science + technology news

Kurzweil lectures on accelerating change at MIT

December 5, 2003

Ray Kurzweil was an invited guest lecturer Wednesday Dec. 3 at MIT’s Engineering Systems Doctoral Seminar, speaking on “Insights for Complex Engineering Systems from Evolutionary Theory.”

The seminar, co-lead by Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld of MIT’s Engineering Systems Division, brings together diverse areas of expertise in the emerging field of engineering systems.

Kurzweil presented a broad overview of current thinking on the exponential pace of technological change in semiconductor technology,… read more

Cal researchers advance goal of artificial muscles

December 5, 2003

University of California at Berkeley researchers have taken a significant step in the development of synthetic muscles for patients who experience significant muscle loss due to injury or to diseases such as muscular dystrophy.

The rise of the machines

December 5, 2003

She’s young, beautiful, and fluent in several languages. Sakura Sanae, one of the newest entrants to the Japanese diplomatic corps, and Tokyo’s goodwill ambassador to the ASEAN nations, is also entirely computer generated….

Robotics As Art

December 4, 2003

Robot creation can propel you into the world of kinetic and interactive art.

Robotic additions and creations can be simple control mechanisms or elaborate constructions. Parts and supplies can be obtained from objects which are no longer useful. Remote controls, old computer parts, erector sets, toys, etc., which you might have lying around in closets, garages, and basements, can become perfectly usable parts for a robotic work of art.… read more

Microbeams have big impact on cancer cells

December 4, 2003

Scientists microbeams have discovered that targeting just a few cells with a “microbeam,” which launches streams of helium ions a micron wide, can cause massive destruction to other diseased cells.

The findings could have important implications for improving the effectiveness of radiotherapy for cancer. It also means that even very low doses of radiation may be doing more damage to normal cells than scientists thought.

Nanotech R&D act becomes law

December 4, 2003

President Bush signed into law the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act on Wed. Dec. 3, with a $3.7 billion appropriation.

The bill authorizes the President to create a permanent National Nanotechnology Research Program (NNPR) to replace the expiring National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). The new NNRP, according to the bill, is a “coordinated inter-agency program that will support long-term nanoscale research and development leading to potential breakthroughs in… read more

Biochip puts it all together

December 4, 2003

Researchers from Arizona State University have fabricated a lab-on-a-chip that can detect and analyze microorganisms and chemicals and is very cheap to produce.

The chip could eventually be used in portable devices that do genetic analysis, environmental testing, and biological warfare agent detection in the field.

What sets the chip apart from other prototype biochips is that it carries out all the work needed to prepare a sample… read more

Software paraphrases sentences

December 4, 2003

Researchers at Cornell University have combined on-line journalism and computational biology to make it possible to automatically paraphrase whole sentences. The method could eventually allow computers to more easily process natural language, produce paraphrases that could be used in machine translation, and help people who have trouble reading certain types of sentences.

The researchers’ system uses word-based clustering methods to identify sets of text that have a high degree… read more

Exploding black holes rain down on Earth

December 4, 2003

High-energy cosmic-ray particles from space may create black holes when they collide with molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, say physicists.

These black holes would be invisibly small (only 10 micrograms or so) and would be so unstable that they would explode in a burst of particles within around a billion-billion-billionth of a second.

If such tiny black holes exist, it would unveil hidden dimensions in our universe and… read more

Materials research courts biotechnology

December 3, 2003

Biomaterials presentations are peppering the weeklong series of research reports at the annual Materials Research Society meeting held in Boston. Since MRS is involved in virtually every area of modern industry and technology, its shift in emphasis from inorganic to organic and biological processes may suggest a trend for society as a whole.

Key developments:

  • MEMS will play a large role in implantable therapeutic devices as sensors
  • read more

    Materials could make for super LEDs, solar cells, computer chips

    December 3, 2003

    Engineers at Ohio State University have created special hybrid materials that are virtually defect-free — an important first step for making ultra-efficient electronics in the future.

    They grow thin films of “III-V” semiconductors, which absorb and emit light much more efficiently than silicon, so these materials could bridge the gap between traditional silicon computer chips and light-related technologies, such as lasers, displays, and fiber optics.

    The engineers have… read more

    DNA-sorted carbon nanotubes allow for nanoelectronics building blocks

    December 3, 2003

    DuPont, MIT and University of Illinois scientists have discovered an innovative way to advance electronics applications through the use of DNA that sorts carbon nanotubes.

    Carbon nanotubes possess excellent electrical properties that make them potential building blocks in a broad range of nanotechnology-related electronic applications, including highly sensitive medical diagnostic devices and transistors more than 100 times tinier than those found in today’s microchips. When they are fabricated, however,… read more

    Reclaim Your Brain

    December 2, 2003

    More information has been produced and stored in the past five years than at any time in human history with e-mails, text messages, mobile phone calls, TV, and websites. This massive explosion in information has arguably empowered millions, transforming them from passive consumers of culture into active participants in a 24 hour global debate. But others claim that when the fog of new data has cleared, we will be left… read more

    Intel scientists find wall for Moore’s Law

    December 2, 2003

    Moore’s Law is coming to an end, according to a recent research paper authored by Intel researchers. It theorizes that chipmakers will hit a wall at the 5-nanometer transistor gate length for chips made on a 16-nanometer technology process.

    When the gate length gets below 5 nanometers, tunneling will begin to occur. Electrons will simply pass through the channel on their own, because the source and the drain will… read more

    Drexler vs. Smalley on molecular assembly

    December 1, 2003

    Rice University Professor Richard Smalley has responded to a longstanding challenge by Dr. Eric Drexler to defend a controversial direction of U.S. nanotechnology policy that excludes molecular assembly. Their four-part exchange, sponsored by the American Chemical Society, is this week’s Chemical & Engineering News cover story.

    The controversy centers on “a fundamental question that will dramatically affect the future development of this field,” says Deputy Editor-in-Chief Rudy… read more

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