science + technology news

‘Get me rewrite!’ Now, computers can play along

December 29, 2003

MIT and Cornell researchers have created a program that can automatically generate paraphrases of English sentences.

The program gathers text from online news services on specific subjects, learns the characteristic patterns of sentences in these groupings, and then uses those patterns to create new sentences that give equivalent information in different words.

Unmaking Memories

December 29, 2003
Image: Paramount Pictures

In the sci-fi thriller movie Paycheck, an engineer has his memory erased after completing a sensitive reverse-engineering job. Scientific spoke with a leading neurobiologist to find out just how close scientists are to controlling recall.

Stem-cell ‘secret of youth’ found

December 26, 2003

Researchers may have found a way to keep Human embryonic stem (ES) cells (which can generate almost all of the body’s different cell types) young.

The discovery solves two problems in this process: it controls the cells’ transformations into other types and eliminates the need for mouse cells, which could contaminate ES cells with mouse proteins.

Is Nanotechnology Real?

December 23, 2003

The Drexler-Smalley debate about molecular nanotechnology may have even greater importance for undeveloped countries, according to Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher of IRANSCOPE.

“Nanotechnology may replicate fuel cells to put an end to the age of oil,” he said in an editorial. “It would not only impact the economy of oil producing countries like Iran, but it can change the whole economy of energy production in the world, which is the… read more

Creating robots of the future

December 23, 2003

Researchers at the MIT Media Lab are working on ways to let robots interact emotionally with humans.

But in the Mall at Chestnut Hill, humans already are interacting emotionally with robots. A small crowd of shoppers gathers around a pair of bright red and blue Boxing Robots in the window of the Sharper Image….

A couple of aisles down, a sales clerk is showing off the latest model… read more

Measurements: The Brain Wave Made Me Do It

December 23, 2003

British researchers have figured out a way to use brain waves to tell if someone is about to make a mistake.

The size of the P300 brain wave, which is generated when the brain encounters a stimulus, varies according to the response the stimulus calls for. It is larger when there is a need to inhibit action. In an experiment, the size of the P300 waves proved to be… read more

New robot brain takes to the skies

December 23, 2003

“Mantis,” the world’s first small robotic helicopter that can see and think for itself, is based in part on the workings of the human inner ear.

Mantis uses an inertial sensing system and computer vision system to guide the aircraft and provide flight stability. The robot’s two cameras and software detect where objects are and how fast the Mantis is moving relative to objects around it.

Applications include… read more

Rate of broadband growth slows in US

December 23, 2003

The number of U.S. residents connected to the Internet through broadband services increased by 18 percent during the first half of 2003, from 19.9 million to 23.5 million, compared to a 23 percent increase during the last half of 2002, according to the FCC.

For the full year ending June 30, 2003, high-speed lines (more than 200 kbps) increased by 45 percent.

Planning A Head: Kurzweil’s response to Scientific American

December 21, 2003

Scientific American has published a letter from Ray Kurzweil in its January 2004 issue in response to an editorial in the September 2003 issue critiquing Kurzweil’s vision of reverse-engineering the brain and the future of machine intelligence.

“The ultimate goal is not for us all to become cousins of the Terminator or Max Headroom,” stated the editors. “Rather it is to correct neural defects and to take normal people… read more

Lost? Hiding? Your Cellphone Is Keeping Tabs

December 21, 2003

Personal location devices are beginning to catch on, largely because of a federal mandate that by late 2005, wireless carriers be able to automatically locate callers who dial 911.

Millions of cell phones already keep track of their owners’ whereabouts, using GPS signals. Analysts predict that as many as 42 million Americans will be using some form of “location-aware” technology in 2005.

“We are moving into a world… read more

As Nanotechnology Gains Visibility, Venture Capital Begins Coming In

December 21, 2003

Entrepreneurs say that the nanotechnology investment climate is warming up just in time to meet their growing capacity to put investors’ money to work expanding research and bringing innovations to market.

However, some of nanotechnology’s most promising concepts, like computers that replace silicon transistors with single molecules, are at least a generation away from market. And for all the spectacular properties of new materials like carbon nanotubes, no one… read more

Software shares out spare processing power

December 21, 2003

The author of SETI@home has created a new system that will make it possible to run several distributed computing projects on a single computer and let you specify what proportion of the computer’s resources is donated to each project.

The Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) acts like a software platform that can run a number of screen-saver-style applications on top of the PC’s own operating system. The… read more

Kurzweil ‘teleports’ to Sony conference in Tokyo

December 19, 2003

Ray Kurzweil “teleported” to Sony Headquarters in Tokyo on December 15 to give a keynote address for Sony Technology Week, celebrating Sony’s coming 60th anniversary in 2006.

Introduced by Dr. Hiroaki Kitano, Director, Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Kurzweil spoke on “The Acceleration of Technology in the 21st Century and Its Impact on Consumer Products, Culture, and Society” from his office in Massachusetts.

Kurzweil appeared via Teleportec’s two-way “… read more

Are You Ready for Some Science?

December 19, 2003

The planned Cable Science Network will air unedited, C-SPAN-style talks from science conferences. Other shows will include Q&A’s with science authors and profiles of researchers performing cutting-edge brain experiments.

It is likely to happen in 2005.

Instant stem cells — just add water

December 19, 2003

Researchers are honing a technique to create dried stem cells that can be revived just by adding water. The “instant” cells might provide mobile therapies for remote regions or the battlefield.

Because some stem cells can make fresh bone, muscle or blood, doctors hope to use them to repair tissues. But, like transplant organs kept on ice, their shelf life will be limited without an easy way to store… read more

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