science + technology news

Flaw Could Cripple Entire Net

April 21, 2004

Researchers uncovered a serious flaw in the underlying technology for nearly all Internet traffic, a discovery that led to an urgent and secretive international effort to prevent global disruptions of Web surfing, e-mails and instant messages.

Old records saved by particle physics

April 21, 2004

A technique developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory allows researchers to create digital copies of old records without damaging the fragile discs.

The technique uses a light sensor to capture images of the record’s groove. A computer then uses these to reconstruct the recording, filtering out any background noise.

The technique should be able to retrieve sound from even the earliest grooved recordings from the late nineteenth century,… read more

Broadband Revolution Is Finally Here

April 21, 2004

Broadband Internet access in American homes jumped 60 percent over the 12 months ending in February; 39 percent of all American Internet users have a high-speed modem in their home.

With a home-based Internet audience now available, developers and content providers need to start looking to take a more active role in providing fresh material. There is an entirely new audience of users seeking entertainment, news and shopping at… read more

Ethics of boosting brainpower debated by researchers

April 20, 2004

The ethical and saftey issues of memory-improving drugs or brain-enhancing implants were recently debated at a meeting of neuroscientists, ethicists and psychologists.

For example, there have been no studies that establish the long-term effects of brain function in children who take Ritalin to control hyperactivity or in people who take medication for depression. It could be that drugs alter the way the brain works, fundamentally changing personality. The drugs… read more

Integrative Annotation of 21,037 Human Genes Validated by Full-Length cDNA Clones

April 20, 2004

An international team has systematically validated and annotated just over 21,000 human genes using full-length cDNA, thereby providing a valuable new resource for the human genetics community.

The semantic engineer

April 20, 2004

Daniel Dennett is writing a new book opposing the rise of supernaturalism, to be called “Breaking the spell.”

It will attempt to extirpate supernaturalism. “I have absolutely no doubt that the secular and scientific vision is right and deserves to be endorsed by everybody, and as we have seen over the last few thousand years, superstitious and religious doctrines will just have to give way,” he said.

Humans vs. Computers, Again. But There’s Help for Our Side.

April 20, 2004

The latest race to create a true breakthrough that makes computers much more useful is “knowledge management” (KM). It is an effort to bring Google-like clarity to the swamp of data on each person’s machine or network.

Pentagon official says nanotechnology a high priority

April 20, 2004

The Pentagon expects advances in nanotechnology to impact every major weapons system and spent $315 million in fiscal 2004 on all nanotechnology research.

“Nanotechnology is one of the highest priority science and technology programs in the Defense Department,” said Clifford Lau, the senior science adviser in the Pentagon’s office of basic research.

Using M.R.I.’s to See Politics on the Brain

April 20, 2004

MRI brain imaging was used in an experiment to analyze reactions to political commercials. It could help expose manipulative techniques during political campaigns.

Software links chatbots to OpenCyc inference engine

April 19, 2004

New software called CyN allows you to talk to the OpenCyc commonsense inference engine from AIML chatbots.

A chatbot is a program with human-like personality that allows for natural-language conversations with computers. OpenCyc is the open-source version of Cyc technology, the world’s largest and most complete general knowledge base and commonsense reasoning engine. AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language) is an XML type… read more

This Ain’t Woody Allen’s Orb

April 19, 2004

Proponents of ubiquitous computing hope to build computers into objects that fit naturally into daily life. One application is Ambient Devices’ Orb, a large glowing egg that tracks trends in a variety of subjects (such as stock-market performance) and transmits the information visually.

The idea behind Orb came out of MIT’s Media Lab, where “Tangible Bits” research led by professor Hiroshi Ishii aims to replace computers’ graphical user interface… read more

Wireless Watchdogs: Intelligent Software for Astronauts and their Robots

April 19, 2004

Personal “mobile agent” software will cut down on the amount of time astronauts take relaying information back to Earth, monitor astronaut progress, and automatically contact Earth in case of emergencies.

Sony develops paper-based disc

April 19, 2004

Sony and Tappan have announced a new Blu-Ray-based disc capable of holding 25 GB. It uses 51 percent paper, replacing a polycarbonate plastic substrate.

The new disc promises to be more environmentally friendly and secure when destroyed than traditional discs.

Xerox hopes plastic ink leads to printed chips

April 19, 2004

Xerox researchers have discovered a way to print plastic transistors using a semiconductive ink at room temperature, paving the way for flexible displays and low-cost RFID (radio frequency identification) chips.

The new technique builds on a polythiophene semiconductor, an organic compound that resists degradation in open air better than other semiconductor liquids and also exhibits self-assembling properties.

The researchers found a way to process this material to form… read more

UCLA Geophysicist Warns 6.4 Quake To Hit LA By Sept 5

April 16, 2004

A US geophysicist has set the scientific world ablaze by claiming to have cracked a holy grail: accurate earthquake prediction, and warning that a big one will hit southern California by Sept 5.

The UCLA team — made up of US, Japanese, Canadian, European and Russian experts in pattern recognition, geodynamics, seismology, chaos theory, statistical physics and public safety — says it has developed algorithms to detect earthquake patterns… read more

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