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I Dream of Techno-Genie

January 23, 2004

As watchers of ancient sitcoms know, a genie can bring you immense power but is also hard to control, and the granting of your wishes is not necessarily a good thing. As such, a genie can serve as a metaphor for technology, with a subtly negative connotation. And that explains the title of an interesting but quite arguable new book Living with the Genie: Essays on Technology and the Quest… read more

The Healthy Promise of Biochips

January 23, 2004

Tracking the human genome was just the beginning. Now, biochips can be used to study many genetic aspects of a disease — and possibly a cure.

In a typical experiment, a drug researcher places a sample of diseased tissue that has been tagged with a fluorescent dye onto a gene-laden chip. A scanner then reads the chip, and if the DNA in the sample matches any of the genes… read more

Federal nanotech confusion spreads to California

January 21, 2004

In “Nanoscience and Nanotechnology: Opportunities and Challenges in California,” released today at a meeting of the state’s Joint Committee on “Preparing California for the 21st Century,” the concept of molecular machines appears only in the form of “plagues of self-replicating nanobots,” as in Michael Crichton’s thriller Prey, said Christine Peterson, president of Foresight Institute.

“The original goal for nanotechnology — systems of molecular machines, building cleanly with atom-by-atom precision,… read more

No Foolproof Way Is Seen to Contain Altered Genes

January 21, 2004

It will be difficult to completely prevent genetically engineered plants and animals from having unintended environmental and public health effects, says a report by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.

One solution may be biological methods of containment (“bioconfinement”). These include measures like inducing sterility by giving fish an extra set of chromosomes or exposing insects to radiation. Bacteria might be given “suicide genes” that… read more

Lie-detector glasses offer peek at future of security

January 21, 2004

A lie detector small enough to fit in the eyeglasses of law enforcement officers can tell whether a passenger is a terrorist by analyzing his answer to questions in real time.

The technology, developed by Nemesysco for military, insurance claim and law enforcement use, is being repackaged and retargeted for personal and corporate applications by V Entertainment.

A signal-processing engine, said to use more than 8,000 algorithms each… read more

Do plants act like computers?

January 21, 2004

Plants appear to “think”: green plants may regulate their uptake and loss of gases by distributed computation.

By studying the distributions of these patches of open and closed stomata in leaves of the cocklebur plant, Utah State University researchers found specific patterns reminiscent of distributed computing. Patches of open or closed stomata sometimes move around a leaf at constant speed, for example.

The statistics of the size of… read more

For a bigger brain, juggle

January 21, 2004

Juggling and probably other visual skills that take time to master increase the size of your brain, say researchers, challenging the traditionally held view that the anatomical structure of the normal adult human brain does not alter.

MRI scans found that learning to juggle increased by about three per cent the volume of grey matter in the mid-temporal area and left posterior intra-parietal sulcus, which process data from visual… read more

‘Exponential’ Thinking for the Future

January 21, 2004

Change happens and, due to exponential advances that nanotechnology is enabling, change is only going to occur at an ever faster rate. The best way for each industry to begin preparing for this new reality is to understand the field of nanotechnology.

Overcoming limits to chip miniaturization

January 20, 2004

Researchers have identified a new origin of the “size effect” (materials lose their useful properties when their dimensions fall below a certain limit), at least for ferroelectric oxides: tiny linear crystal-lattice defects less than about a tenth of nanometer that can deform a tube of material.

RAM memory could be significantly improved if it were possible to construct non-volatile memory cells with a storage density of several billion bits… read more

Brave New Babies

January 20, 2004

Parents now have the power to choose the sex of their children. But as technology answers prayers, it also raises some troubling questions.

An Ultrasound That Navigates Every Nook and Cranny

January 20, 2004

A highly miniaturized silicon-based ultrasound device is being developed that could be placed inside the body to gather images of artery-harming plaque from inside the arteries themselves.

The “capacitive micromachined ultrasonic transducers” might one day appear in other medical applications, from portable prenatal screeners to hand-held scanners used on battlefields to check the injured for internal bleeding.

Designer gene therapy may target specific body area

January 20, 2004

Doctors may soon be able to inject genetically engineered “designer” gene therapy intravenously that travels to a specific part of the body, according to Dr. Andrew H. Baker, molecular medicine researcher at the University of Glasgow,

Gene therapy involves inserting the treatment genes into a virus that is either harmless to humans or has had its disease-causing component removed. The virus is then injected or inserted into the body… read more

The End Game

January 19, 2004

The Army’s Massive Multiplayer Environment will move simulation training into a wider domain of realism and soldier participation.

The Lab Animal

January 19, 2004

Elite athletes always have and always will pursue every competitive advantage — health and the law be damned. Is genetic manipulation next?

Why life as a cyborg is better

January 19, 2004

Steve Mann, an engineering professor at the University of Toronto, spends hours every day viewing the world through a little monitor in front of his eye connected to a wearable computer and wirelessly to the Internet.

Mann manipulates the computer through a handheld device he invented and he has experimented with putting electrodes on his skin and trying to control the cursor with brain waves. He records video with… read more

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