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Nanotechnology and Mass Destruction

November 6, 2002

A recent essay in Disarmament Diplomacy proposed an ‘Inner Space Treaty’ to ban all nanotechnology research because of fears it might lead to nanowarfare and “Grey Goo” scenarios.

André Gsponer concurs with the need for a treaty but argues that the timetable needs to be moved up. He argues that, with the ban on nuclear testing, the development of “fourth-generation nuclear weapons” is dependent upon MEMS and… read more

Drone plane kills terror suspects

November 6, 2002

An unpiloted “drone” plane armed with anti-tank missiles and remotely operated by the CIA is reported to have killed six people in Yemen.

The US military is currently developing even more sophisticated drones and remotely operated weapons. BAE Systems is developing small, directed energy pulse weapons designed to be deployed on military drones, as well as high-power radio frequency and high-power microwave weapons that can jam communications and damage… read more

Microwaves Track Football

November 5, 2002

A new system to monitor the positions of football players and the ball could make the game a lot less controversial. Credit-card sized microwave transmitters are fitted in players’ shin-pads. A peanut- sized transmitter goes inside the ball. Each produces a signature pattern several hundred times a second.

Genes, Neurons, and the Internet Found to Have Some Identical Organizing Principles

November 5, 2002

Scientists have found several organizational patterns — “network motifs” — underlying genetic, neural, technological, and food networks.

The mathematical technique, first proposed by Dr. Uri Alon, of the Weizmann Institute this year, has now been shown to be applicable in a wide range of systems. Surprisingly, the team found two identical motifs in genetic and neural systems.

Weizmann Institute news release

HP, MIT delve deep with digital library

November 5, 2002

MIT and Hewlett-Packard have unveiled DSpace, a system for electronically archiving books, lecture notes and scientific data. It currently can hold two terabytes of data; eventually more than a petabyte (1000 terabytes). The software will be licensed freely.

An Electronic Cop That Plays Hunches

November 4, 2002

CopLink, a new AI-based investigative tool, is being used to help trace the Washington-area sniper suspects’ movements across the country. It was designed by Hsinchun Chen, director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Arizona.

Coplink allows police departments to establish links quickly among their own files and to those of other departments. It works by linking and comparing data from new and existing files and also… read more

A New Cryptography Uses the Quirks of Photon Streams

November 4, 2002

MagiQ Technologies plans to offer a cryptogaphy system using quantum key distribution in 2003.

Keys to the code are transmitted as a stream of photons, sent over a fiber optic cable. Security is based on quantum physics: observing the transmission would alter the photons, rendering their information useless to any eavesdroppers.

Trying to Shift Shape of PC Screens

November 4, 2002

Researchers are developing technologies for a flexible, ultra-thin computer screen, creating entire computers and large-format screens on wafer-thin glass, or even plastic that can be rolled up.

The technology is based on the organic light-emitting diode (colored molecules that give off light when placed between two electrodes). If these molecules can be layered onto a piece of plastic, with computer circuitry on the back, a roll-up computer may be… read more

Nanotech-based visualization

November 4, 2002

Nanotechnology-based visualization technologies will allow people to be someone else in virtual reality in the future, Ray Kurzweil said in his Capstone address on “Visualization and Human-Machine Interaction in the 21st Century” at IEEE Visualization 2002 in Boston on November 1.

Kurzweil presented a scenario involving a direct connection between the human brain and nanobot-based implants for communicating between the analog world of neurons and… read more

Webcast: Robots in Space

November 2, 2002

Dr. Richard Terrile, NASA JPL Mars Scout Program Scientist, will present “Rise of the Machines: Intelligent Robots and Space Exploration,” an overview of the current and future plans for exploring the solar system with robotic spacecraft, on Nov. 21 and 22 in Pasadena, CA. The Nov. 21 event will also be webcast.

“The science and science fiction of computer intelligence will be explored by comparing our technological and scientific… read more

Scientists Say a Quest for Clean Energy Must Begin Now

November 1, 2002

Meeting the world’s rising energy needs without increasing global warming will require a research effort as ambitious as the Apollo project to put a man on the moon, a diverse group of scientists and engineers said in Science magazine today.

Also see: Space-Based Power System Needed to Solve Earth’s Energy Woes

Why 6-Legged Bots Rule

November 1, 2002

UC Berkeley biologist Robert J. Full is developing a new generation of highly mobile legged robots using the self-stabilizing sprawled posture found in a cockroach.

The devices embed control algorithms in the limbs themselves, allowing for more rapid response and increased speed and stability while freeing up the central processor for higher-level operations.

Microsoft Tries To Make Vox Popular

November 1, 2002

Microsoft has introduced a new version of its .Net Speech Software development kit intended to get more programmers writing speech apps that use Microsoft tools and servers.

Microsoft wants to encourage them to write apps that allow access to customer-service data by both phone and the Web. The apps would also be able to deliver text and graphics to computer and cell-phone screens, in addition to voice feedback.

The Virtual Stomach

November 1, 2002

Penn State researchers have devised a virtual stomach, a computer simulation of the gastric motions, stresses and particle breakdown as the belly contracts, based on fluid mechanics.

The simulation may one day help researchers improve the composition of tablets that break down slowly over many hours before proceeding to the small intestine, where drugs are taken up. It may also help understand why nutrients are sometimes released too rapidly… read more

DNA as Destiny

October 31, 2002

DNA is not only the book of life; it’s also the book of death. In the future we may be able to read it cover to cover. Here’s a first-hand account of what it’s like to take the world’s first top-to-bottom gene scan. “Everyone has errors in his or her DNA, glitches that may trigger a heart spasm or cause a brain tumor. I’m here to learn mine.” It may… read more

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