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Scientists rewriting the genetic code

July 24, 2001

Scientists are taking the first steps toward creating alternative life forms — organisms that use a genetic code different from the one used by all other creatures on earth.
Scientists hope that such organisms can be used to study biochemical processes in new ways and to produce new medical or electronic materials that cannot now be made by living things.

The research goes well beyond current genetic engineering, which… read more

A better insulator for miniaturized integrated circuits

July 24, 2001

Highly insulating new honeycomb material may allow microelectronic integrated circuits to be made even smaller, increasing the power of microchip and computer technology.
When electronic devices get very small, insulating silica films must be shrunk to the same proportions. Too thin, they become leaky and electrical currents seep out, creating problems such as crosstalk between different parts of the circuit.

Leakage could become a problem once the dimensions of… read more

Crystals could make super semiconductors

July 21, 2001

Crystalline materials to replace the amorphous insulators inside semiconductors will allow semiconductors to be more efficent and also modified on the atomic scale.
Imperfections are common in amorphous insulators, such as silicon dioxide, used in most semiconductor devices. This leads to an uneven distribution of charge at the interface and reduces efficiency. To overcome this problem, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed crystalline materials made from various combinations of… read more

Monitoring could slow quantum data decay

July 20, 2001

In a finding that offers hope for the creation of quantum computers, frequent measurements have been found to slow down the “decay” of particles from high-energy states to lower-energy ones.This support for the “Zeno effect” offers the possibility of eventually helping to solve one of quantum computing’s biggest problems: errors arising from the decay of data.

Mark Raizen at the University of Texas at Austin and his colleagues trapped… read more

Ant group dynamics

July 20, 2001

Emergent group intelligence from simple interactions between ants suggests ways for robots and computer programs to solve complex problems.

Many individuals following a few simple rules result in complex and powerful behaviour. “You don’t need a complex set of rules for patterns to emerge,” says Jennifer Fewell, who studies ants at Arizona State University in Tempe. Brains, embryonic development and ecosystems show similar complex ‘emergent’ properties from simple interactions,… read more

Nanotube 2001 [Event]

July 20, 2001

The International Workshop on the Science and Application of Nanotubes will be held in Potsdam, Germany, July 22-25, 2001.

Info
The meeting is intended to facilitate informal interaction between theoretical and experimental scientists who are actively working in this field. To preserve an informal character and to avoid parallel sessions, the number of attendees will be limited to 140.

Topics receiving special attention include:

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    Digital critters mimic behavior of real life

    July 19, 2001

    Researchers are using computers to generate “digital organisms” that undergo evolutionary processes such as mutation and reproduction. As a result, they have overturned a long-standing assumption of evolutionary theory: that the faster a given species reproduces, the likelier it is to win a competition with another species for dominance of an ecosystem, according to an article today in the journal Nature.Wilke and his associates’ computer work suggests the opposite is… read more

    Atom laser-beam microscope

    July 17, 2001

    An atom laser-beam microscope that could have sharper vision while causing less damage to a sample than an electron microscope is being developed by physicists at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich.

    The development of lenses and mirrors to sharpen atom laser beams might also improve technologies to build atomic-scale structures, similar to how an ink-jet printer writes text.
    Just as an optical laser beam is better than a light… read more

    ‘Nano-chip’ chipmaking products announced

    July 17, 2001

    “Nano-chip” chipmaking products were announced at the Semicon West trade show by Applied Materials.

    The new products will enable the development of advanced chips with design rules of 100-nm (0.10-micron) and below. They include new process module technologies and an atomic layer deposition chamber for its chemical vapor deposition equipment.

    Clever Wiring Harnesses Tiny Switches

    July 17, 2001

    Hewlett-Packard researchers are starting to tackle how to wire the tiny molecular switches together into useful devices.

    Two years ago, scientists at Hewlett-Packard and U.C.L.A. announced that they had created a custom-designed, carbon-based molecule called rotaxane that could act as a switch. A ring-shape structure slides up or down along the rest of the molecule, changing its electrical resistance. The switch mechanism consisted of rotaxane molecules between two crossed… read more

    The Next Small Thing

    July 15, 2001

    Scientists are re-creating our world in the realm of the intensely tiny. The potential payoff: denser hard drives, smaller chips, better medicine.
    Top research organizations within large companies and renowned universities are inventing the future: electronics as cheap and plentiful as bar codes on packaging; lightweight vests enmeshed with sensors could measure a person’s vital signs; analysis of a patient’s DNA could be done so quickly and precisely that designer… read more

    Smarter bomb bot

    July 14, 2001
    Police robot carries a mock suitcase<br />
bomb down a hallway

    A wheeled police robot that makes many tactical decisions on its own during potentially dangerous bomb-disablement or other law enforcement missions has been unveiled by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories.

    The Wolverine robot hardware was developed at Northrop Grumman’s REMOTEC unit; Sandia Labs added software.

    The Wolverine now incorporates some of the most challenging and commonly needed robotic tools and behaviors in police work, such… read more

    World’s highest-res display matches human eye’s acuity

    July 14, 2001
    A complicated data set displayed with a clarity unmatched by the HDTV images on either side (higher-res image here)

    A 20-million-pixels screen with the visual acuity of the human eye at 10 feet has been developed at Sandia National Laboratories. It is also the fastest in the world in rendering complex scientific data sets, says program leader Philip Heermann.

    The Sandia images are created through massively parallel imaging, using outputs of 64 computers and splitting data into 16 screens arranged as a 4 by 4… read more

    Biocompatible silicon developed

    July 14, 2001

    Silicon can be developed into a biocompatible and biodegradable material that could lead to smaller, smarter and more-interactive implants in the human body. The secret: “porous” silicon ­– bulk silicon that has been deliberately riddled with nanometer-sized holes.
    Rather than having to shield a silicon-based device from body tissues and the bloodstream, it is now theoretically possible to construct silicon-based devices that are genuinely “bioactive.”

    The surface of a… read more

    The physics of the Web

    July 14, 2001

    Statistical mechanics is offering new insights into the structure and dynamics of the Internet, the World Wide Web and other complex interacting systems.

    The challenge for physicists is to unearth the signatures of order from the apparent chaos of millions of nodes and links.

    Findings include:

    * The Web is a scale-free network whose links follow a power-law distribution, which implies that there is an abundance… read more

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