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Software finds possible anthrax cures

March 11, 2002

Scientists, using distributed computing via a million home computers, have come up with 300,000 potential compounds that could be developed as a cure for anthrax.
The project was completed in 24 days, versus years with traditional methods, according to Graham Richards, a chemistry professor at Britain’s Oxford University who helped organize the project.

The list of drug candidates goes to the U.S. Department of Defense and Britain’s Office of… read more

Dr. Aibo, You’re Wanted in O.R

March 11, 2002

MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) of Richmond, British Columbia is developing a robotic arm that will enable surgeons to perform more precise brain surgery.
The robot will perform a variety of procedures, including placing biopsy needles into the brain and dissecting blood vessel abnormalities during micro-surgery. It consists of two robotic arms and a two cameras, providing 3-D stereoscopic views for the surgeon.

The company is also working with… read more

3-D Med School, Hold the Cadavers

March 11, 2002

A new virtual reality room at the University of Calgary lets researchers and medical students visualize body structures instead of requiring dissection. Four projectors display representations of the body on the walls of a 2.5-cubic-meter room, allowing scientists to view the images via stereoscopic lenses. They can also program the simulations remotely, using Java3D technology on a PC.

The University of Calgary plans to add the image set of… read more

Kurzweil teleports to nanotech conference

March 7, 2002

Richardson, Texas, March 7, 2002 — Ray Kurzweil “teleported” today to the Nanoventures 2002 conference, which is focusing on commercialization of nanotechnology.

Photo: Nathen Fox

Speaking from an office in New York City, Kurzweil gave a keynote address on the future of nanotechnology to more than 400 venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and others in Texas via Teleportec’s two-way “Teleportation Technology,” which creates the appearance… read more

Robo-Scribe: Perfect for War?

March 7, 2002

MIT’s Computing Culture Department is developing a “robo-journalist” remote-controlled reporting machine that will be initially assigned to cover the war in Afghanistan.
The robot is equipped with a 10 kbps, two-way voice/data satellite uplink that allows compressed voice and video information to be relayed between the robot and mission control and a video screen to display the interviewer’s image.

It is solar powered, with a global positioning system and… read more

Gamers set for sensory overload

March 7, 2002

Rez, a new PlayStation 2 video game, aims to overload the senses with its psychedelic visuals and pulsating dance beats to create a sense of synesthesia.
The game takes place in a virtual world inside a computer. You play a hacker, flying through six levels of cyberspace in search of the AI at the center. Destroying one of the insect-like enemies causes synchronized music and images to be generated.

Designer Baby or Problem Child?

March 7, 2002

Designer babies can now be achieved without cloning, Gattaca-style.
“It’s much more important than the debate about cloning people, which is a sideshow,” said Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. “While we’re all spending a lot of time thinking about cloning, that is not the main area where genetics is going to force hard choices.”

New Neurons Work in an Old Brain

March 7, 2002

Neurogenesis, the formation of new functioning neurons in the adult mammalian hippocampus has been definitively proven, according to researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences.
The finding suggests a potential for neurogenesis-based therapies for some types of brain damage or disease. The researchers also noted that the rate of neurogenesis increases when the adult mouse is physically active.

Nature 415, 1030 – 1034 (28 Feb 2002)

Games fizz with proper physics

March 7, 2002

Game designers are turning to “physics engine” software to make their games more realistic.
Physics engines model collisions between objects, make cloths and fluids flow convincingly, capture the movement or reactions of jointed objects like people, and allow players to use objects like they do in real life.

The Sound of Words

March 7, 2002

Speech-recognition technology is taking off, especially in industrial and medical fields, where there’s a need for hands-free computer use.
Current key applications include systems to ask a car for directions, operate cell phones, automate call centers and directory assistance operations, get connected to a telephone number simply by saying the name of a business or person they are dialing into a handset, and entering patient information by voice.

Persuasive, Pervasive Computing

March 6, 2002

MIT’s long-range ubiquitous-computing project, Project Oxygen, is beginning to produce results, including a new microprocessor architecture for handheld computers, an indoor location system, and an intelligent meeting room.Developments include:

  • Raw Architecture Workstation (Raw), a more flexible, less power-intensive programmable microprocessor designed to power handheld devices, including Oxygen’s Handy 21, which will integrate voice recognition, wireless communications and video.
  • Cricket Indoor Location System, a network of wireless
  • read more

    Picture This: Image-based rendering creates photorealistic 3-D models from plain old pictures

    March 6, 2002

    Image-based rendering is being used in movies and sporting events for creating photorealistic 3-D computer images and animations from photographs.
    Current research aims at combining image-based rendering with traditional geometric modeling to create models called “imposters” that combine the advantages of geometric models with the photorealistic detail of image-based rendering.

    The best-known example of image-based rendering was in last year’s Super Bowl, where a network of cameras filmed players… read more

    UK gives go-ahead for human cloning

    March 6, 2002

    The British government has approved research on embryonic stem cells for developing new treatments for disease and for therapeutic cloning, involving the cloning of embryos up to 14 days old.

    Silicon nanoparticles enable microscopic lasers

    March 6, 2002

    Researchers at the University of Illinois have demonstrated a method of producing fluorescent colored nanoparticles from silicon wafers. The new materials could yield microscopic lasers and put optical communications on chips.
    By attaching biological materials to the nanoparticles, their location could be traced in the body by stimulating fluorescence with just two photons from infrared beams.

    Researchers also hope to some day replace wires with optical interconnects and create… read more

    When Will AI Get Down to Business?

    March 6, 2002

    AI has quietly become embedded in a wide variety of businesses, including medical labs, financial services, airports, online job banks, and construction companies.
    Examples of current AI applications include:

  • Web avatars used for “relationship modeling” in customer service systems
  • Detection of credit and debit card fraud
  • Extraction of medical and occupational data from life insurance applications
  • Personalized, Internet-based TV listings based on
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