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Mini-copter stars at robot show

November 20, 2003

The world’s lightest and smallest robot helicopter has been unveiled at a Tokyo exhibition by the Seiko Epson company.

The designers say the 70-mm-tall device could be used as a “flying camera” to enter earthquake-shattered buildings.

Making a case for Efficient Supercomputing

November 20, 2003

The supercomputing industry focuses on growth of performance in terms of speed and horsepower, but performance/space ratio has not kept up because of “Moore’s law for power consumption”– that is, the power consumption of compute nodes doubles every 18 months, says Los Alamos National Laboratory computer scientist Wu-Chun Feng.

“The current trajectory is slated to reach one kilowatt per square centimeter by 2010, which is allegedly as much power… read more

Face transplants feasible — but not yet

November 20, 2003

A Royal College of Surgeons report on the ethics and feasibility of face transplants has decided on a “wait and see” approach, saying the risks of immune rejection of the graft outweigh the potential benefits at present.

Critics of face transplant surgery also argue that patients risk psychological problems after surgery, since the patient is not likely to resemble either the donor or their original face.

Note: The… read more

Building a nanotransistor bottom-up

November 19, 2003

Scientists at North Carolina State University are attempting to build the first transistor using a bottom-up, or molecular assembly approach.

“Our research will tackle two critical issues in future materials for advanced molecule-based information processing,” says Dr. Chris Gorman, professor of chemistry. “How to assemble and attach single molecules to electronic contacts and how to create electronic gain — the fundamental operating principle of a transistor — at the… read more

Nanowires drop out of fluid research

November 19, 2003

Researchers have made a breakthrough discovery about the behavior of bubbles and droplets in fluids. The finding could have applications in areas such as microcapsules for medical controlled-release applications and production of nanostructures.

The researchers noted that drops of liquid formed an extremely thin liquid thread that forms so slowly that there is enough time to solidify it into a filament or wire. By adding a prepolymer to the… read more

Researchers measure the ‘heat of life,’ offering clues to DNA damage

November 18, 2003

A Rutgers-led team has produced the first-ever measurement of the “heat of life” — the energies involved in DNA replication and synthesis.

The measurements can be used to construct a virtual landscape that traces the precise energy differences between correct and incorrect DNA synthesis. The differential energy signatures signal the presence of DNA damage, potentially repairable by protein systems inside the cell or specifically designed drugs administered from the… read more

The Way We Nest Now

November 18, 2003

“Smart helpmeets” are on their way: our homes, our offices, our cars and our clothes. They are meant to be aware, not dumb; proactive, not inert.

“Desks and doors, televisions and telephones, cars and trains, eyeglasses and shoes and even the shirts on our backs — all are changing from static, inanimate objects into adaptive, reactive systems,” wrote Alex Pentland, a pioneer in smart environments at the M.I.T. Media… read more

News at a Glance

November 18, 2003 is a new service that displays pictures found in current news and reviews, allowing for a quick visual overview of what’s hot right now.

Fast Track for Science Data

November 17, 2003

The first leg of National LambdaRail, the biggest, fastest network ever undertaken for scientific research, will go live this week.

The NLR is being created from 10,000 miles of unused, or “dark,” optic cable on the country’s backbone network. The project plans to use about 40 channels, each capable of transmitting 10 gigabits a second.

The NLR will also enable “extreme multimedia,” such as “real telepresence” or the… read more

IBM builds TV-size supercomputer

November 17, 2003

IBM Corp. has built a supercomputer the size of a television based on microchip technology to be used in gaming consoles due out next year.

A prototype of IBM’s future Blue Gene/L supercomputer, it can perform two trillion calculations per second.

IBM vice president of technology and strategy Irving Wladawsky-Berger said that the supercomputer used 1,000 microprocessors based on PowerPC microchip technology, which will be the foundation of… read more

Virus synthesised in a fortnight

November 17, 2003

Craig Venter’s team has developed a new technique to build a living organism from scratch, synthesizing the complete genome of a small virus in just 14 days.

The ultimate aim of the project, funded by the US Department of Energy, is to create microbes with special properties, such as the ability to sequester carbon dioxide or consume toxic waste.

The speed of the technique means it could also… read more

Research suggests new theory of evolution

November 14, 2003

Researchers have found new evidence for an alternate theory of evolution in which instead of an infinite number of small genetic changes over a long period of time, the process begins with several large mutations before settling down into a series of smaller ones.

The research is published in the Nov. 12 issue of the journal Nature.

Michigan State University press release

Wearable chips allow for personal networking

November 14, 2003

nTags, which are wearable devices with chips programmed with personal interests and background, are being used at conferences like Pop!Tech as a new form of personal networking.

Data and alerts appear on the small monochrome LCD screen of the nTAGs, which are made by nTAG Interactive. The devices have 128 kilobytes of RAM and 64 kilobytes of flash memory — about enough to store 60 pages of text as… read more

Molecules form new state of matter

November 14, 2003

Researchers have coaxed a group of molecules into a Bose-Einstein condensate. The achievement gives physicists a powerful new tool for investigating phenomena such as superconductivity.

Formerly, only atoms could form Bose-Einstein condensates, which are superconducting and superfluid.

New memory device could allow 1 GB per cc storage

November 13, 2003

Engineers at Princeton University and Hewlett-Packard have invented a combination of materials that could lead to cheap and super-compact electronic memory devices for archiving digital images or other data.

The memory device combines low-cost conductive polymer plastic coating with very-thin-film, silicon-based electronics. It could theoretically store more than one gigabyte per cubic centimeter and could result in a single-use memory card that permanently stores data and is faster and… read more

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