science + technology news

Disembodied robotic arm clambers round home

March 12, 2004

A prototype disembodied robotic arm designed to move around the home has been unveiled.

The meter-long arm, called Flexibot, is capable of docking to a wheelchair or a wall and can help disabled people feed themselves and in other activities.

100-metre nanotube thread pulled from furnace

March 12, 2004

A thread of carbon nanotubes more than 100 meters long has been pulled from a furnace. The previous record holder was a mere 30 centimeters long.

By bundling the nanotubes together into much longer fibers, scientists hope to harness their properties on a larger scale. For example, embedding long carbon nanotube threads in plastic would allow tougher composites for airplane hulls.

Can nanotech keep chipmaking up to speed?

March 11, 2004

Chipmakers should do more extensive nanotechnology research, right now, says Juri Matisoo, vice president of technology, Semiconductor Industry Association.

The SIA is predicting that today’s manufacturing techniques may stop finding advances some time around 2011.

Physics: “Putting The Weirdness To Work”

March 11, 2004

Many scientists foresee revolutionary technologies based on the truly strange properties of the quantum world.

Robot builder could ‘print’ houses

March 11, 2004

A robot for “printing” houses has been developed that takes instructions directly from an architect’s computerized drawings and then squirts successive layers of concrete on top of one other to build up vertical walls and domed roofs. The precision automaton could revolutionize building sites.

The first house will be built in 2005. If the technology is successful, the robot could enable new designs that cannot be built using conventional… read more

Quantum computing gets a step closer

March 11, 2004

Scientists have witnessed an atom and a photon share the same information. This is an important milestone in the quest to create a quantum computer, which could operate much faster than conventional computers.

This is the first time that scientists have seen a single atom entangled with a single photon. These mobile bits of quantum information, known as “flying qubits,” have the potential to travel over many kilometers, eventually… read more

In search of the deep Web

March 10, 2004

The next generation of Web search engines will do more than give you a longer list of search results. They will disrupt the information economy.

The search engines now under development are exploring methods for penetrating the terabytes of data hidden from search engines in databases — some 500 times more data than the surface Web.

Hubble Finds Farthest Galaxies Strangest Yet

March 10, 2004

Astronomers have taken the deepest look into the universe yet, at what could be the most distant galaxies ever seen.

The new image, called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF), includes ancient galaxies that emerged just 700 million years after the Big Bang from what astronomers call the “dark ages” of the universe.

No Riders: Desert Crossing Is for the Robots Only

March 9, 2004

Competing teams will be racing their robotic vehicles across the Mojave desert this Saturday, attracted by a Pentagon promise to pay $1 million to the creators of the first self-guided vehicle to find its way along a programmed course from Barstow, Calif. to near Las Vegas.

Nanowires vie with carbon tubes for next-gen transistors

March 9, 2004

With so many stories heralding the merits of carbon nanotubes as the channels of next-generation nanoscale transistors, you’d think the case was closed. Not so, say researchers, who claim nanowires can create better nanoscale transistors — ones that can be placed more accurately, can use application-specific doping, and can be more easily integrated with traditional silicon processing.

The Nanotech Schism

March 9, 2004

The field of nanotechnology is divided between those who think it will simply improve our lives and those who think it will completely transform them.

The former group thinks of nanotechnology as essentially a new branch of materials science. The latter group, inspired by nanotechnologist Eric Drexler, hews to a more ambitious vision in which molecular manufacturing, nanomedicine, and even nanoweapons will radically reshape the world.

Plastic on Steroids

March 9, 2004

Research in electroactive polymers (EAPs), a type of artificial muscle, seems to have finally paid off with some useful products. Among them: powerful pumps and motors, nearly silent propulsion technologies, and novel drug-delivery systems.

EAPs could fundamentally alter drug delivery. Marc Madou of UC Irvine is developing implantable, matchstick-sized capsules with microscopic pores. When sensors detect that a patient needs, say, more insulin, artificial muscles open valves under the… read more

Biochip makes droplet test tubes

March 8, 2004

A programmable biochip that uses an array of electrodes to place water droplets on a surface, insert substances into the droplets, and move and merge the droplets, with no moving parts, could eventually be miniaturized and incorporated into portable medical, biological and chemical diagnostic devices.

These can form the core of versatile, automated, microscale devices for performing chemical and biological assays at or near the point of care.

Research raises more than one debate

March 8, 2004

“Synthetic drug discovery,” a major shift in the way drugs have been discovered and made represents a future that some scientists fear — one where robots quickly draw from vast libraries of man-made molecules, then test them, mixing and matching with the same sort of equipment that transformed the Detroit automotive industry.

Think nano has ethical problems? Just wrap your brain around neuro

March 8, 2004

New tools to improve human performance will emerge from the convergence of nanotech, biotech, infotech and cognitive science.

When data from nanobiochips that can analyze DNA, RNA and proteins is combined with data from next-generation brain imaging systems , new tools for mental health will emerge.

Nanobiochips that can perform the basic bioanalysis functions (genomic, proteomic, biosimulation and microfluidics) at a low cost will transform biological analysis and… read more

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