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Robots Scour WTC Wreckage

September 19, 2001

Dozens of experimental search-and-rescue robots are scouring the wreckage of the World Trade Center’s collapsed twin towers. A team of four robot researchers from the University of South Florida are assisting the salvage operation with about seven robots, including various marsupial designs, which combine a large “mother” robot with a smaller “daughter” machine that is small enough to maneuver deep into crevices in the rubble. Some of the daughter machines… read more

Protecting Passengers With Fingerprint or Retina Scans

September 19, 2001

Stocks of the few publicly traded biometrics companies soared Monday. Biometrics systems identify travelers by fingerprints, the patterns in their retinas, their voices or other individual characteristics.Leading biometrics systems include Visionics’ FaceIt, a system that profiles individuals based on 80 facial structures like distance between the eyes, cheekbone formation and the width of the nose bridge; and eye scans, which look at either the distinctive patterns in the blood vessels… read more

Officials Fear U.S. Is Ill-Equipped to Deal With Biological or Chemical Terrorism

September 18, 2001

The U.S. is woefully unprepared to deal with chemical and biological threats, according to government and think-tank reports.

The public-health infrastructure is a “tattered web.” Studies revealed that only one in five hospitals had any response plan for biochemical weapons, less than half had decontamination units with showers, and less than a third had enough antidote for a cloud of nerve gas like the 1995 Tokyo subway attack. In… read more

The nanoelectronic road ahead

September 17, 2001

The semiconductor industry has the potential for at least 20 more years of exponential progress ahead of us,” said James D. Meindl, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Microelectronics Research Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology in a paper published in the September 14 issue of the journal Science.Based on a comprehensive analysis of the fundamental, material, device, circuit and system limits on silicon semiconductors,… read more

Silicon Valley’s plan to stop skyjackings–all of them

September 14, 2001

A Silicon Valley entrepreneur has an idea for preventing skyjacking, using GPS and autopilot-based landing to a nearby airport.Steve Kirsch, best known as the founder of the Infoseek search engine, proposes that we install “safe mode” panic buttons that “put the plane on forced autopilot that cannot be overridden, except in special circumstances.” He’d have them mounted in the cockpit and crew areas.

Based on the location of the… read more

Cost of evolution runs into billions

September 14, 2001

Humans are causing evolution on a grand scale – and it is costing us hundreds of billions of dollars each year, says a Harvard biologist.Every time a strain of bacteria becomes resistant to an antibiotic, or a weed mutates so it can thrive after being sprayed with a herbicide, there is a financial cost to humankind, Stephen Palumbi points out. He estimates that cost to be at least $100 billion… read more

Artificial ants solve network problems

September 13, 2001

Researchers have found that control programs based on the foraging behaviour of ants can keep data networks running more efficiently and cope with congestion better than many human alternatives.
Marco Dorigo and colleagues at the Free University of Brussels are creating small, smart computer programs based on ant foraging. Many individual ants may discover different routes to the same food but the shortest path that leads to it will have… read more

Where Was U.S. Intelligence?

September 13, 2001

The terrorists who orchestrated Tuesday’s strike on the World Trade Center clearly compromised airport security. But it may be even more alarming that they went undetected by United States intelligence.

Attacks May Trigger a Global Recession

September 12, 2001

Economists said a global economic contraction was almost assured as world stock markets plunged, the U.S. dollar spiraled lower against the yen and euro, and oil and gold prices soared after terror attacks on landmarks in New York and near Washington.
Economists said there could be untold damage to the U.S. financial system, noting many key stock market players in the World Trade Center buildings were likely killed.

Sohn… read more

Attacks will force rethink of anti-terrorist strategy

September 12, 2001

Most of the threat scenarios portrayed by high-level US officials involved putative attacks with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, missiles, and cyber-attack.
Little or no attention has been paid to what, with hindsight, seems the obvious ploy of simply crashing a hijacked aircraft into a building. Debate now is sure to focus on what, if anything, can be done to stem such attacks, which are likely to spawn copy-cat efforts… read more

Just Like Ants, Computers Learn From the Bottom Up

September 10, 2001

Emergence — the phenomenon of self-organization, represented by feedback systems and intelligent software that anticipates our needs — is embodied by “bottom-up” systems that use “relatively simple components to build higher-level intelligence,” says Steven Johnson in the new book, EMERGENCE: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software.For example, city residents create distinct neighborhoods and simple pattern recognition software learns to recommend new books or music based on our… read more

Researchers tout touchy-feely technology

September 8, 2001

Haptic technology — computer hardware and software that simulates humans’ sense of touch and feel through tactile vibrations or force feedback — may soon become a mainstream computing phenomenon.
Uses of haptics include virtual-patient simulators for medical training, online shopping (shoppers will be able to “feel” a product), computer games, Web browsers (vibrations when a person scrolls over a hypertext link), molecular modeling, and adding the sense of touch to… read more

Accelerated Living

September 7, 2001

“Imagine a Web, circa 2030, that will offer a panoply of virtual environments incorporating all of our senses, and in which there will be no clear distinction between real and simulated people.” That’s part of Ray Kurzweil’s imaginative view of the future in PC Magazine’s special “20th Anniversary of PCs” issue.
Among Kurzweil’s other forecasts for the next 30 years:

  • Miniaturized displays on our eyeglasses will provide
  • read more

    Supercomputer Needs Super-Big Space

    September 6, 2001

    Los Alamos National Labs’ new “Q” 30 teramips supercomputer requires a 300,000-square-foot building and 7 megawatts of electricity for cooling — ten percent of all the electricity piped into Los Alamos Labs and surrounding community.While today’s fastest machine can perform 10 trillion calculations a second, visionaries are thinking about machines 100 times faster.

    That is probably eight or nine years away, Mike Vildibill, deputy director at San Diego Supercomputer… read more

    Spectrum Wars

    September 6, 2001

    The promise of ubiquitous wireless Internet access is on hold as TV broadcasters, the military, telecom companies and others secretly squabble over scarce spectrum space. Congress wants to auction off some of the prime spectrum used by the Pentagon. The Pentagon wants to take broadcasters’ HDTV spectrum, while broadcasters want to auction it off and use the money for developing digital television.

    The public knows little about this; even… read more

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