science + technology news

Intel charts new seas

November 24, 2003

Intel Corp. has made available its chip-making nanotechnology tools to cancer researchers to diagnose and study cancer.

Intel is building a room-sized machine called the Raman Bioanalyzer System at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. It beams lasers onto tiny medical samples to produce images of the molecules’ chemical structures.

The bioanalyzer also will have applications beyond cancer research for detecting single-molecule changes in any living… read more

Real-time movies of solid-to-liquid phase transitions

November 24, 2003

Chemists have captured atom-scale images of the melting process, revealing the first images of the transition of a solid into a liquid at the timescale of femtoseconds.

“Imagine being able to see atoms as they move in real time,” says Professor R. J. Dwayne Miller of the University of Toronto departments of Chemistry and Physics. “Chemistry and biology are fundamentally governed by changes in atomic structure. We now have… read more

UK debut for ‘blind’ mobile

November 24, 2003

The first mobile phone designed specifically for blind and partially sighted people will go on sale in Spain next week. A speech synthesizer reads everything that would normally appear on the screen and speaks the name or number of incoming callers.

Could I Get That Song in Elvis, Please?

November 24, 2003

Vocaloid software, due out in January from Yamaha, allows users to create synthesized songs in a life-like concert-quality voice.

To create the virtual performer’s “vocal font,” technicians record a singer performing as many as 60 pages of scripted phoneme articulations along with assorted pitches and techniques like glissandos and legatos.

The software may allow for “vocal reanimation” of celebrity singers, like Elvis.

Vocaloid could be used as… read more

Gene-Altering Revolution Nears the Pet Store: Glow-in-the-Dark Fish

November 24, 2003

A Texas company will soon start selling The GloFish, a genetically engineered zebra fish containing a gene from a sea coral that makes the fish bright red under normal light and fluorescent under ultraviolet light.

Meet Paro, the therapeutic robot seal

November 21, 2003

Prototypes of Paro, a stuffed animal seal robot, are being tested at nursing homes and with autistic and handicapped children.

Surface tactile sensors beneath its fur and whiskers trigger Paro to move and respond to petting: eyes open and close, flippers move. Just holding and stroking the critter has a calming effect.

Next Big Thing in Biotech: RNAi

November 21, 2003

A new tool that blocks disease-causing genes, RNA interference (RNAi), could lead the way for the next wave of blockbuster drugs in biotechnology.

Nano-transistor self-assembles using biology

November 21, 2003

A functional electronic nano-device has been manufactured using biological self-assembly for the first time. It harnesses the construction capabilities of DNA and the electronic properties of carbon nanotubes to create a self-assembling nano-transistor.

The team used proteins to allow carbon nanotubes to bind to specific sites on strands of DNA. They then turned the remainder of the DNA molecule into a conducting wire. The team has already connected two… read more

Senate approves nanotech bill

November 20, 2003

The Senate passed a version of its 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act. It gives nanotech a permanent home in the federal government, putting the National Nanotechnology Initiative into law and authorizing nearly $3.7 billion over four years for research and development.

Award for new virtual TV guide

November 20, 2003

A virtual TV guide aimed at helping visually impaired people can switch channels at the command of the viewer.

The software chats to viewers about what they want to see, a computer linked to the TV uses voice recognition to accept their answer and then switches the set to the correct channel.

Segway robot opens doors

November 20, 2003

MIT researchers have crossed a robotic arm with the bottom half of a Segway to make a robot that can traverse hallways and open doors.

The researchers are aiming to give the robot the abilities to recognize whether it’s in a room or hallway, recognize and manipulate objects, take instructions, and learn.

“Hope Is a Lousy Defense.”

November 20, 2003

Bill Joy talks about greedy markets, reckless science, and runaway technology.

Q: Whatever happened to the book you were writing to follow up the article?

Joy: I’ve written two manuscripts. The first was a wake-up call – that’s obviously not the book we need anymore. The second was prescriptive, and the problem is, I’m not satisfied with the prescriptions that I have. You don’t get two shots at… read more

Mini-copter stars at robot show

November 20, 2003

The world’s lightest and smallest robot helicopter has been unveiled at a Tokyo exhibition by the Seiko Epson company.

The designers say the 70-mm-tall device could be used as a “flying camera” to enter earthquake-shattered buildings.

Making a case for Efficient Supercomputing

November 20, 2003

The supercomputing industry focuses on growth of performance in terms of speed and horsepower, but performance/space ratio has not kept up because of “Moore’s law for power consumption”– that is, the power consumption of compute nodes doubles every 18 months, says Los Alamos National Laboratory computer scientist Wu-Chun Feng.

“The current trajectory is slated to reach one kilowatt per square centimeter by 2010, which is allegedly as much power… read more

Face transplants feasible — but not yet

November 20, 2003

A Royal College of Surgeons report on the ethics and feasibility of face transplants has decided on a “wait and see” approach, saying the risks of immune rejection of the graft outweigh the potential benefits at present.

Critics of face transplant surgery also argue that patients risk psychological problems after surgery, since the patient is not likely to resemble either the donor or their original face.

Note: The… read more

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