science + technology news

U.S. considers turning scooters into war robots

December 1, 2003

The Pentagon is drafting the Segway Human Transporter as part of a plan to develop battlefield robots that think on their own and communicate with troops.

Researchers say potential applications for the robots include performing search missions on the battlefield, transporting injured soldiers to safety, or following humans around while hauling their gear.

CRN analyzes Drexler-Smalley debate

December 1, 2003

The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) has published an analysis of the exchange between Eric Drexler and Richard Smalley in the December 1 Chemical & Engineering News.

“We have carefully examined the arguments presented by each side,” says Chris Phoenix, Director of Research at CRN. “We conclude that Smalley failed to show why MNT cannot work as Drexler asserts.”

“Failure to anticipate the development… read more

Blood could generate body repair kit

December 1, 2003

A small company in London, UK, says it can turn white blood cells into cells capable of regenerating damaged or diseased tissues. This could transform the treatment of everything from heart disease to Parkinson’s.

Its “miracle” hinges on an antibody that binds to a receptor on the cell surface and allegedly triggers “retrodifferentiation.”

Wireless World

November 26, 2003

In a few years, wireless will become the dominant form of communication service in the U.S. Already there are about 147 million cell phones in the country, compared with 187 million traditional phone lines, according to FCC figures.

New Use Found for Exotic Material

November 26, 2003

Black silicon (silicon bombarded with ultra-short laser pulses) has been found to hold amazing potential for efficiently converting sunlight to electricity, communicating by light, and monitoring the environmental pollution. When placed in a strong electric field, black silicon shows field emission (emits electrons) with surprising efficiency.

The Love Machine: Building computers that care

November 26, 2003

Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab are trying to build computers that care about their users.

Affective computing proponents believe computers should be designed to recognize, express, and influence emotion in users.

Nanotech instruments allow for observing RNA ‘proofreading’

November 26, 2003

Stanford University researchers have discovered a “proofreading” step used to correct DNA transcription errors in expressing genes from DNA to RNA to proteins.

They made the discovery while observing the molecular process used by the RNA polymerase (RNAP) enzyme to copy individual bases from E. coli bacteria DNA onto strands of RNA.

Papers published in Nature and Cell “push the study of single proteins to new limits,” says… read more

Ultranet will link scientists and supercomputers at 40 Gbps

November 26, 2003

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory will design a high-speed network called Science Ultranet that operates at up to 40 gigabits per second, ORNL has announced.

With $4.5 million funding from the Department of Energy, Science UltraNet will allow for distributed collaborative visualization, remote instrument control, and remote computational steering, which allows scientists to control and guide computations being run on supercomputers from their offices. These tasks require high-speed transfer… read more

Speeding up genome sequencing

November 25, 2003

The BioMEMS 768 Sequencer can sequence the entire human genome in only one year, processing up to 7 million DNA letters a day, about seven times faster than its nearest rival. It will be tested at Whitehead Institute this fall.

The technology eventually will help scientists quickly determine the exact genetic sequence of the DNA of many different organisms, and could lead to faster forensic analysis of DNA gathered… read more

Robo-receptionist clocks on

November 25, 2003

Inkha (“interactive neurotic King’s head assembly”), an android receptionist, will offer directions and events information to visitors at King’s College London starting next week.

Driven by nine motors and a small laptop computer and equipped with hidden cameras and infrared sensors to detect movement and color plus a touch screen, Inkha leans towards interesting people and shies away from sudden movements. She chats when people are around and offers… read more

Your next battery

November 25, 2003

Scientists are scrambling to perfect the fuel cell as a methanol-powered source for energy-hungry laptops and other portable devices.

Intel’s Tiny Hope for the Future

November 25, 2003

Intel is thinking even smaller: tiny sensor chips that network with each other — inside everything on earth.

It foresees networks consisting of thousands of motes, located wherever there’s a need for data collection, streaming real-time data to one another and to central servers.

The goal is to halve the size and price of a mote (a tiny sensor, transmitter and antenna to communicate with other motes) every… read more

Will December make or break the Internet?

November 25, 2003

The Internet sits at a crossroads. The World Summit on the Information Society, organized by the International Telecommunications Union, will bring together the heads of over 60 governments in Geneva on December 10 to 12.

The goal: wrest control from ICANN, which is backed by the U.S., Europe and English-speaking partners such as Australia.

New Machine Can Detect Drugs Like Dogs

November 25, 2003

Georgia Tech researchers have developed a machine that can instantly sniff out illegal drugs.

From a few feet away, the device can “smell” as little as one-trillionth of a gram. So far it’s only programmed to detect cocaine, but it could be developed to sniff out other drugs, anthrax, bombs, chemical agents and even cancerous cells.

Intel produces chips for next generation

November 25, 2003

Intel said it has produced chips with the 65-nanometer manufacturing process and will start to mass-manufacture chips on the process in 2005, a strong sign the company will continue to keep pace with Moore’s Law.

Reducing the size of the chip improves performance, reduces costs, and can potentially cut energy consumption. The 65-nanometer chips will contain strained silicon and a low-k (low capacitance) dielectric layer, which, in addition to… read more

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