science + technology news

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

Sony’s Humanoid Robot Learns How to Jog

December 18, 2003

Sony has demonstrated a walking robot that can smoothly simulate running. The breakthrough required sophisticated features in the robot’s joints and CPU to keep its balance and manage delicate maneuvers.

Seven Days of Creation

December 18, 2003

Advanced Cell Technology is working to clone human embryos and perfect other techniques in pursuit of stem cells. ACT’s ultimate goal: hundreds of stem cell lines to treat everything from Alzheimer’s to diabetes to Parkinson’s.

Body handles nanofiber better

December 18, 2003

Researchers from Purdue University have made a discovery that may hold promise for tissue regeneration: carbon nanofibers are surprisingly compatible with human tissue.

Their experiments showed that increasing the amount of carbon nanofibers in a polycarbonate urethane composite implant increased the functions of nerve and bone-forming cells and decreased the function of scar-tissue formation.

Carbon nanotubes also have strong electrical properties. “These carbon nanofibers also interact with neurons,… read more

PDA translates speech

December 18, 2003

Researchers have put together a two-way speech-to-speech system that translates medical information from Arabic to English and English to Arabic and runs on an iPaq handheld computer.

Optical fibres cut their losses

December 18, 2003

New super-thin optical fibers confine light signals much more securely than their thicker counterparts. The new low-loss design will combat the leaks that can severely weaken a telecommunications signal when conveyed over many kilometers.

The new fibers are 50 nanometers across — around 10,000 times thinner than current optical fibers. They are also highly flexible, so they can guide light signals around tight bends, which will help the production… read more

‘Humanised’ organs can be grown in animals

December 18, 2003

Injecting human stem cells into sheep fetuses produces animals with partially human organs — a possible source of matched transplants.

It would also allow doctors to obtain immune-compatible cells without having to create human embryos by therapeutic cloning.

The idea of using part-human, part-animal chimeras as living factories for producing cells or organs raises a host of ethical and safety issues.

Google tests book search

December 18, 2003

Google has launched Google Print Beta, which lets Web surfers access brief excerpts from books, critic reviews, and bibliographic and author’s notes.

The experiment is similar to Amazon’s “Search Inside the Book,” a searchable index of millions of pages of books.

The Google Print feature works by typing “” and any desired term or phrase into the Google search bar.

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