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Scientists build polio virus from scratch

July 16, 2002

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.

A War of Robots

July 11, 2002

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

The Ultimate Running Machine

July 11, 2002

Inside a Soviet-style training camp, corporate scientists are reengineering neuro-mechanics, blood chemistry, and brain waves. Welcome to the Oregon Project, where Nike is rebuilding the US marathon team one high tech step at a time.

The Bear’s Lair: Exponential or asymptotic?

July 9, 2002

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

Earth ‘will expire by 2050′

July 9, 2002

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: Suddenly Sexy

July 9, 2002

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

“Random walkers” may speed peer-to-peer networks

July 8, 2002

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.

Light turns into glowing liquid

July 8, 2002

“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.

New spin on transistors

July 5, 2002

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

Document Reading Made Easy

July 5, 2002

New AI software might help journalists sort through reams of government documents in minutes to detect government corruption.

Can a chip help computers see in 3D?

July 5, 2002

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.

Small word network

July 5, 2002

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

Kurzweil to present awards at National Federation of the Blind conference

July 5, 2002

Ray Kurzweil, inventor of the original Kurzweil Reading Machine, will present the annual scholarship awards from Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc., at the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Convention in Louisville, Kentucky on July 8.
Kurzweil Educational is an innovator of reading-technology solutions for individuals with learning and visual disabilities.

The company also announced the Kurzweil 1000 Version 7. This device helps people with severe visual impairments access virtually… read more

Art as a State of Mind

July 2, 2002

Artist Paras Kaul is creating art using a computer/brain-wave interface.

VR hallucinations used to treat schizophrenia

July 2, 2002

A virtual reality environment has been designed by a team at the University of Queensland in Brisbane to help treat people with schizophrenia, using a simulated living room projected onto a wrap-around screen and a soundtrack with an abusive running commentary.
For example, it can mimic common hallucinations: walls appear to be closing in, photographs of faces morph, straight lines such as the edge of pictures wobble. The idea is… read more

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