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Fossil Protein Breakthrough Will Probe Evolution

November 12, 2002

The first complete sequencing of protein from a fossil bone suggests that proteins can survive for millions of years – long enough to probe the evolution of many extinct species, including the ancestors of modern humans. Pieces of DNA large enough to sequence using sensitive amplification techniques can survive for 100,000 years in permafrost. But osteocalcin, a structural protein that bonds directly to the minerals of bone, can survive for… read more

Good Morning, Dave . . .

November 12, 2002

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is accepting research proposals to develop a “cognitive system” that would reason, learn from experience and adapt to surprises, be aware of its behavior and explain itself, anticipate different scenarios, and predict and plan for novel futures.

“It’s all moving toward this grand vision of not putting people in harm’s way,” says Raymond Kurzweil. “If you want autonomous weapons, it’s helpful for… read more

Chemists Build Body Fluid Battery

November 11, 2002

Our bodies could one day power their own electronic implants. Chemists have developed a miniature battery that could run on bodily fluids to drive sensors to monitor our health. The biofuel cell converts directly into electricity the energy produced when glucose reacts with oxygen during normal metabolism.

Why it’s getting easier to talk to your PC

November 11, 2002

Human-quality speech recognition–good enough to let your computer reliably transcribe a newspaper read out loud–is now about a decade away, says Xuedong Huang, general manager of Microsoft’s .Net Speech Technologies. Freestyle (conversational) speech recognition will take 19 years.

Fate of Moore’s Law tops ISSCC agenda

November 11, 2002

We have at least another decade of exponential growth of semiconductor integration, Gordon Moore is expected to argue at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco on Feb. 10.

I.B.M. Advance Connects Layers of Tiny Wafers

November 11, 2002

IBM researchers plan to announce on Monday a new approach to building three-dimensional integrated circuits using thin (.5 micron) slices of a circuit. The technique would allow for interconnecting separate layers directly at thousands or even hundreds of thousands of points, increasing chip density and communication speeds.

‘Little’ Big Bang Stumps Scientists

November 9, 2002

Smashing together atoms to produce conditions similar to those in the first cosmic moments, scientists came up with some startling results that could force them to reexamine their understanding of the universe.

Exotic particles streamed from the hot plasma soup in surprising patterns, leading the researchers to question collision models intended to shed light on the strong nuclear force, one of the fundamental forces acting on subatomic particles.

Forget the Files and the Folders: Let Your Screen Reflect Life

November 7, 2002

“Operating systems are lapsing into senile irrelevance,” says computer scientist David Galernter. What is needed is a universal information structure, a narrative stream that “reflects the shape of your life, not the shape of a 1940′s Steelcase file cabinet.”

Galernter has developed such a system, called Scopeware Vision, and has made a beta version available for free download (requires Windows 2000 or XP with Outlook or Outlook… read more

The Eyes Have It — For Now

November 6, 2002

Even as homeowners gleefully wire up their homes with inexpensive Web cams, even as employers put up closed-circuit TV and cities install surveillance equipment on everything from traffic intersections to school buses, a small group of skeptics is beginning to question the effects of all this technology. They ask: Will you trust your neighbor in the 21st century? Or in putting up a security camera — just to make sure… read more

Nanotechnology and Mass Destruction

November 6, 2002

A recent essay in Disarmament Diplomacy proposed an ‘Inner Space Treaty’ to ban all nanotechnology research because of fears it might lead to nanowarfare and “Grey Goo” scenarios.

André Gsponer concurs with the need for a treaty but argues that the timetable needs to be moved up. He argues that, with the ban on nuclear testing, the development of “fourth-generation nuclear weapons” is dependent upon MEMS and… read more

Drone plane kills terror suspects

November 6, 2002

An unpiloted “drone” plane armed with anti-tank missiles and remotely operated by the CIA is reported to have killed six people in Yemen.

The US military is currently developing even more sophisticated drones and remotely operated weapons. BAE Systems is developing small, directed energy pulse weapons designed to be deployed on military drones, as well as high-power radio frequency and high-power microwave weapons that can jam communications and damage… read more

Genes, Neurons, and the Internet Found to Have Some Identical Organizing Principles

November 5, 2002

Scientists have found several organizational patterns — “network motifs” — underlying genetic, neural, technological, and food networks.

The mathematical technique, first proposed by Dr. Uri Alon, of the Weizmann Institute this year, has now been shown to be applicable in a wide range of systems. Surprisingly, the team found two identical motifs in genetic and neural systems.

Weizmann Institute news release

Microwaves Track Football

November 5, 2002

A new system to monitor the positions of football players and the ball could make the game a lot less controversial. Credit-card sized microwave transmitters are fitted in players’ shin-pads. A peanut- sized transmitter goes inside the ball. Each produces a signature pattern several hundred times a second.

HP, MIT delve deep with digital library

November 5, 2002

MIT and Hewlett-Packard have unveiled DSpace, a system for electronically archiving books, lecture notes and scientific data. It currently can hold two terabytes of data; eventually more than a petabyte (1000 terabytes). The software will be licensed freely.

An Electronic Cop That Plays Hunches

November 4, 2002

CopLink, a new AI-based investigative tool, is being used to help trace the Washington-area sniper suspects’ movements across the country. It was designed by Hsinchun Chen, director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Arizona.

Coplink allows police departments to establish links quickly among their own files and to those of other departments. It works by linking and comparing data from new and existing files and also… read more

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