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Tracing the synapses of spirituality

June 18, 2001

Religious experiences can be explained in terms of brain activity, scientists are discovering.

They can be caused by epileptic seizures, hallucinogenic drugs, magnetic fields, and decreased activity in the parietal lobe from deep meditation, inducing disorientation in three-dimensional space and loss of the boundary between the self and the rest of the world.

Immortal cells

June 18, 2001

Two mitochondria proteins, Bax and Bak, play of critical role in initiating apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine demonstrate that virtually all forms of cell death are eliminated in cells that lack Bak and Bax, allowing the cells to become immortal.

This has important implications for the development of new cancer treatments and provides new hope that cell death can… read more

Computers Here, There, Everywhere

June 15, 2001

Academic researchers are undertaking fundamental Internet design projects based on transparent software and pervasive computing.

These include MIT’s Oxygen, based on ubiquitous computing, and University of California at Berkeley’s Endeavor, based on the idea of creating ensembles of hardware and software networks, with a network that will include “Smart Dust” — tiny sensors that might form webs of sensors and actuators to help manage energy consumption or freeway traffic.… read more

‘Wavelength disk drive’ speeds distributed computing

June 12, 2001

The “wavelength disk drive” could make interactions between computers up to 20 times faster, expanding the scope of distributed computing.

Exchanged data is stored in wavelengths of light circling in a fiber-optic network. Computers on the network can perform calculations and “write” the data to an assigned wavelength. They then “read” other processors’ results from the light stream, repeating the process until the calculation is done.

Magnetic RAM To Preserve Data After Computer Shutdown

June 12, 2001

A half-metallic ferromagnetic material may eventually allow us to create magnetic random access memory (MRAM), allowing for non-volatile computer memory systems.

The secret lies in harnessing spin polarization in a magnetic tunnel junction, using chromium dioxide (CrO2). The technique enables the material to retain magnetic orientation and thus preserve data.

Head movements provide individual-recognition cues

June 12, 2001

We can recognize and identify the sex of individuals from how they move their heads and faces, according to University College London researchers.

Rigid head movements – nodding, shaking or tilting – are better than changes in expression at identifying individuals.


Click on image to see movie
© Harold Hill and Nikolaus F. Troje

The finding could improve face-recognition security and help to humanize… read more

Genetic mapping technique speeds search for genetic illness

June 11, 2001

A new genetic mapping technique could shorten from months to weeks the time needed to identify chromosomal “hot spots” associated with particular diseases, reports the June 8 Science magazine.

The algorithm swiftly finds quantitative trait loci (QTL) chromosomal regions that probably contain genes that contribute to a particular trait.

Molecular computer memory developed

June 11, 2001

A RAM memory prototype using organic molecular switches has been developed by researchers at Yale University. An array of molecules between two gold electrodes is used to store a 1 or 0 by applying a voltage pulse to the electrodes, causing the molecules to be kicked into another state in which their electrons are arranged differently, resulting in higher or lower conductivity.

Currently, 1000 molecules are used… read more

Intel Makes an Ultra-Tiny Chip

June 10, 2001

Intel has made developed silicon transistors less than 80 atoms wide and 3 atoms thick, capable of switching on and off 1.5 trillion times a second, making them the world’s fastest.

The research will make make possible computer processor chips with one billion transistors and 20 gigahertz speeds and memory chips that can each store four billion bits of data.

Intel scientists are saying that they can see… read more

Race to build world’s fastest bio-supercomputer

June 9, 2001

Biology is overtaking nuclear weapons as the field demanding the most sophisticated computers.

NuTec Sciences is using a 7.5-teraflops IBM machine — the fastest supercomputer for commercial use — for analyzing cancer patients’ individual genetic profiles to find the most effective treatments.

Other tasks, such as determining the role of proteins in promoting disease, require more powerful machines. IBM’s 1,000-teraflops Blue Gene will be used to predict protein… read more

Microphone array aids deaf in discerning speech

June 8, 2001
Widrow with D-HEAR device

Dramatic improvements in speech discernment using signal processing have been developed by Stanford University professor of electrical engineering Bernard Widrow and his students.

Dr. Widrow reported the breakhrough in a keynote speech at the recent annual meeting of the Acoustical Society of America.

The Directional Hearing ARray (D-HEAR) uses six tiny microphones and signal-processing electronics (worn as a necklace) to enable people with profound… read more

Genome Rivals’ Genteel Soiree

June 8, 2001

Genome researchers find software tools for analyzing genomic data are inadequate and there’s no format available to effectively exchange data.

Caution advised in release of genetically modified organisms

June 8, 2001

Scientists and governments should proceed with caution as they release genetically modified organisms into the environment, according to researchers at the Ecological Society of America.

Researchers are concerned that an organism can persist without human intervention and exchange genetic material with unaltered organisms. Other concerns include creating new or more vigorous pests and pathogens, exacerbating the effects of existing pests through hybridization with related transgenic plants or animals, harm… read more

Nanoscience suffers from lack of scientists

June 7, 2001

The U.S. military’s research efforts in nanoscience are being hampered by social attitudes about foreign-born scientists and a continued shortage of U.S. citizens trained in physical sciences, experts and university officials said.

Throughout the 1990s, the number of U.S. citizens getting graduate degrees in physics and related physical science fields has been going down. The military doesn’t have a sufficiently large pool of postdoctoral students to meet the growing… read more

Internet-everywhere access by satellite

June 7, 2001

The Internet can now be accessed from every part of the globe, says Iridium.

Iridium uses a constellation of 66 low-earth orbiting satellites operated by Boeing to deliver communications services anywhere on the globe at 10 kilobytes per second — very slow but accessible on oceans, polar regions and mountaintops.

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