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Designer Baby or Problem Child?

March 7, 2002

Designer babies can now be achieved without cloning, Gattaca-style.
“It’s much more important than the debate about cloning people, which is a sideshow,” said Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. “While we’re all spending a lot of time thinking about cloning, that is not the main area where genetics is going to force hard choices.”

New Neurons Work in an Old Brain

March 7, 2002

Neurogenesis, the formation of new functioning neurons in the adult mammalian hippocampus has been definitively proven, according to researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences.
The finding suggests a potential for neurogenesis-based therapies for some types of brain damage or disease. The researchers also noted that the rate of neurogenesis increases when the adult mouse is physically active.

Nature 415, 1030 – 1034 (28 Feb 2002)

Games fizz with proper physics

March 7, 2002

Game designers are turning to “physics engine” software to make their games more realistic.
Physics engines model collisions between objects, make cloths and fluids flow convincingly, capture the movement or reactions of jointed objects like people, and allow players to use objects like they do in real life.

The Sound of Words

March 7, 2002

Speech-recognition technology is taking off, especially in industrial and medical fields, where there’s a need for hands-free computer use.
Current key applications include systems to ask a car for directions, operate cell phones, automate call centers and directory assistance operations, get connected to a telephone number simply by saying the name of a business or person they are dialing into a handset, and entering patient information by voice.

Persuasive, Pervasive Computing

March 6, 2002

MIT’s long-range ubiquitous-computing project, Project Oxygen, is beginning to produce results, including a new microprocessor architecture for handheld computers, an indoor location system, and an intelligent meeting room.Developments include:

  • Raw Architecture Workstation (Raw), a more flexible, less power-intensive programmable microprocessor designed to power handheld devices, including Oxygen’s Handy 21, which will integrate voice recognition, wireless communications and video.
  • Cricket Indoor Location System, a network of wireless
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    Picture This: Image-based rendering creates photorealistic 3-D models from plain old pictures

    March 6, 2002

    Image-based rendering is being used in movies and sporting events for creating photorealistic 3-D computer images and animations from photographs.
    Current research aims at combining image-based rendering with traditional geometric modeling to create models called “imposters” that combine the advantages of geometric models with the photorealistic detail of image-based rendering.

    The best-known example of image-based rendering was in last year’s Super Bowl, where a network of cameras filmed players… read more

    UK gives go-ahead for human cloning

    March 6, 2002

    The British government has approved research on embryonic stem cells for developing new treatments for disease and for therapeutic cloning, involving the cloning of embryos up to 14 days old.

    Silicon nanoparticles enable microscopic lasers

    March 6, 2002

    Researchers at the University of Illinois have demonstrated a method of producing fluorescent colored nanoparticles from silicon wafers. The new materials could yield microscopic lasers and put optical communications on chips.
    By attaching biological materials to the nanoparticles, their location could be traced in the body by stimulating fluorescence with just two photons from infrared beams.

    Researchers also hope to some day replace wires with optical interconnects and create… read more

    When Will AI Get Down to Business?

    March 6, 2002

    AI has quietly become embedded in a wide variety of businesses, including medical labs, financial services, airports, online job banks, and construction companies.
    Examples of current AI applications include:

  • Web avatars used for “relationship modeling” in customer service systems
  • Detection of credit and debit card fraud
  • Extraction of medical and occupational data from life insurance applications
  • Personalized, Internet-based TV listings based on
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    Neural net programs diagnose colon tumors

    March 5, 2002

    Researchers at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center in Baltimore have devised a new method to differentiate and diagnose several types of colon tumors, using artificial neural networks to analyze thousands of genes at one time.
    The program could ultimately help doctors to identify the cancers earlier and spare some patients from unnecessary, debilitating surgery, says Stephen J. Meltzer, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School… read more

    Robo-Therapist Helps Ailing Limbs

    March 1, 2002

    InMotion2 is a robo-therapist that its inventors believe can help patients regain the use of limbs incapacitated by a stroke.
    The robot emulates the physical therapist’s movements by putting the patient’s affected limb through a range of repetitive exercises designed to rehabilitate damaged nerve pathways.

    The patient sits at a table with his lower arm and wrist in a brace attached to the arm of the robot. The patient… read more

    Glowing nanobots map microscopic surfaces

    March 1, 2002

    Molecular robots used to explore a surface’s terrain can produce maps of microscopic structures and devices with higher resolutions than those produced by conventional microscopes, research shows.
    University of Washington researchers modified microtubules by fixing kinesin molecules (which normally move materials around cells along microtubule pathways) on a surface, causing the microtubules to propel themselves randomly on the surface.

    By attaching a fluorescent dye to the microtubules, the… read more

    High-tech soldier envisioned

    February 24, 2002

    A high-tech soldier with 20 times the capability of today’s warrior by about 2010 is envisioned by the Army and a team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.Concept design teams met last year, composed of futurists, systems engineers, biologists, military experts, human factors specialists, writers and others met late last year to propose a plan of attack to the Army for the “Objective Force Warrior.”

    Nano-based DNA detection

    February 24, 2002

    Microelectrodes and gold nanoparticle probes are being used to create lower-cost, faster and more accurate DNA detection.Northwestern University scientists used a synthetic sequence of DNA that models the anthrax lethal factor to test a technology that could displace polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and conventional fluorescence probes in clinical diagnostics and make point-of-care DNA testing possible in the doctor’s office and on the battlefield.

    A simple electrical signal indicates that… read more

    Antimatter atoms captured for the first time

    February 21, 2002

    Antimatter atoms have been captured for the first time by researchers at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics.
    The research team used powerful magnetic fields to trap antiprotons in CERN’s particle accelerator and then introduced a beam of antielectrons, or positrons, and used an electric field to slow them down and bring the two types of particles together.

    When they exposed the particle trap to an electric field,… read more

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