science + technology news

Google Moves Toward a Direct Confrontation With Microsoft

May 19, 2004

Edging closer to a direct confrontation with Microsoft, Google is preparing to introduce a powerful file and text software search tool for locating information stored on personal computers.

Code-named Puffin, the project was started, in part, to prepare Google for competing with Windows Longhorn, which according to industry analysts will dispense with the need for a stand-alone browser.

‘Digital People’: The Humanoid Condition

May 19, 2004

“Digital People: From Bionic Humans to Androids” is a comprehensive yet compact survey of robotics and bionics.

Author Sidney Perkowitz, a physicist at Emory University, cites heart pacemakers, cochlear implants and insulin pumps as proof that there are cyborgs among us, and describes “animal cyborg” builders.

ScanSoft updates voice software

May 19, 2004

ScanSoft has announced a new version of its OpenSpeech Recognizer software with improved natural-language capabilities that lets users speak in full sentences, improves name recognition, and recognizes 40 languages.

The software also has learning capabilities, so it gets better at recognizing and interpreting an accent the more it encounters it.

The Cell Hijackers

May 19, 2004

Soon, our knowledge of life processes will let us program cells as we do computers, says Rodney Brooks.

This engineering revolution is coming to be known as synthetic biology. Examples include modifying protein production processes to turn E. coli cells into primitive digital computers; the creation of cells that are genetically altered to deliver drugs within a person’s body; programming a cell to sense blood sugar levels and produce… read more

Camera Phones Link World to Web

May 19, 2004

Semacode, a free system released this month, lets users scan bar codes on everyday objects with their camera phones and instantly pull up information about them. It’s an information bridge between the world and the Web.

By X-Raying Galaxies, Researchers Offer New Evidence of Rapidly Expanding Universe

May 19, 2004

Observations of giant clouds of galaxies far out in space and time have revealed new evidence of “dark energy” and that the expansion of the universe seems to be accelerating.

This could mean the universe could end in a “big rip,” in which even atoms would be torn apart. On the other hand, the dark energy could decrease and even turn into an attractive force, drawing the universe to… read more

Researchers demonstrate wearable electronics to aid health and fashion

May 18, 2004

Arizona State University researchers have developed a “biometric bodysuit” using integrated and embedded electronic sensors, printed organic opto-electronics, power sources, microfluidic devices, and pumps in clothes.

The “Scentsory Chameleon Bodysuit” acts as a “smart second skin” to enable real-time remote personal health and medical monitoring.

A military camouflage version includes pathogen detectors, flexible electroluminescent display, and a high-density, low-temperature micro fuel cell that acts as a lightweight, long-life… read more

Intel’s Big Shift After Hitting Technical Wall

May 18, 2004

Intel has acknowledged that it hit a “thermal wall” on its microprocessor line by raising the clock speed of its chips and reducing the minimum feature size to 90 nanometers from the industry standard of 130 nanometers.

“Classical scaling is dead,” said Bernard S. Meyerson, chief technologist for I.B.M.’s systems and technology group. “In the past, the way everyone made chips faster was to simply shrink them.”

Today,… read more

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

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