science + technology news

With Tiny Brain Implants, Just Thinking May Make It So

April 13, 2004

Cyberkinetics Inc. plans to implant a tiny chip in the brains of five paralyzed people in an effort to enable them to operate a computer by thought alone.

The chip uses 100 electrodes connected by wires to an electronic device to analyze neural signals and send them to a computer. A future version will use a wireless connection.

Brain Waves Control Video Games

April 12, 2004

Researchers have developed Mind Balance, a video game in which the character is controlled directly from a player’s brain using electroencephalography (EEG) and wireless technology fitted into a sophisticated headset.

The game could help researchers develop brain-computer interfaces for those with limited body movement or who could otherwise not communicate.

MRI with 80-nm resolution

April 12, 2004

An MRI with 80-nm resolution has been achieved with a device that combines atomic force microscope (AFM) and MRI technology.

The device is intended to scan and image small objects — especially particles of biological importance, such as viruses and proteins — with atomic-scale resolution.

The best medical MRI has a spatial resolution of about a tenth of a millimeter.

Self-assembling nanotubes offer promise for future artificial joints

April 12, 2004
Self-assembly of rosettes

Researchers have discovered that bone cells called osteoblasts attach better to nanotube-coated titanium than to conventional titanium used to make artificial joints.

Conventional titanium used in artificial joints has surface features on the scale of microns, causing the body to recognize them as foreign and prompting a rejection response. This eventually weakens the attachment of the implants and causes them to become loose and painful, requiring replacement… read more

Machine rage is dead … long live emotional computing

April 12, 2004

The days of the unfeeling, infuriating machine will soon be over. Scientists are now creating computers and robots that can detect and respond to users’ feelings.

The discoveries are being channelled by Humaine, a £6 million program just launched by the EU to give Europe a lead in emotional computing.

The systems depend on scientists’ new-found ability to recognize the physiological expressions of emotions — changes in stature,… read more

Web-based program calculates effects of an Earth impact

April 9, 2004

A new web-based program tells you how an asteroid or comet collision will affect your spot on the globe by calculating several environmental consequences of its impact, including thermal radiation, seismic shaking, ejecta deposition, and air-blast effects.

University of Arizona press release

Turning Search Into a Science

April 9, 2004

If you’re looking for scientific information on the Web, Google might not be the best choice. Many researchers instead turn to Scirus, a search engine for scientists that allows them to dig through scientific journals as well as unpublished research, university websites, corporate Internet sites, conference agendas and minutes, discussion groups and mailing-list archives.

A Black Box for People

April 8, 2004

Stanford University and NASA/Ames scientists have developed the CPOD, which typically keeps track of the wearer’s heart performance, blood pressure, respiration, temperature, blood oxygen levels, and movements.

The device can store data for eight-hour periods for later downloading or send it wirelessly in real time.

While developed for astronauts, it also has possible terrestrial uses. EMT’s at an accident scene could quickly gain information about a victim’s condition.… read more

Circuit Benders Unlock the Long Riffs in Short-Circuits

April 8, 2004

Circuit bending, the creative alteration of toys and other electronic devices so they can produce new and unusual sounds, is being featured at the Bent Festival in New York.

The Darth Vader toy, for instance, was essentially an audio processor that deepened its owner’s voice. Bender Thomas Uliasz added an input jack and pitch-control knob and renamed it the Dark Side Box. Connected to a rhythm machine, the circuit-bent… read more

Refining Semiconductors, One Atom at a Time

April 8, 2004

A physicist has succeeded in controlling semiconductor doping precisely at the atomic level, allowing for eventually extending Moore’s Law and creating custom-designed molecular circuit elements.

In the experiment, reported in the journal Science, Michael F. Crommie, a professor of physics at the University of California at Berkeley, and his group used a scanning tunneling microscope to add seven potassium dopant atoms to a buckyball molecule, one by one.

Quick flip of Earth’s magnetic field revealed

April 8, 2004

The Earth’s magnetic field takes an average of only 7000 years to reverse its polarity, but the switch happens much more quickly near the equator, says study author Bradford Clement of Florida International University in Nature (vol 428, p 637).

Studies of ocean sediments and lava flows show the Earth has undergone several hundred field reversals; the most recent confirmed flip occurred about 780,000 years ago. Evidence published in… read more

Foresight Institute offers discount to newsletter readers

April 8, 2004

Foresight Institute president Christine Peterson is offering newsletter readers a generous discount of $200 on the $495 registration fee for the Foresight Vision Weekend, May 14-16 in Palo Alto, “Putting Feynman’s Vision into Action.”

“In financial terms, this comes close to waiving the membership requirement — we want Kurzweil folks at this conference!” she said.

This year, the legendary annual nanotech conference will include:… read more

Hybrid imaging beats resolution limit

April 6, 2004

Scientists have found a new way to image tiny structures and molecules smaller than the 200 nm diffraction-limited resolution of optical microscopes.

The technique combined fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) with atomic force microscopy (AFM) to generate sharp images of fluorescing nanobeads just 40 nm in diameter, as well as a cluster of DNA molecules.

It involves scanning a gold-tipped silicon wand over a fluorescing sample. The gold… read more

The Altered Human Is Already Here

April 6, 2004

Technologically altered human beings are making a leap into the posthuman future, using biochemical, proton-pump inhibitors, serotonin boosters and other drugs — a social change on the same order as the advent of computers, but one taking place inside the human body.

There is now almost no bodily system that cannot be adjusted by drugs. Blood, respiration, the nervous system, hormonal regulation, muscles and bones, the cardiovascular system, reproduction,… read more

Insanely Destructive Devices

April 5, 2004

If we can’t defend against an attack, perhaps the rational response is to reduce the incentives to attack, says Lawrence Lessig.

Rather than designing space suits, maybe we should focus on ways to eliminate the reasons to annihilate us. Rather than stirring up a hornet’s nest and then hiding behind a bush, maybe the solution is to avoid the causes of rage. Crazies, of course, can’t be reasoned with.… read more

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