science + technology news

Following a Bright Light to a Calmer Tomorrow

April 15, 2004

People who have had “near-death experiences” (such as out-of-body travel) are far better at handling stress than researchers had expected.

Psychological tests showed that the participants’ physiological differences were associated with what the researchers called active coping, a tendency to “take the bull by the horns” in stressful situations.

Dr. C. Bruce Greyson, a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia, theorizes that the experience may be a protective… read more

Friend or Foe? A Digital Dog Tag Beams the Answer

April 15, 2004

Using a combination of radio frequency transponders, laser sensors and microwave-like transmitters, the Defense Department hopes to give every allied soldier, tank and plane a unique identifier to distinguish friend from foe.

Nutritional supplement may improve vision

April 14, 2004

The vision of patients with age-related macular degeneration improved to the point where they were able to read the next smallest line on their doctors’ eye charts after taking a nutritional supplement called lutein for a year, according to a study led by a Chicago area doctor.

Nanoparticles seek out solvents in groundwater

April 14, 2004

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon and Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory have designed nanoparticles for removing the solvent trichloroethylene from contaminated soil.

Targeted drug-delivery methods using thermodynamic or chemical affinity to get specific drugs to target organs and/or tissues were the inspiration for their work.

The researchers used nanoparticles with an iron core and a shell made up of several types of polymer. A hydrophilic coating made the… read more

Simulation maps nano patterns

April 14, 2004

Researchers from the University of Michigan have used a computer simulation to develop a method of chemically building nanoscale patterns on a surface. The patterns, which include neatly-positioned groups of wavy and straight lines, dots, boxes within boxes, and mixes of dots and lines, would be relatively inexpensive to produce and could form the basis for nanoscale machines.

To make the patterns, the researchers simulated the application of monolayers,… read more

Commercial applications of (CNTs) soon to be realised

April 14, 2004

Georgia Tech Research Institute is developing a carbon nanotube-based electrochemical double-layer supercapacitor, a project sponsored by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

Such supercapacitors would provide more power, increased energy density (more charge per gram of weight), and longer life than traditional batteries and capacitors that store electrical energy.

Hive Means Business

April 14, 2004

Hive computing, a new computing metaphor, lets developers write applications that are self-organizing, self-maintaining, and self-healing, according to Tsunami Research Inc.

That means software gets the hardware to work together, keeps the app up and running, and recovers it when crashes occur. Tsunami says hive computing is more scalable and can recover from crashes more easily than other cluster-computing approaches.

The Neural Approach to Pattern Recognition

April 14, 2004

Artificial neural networks could surpass the capabilities of conventional computer-based pattern recognition systems.

Talking to your car becoming natural

April 14, 2004

IBM is developing a system that allows a driver hold a two-way antural-language conversation with a car.

Current car speech recognition systems require the user to learn and use a set of commands.

By logging onto the Internet, it could access everything from traffic updates to e-mails.

Learn about others’ lives with interactive role-playing

April 14, 2004

Real Lives 2004, an interactive life simulation game, allows kids to live other people’s lives through a software simulation.

The software allows players to deal with realistic events and problems faced by billions of possible characters who can be born in more than 190 countries. It uses statistics based on accurate cultural, political and economic systems.

Bit by bit

April 14, 2004

Physicists are probing, experimentally and theoretically, the junction between the quantum and the classical (macro) worlds.

After 45 Years (and $700 Million), a Gravity Experiment Takes Flight

April 14, 2004

Gravity Probe B, to be launched next Monday, is an experiment to test Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which predicted the expansion of the universe and the existence of black holes.

The probe contains four gyroscopes and squids (superconducting quantum interference devices) to measure whether and how the spinning Earth twists space-time (frame dragging) and makes space-time sag (gamma).

It will give physicists precise measurements on ways that… read more

Working on next generation of robot warriors

April 13, 2004

iRobot yesterday signed a $32 million Army contract to develop a follow-on to its PackBot reconnaissance robot: a next-generation robot designated by the Army as the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) that’s lighter and has longer battery life.

The robots will be part of the Pentagon’s effort to transform the military to a leaner, more high-tech force able to respond swiftly to low-intensity and unconventional threats, using manned, unmanned,… read more

Firm Strives to Give Amputees a Natural Gait

April 13, 2004

Victhom Human Bionics has developed an above-knee prosthetic leg that functions like an amputee’s lost limb.

It uses a motor-driven knee and a complex system — sensors and microprocessor — that gives it the uncanny ability to move and bend naturally.

The sensors transmit information to the microprocessor, which picks out a suitable walking pattern and sends instructions to the knee’s electric motor, which moves the leg in… read more

After the Double Helix: Unraveling the Mysteries of the State of Being

April 13, 2004

DNA discoverer Dr. Francis Crick and Dr. Christof Koch, a professor of computation and neural systems at the California Institute of Technology, are exploring the neural correlates of consciousness” (N.C.C.’s) — the neuronal states and processes associated with conscious awareness.

Koch and his graduate students are gaining experimental evidence for what Crick had termed the “awareness neurons” that enable us to see.

While many scientists assume that consciousness… read more

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