July 16, 2002
A theory based on an economic model has been applied to human evolution to explain long life spans. According to the model, the brain requires such an enormous investment of energy during childhood that human ancestors must have evolved long life spans to make that initial investment worthwhile.
Scientists have built the virus that causes polio from scratch in the lab, using only genetic sequence information from public databases and readily available technology. The finding raises the possibility that bioterrorists could use a similar approach to create devasting diseases without having to gain access to protected viral stocks.
Since the United States military campaign began in Afghanistan, the unmanned spy plane has gone from a bit player to a starring role in Pentagon planning. Rather than the handful of “autonomous vehicles,” or A.V.’s, that snooped on Al Qaeda hideouts, commanders are envisioning wars involving vast robotic fleets on the ground, in the air and on the seas — swarms of drones that will not just find their foes,… read more
Do we live in an economy whose growth is primarily exponential, or primarily asymptotic (approaches a limit)?
“The transition from exponential to asymptotic growth occurs when market saturation comes into play as a constraint on growth,” says UPI Business and Economics Editor Martin Hutchinson. “The United States is today primarily an asymptotically growing economy, and … investors should buy stocks only when they can obtain a high and secure… read more
The Earth’s population will be forced to colonize two planets within 50 years if natural resources continue to be exploited at the current rate, according to a study by the World Wildlife Fund.
Supercomputing is beating Moore’s Law, with power for the same price doubling every 15 months.
NEC’s new Earth Simulator, rated at 35 teraflops is the world’s fastest and will ultimately act as Japan’s early warning of typhoons. But IBM’s 200 teraflops Blue Gene/L will soon top the list.
The next challenge for the supercomputing community is a petaflops machine, capable of a quadrillion floating-point operations per… read more
Peer-to-peer computing could reach new levels of power, stability, and scalability by having a few messages “walk” randomly between machines rather than flooding across the whole system, according to a research team from Princeton University, the University of California at Berkley, AT&T and Cisco.
“Liquid light” created by concentrating a laser beam into a tight column in nonlinear materials, would be an ideal medium for an optical computer, researchers believe.
A new “spintronic” atom-based transistor uses a new principle for controlling and switching electrical current based on electron spin.Developed at the Institute for Microstructural Science in Ottawa, the device uses a magnetic field to tune a quantum dot so that the spins of electrons hopping onto or off it must be aligned up or down. This means information can be stored, read out and erased by manipulating the spins of… read more
New AI software might help journalists sort through reams of government documents in minutes to detect government corruption.
Silicon Valley start-up Tyzx believes it can give stereo vision to video cameras by encoding a processing scheme, based on the way humans see, into a custom chip. It could ready the way for robots with depth perception.
Its custom “DeepSea” chip runs an algorithm called “census correspondence” that finds similarities in real time across two streams of video images broken up into a square grid of 512 pixels.
Word association can link just about any two common (root) words in the English language using an average of three steps (degrees of separation), says a team of scientists at Arizona State University.
The researchers think the network structure of a language probably has its origins in the nature of cognition and memory. Different concepts, such as “actor” and “universe,” are closely linked by a short series of semantic… read more