science + technology news

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

Computer chip noise may betray code

May 12, 2004

The noise emitted by computer chips could help code breakers decipher encrypted messages.

The high-frequency audio produced by CPUs allows for distinguishing between different cryptographic keys being processed by the chip, based on the frequency of the sound emitted, and the length of a string of characters by measuring the duration of certain sounds.

Other code-breaking techniques include power-supply fluctuations exhibited by chips, electromagnetic emanations from a monitor,… read more

Code that kills, for real

May 12, 2004

Future military combat systems will require ever more complicated code, but writing software that is bug free and ready for a firefight is a challenge that gets tougher every day.

The military faces a “software divergence dilemma” today. In the past 50 years, the amount of code in a typical military system has increased a hundredfold. Meanwhile, in that same span of time, the average productivity of programmers has… read more

MIT Aims for the Bottom Line

May 12, 2004

The MIT Media Lab’s new initiative, CELab, or consumer electronics lab, will capitalize on the convergence of new technologies and consumer demand for easy-to-use devices.

CELab will include research of the Media Lab’s Smart Cities group, which is designing a smartcar that warns drivers of upcoming obstacles in the road.

Robot doctor gets thumbs-up from patients

May 12, 2004

Fifteen mobile video robo-docs, manufactured by InTouch Health, have been placed in hospitals and nursing homes nationwide, allowing a doctor to check on patients from another building or another country, via the Internet and wireless links.

Eighty percent of the patients taking part in a Johns Hopkins study thought the robo-doc would increase accessibility to their physician, while 76 percent believed having the robot available would permit physicians to… read more

Robots: Today, Roomba. Tomorrow…

May 11, 2004

Roomba is a first step, but there are many tasks within the home that are ripe for robotic automation, says iRobot CEO Colin Angle.

Genomics: ‘We’re Steadily Marching’

May 11, 2004

Pinpointing key genetic variations in an individual, understanding the biological — and disease — consequences of those variations, and devising personalized treatments will go “from genome to bedside in three years,” says Richard Gibbs, director and founder of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Nanotech: Beyond the Hype — and Fear

May 11, 2004

Biomedical applications such as cancer therapy, nanotube superconductors, and nanostructured water-filtration are likely to be some of the earliest successful nanotech applications, says Rice University’s Kristen Kulinowski.

Conversations from Tech’s Cutting Edge

May 11, 2004

Robotics, nanotech, genomics, and search and information retrieval are featured in a Technology Special Report from BusinessWeek.

Google’s man behind the curtain

May 11, 2004

A future version of Google will have “search pets” that understand emotions and other non-factual information that even a fully intelligent computer may have trouble with, says Google’s technology director Craig Silverstein.

That will happen in 200 to 300 years, he believes.

New Way to Conduct Electricity

May 10, 2004

A team of scientists has developed a way to create a thin film of gold nanoparticles in nanocrystals that that conduct electricity in a way never seen before. “It’s an entirely new electronic device,” said Davidson physics professor Dan Boye. “It’s sort of a hybrid between a resistor and a capacitor.”

The film exhibits a quantum mechanical “tunneling” effect. Electricity traveles through the gold film not in a smooth… read more

Nano Weapons Join the Fight Against Cancer

May 10, 2004

Researchers plan to use “nanoshells” to diagnose and treat cancer.

Nanoshells are microscopic concentric spheres with silica cores and gold shells. In the lab, nanoshells are injected into an animal’s bloodstream, where “targeting” agents applied to them seek out and attach to the surface receptors of cancerous cells.

In one method, illumination with infrared light raises the cells’ temperature to 55 degrees Celsius and burns away the tumor.… read more

Big Brother to Watch Over Island

May 10, 2004

In coming years, a comprehensive network of video cameras, motion detectors and sensors will spy upon visitors to Ayers Island in Maine.
An AI system will decide who can be trusted and who is deserving of greater scrutiny.

esearchers from the University of Maine want to demonstrate that AI may be able to provide civil authorities with comprehensive, real-time intelligence about the whereabouts of individuals and cars, and the… read more

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