agrees that extending the shuttle program for many more years is a bad idea. So what are the practical alternatives? I’ve seen ideas for new spacecraft, a carbon nanotube space elevator, among other things….”

The robot gets connected

February 5, 2003

Mitsubishi has developed a robot on wheels that will become a house-sitter, caretaker, nurse and friend for the family.

It has cameras and voice and face recognition capabilities that allow the machine to search for and follow voices, faces and movements. It links to the Internet and can send its camera images to mobile phones and computers away from the home. It can also be programmed to send e-mail… read more

To the Moon in a Space Elevator?

February 5, 2003

The Columbia disaster could spur faster development of a radically different approach to reaching outer space: the space elevator.

Using lightweight, strong carbon nanotubes, it’s feasible to talk of building a meter-wide “ribbon” that would start on a mobile ocean platform at the equator and extend 62,000 miles up into space. It would ferry materials such as satellites and replacement parts for space stations — or even people –… read more

Shuttle disaster revives debate on merits of manned flight

February 5, 2003

The Columbia crash likely will accelerate the move toward more unmanned space exploration. “Any specific mission you can identify to do in space, you can design and build an unmanned space craft to do it more effectively, more economically and more safely,” said Alex Roland, a professor of history at Duke University and for eight years a historian at NASA.

Kurzweil responds to German newspaper on Shuttle disaster and Iraq

February 3, 2003

Frankfurter Allgemeine asked Ray Kurzweil if there would be any effects on the American psyche from the Columbia Shuttle disaster in relation to going to war with Iraq.

“Technology has always had a downside, from tragic failure as in today’s Shuttle disaster, to misappropriation as in the events of 9-11. Americans are hardly unique in their perception of this intertwined promise and peril of technology,” said Kurzweil.

“With… read more

The Future Needs Us!

February 3, 2003

Freeman Dyson has written a libertarian response to Michael Crichton’s novel Prey and Bill Joy’s advice to relinquish research in genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics.

Dyson is Professor of Physics Emeritus at the School of Natural Sciences of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

From Nanotechnology’s Sidelines, One More Warning

February 3, 2003

Tiny whiskers make huge memory storage

February 3, 2003

New, tiny magnetic sensors could help break a technical barrier to ushering in the next generation of computer disk storage capacity.

The sensors, filaments of nickel thinner than a wavelength of visible light, are capable of detecting extremely weak magnetic fields using a phenomenon called “ballistic magnetoresistance.”

The sensors also could be used to detect biomolecules.

Random chat solves distributed problem

January 31, 2003

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers have developed a scheme to solve a fundamental difficulty with distributed grid computing: coordinating the efforts of all computers.

The simple solution avoids the need to have a global supervisor, which would introduce scaling problems. Each individual computer makes occasional checks with randomly-chosen others, to ensure it is properly synchronized. The result is a self-stabilising effect on the system as a whole; processors that are… read more

New technology boom forecast

January 31, 2003

The availability of the Internet, coupled with a plethora of new ideas, dramatic increases in computer memory and artificial intelligence, will create a huge technology stimulus by the end of 2005, according to Ian Pearson, a senior analyst with British Telecom. This will be further enabled by the introduction of the semantic Web on the Internet in 2005 and expected improvement in the economy.

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