science + technology news

Nanowire film brings cheaper, faster electronics a step closer

November 7, 2003

Researchers at Harvard University have demonstrated for the first time that they can easily apply a film of tiny, high-performance silicon nanowires to glass and plastic, a development that could pave the way for the next generation of cheaper, lighter and more powerful consumer electronics.

According to Dr. Charles M. Lieber, head of the research project and a professor of chemistry at Harvard, the first devices made with this… read more

Molecular structures offer insights for nanoscale self-assembly

November 6, 2003

Hollow spherical vesicles formed by large-scale, wheel-shaped inorganic “POM” molecules represent a new kind of self-assembly in nature, with implications for nanoscience.

These vesicles are described in the November 6, 2003 issue of Nature.

Giant wheel-shaped polyoxomolybdate (POM) molecules, composed of hundreds or even thousands of molybdenum and oxygen atoms, possess the advantages of single molecules, such as well-defined structures and uniform size and mass, as well as… read more

Biology gets digital in Maryland

November 6, 2003

Biologists and techies are meeting at the “Digital Biology: the Emerging Paradigm” conference to find out how to integrate the reams of information spewed out from sequencing machines and computer models to achieve useful results.

Finally, the plaque-buster?

November 6, 2003

Apo A-1 Milano, a synthetic form of HDL or “good cholesterol,” appears to reverse years of coronary plaque build-up in a few weeks. It may lead to a long-sought complement to cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Startup Says Quantum Crypto Is Real

November 6, 2003

MagiQ Technologies Inc. announced it’s shipping the first security system based on quantum cryptography.

Kurzweil suggests books on cyberdemocracy on NPR

November 5, 2003

Speaking on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, Ray Kurzweil recommended two books for NPR’s “library of democracy”: Smart Mobs, The Next Social Revolution, Transforming Cultures and Communities in the Age of Instant Access by Howard Rheingold; and The Future of Ideas, The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World by Lawrence Lessig.

The show invited leaders from various fields to suggest books that embody the ideas… read more

DNA That’s Yours for the Taking

November 5, 2003

Scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom have documented a total of 200 billion letters of DNA.

Intel Smashes Transistor Limitations

November 5, 2003

Intel is trumpeting a technology breakthrough it says will lead to billion-transistor processors by 2007.

The new technology should enable Intel to keep creating smaller, faster transistors for future chips, and keep pace with Moore’s Law well into the next decade, said Ken David, director of components research for Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group.

The development would overcome power and heat problems that would eventually limit Intel’s capability… read more

Gold ‘nano-bullets’ shoot down tumours

November 5, 2003

Gold “nano-bullets” — tiny silica particles plated with gold and heated with near-infrared light — could seek and destroy inoperable human cancers, researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We believe that we should also be able to treat very small metastases, not detected yet,” said Jennifer West, who led the study at Rice University,

Promise and Peril of the 21st Century

November 4, 2003

“Future dangers from new technologies may appear alarming when considered in the context of today’s unprepared world,” says Ray Kurzweil. “The reality is that the sophistication and power of our defensive technologies and knowledge will grow along with the dangers.

“GNR [genetic engineering, nanotechnology and robotics] technologies cannot be stopped, and broad pursuit of relinquishment will only distract us from the vital task in front of us: to rapidly… read more

Apocalypse Nano

November 4, 2003

“From the anti-Jewish blood libels of the Old World to the modern mythology of tainted Halloween candy in the New, public hysteria usually begins with the idea that unseen forces are conspiring to poison us or kill our children.

“This article in Resurgence magazine, The Heart of Darkness: Small is not always beautiful, is such a perfect example of how the misrepresentations, distortions and half-truths that I’ve… read more

Silicon sees the light

November 4, 2003

A new light detector made of silicon could fuse microelectronic and light-based information processors. Carved directly onto silicon chips, such devices could make circuits smaller, cheaper and more robust.

Smart software helps robots dodge collisions

November 4, 2003

The Inevitable Collision System (ICS) aims to make it impossible for robots to bump into objects, including people.

It works by continuously calculating an exclusion zone (for possible collisions) around the robot based on its motion and that of the objects around it.

To date there has only been one recorded roboticide. In 1981, Japanese factory worker Kenji Urada was killed by a robot in a manufacturing plant… read more

The High and Low Notes of the Universe

November 3, 2003

The 10-micron-long Cornell nano-guitar, first built in 1997 but only now played for the first time, twangs at a frequency of 40 megahertz, some 17 octaves (or a factor of 130,000) higher than a normal guitar.

There is no practical microphone available for picking up the guitar sounds, but the reflected laser light could be computer processed to provide an equivalent acoustic trace at a much lower frequency. The… read more

Robot Rights

November 3, 2003

“Robots are people, too! Or at least they will be, someday.” That’s the rallying cry of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Robots, and it’s beginning to become a genuine issue.


  • Would it be moral to impose Asimov’s laws of robotics on an intelligence that we created. Wouldn’t we be creating slaves? And, if so, wouldn’t that be bad?
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