science + technology news

Moore’s Second Law

April 5, 2004

The biggest impediment to our technological future isn’t extending Moore’s law; it’s system efficiency.

We need to improve system layouts and cooling techniques, create better interconnects, reduce sloppy software code, eschew processors that are faster than necessary, and build better batteries.

Moore’s second law could be formulated: “Overall net efficiency of any electronic system will double every 24 months.”

Moore’s Law Limits Pushed Back Again

April 5, 2004

Rochester Institute of Technology researchers have figured out how to make silicon chips with 38 nanometer rules — an order of magnitude better than what is standard at present.

The process is called liquid-immersion nanolithography, based on the phenomenon that things look bigger under water. They submerge the silicon wafer.

Computer networking event doesn’t compute as planned

April 5, 2004

FlashMob I, the world’s first attempt to create a supercomputer ranking among the top 500 by hooking together computers from volunteers, failed on Saturday at the University of San Francisco.

But the crew managed to get 256 (target was 1,200) computers working together at almost half the speed required for the top 500 status.

Bush Calls for Universal Broadband by 2007

April 2, 2004

President Bush has set a goal of broadband access for all Americans in three years to boost competitiveness with other nations and create new business opportunities at home.

Snapshot chat creates automatic captions

April 2, 2004

A new system that can automatically caption digital photos by listening to you and your friends chat about them is being developed by Hewlett-Packard.

PC software records these conversations, converts them to text using a speech-recognition program, and extracts keywords to caption and index the photos.

HP says the method should help organize digital files as hard drives approach terabyte levels over the next few years.

Smell cannon targets virtual reality users

April 2, 2004

A new “air cannon” device can track an individual, shoot an aroma directly at their nose, and leave the person next to them completely unaffected.

Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute in Kyoto, Japan developed it for directing evocative smells to people exploring virtual-reality environments.

The device tracks the person it is aiming at with a camera mounted on top, which follows the target’s eyes. Software on a PC analyzes… read more

Heartbeats warn of sudden death risk

April 2, 2004

Measuring variations in the length of the heartbeat could provide a way to screen for people at risk of sudden cardiac death, researchers in Greece have found.

They adapted equations used to describe physical systems such as earthquakes to predict the degree of order. Beats of diseased hearts vary more randomly.

Rat genome unveiled

April 2, 2004

The Rat Genome Sequencing Consortium has sequenced the complete rat genome, about 25,000 genes.

Around 90% of these have matches in the mouse and man, so almost all known disease-related human genes have counterparts in the rat. By tweaking these, researchers should be able to make better rat models of disease.

Knowledge of their genome should also provide new targets for drug intervention.

Rat Genome Sequencing Consortium.… read more

Seeing-Eye Computer Guides Blind

March 31, 2004

Researchers are developing a computerized “seeing” assistant called called Tyflos that will help blind people read books, access Web pages, recognize faces and navigate unfamiliar rooms.

Tyflos consists of a tiny camera mounted on a pair of glasses, laptop carried in a backpack, headset and microphone. The laptop process the images and converts them into verbal messages conveyed to the user.

A parallel development, the iCare-Reader, enables blind… read more

One billion people to get biometrics and RFID tracking by 2015

March 31, 2004

Civil liberties groups are railing against plans to create an international “identity register” that would force the inclusion of biometrics and controversial RFID tracking tags in all passports by 2015.

Waiter, There’s a Drug in My Rice

March 31, 2004

The California Rice Commission on Monday approved Ventria Bioscience’s request to grow the state’s first crop genetically modified to contain a drug.

The rice is genetically modified to produce two human proteins that fight infection: lactoferrin and lysozyme, both naturally present in breast milk.

Opponents say growing the crops in open fields endangers organic and conventional crops, as well as human health.

Science on verge of new ‘Creation’

March 30, 2004

Scientists now believe it may be possible to create the first artificial unit of life in the next 5 to 10 years and that for the first time, they have just about all the pieces they need to begin making inanimate chemicals come alive.

More than 100 laboratories study processes involved in the creation of life. Spearheading the drive: the European Union’s Programmable Artificial Cell Evolution project, scheduled this… read more

Boffins Get Their Circuits in a Twist

March 29, 2004

A Baltimore research team has developed a technique for building electrical circuitry that can bend and stretch like rubber. The new technology could be used to make artificial nerves, attach flexible electrodes to a beating heart, or make rubbery needles that would be safer and more reliable in the treatment of Parkinson disease, in which doctors insert probes into the sufferer’s brain.

Too High for Love: Lost Your Drive?

March 29, 2004

In “Why We Love,” authors Helen Fisher and psychiatrist James Thomson Jr. argue that certain antidepressants could be blocking chemical pathways in the brain that were paved by evolution to help us meet and keep mates.

Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft already carry warnings that they can suppress the libido and interfere with sexual functioning. But Fisher and Thomson argue that the problem may… read more

Health Concerns in Nanotechnology

March 29, 2004

Buckyballs can cause extensive brain and liver damage in fish, according to research presented yesterday at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

The nanoparticles, had not been coated, a process used to limit the toxicity of such materials in applications like drug delivery.

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