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Meet Paro, the therapeutic robot seal

November 21, 2003

Prototypes of Paro, a stuffed animal seal robot, are being tested at nursing homes and with autistic and handicapped children.

Surface tactile sensors beneath its fur and whiskers trigger Paro to move and respond to petting: eyes open and close, flippers move. Just holding and stroking the critter has a calming effect.

Next Big Thing in Biotech: RNAi

November 21, 2003

A new tool that blocks disease-causing genes, RNA interference (RNAi), could lead the way for the next wave of blockbuster drugs in biotechnology.

Nano-transistor self-assembles using biology

November 21, 2003

A functional electronic nano-device has been manufactured using biological self-assembly for the first time. It harnesses the construction capabilities of DNA and the electronic properties of carbon nanotubes to create a self-assembling nano-transistor.

The team used proteins to allow carbon nanotubes to bind to specific sites on strands of DNA. They then turned the remainder of the DNA molecule into a conducting wire. The team has already connected two… read more

Senate approves nanotech bill

November 20, 2003

The Senate passed a version of its 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act. It gives nanotech a permanent home in the federal government, putting the National Nanotechnology Initiative into law and authorizing nearly $3.7 billion over four years for research and development.

Award for new virtual TV guide

November 20, 2003

A virtual TV guide aimed at helping visually impaired people can switch channels at the command of the viewer.

The software chats to viewers about what they want to see, a computer linked to the TV uses voice recognition to accept their answer and then switches the set to the correct channel.

Segway robot opens doors

November 20, 2003

MIT researchers have crossed a robotic arm with the bottom half of a Segway to make a robot that can traverse hallways and open doors.

The researchers are aiming to give the robot the abilities to recognize whether it’s in a room or hallway, recognize and manipulate objects, take instructions, and learn.

“Hope Is a Lousy Defense.”

November 20, 2003

Bill Joy talks about greedy markets, reckless science, and runaway technology.

Q: Whatever happened to the book you were writing to follow up the article?

Joy: I’ve written two manuscripts. The first was a wake-up call – that’s obviously not the book we need anymore. The second was prescriptive, and the problem is, I’m not satisfied with the prescriptions that I have. You don’t get two shots at… read more

Mini-copter stars at robot show

November 20, 2003

The world’s lightest and smallest robot helicopter has been unveiled at a Tokyo exhibition by the Seiko Epson company.

The designers say the 70-mm-tall device could be used as a “flying camera” to enter earthquake-shattered buildings.

Making a case for Efficient Supercomputing

November 20, 2003

The supercomputing industry focuses on growth of performance in terms of speed and horsepower, but performance/space ratio has not kept up because of “Moore’s law for power consumption”– that is, the power consumption of compute nodes doubles every 18 months, says Los Alamos National Laboratory computer scientist Wu-Chun Feng.

“The current trajectory is slated to reach one kilowatt per square centimeter by 2010, which is allegedly as much power… read more

Face transplants feasible — but not yet

November 20, 2003

A Royal College of Surgeons report on the ethics and feasibility of face transplants has decided on a “wait and see” approach, saying the risks of immune rejection of the graft outweigh the potential benefits at present.

Critics of face transplant surgery also argue that patients risk psychological problems after surgery, since the patient is not likely to resemble either the donor or their original face.

Note: The… read more

Building a nanotransistor bottom-up

November 19, 2003

Scientists at North Carolina State University are attempting to build the first transistor using a bottom-up, or molecular assembly approach.

“Our research will tackle two critical issues in future materials for advanced molecule-based information processing,” says Dr. Chris Gorman, professor of chemistry. “How to assemble and attach single molecules to electronic contacts and how to create electronic gain — the fundamental operating principle of a transistor — at the… read more

Nanowires drop out of fluid research

November 19, 2003

Researchers have made a breakthrough discovery about the behavior of bubbles and droplets in fluids. The finding could have applications in areas such as microcapsules for medical controlled-release applications and production of nanostructures.

The researchers noted that drops of liquid formed an extremely thin liquid thread that forms so slowly that there is enough time to solidify it into a filament or wire. By adding a prepolymer to the… read more

Researchers measure the ‘heat of life,’ offering clues to DNA damage

November 18, 2003

A Rutgers-led team has produced the first-ever measurement of the “heat of life” — the energies involved in DNA replication and synthesis.

The measurements can be used to construct a virtual landscape that traces the precise energy differences between correct and incorrect DNA synthesis. The differential energy signatures signal the presence of DNA damage, potentially repairable by protein systems inside the cell or specifically designed drugs administered from the… read more

The Way We Nest Now

November 18, 2003

“Smart helpmeets” are on their way: our homes, our offices, our cars and our clothes. They are meant to be aware, not dumb; proactive, not inert.

“Desks and doors, televisions and telephones, cars and trains, eyeglasses and shoes and even the shirts on our backs — all are changing from static, inanimate objects into adaptive, reactive systems,” wrote Alex Pentland, a pioneer in smart environments at the M.I.T. Media… read more

News at a Glance

November 18, 2003 is a new service that displays pictures found in current news and reviews, allowing for a quick visual overview of what’s hot right now.

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