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The future of the digital home: Gates at COMDEX

November 18, 2002

At COMDEX today, Bill Gates presented Microsoft’s plan to introduce digital-home “smart” products that are cheaper, more powerful and more portable, from a digital alarm clock to portable monitors that can remotely access a PC from throughout the home.

“At the end of the decade, a terabyte will be the typical storage on a personal computer,” Gates said. Hundreds of gigabytes of data will be able to be stored… read more

Surgical Tags Plan for Sex Offenders

November 15, 2002

Britain is considering a controversial scheme to implant surgically electronic tags in convicted pedophiles amid fears that the extent of the abuse of children has been massively underestimated. The government could then track pedophiles by satellite, with a system similar to that used to locate stolen cars. The tags can be put beneath the skin under local anesthetic and would also be able to monitor the heart rate and blood… read more

Earth Simulator is world’s fastest computer installation

November 15, 2002

“The Earth Simulator” in Yokohama, Japan, with a performance of 35.86 Tflop/s (teraflops per second), is the world’s fastest computer installation, according to the TOP500 List for November 2002, released today.

Man: 0 Machine: 1

November 15, 2002

Feng-Hsiung Hsu, who worked tirelessly for almost two decades to build IBM’s Deep Blue chess computer, demonstrates in “Behind Deep Blue” that the computer’s victory was not a matter of machine defeating man, but rather the advancement of a powerful tool assembled by human beings.

New Light Shed on Unbreakable Encryption

November 14, 2002

Scientists at Northwestern University say they have harnessed the properties of light to encrypt information into code that can be cracked only one way: by breaking the physical laws of nature. There is growing interest in using quantum cryptography for commercial and military applications because of the technology’s apparent ability to guarantee invulnerability. Quantum cryptography, however, still suffers from one major limitation. As it stands today, all quantum cryptography techniques… read more

Photonic Crystals in Uniforms

November 14, 2002

Photonic crystals may one day revolutionize optics the way the semiconductor revolutionized electronics.

Optical communications systems might someday be woven into our clothing and computers might rely as much on optics as on electronics.

MIT received a $50 million contract the Defense Department to enhance the supersoldier fighting uniform with polymer threads that — by selectively reflecting or absorbing different wavelengths of light — would silently flash an… read more

The Robot Evolution

November 14, 2002

MIT’s Rodney A. Brooks is among researchers leading the charge to develop a smarter and more useful artificial creature.

“What we need is low-cost dexterous manipulation,” Brooks says. “Right now we don’t even have high- cost dexterous manipulation.”

Venter to Bio World: Exa-Byte Me

November 13, 2002

Craig Venter, delivering the opening address yesterday at the BioITWorld conference here, said that computer power will be the limiting factor in crunching, storing, and manipulating the data necessary for linking the promise of genomics to insights into gene function, protein interaction, and personalized medicine. To underscore his point, he said the Celera computers that sequenced the human genome – the 1.5 teraflop, 120 terabyte machines that took up 6,000… read more

Robot Guard-dragon Unveiled in Japan

November 13, 2002

The four-legged “guard dragon” robot sense smoke and alert its owners to a smoldering fire – via a howl or a mobile phone text message. The robot is one meter long, 80 centimeters high, 70 centimeters wide and weighs 40 kilograms. It can move at a top speed of 15 meters per minute – more than fast enough for a home robot designed to travel in confined, cluttered spaces, its… read more

Robots, Terrorists, and Morals

November 13, 2002

When the car carrying six Islamic terrorists was blown up recently by a Hellfire-C missle fired from a Predator RQ-1A UAV, it raised ethical questions about robots remotely controlled by humans. But what sort of reaction will we see the first time a fully autonomous robot like the X-45 UCAV engages the enemy?

“Al-Qaeda’s zealots never thought they would be fighting American robots — and losing.”

Fuel Cell Powered by Human Bodily Fluids

November 13, 2002

University of Texas, Austin scientists have developed a new fuel cell that generates electricity from the glucose-oxygen reaction that occurs in human blood. Purpose: powering medical sensors and animal tracking devices.

Nanowires within nanowires

November 13, 2002

Harvard University researchers have synthesized nanowires that are only 50nm in diameter, containing a germanium core surrounded by a silicon shell. They also made “triple decker” wires of silicon, silicon oxide and germanium.

They have used these approaches to prepare new devices called nanowire field-effect transistors. Working with researchers from Intel, the team also plans to integrate these transistors with conventional semiconductor processing to produce advanced hybrid devices.

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.

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