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What’s the purpose of life?

May 15, 2002

Ray Kurzweil and Gregory Stock debated “BioFuture or MachineFuture?” at the recent Foresight meeting.

Scientists Get Atoms Ready for a Close-Up

May 15, 2002

Scientists at Lucent Technologies’ Bell Labs have developed a microscopy technique that can image individual atoms within a silicon sheet, allowing for precision analysis of dopant distribution.
As transistor sizes shrink, they require higher concentrations of electrons to work and are more sensitive to problems with dopant distribution.

The Lucent microscope shoots a narrow beam of high-energy electrons and measures deflection angles to locate individual atoms.

DNA nanoballs boost gene therapy

May 14, 2002

Researchers have developed a way to pack a DNA molecule into 25 nanometer particles, small enough to enter the nuclear pores or cells and make gene therapy safer and more efficient. The technique is now being tested on people with cystic fibrosis.

“In cells grown in culture, there was a 6000-fold increase in the expression of a gene packaged this way compared with unpackaged DNA in liposomes.”

Supercomputing platform built for gaming

May 13, 2002

The “Butterfly Grid,” a distributed supercomputer games network, could allow more than a million people to play graphics-rich games together via the internet.
The project borrows scientific supercomputer “grid” techniques developed to seamlessly connect scientific computers for research, sharing power and storage via the Internet.

West Virginia-based Butterfly has developed the software that will allow game developers to enable any game to plug into the network… read more

Ray Kurzweil reviews Stephen Wolfram’s long awaited new book ‘A New Kind of Science’

May 10, 2002

On May 14, Stephen Wolfram’s new book “A New Kind of Science,” which he has spent more than ten years writing, goes public. Wolfram, the creator of Mathematica software, presents what he describes as “dramatic discoveries” based on his experiments with cellular automata.
The book addresses a wide array of fundamental issues in science, from the origins of apparent randomness in physical systems to the development of complexity… read more

Live holographic tumor imaging demonstrated

May 10, 2002

Purdue University scientists are developing a new imaging technology that allows for the first “visual fly-throughs” of a living tumor.

The technique, called optical coherence imaging, uses lasers, holograms, and real-time “dynamic holographic films,” consisting of alternating layers of gallium arsenide and aluminum gallium arsenide semiconductors.

Lasers Light Way To 3-D Imaging In Purdue Lab

News tip: Walter Purvis

Cog — is it more than a machine?

May 7, 2002

“Robots are being made more human and people are becoming more robotic. Where will it all end?” MIT professor Rodney Brooks has some thoughts on that.

Lawrence Lessig: The ‘Dinosaurs’ are Taking Over

May 7, 2002

In “The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World,” Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig warns that the Internet will soon belong to Hollywood studios, record labels, and cable operators, which co-opt the Internet and stifle innovation.

Insect swarming inspires jazz software

May 7, 2002

University College London researchers have written a program that mimics insect swarming to “fly around” the sequence of notes the musician is playing and improvise a related tune of its own.

Startup Uses Light, Not Electrons, For New Chip

May 7, 2002

Digital signal processing startup Lenslet Labs of Israel has developed a way to use properties of light as computational elements rather than electrons, eliminating problems from waste heat and allowing for more parallelism.

The EnLight 256, a specialized processor, is designed to be used in applications like cellular basestations, software-defined radio, and ADSL transceivers.

News tip: Sander Olson

The Matrix Reloads

May 6, 2002

Warner Bros. is producing two sequels to the Matrix, Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions, both scheduled for 2003. The films continue the scenario of the human race imprisoned in a computer-generated reality and include the underground city of Zion, inhabited by the few hundred thousand humans who have escaped.

Mutant viruses order quantum dots

May 6, 2002

“A three dimensional grid of quantum dots created and held together by genetically-engineered viruses could enable a new generation of computer displays, memories and even nanoscale computer chips.”

News tip: Walter Purvis

‘Our Posthuman Future’: Biotechnology as a Threat to Human Nature

May 5, 2002

We are about to supersede evolution by direct intervention in the genetic process, argues Francis Fukuyama in “Our Posthuman Future,” which discusses cloning, germ-line genetic engineering, stem cell research, neuropharmacology, anti-aging medicine, and the potential for violations of human nature from the new biotechnology.

Liquid crystal displays ‘painted on’

May 3, 2002

Philips laboratories researchers are developing ways to paint liquid crystal displays on surfaces instead of between two layers of plastic or glass. The method could allow manufacturers to make displays more quickly.

Method May Transform Cells Without Cloning

May 3, 2002

A team of scientists at the University of Oslo Medical School and Nucleotech say they are developing a technique that transforms one type of cell from the body into another type without using cloning or embryonic stem cells.

The scientists made human skin cells in a test tube behave as if they were immune system cells and previous converted skin cells to nerve cells. The work promises a new… read more

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