October 20, 2003
Jabberwock by Juergen Pirner was awarded first place for human-like communication in the Loebner Prize Contest 2003, held at the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK on Saturday October 18.
Nanotechnologists are developing what could be the ultimate non-stick surface. The material is covered with nano-scale needles that enable a liquid, for example, to slip straight off it. One application could be non-stick submarines, which would glide through the water with much less resistance and require less force and fuel.
A major European chipmaker says it had discovered new ways to produce solar cells that will generate electricity 20 times cheaper than today’s solar panels. Over a typical 20-year life span of a solar cell, one watt should cost as little as $0.20, compared with the current $4.
A computer worm transmitted via instant messaging programs could infect half a million computers within 30 seconds, simulations have shown.
“Nanocells,” disordered assemblies of gold nanowires and conductive organic molecules, can function as non-volatile memory, Rice University chemists have found.
NanoCells offer the potential to reduce device size and fabrication costs by several orders of magnitude
The research appears in the Oct. 29 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. It marks the first time that a self-assembled ensemble of molecular electronic components has been used… read more
Cable Science Network, or CSN, is in the offing, offering in-depth coverage of science issues.
A group of New Zealand mothers led by a former pop star have launched a provocative billboard campaign to protest their government’s decision to allow agricultural genetic engineering.
The billboard ads feature a four-breasted woman attached to a milking machine.
People with one form of a serotonin receptor short-term memory. This discovery is a first step towards finding the genes for intelligence.
“Text mining” is a technique that academics have been experimenting with for years but for which tools have only recently become commercially available. The prospect of rapidly scanning through reams of documents is stirring interest among researchers and analysts faced with more material than they can handle.
The President’s Council on Bioethics has issued an analysis of how biotechnology could lead toward unintended and destructive ends, called “Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Concerns include selecting the sex of children, prescribing mood-changing drugs (such as Ritalin for children), and extreme longevity (“The pursuit of an ageless body may prove finally to be a distraction and a deformation”).
An expert team of astronauts and space scientists has blueprinted a safety strategy for Earth — an asteroid tugboat — and they propose a mission to demonstrate the concept by 2015.
Details are in the November 2003 issue of Scientific American.
A new automated process speeds up DNA copying for genetic analysis and biotechnology.
Using convection, the circulation of hot liquids, it can drive a chain reaction that makes strands of DNA multiply exponentially fast. A prototype system generates DNA copies four times faster than standard techniques and could be miniaturized to just .1 millimeter, the researchers claim.
The convection method could drive pocket-sized devices for quick, on-the-spot DNA… read more
We will have pocket reading machines for the blind within a few years that read text ubiquitously — from signs, packages, menus, electronic displays, etc., says Ray Kurzweil.
“By 2010, these devices will be very tiny. You will be able to wear one on your lapel and scan in all directions. These devices probably will be used by sighted people as well, because they will allow us to get… read more
Addressing a controversy first raised around 1910, three researchers have validated anew the special theory of relativity’s limitations on the speed of light.
In a paper published in the Oct. 16 issue of the research journal “Nature,” they reached their findings by applying information theory to experiments with lasers. They recorded experimental conditions in which the posted light speed limit appeared to be vastly exceeded — until they subtracted… read more