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Event horizon dawns on desktop

January 28, 2002

Using frozen light, physicists hope to mimic a black hole on a desktop. The miniature physics phenomena could show hidden shades of space.
The simulation could create a mock version of elusive ‘Hawking radiation.’ These weak electromagnetic waves are thought to occur when light reaches the event horizon, where dimensions as we know them disappear and light and time appear to stand still.

Imitation event horizons may help us… read more

Preventing overload in the brain

January 28, 2002

Brain researchers have observed a dual control system in the hippocampus that contributes to memory and ensures that the brain does not “crash,” as in an epileptic seizure.
The researchers studied the electrical signals that hippocampus nerve cells use to communicate. They found that interneurons inhibit pyramidal cells in two ways: some interneurons receive the same signals as pyramidal cells, so they can control what information the pyramidal cells receive.… read more

Microchip gives blind chance of sight

January 28, 2002

A computer chip implanted near the eye’s retina is may offer some restored vision to people blinded by eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related degeneration of the eye.
To capture images, an external camera mounted in an eyeglass frame captures the image and converts it into an electrical signal that is then electronically transmitted to a flexible silicon biochip surgically attached near the retina. The chip electronically stimulates… read more

‘Nanocircles’ act as Trojan horse to shut down disease-causing genes, study finds

January 28, 2002

Stanford scientists have synthesized a molecule of DNA that is capable of shutting off specific genes in living bacteria. Dubbed the “nanocircle,” the new nanometer-size molecule might one day give researchers the ability to target harmful genes that cause cancer and other diseases in humans.
The technique — known as “rolling circle amplification” — is now one of the hottest fields in biotechnology because it offers the potential to produce… read more

VR treatment for stroke patients announced

January 28, 2002

Rutgers researchers have filed a patent application for a PC-based virtual- reality system that provides stroke patients hand-impairment therapy. In use, the patient’s gloved hands are linked to virtual hands on the PC monitor, so the patient’s actual hand movements are mimicked on-screen. By interacting and playing with on-screen graphics — including fluttering butterflies, piano keyboards and mechanical hands — the patient performs intensive rehab exercises without drudgery, according to… read more

Flexible Displays Gain Momentum

January 24, 2002

Researchers at Cambridge, MA-based E Ink have completed the first working prototype of an electronic ink display attached to a flexible, silicon-based thin-film transistor backplane, the sheet of electronics that controls display pixels. This proof-of-concept prototype confirms that it will soon be possible to mass-produce reams of self-erasing electronic paper that combine sheets of electronic ink with flexible silicon circuitry.

The company estimates that by sometime in 2005 they’ll… read more

Fuel Cells That Fit in a Laptop

January 24, 2002

Smart Fuel Cell GmbH of Bavaria has developed a micro fuel cell that runs on methanol and provides much longer life than any other portable battery. It is the first to not require any standard batteries.
The fuel cell is aimed at power-hungry devices such as notebook computers, camcorders and specific applications for environmental and transportation markets.

A fuel cell is an electrochemical device that produces electric power from… read more

Tiny sensors to be implanted in hearts

January 24, 2002

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation will begin implanting tiny, experimental microchip sensors into the hearts of patients, hoping the wireless, battery-less devices will provide early warnings of danger.

The device can give doctors daily reports on pressure in the heart chambers. A change in pressure is one of the first events that occurs when patients with congestive heart failure start the slide toward hospitalization.

The micro-electrical mechanical… read more

Trapped In The Future

January 23, 2002

Ramona “embodies the cutting edge of AI,” but despite its overwhelming potential, widespread use of AI is still trapped in the future.

Virtual stunt artists take first tumbles

January 21, 2002

Virtual stunt artists are being developed that respond to the physics of the real world, thanks to the use of a novel array of virtual sensors.
The virtual stunt artist takes the form of a properly jointed skeleton figure that responds to forces produced by gravity, friction and impact with other objects in its virtual environment. Researchers at the University of Toronto developed a program to supervise the individual behavior… read more

Vivid insight provided into workings of the brain

January 21, 2002

Researchers at the Institute of Psychology, King’s College London, have developed Vivid (virtual in-vivo interactive dissection), a system that noninvasively detects patterns of nerve connections inside the brains of living people.By reprogramming MRI scanners, Vivid tracks the random oscillation of water molecules, which can move more easily along a bundle of nerve fibers. A program makes it possible to construct a 3-D representation of the nerve connections.

The group… read more

If we are lucky, our pets may keep us as pets

January 18, 2002

The first super-intelligent beings may not be based on humans at all, but on apes. Since moral and legal considerations will limit experimentation with human brain uploading, scientists may first turn to apes, and they may quickly enhance themselves. Could they become our overlords, à la Planet of the Apes?

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Carbon nanotubes to improve solar cells

January 17, 2002

Researchers from Cambridge University’s engineering department have developed photovoltaic devices that, when doped with single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs), perform better than undoped devices.The nanotube diodes were made by depositing organic films containing SWNTs on to glass substrates coated with indium-tin oxide (ITO). Aluminium electrodes were then thermally evaporated under a vacuum to form a sandwich configuration, EE Times reports.

The interaction of the carbon nanotubes with the polymer poly(3-octylthiophene)… read more

‘Hard-Wired’ Grammar Rules Found for All Languages

January 16, 2002

In 1981, Noam Chomsky proposed that the grammars of all languages can be described by a set of universal rules or principles, and the differences among those grammars are due to a finite set of options that are also innate. Now Dr. Mark C. Baker, a linguist at Rutgers University, has presented supporting evidence in the book, “The Atoms of Language: The Mind’s Hidden Rules of Grammar.”

Flying robotic insect slated to explore Mars

January 16, 2002

NASA is backing a research project to build toy-sized flying robots, modeled on the entomology of insects, that can hover like helicopters. Patented as “entomopters,” the robots are on the drawing board of University of Missouri professor Kakkattukuzhy Isaac.
NASA is sponsoring a large team of diverse researchers on the project, titled “Planetary Exploration Using Biomimetics.” Isaac’s part is the wing design and aerodynamic analysis to ensure that sufficient lift… read more

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